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a hen spreading its wings and flying through the air

Wing clipping – do I need to do it?

We’ve all seen Chicken Run, so there’s no need for us to tell you that chickens aren’t the best flyers. 

Yet chicken wing clipping is still something we get asked about from time to time, so here’s some clarification for you. 

Do I need to clip my hen’s wings? 

In short, no. 

Your dear little hens will have enough to explore at ground level to begin with before they think about taking to the skies. 

The outside world is largely new to them, so dust bathing, sunbathing and scratching for bugs and slugs is far higher up the agenda than getting their pilot’s licence.  

Most hens do not fly well at all, so wing clipping simply isn’t necessary – often it’s the case that young hens are more likely to fly because they haven’t yet reached their full weight, and so they would find it easier to get off the ground. 

Therefore we would not recommend clipping your hen’s wings, firstly as it’s not needed, and secondly could cause potential harm to your hens if done in the wrong way. 

What to do if your hen is trying to fly free 

That said, some hens are particularly over-confident so, if one of your girls has plucked up the courage to turn your garden into a runway, there are alternative steps you can take. 

a hen with its wings outstretched, about to land on some green grass

The first thing is to look at your set up. 

In order to keep your hens safe from foxes we recommend having some kind of cover over your run, such as netting or mesh. Foxes can jump very high, so a standard garden perimeter fence won’t keep them out. 

Having a cover over the run gives double protection if one of your hens has decided they want to take to the skies – they’ll soon realise they can’t get through the cover and turn their attentions to other activities. 

If you have your girls free ranging all day (which we would only advise if someone is home to keep an eye on them) then it is possible to train them not to fly, but only with a bit of patience! 

It tends to be the case that hens follow the leader, so unless it’s your head of the flock with flight fetish, it’s unlikely that this will become an issue. 

To train your hen not to fly, simply keep popping her back in the area you’ve set up for her and she should soon learn that her efforts are in vain. 

Wing clipping – not necessary after all 

So there you have it – unless, in a rare case, one of your hens is particularly adept at taking flight, there really shouldn’t be any need for wing clipping. 

Even if flying does become an issue, there are steps you can take before considering wing clipping, as we’ve outlined above. 

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