How to Clip Chicken Wings

Clipping the wings of your chickens is a good way to give them some free range without having to worry about them flying off. It's a simple and pain-free procedure. Read the following easy steps to learn how to clip your chickens' wings.


  1. Image titled Clip Chicken Wings Step 1
    Catch the chicken. They're quick little things, so this is easier said than done. If your chickens are in a pen, it helps to have a partner to corner the chicken and catch it. Consider using a box to enclose the chicken quickly.
    • If the chicken starts flapping its wings, gently hold them down with your hands, pressing them against her body, until the chicken calms down some.
    • During the procedure, be careful of their claws and beak. Use two hands to hold them them by the breast with their legs tucked back and their wings secured. This usually makes them go fairly docile, making them easy to manage.
  2. Image titled Clip Chicken Wings Step 2
    Stretch a wing out and expose the flight feathers. Flight feathers are the longest wing feathers, and look the most like the traditional "feather" you might see in a picture or drawing. They're also sometimes a slightly different color than the other feathers. The feathers you'll clip are the first ten, which are the longest feathers and are used for taking off.[1]
    • It helps to have a partner hold while you clip, or vice versa.
  3. Image titled Clip Chicken Wings Step 3
    Using sharp shears, cut the longest flight feathers of one wing only. Clip about halfway between the tip and the quick. If you aim for the halfway point of the feather, you won't even be close to hurting the chicken but will take enough of the feather off to make it difficult for the chicken to fly. In general, you don't need to remove more than 6 centimeter (2.4 in) of the feathers. You want to make the procedure as comfortable as possible for the chicken, so take off as little as possible.
    • Either wing is fine to clip, but only clip one. This will throw the chicken's take-off off balance, keeping them flightless. A strong chicken could take off with symmetrical wings, even shortened.[2]
    • If you want to clip the feathers shorter, hold the wing up to the light so you can see how far the blood vessels start toward the quick. Clip just above that point to remove most of the flight feathers.
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    Watch for difficulty as the chickens molt. Sometimes, the clipped feathers won't molt as easily and you'll need to help them along slightly. Repeat the procedure of catching the chicken and work the feathers out gently with your fingers if the chicken seems to be having trouble molting them.
    • Re-clip the wings in the same process after the chicken has finished molting.


  • If you are in doubt about how to do this, see your local vet.


  • Do not remove any other feathers, as these are needed for insulation.

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Categories: Chickens