The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

The last second chance

clipping wing on a flighty hen

We've been having trouble with one of our hens flying over the 5 foot high pasture fence.

It's the first time we've had to clip a chicken's wing, and we both considered this a last option, but she's had more than one second chance.

Some folks say to just clip one side, which prevents flight due to imbalance but still gives them a few extra inches of feather punch on the other side if they have an encounter with a predator. If she keeps flying over we'll clip the other side.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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My observation is that clipping one wing causes imbalance in flight, clipping both just makes flight more difficult, but often not impossible for getting over a fence.

I have also seen a chicken that figured out how to compensate for the imbalance caused by one wing being clipped. The person doing the clipping always did the right wing. Switching to clipping the left wing fixed the issue. So I suggest alternating wings.

If it keeps on escaping it may be best to have a fresh chicken for dinner, before it gets eaten by something else.

Comment by Trevor Thu Aug 30 22:56:22 2012
Trevor --- Thanks for that firsthand information! We had both the clipped pullet and her sister in the garden again this morning, so we clipped both wings on both this time. If they're out tomorrow morning...well...I was needing more chicken stock for soup.... :-)
Comment by anna Fri Aug 31 10:12:01 2012

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