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.