So, why Should I Clip My Free Range Chickens’ Wings? I would watch helplessly as my chickens jump over their closure to experience their short-lived freedom. At first, I didn’t figure out the best way to stop this behavior. So I consulted a few experienced chicken owners and got a long term solution to this problem. That’s exactly what I’m going to talk about.
Why should I clip my free-range chickens’ wings? You should clip your free-range chickens’ wings to prevent them from flying over fences when free-ranging. When your birds escape from their yard, they are likely to get lost or become a meal for predators.
Clipping your chickens is not an easy task if you have never done it in the past. But once you have clipped one wing or two, you will find out that it’s not a daunting task at all. However, the most difficult part of clipping the wings is getting hold of your bird.
Most chickens are usually docile and will not mind you touching them. A few will run away when you try to approach and touch them. Regardless of their behavior, you will have to find a way of catching them when you want to clip their wings.
Clipping your birds is one of the routine practices you need to fulfill if you want your flock to stay within their free-range area. Below are the reasons why you should clip your free-range chickens’ wings and how to do it.
Why Should I Clip My Free Range Chickens’ Wings?
- The main reason why you should clip your free-range birds is to discourage them from flying out of their run. Chickens, just like other birds, fly although not for a very long time. This means when you let them free range you should find a way to keep them inside their yard.
- Instead of covering the yard using mesh-wire, you can just clip their wings a little bit to minimize cases of jumping out of their free-ranging zone.
- Another reason for clipping your birds’ wings is to keep their feathers neat especially after molting. During this process, chickens get rid of their old feathers and grow new ones. To make their feathers look uniform, you should consider clipping the wings.
- Basically, these are the main reasons why you should think of clipping your free-range chickens. Let’s look at the procedure you need to follow in order to clip your birds’ wings.
How do I Clip My Free Range Chickens’ Wings?
When it comes to clipping your chickens, you need courage, skills, and knowledge on how to go about it. The reason why you should be courageous is that some birds are aggressive and might try to resist this process. You need the right skills not to make the mistake and injure your chicken when clipping it.
- Knowledge of how this poultry practice is done is important as well. You need to know how to handle your chickens in preparation for wing clipping. The preparation entails getting hold of your birds, handling them as required and executing wing clipping without injuring them.
- With all these factors at the back of your mind, you can easily perform wing clipping in a matter of minutes. But you will need the right materials and maybe some help from someone else.
- A towel ( but it is optional)
- Clean pair of scissors
- Pair of pliers for safety
- Gauze or rag
- Corn starch
With these materials ready, you should be able to clip the wings of your free-range birds. Here are the steps to follow:
Step 1: Get Hold of Your Chicken
- Getting hold of your free-range bird to clip its wings is actually the hardest part of the whole exercise. Some free-range chickens are friendly and approachable while others are scared of your moves.
- Once you spot those that are easy to handle, you will find this step to be easier and time-saving. But if you approach the other types of birds to catch them, you should be careful. Most likely, they will try to engage you in running battles all over the yard. If you are not fit enough to chase them around, you will find this task to be quite taxing on your side.
- But you can easily catch them by cornering them in a confined place before they can get away. On the other hand, you can use your towel to make this work easier. The towel will slow them down, making it easy for you to catch them. Ensure that you handle them gently to avoid inflicting pain on them. Besides, watch out for their beaks and claws when grabbing them.
Step 2: Calm Down the Chicken
- After taking full control of your chicken, take some time to calm it down. You can do it by petting it softly until it stops making noise and struggling to free itself. Or you can invert it to make it more docile. This way, you will be in a better position to control it during the wing clipping process.
Step 3: Expose the Wing You Want to Clip
- While holding your chicken upside down, look for the wing you want to clip. First, expose the primary flight feathers by holding your bird’s wing and carefully pull it away from the body.
- The primary flight feathers look different from the rest. These feathers have a different color compared to others. They’re longer and are found at the tip of your chicken’s wing. You may just clip one or both wings depending on your preference.
- Clipping one wing has its importance in one way or the other. When you clip a single wing, your bird is more likely to be thrown off-balance when it tries to fly. This happens when one wing is longer than the other and it creates a problem when a chicken flies away.
- In the end, your bird will find it difficult to jump out of its free-ranging zone. Unfortunately, a large number of chicken owners have not yet made a unanimous decision on clipping only one wing.
- Take a clean pair of scissors and clip about two-thirds of its first or so wing feathers. To achieve this feat, you need to use your chicken’s secondary flight feathers as your guide. Secondary flight feathers are located at the same place on the wings just like the primary flight feathers.
- The main idea behind clipping the wings is to get rid of a certain amount of feathers. While performing this task, you should be careful not to injure your birds. So, you need to cut not so close to your chicken’s wings but a few inches away.
- It is important to know that chickens feathers, just like the other parts of the body, have blood veins up to a certain length. Therefore, it is advisable to clip the wings below this point because the feathers are completely dead. In other words, the chicken feels no pain when you clip its feathers where there are no blood veins.
- If you clip the wing above this point, you will subject your chicken to a lot of pain and bleeding. In case it happens accidentally, ensure that you apply some pressure to the affected area to stop bleeding. Then take your chicken to a veterinarian as soon as possible to get it out of danger. Alternatively, you can apply starch or cornflour to slow the bleeding and speed up the clot.
- Another easy way of clipping wings is by use of a pair of pliers. Grab the base of your chicken’s feathers and use the pliers to remove it completely. Even though this technique is somehow painful, it will help your bird clot.
Step 5: Let go of Your Chicken
- After you have successfully trimmed your free-range chicken wings, release it immediately. This will help it get out of confusion and integrate with other chickens in your backyard. Normally, a chicken that is subjected to this process becomes disoriented for a while even after it is released. But the good news is that it will quickly get back to its normal life if the whole clipping exercise went on smoothly.
Do I need to trim/clip all my free-range chickens? Wing clipping or trimming involves the removal of primary flight feathers from your chickens’ wings. The practice is not necessary for every free-ranging bird unless one or a few of them are flying out of their free-range zone. Also, most breeds do not fly well and this makes it unnecessary to clip their wings.
How often should I clip my free-range chickens? Once you start trimming your free-range birds’ wings, you should do it every year immediately after the molt.
When it comes to clipping your free-range chickens’ wings, you should only do it to your flighty birds. Once you are done, you can just release your birds to let them enjoy their free time in your yard. This task is simple and only takes a few minutes to have your chickens’ wings clipped.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Chicken Board!!