Wing clipping is the most common method of controlling the flight of home-farm chickens. It involves using a sharp pair of scissors to cut off the first ten flight feathers on one wing. This causes a bird to lack the balance needed for flight and in theory discourages them from trying. It is also temporary because it lasts only until new feathers grow during the next molt. This can be a few months in young birds and up to a year for older ones.
Clipping their wings doesn’t hurt the bird at all and it isn’t noticeable when they are walking around since the primary flying feathers are hidden when the wings are folded. Don’t feel bad about clipping wings, the reason you keep hens in the first place is for the eggs that they provide. If you can’t find the eggs because they are laying in a ditch or in the neighbor’s garden, then you are wasting your time. Also, it’s your responsibility to keep your flock safe, if they can leave the garden at will, you are putting them in danger.
How to Clip a Wing
You can do this by yourself but it easier if you have an assistant that can hold the hen and keep it calm. Once you have caught your, spread one of the wings out to display all the feathers. The feathers you want to cut are the primary flight feathers which are the longest ones towards the front of the wing. You can leave the first one if you want as it is visible when they tuck their wing into the body. But you do need to clip the next nine feathers by removing about 2.5” to bring them in line with the rest of the wing, and that’s all there is to it. You will need to repeat this again in about one year, after they have molted. If you have questions, watch the video below.