Wing Clipping (which may or may not work)

Our first fence was sad. As I’ve mentioned before, my carpentry skills are close to zero. The fence was only four feet tall. It covered part of a hill and one side was stacked firewood. The other sides were chicken wire attached with poultry staples to whatever wood/stakes I had lying around.

Our chickens would

escape every morning. We would let them out of the coop and feed them. As soon as they finished eating, Roanoke would escape. It was always Roanoke. She’s an adventurous Plymouth Rock that leads the flock. Eventually, Basel, our other Plymouth, would follow.

The internet says that if I clip our chickens’ wings, they won’t be able to clear four feet. The internet also says that if I clip one wing, the chickens will be off balance and will have an even harder time flying.

We tried that.

Every day, Roanoke and the others would escape. Laughing at me, I’m sure.

Then, we built a new fence, six feet tall. We clipped one wing again and went a week without anyone escaping. One day, I heard the chickens squawking loudly. Usually when they do that it’s because our friendly neighborhood peregrine falcon is around. I’m not sure what made them go crazy this time, but when I got over there, one Red was standing outside the fence. Our new, six foot fence! With one wing!

It has only happened that one time in the last month with the new, higher fence, but still, wing clipping is not a fail safe. I believe it has helped but it is not going to keep them in if they want out.

Clipping is relatively easy. I usually have a helper (one of my kids) catch the chickens. They hold them while I spread out a wing (see picture at beginning of post). There are longer feathers that are clearly different from the other feathers.

I clip those so they are only slightly longer than the other feathers. It’s like clipping one’s nails and does not hurt the chickens at all.

Ideally, I would like to not clip their wings so they can run and escape any predator, but they are not fully free range in the city. This has helped keep our chickens in and is relatively easy to do.

-Jimmy

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