Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Clipping Flight Feathers


Clipping Flight Feathers

Disclaimer: Most birds live and range contentedly within their allotted area. Only select few birds feel the need to "fly the coop." At Premier, we're fortunate to have enough space to give our birds room to roam safely within our netting, so we've never needed to clip any wings.

"How do I keep my flighty poultry from flying over the electrified PoultryNet™?"

Answer: Clip their wing feathers.

Most birds, when given enough space, feed and water, will stay within netting. But some birds are more likely to fly than others. Heavy breeds like White Rocks can't get off the ground as easily as light layer breeds, such as Leghorns. Some bantam breeds can and do fly up and over netting. Roosters have incentive to fly if the hens are nearby or when feuding with each other. Startled chickens (from barking dogs, loud traffic, noisy lawnmowers) are also more inclined to fly. Young chickens tend to fly more frequently than older ones.

For those birds that suspect the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, clip flight feathers on one wing to remove the balance needed for flight. The feathers will grow back with the next molt. Feather regrowth may be quicker with young birds than for aged birds.

The process, which involves only trimming the feathers along the primary feather line, does not hurt or injure the bird when done correctly. The primary feathers are normally tucked under the wing, and you have to extend the wing to see them. They are normally a different color and easy to locate.

Trim only one wing, not both. (Clipping both wings will allow the birds to reclaim some of the balance they need for flight.) Use sharp scissors; hoof trimmers will also work.

Wing ClipHow to clip flight feathers. Photos courtesy ofbackyardchickens.com.
To clip the feathers:
1. Restrain the bird in one hand or have someone hold it for you.
2. Select a wing and pull it out to expose all the feathers. The longest feathers on the tip of the wing are the primary feathers — there should be 10 of them.
3. With scissors, start trimming the primary feathers at the point where the secondary feathers meet the primary ones.
4. Continue trimming the primary feathers along the edge.See photos above for reference.