Heated debate often follows when it comes to the issue of cutting chicken feathers.
If you're going to keep backyard chickens, clipping their wings will be essential; however, this will not harm the bird, and the creature will not feel any pain. This not only prevents them from flying over your fence, but it keeps them out of danger from predators, getting lost, or being hit by cars. But you can avoid clipping their wings by constructing a roof over their living quarters, or by placing overhead netting in the area. However, if these are not options, there are several ways to clip its wings.
Some birds like Orpingtons and Pekin Bantams will not need to have their wings clipped. Before deciding to clip the feathers, ensure that all other options have been exhausted. But if you find no other choice, there are safe ways to do it.
Relax and Breathe
Although it may seem like a stressful experience for the bird,the process is not difficult, but it requires delicacy.
One way to do this is to clip one side of the chicken's wing. This off-balance feeling will feel awkward to the chicken, and will cease trying to fly in the future. Or you can clip both wings. This will not only secure more balance from the chicken, but it will give you piece of mind in knowing thatit will never be able to get over your fence. There is debate over what is best for the chicken, and it is up to you over the best method.
When it comes to cutting feathers, you'll want to look at the feathers under the wing itself. These are the feathers chickens use to take flight. Simply pull the wings and locate the longer feathers that trail the edge of the wigs like so.
You may want to have someone hold the chicken as your extending the wings.
These are your flight feathers.
With a large pair of scissors, you can big cuts or take off 1-2 inches at a time. Use scissors for cutting paper instead of blunt-edge or smaller scissors. Shears are preferable. Depending on the breed and how thick the feathers are, you may need to cut 3-4 inches deep. Simply cut under the wing in a horizontal fashion, and in an even manner. Avoid areas of the feather shaft that appear pinkish. You don't want to cut any blood vessels. You'll be finished when there are no more feathers to cut.
The first 10 feathers will be longer than the others and may require more cutting. When all the feathers are trimmed, you'll want to monitor how fast the feathers will grow. For young chickens, their feathers can grow back in a few months and roughly a year for older chickens. Repeat the trimming when the chicken is molting. Since the trimmings only last from molt to molt, you'll want to be extra vigilant. Most feathers usually molt duringlate summer or autumn.
Risks Associated with Cutting
While clipping your chickens is the best way to keep your bird grounded, there is a risk, since the bird uses its wings to get away from danger. And since chickens have poor eyesight, they would be at an unfair advantage in tall grass areas when stacked against predators.
Clipping the wings also exposes the bird to injury.
Be sure to monitor your clipped bird to see how it is adjusting to its new wings. A golden rule to follow is to cut as little as possible. You'll want to avoid cutting too much, since it may hurt the chicken.
At the end of the day, it is better to cut too little than too much.