Flying high

Your Chickens - - Ask Our Experts -

QWhen we bought our three hens we asked the breeder to clip their wings so they wouldn’t fly over the gar­den fence. All was fine for the first year or so, but this morn­ing the chick­ens flew into my neigh­bour’s gar­den and made a mess of her flower beds! She’s not amused and I can’t let it happen again, but I’ll be heart­bro­ken if my chick­ens have to go. Help! A Anne Perdeaux says: Clip­ping a wing un­bal­ances the chicken, mak­ing take-off more dif­fi­cult (al­though not al­ways im­pos­si­ble). How­ever, at around a year old the an­nual cycle of moult­ing be­gins, when feath­ers are shed and re­placed – in­clud­ing the clipped flight feath­ers. Once the feath­ers have fully grown back they should be clipped again. While grow­ing, the quills are dark with blood and mustn’t be cut, but when they are white and hol­low they can be clipped with no dis­com­fort to the chicken. Spread out the wing and you’ll see the ten long pointed flight feath­ers (the pri­maries) which ex­tend from the el­bow to the tip. Us­ing large, sharp scis­sors, trim these to about half their orig­i­nal length – re­cruit a helper to hold the chicken, or wrap the bird in a towel to keep it steady. If you feel ner­vous about this pro­ce­dure, ask the vet or breeder to show you what to do. There is a step-by-step guide to wing clip­ping on the Your Chick­ens web­site, which you can lo­cate us­ing the site’s ‘search’ fa­cil­ity.

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