Although chickens aren’t very adept at flying it is still possible for them to fly over the fence and wind up in a place with nothing but danger. Owners usually deal with this by trimming their feathers in order to impede flying despite the appeals from animal-right fighters to refrain from doing it. The procedure itself is pretty simple and straightforward. Nevertheless, it demands a lot of concentration and practice. This is how to clip your bird’s wings painlessly and successfully.
Capturing the bird
Chickens are not very keen on being groomed. They become uneasy and stressed which is why we have to please them during the whole procedure in order to make it as bearable as possible. Grabbing them before clipping itself is maybe the toughest part. If you don’t get hold of it rapidly enough you’ll probably end up playing an endless game of tag with them. Therefore, try to capture the bird as quickly as possible. This will be less stressful for the chicken and you’ll save the energy that would, otherwise, be wasted on chasing after it. Having a co-worker who’d apprehend the bird and hold it during the following steps would be an even better option.
Easier chicken catching
We have to stress again that first-timers at clipping are very hard to seize. It is as if they know that only one mistake during this procedure could mean the end of their lives. However, there are some tips on how to ‘’abduct’’ it effortlessly. Subdue the bird to a small space where it doesn’t have many chances to escape. The other way to go about this is to throw a towel on the bird’s head to slow it down and facilitate catching.
How to hold the chicken during the process
Unlike some other cases where you usually hold the bird facing down, this time the bird should be on its back. Additionally, have its chest be on your arm while its legs are between your fingers. The free hand should be used to pin down the top of the bird and do the clipping. This might seem complicated for a single person to do and that is why it is suggested that you have a friend help you. Then you should pick up its wings and gently apply pressure to them or grab the bird by its ankles.
Calming the bird
The more docile your bird is, the easier it will be to proceed with clipping. Using a mild, placid voice will surely be helpful as well as petting it softly and inserting it upside-down.
Knowing the right feathers to cut
Birds usually have 2 sets of feathers: primary and secondary. The primary ones are also called ‘’flight feathers and they’re the most responsible for birds’ air traveling while the latter are the ones overlapping the longest feathers. When you start clipping your chicken’s feathers look for the primary ones and start from the tip toward the body. Cutting 5 of them on one wing would be enough. This will inhibit their balance when they start flying.
Blood feathers shouldn’t be touched! These are the newest feathers that have a lot of blood circulating through them, which means that cutting them will put the animal’s life in peril. The easiest way to recognize these is the pinkish color and dark fluid in the quills. Should you happen to accidentally cut the blood feather, get it completely out using pliers and put direct pressure on the place to stop the bleeding. You can follow this up by some appropriate medication (corn starch) but if the hemorrhage doesn’t stop seek doctor’s advice immediately.
How long should the feathers be cut?
You shouldn’t cut your bird’s wings too long or too short. When you leave too much, the whole process won’t have any purpose as the wings will grow out too soon and you’ll be forced to go through that hassle again earlier than you want. On the other hand, if you clip the feathers too short you’ll probably hurt some of the nerves that do exist at the very bottom and this could cause your chicken discomfort. Cutting 6 centimeters should be the right length, just slightly below the level of secondary feathers.
When does the chicken need harder clipping?
There are as many different types of chicken as you can imagine and they all have different flying skills. Some of them do amazingly well at this such as Leghorns and Bantams. Therefore, according to the breed, there are different methods of how to cut a chicken’s wing. Ordinary chickens usually need 50% of their feathers to be cut but with the flighty ones, we are allowed to go even shorter. Just bend up the primary feathers one by one, check if there isn’t any blood and cut it below the point of covert feathers. This is how you’ll keep the aesthetics of your bird in check while helping it not to get in danger by flying too high or far away. The folding up of feathers is not really necessary but it helps you a lot not to cut the covert feathers and generally keep the straight line of a wing.
This is how you’ll keep the aesthetics of your bird in check while helping it not to get in danger by flying too high or far away. The folding up of feathers is not really necessary but it helps you a lot not to cut the covert feathers and generally keep the straight line of a wing.
Clipping primaries and secondaries
This is a very extreme case. You can do this with chicken breeds that are terrific fliers and often make use of this skill to go over the fence and escape. It has to be noted that cutting secondary feathers is allowed as long as you’re cautious about the blood feathers that, again, are required to be unscathed. If trimming secondaries is joined by cutting the flight feathers, you should also take care of the evenness and outlook of the wings as the covert feathers could get in the way and be cut, giving the wing a shabby and unsightly look.
Don’t forget the treats!
If you want your chicken to be more and more complacent with each trimming try to give it some treats after each procedure. You want it to trust you and relate the good behavior during trimming with being rewarded.
What are the right reasons and what’s the right time for clipping?
Clipping bird’s wings, in general, is very hotly disputed among vets and owners. They all give both legit and unjustified reasons for doing the trimming. Flighty chickens who escape their fenced area are in danger of predators, especially when it comes to rural areas that have a lot of woods where there are foxes and wolves lurking.
However, prey-driven animals are not hidden only in the woods. They could be in your own backyards such as dogs and cats. On the other hand chicken’s wings can be helpful in the same situations. They can just fly off to the area that is off the limits of predators should they find a way around the fence. Also, flying can be a good exercise for fat chickens which is essential if we want to keep them healthy.
The frequency of clipping depends on the type of chicken you have. Owners usually check once a month by observing the length of the wings If it seems as it was before it is time for another clipping. If you feel insecure about this, hire a professional to do this because clipping chicken wings is not a piece of cake.