Some small chickens can fly up to twelve meters high. This is not always desirable with a chicken in captivity, because the chickens can escape by flying out of the run or over a fence. Escaped chickens are less likely to survive, so it can sometimes be wise to hinder the flight.
Therefore, avoid flying by trimming wings. The outer feathers, the flight feathers, are cut off the wing. It is a fairly simple and painless procedure, which can be performed in various ways. In some cases, cutting blades do have some drawbacks.
Chickens and flies
Chickens are flightless birds and therefore will not like to fly. Still, all chickens can fly to some degree. When they fly, this is often short-lived. The flying is more like jumping and fluttering, and they fall back down quickly.
However, small chickens can reach great heights of up to 12 meters. On the other hand, large chickens, such as Brahmas and Cochins, have a hard time getting off the ground and, in exceptional cases, will reach a maximum height of 2 to 3 meters. In addition, there are breeds that do not like to fly. For example, a Barnevelder will not fly much because of its calm nature. A Sussex doesn’t like to fly either.
Chickens owe the fact that they can fly to their wings. The size of the wings and feathers play an important role in this.
Size of the wings
If a bird has long and narrow wings, it can float well in the air. Birds with small wings, such as chickens, are less able to fly. In chickens, the wings are so small in relation to the body, which makes flying very difficult.
The larger the chicken, the smaller the wings are in relation to the body. Small chickens have relatively larger wings, which makes it a little easier for them to fly. In addition, smaller chickens have to carry less weight, making it easier for them to fly.
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Roll of the feathers on the wings
The feathers on the wing form the wing profile. This wing profile makes it possible for birds to fly. 80 percent of the flying ability of birds is due to the airfoil. The other 20 percent is obtained by fluttering.
The flight feathers are located at the tip of the wing. The flight feathers provide lift and thrust, allowing a bird to take off. These feathers are therefore essential for flying. The flight feathers also allow a bird to fly in different directions.
If the wing profile of a bird is damaged, it may be that a bird can fly less well. Especially if the flight feathers are missing, which can happen during a molt, for example, a bird will not be able to fly well.
An effective way to prevent chickens from flying is to clip the flight feathers. Birds without flight feathers cannot fly. Cutting off the tips of the flight feathers is called trimming. The trimming is completely painless for chickens because there is no feeling in the flight feathers. As a result, trimming the wing can be compared to cutting human hair.
The trimming wing can be performed in several ways. One can cut off a number of flight feathers and leave the outer ones so that the wing continues to look nice. One can also choose to remove all flight feathers. In addition, trimming is possible with one wing or with both wings.
If the flight feathers are clipped off a wing, a chicken will become unbalanced in flight. As a result, a chicken is no longer able to fly at all. This method is therefore the most effective. An important disadvantage is that a chicken no longer has any chance of fleeing when danger threatens, while a chicken that can still reach somewhat small heights can still flee from predators.
Short wings on both wings
By removing the flight feathers on both wings, a chicken will be able to keep its balance while flying. The shortening of both wings means that much more energy is needed for flying. The wing area of the chicken is smaller, which makes flying much more difficult.
A chicken that has been clipped on both wings will therefore be much less able to fly, but in most cases will still be able to flee in emergency situations.
Method of trimming the flight feathers
Cutting the wings is quite simple and can be done according to the following method:
- Catch the chicken first. If the chicken is not so tame, you can do this, for example, by luring the chicken with some food.
- Hold the base of the wings with your thumb and index finger.
- Make the feathers clearly visible by straightening the wing.
- Shorten the outer long feathers, the flight feathers, about four inches with scissors. The coverts on the wing must remain undamaged.
- For a nicer result, you can leave one or two large flight feathers intact.
- Repeat these operations on the other wing if it is necessary that the chicken can still fly small heights.
Advantages of trimming wings a chicken
The biggest advantage of trimming wings is that the chicken can no longer fly well and therefore has less chance of escaping. Escaped chickens are often at risk because they can be caught more easily by predators and birds of prey. Also, escaped chickens can drown in open waters or be run over by cars. Finally, it is more difficult for escaped chickens to get food. It is therefore always safer for the chicken to live in captivity.
Disadvantages of trimming wing a chicken
The trimming wing also has a few important disadvantages, such as an uneven development of the pectoral muscles, less freedom for the chicken, and fewer opportunities to flee. Cutting blades are not a definitive method, but it must be repeated annually.
Development of pectoral muscles
If the clipping happens on one side, one pectoral muscle may not develop as well as the other. This chance is especially present if the chickens are clipped at a young age.
Obstruction of freedom
The chickens have less freedom of movement due to their short wings. This can be at the expense of quality of life. Chickens like to perch and sometimes naturally sleep in trees. Cutting the blades sometimes makes such behavior impossible.
Less able to flee
Chickens have many enemies, such as predators and birds of prey. Also in captivity, many predators and birds of prey can pose a danger to chickens. Due to the short wings, chickens have fewer escape options in emergency situations.
Chickens molt annually, whereby the chicken gets new feathers. The flight feathers are also renewed during this process. After a molt, a chicken that has been clipped can therefore fly again. The trimming should therefore be repeated annually after the molt.