The Adventures Of Coop & The Gang

Clipping The Wing June 11, 2011

Filed under: Keeping Chickwans — Coop & The Gang @ 7:08 pm
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As the rain beats down at the window and the girls are looking likely to heading to bed I thought now was the ideal time for this week’s post. Inspired by the day’s events at our friend Jimmys farm where our beautiful girls came from.

With this being the weekend of Open Farm Sunday, an annual and national event organised by Leaf (Linking Environment & Farming) giving everyone the chance to see where their food comes from, how its grown and how farmers care for the environment. A wonderful event for all the ages, if you haven’t found a farm near you for tomorrow head to for your nearest farm taking part. Don’t be put off by the “bad” weather, the farmers need the rain & your support.

Jimmy has opened his farm for the weekend so we head up for the day, to enjoy the local stall holders, snuggle some animals, kune kune piglets…the one that fitted in my hands & wee’d on us  the weekend we picked up the girls? I think I would now struggle to pick one up! The last of the lambs for the season, some ickle bunny rabbits, the calfs, the goslings, the ducks and the chickens.

We love the chickens. We also love Ross the chicken keeper. A fine display Rhode Island Reds, Buff Orpingtons, Bluebells, Frizzled Orpingtons, Speckled Sussex, Light Sussex, White Star, Speckledy, Black Rock, full size or bantam & trio of Indian Game. You certainly get to know their breed character traits when you hang out with a serious amount of hens of all ages!

It’s clear why our Light Sussex hen Doris gets her love of flight. As a amateur urban chicken keeper we had our first wing clipping lesson at the farm when we got the girls as I wanted to know what I had to do and when no matter what the age. Not all chickens require their wings to be clipped, if you are blessed with space whats a little flying between friends.

For us wing clipping will typically be essential maintenance post moult, the new overcoat needs tailoring so they don’t end up in  our neighbour’s garden or out in the road. No sooner had the girls settled in and Doris was up on the table and eyeing up the neighbours fence, I scooped her up in the obligatory pretend you’re grabbing a rugby ball hands & pulled out her wings one by one, I was amazed with how much her clipped wing had grown, as soon as the second pair of hands were home we set to work at unbalancing our nearly balanced bird.

Now there is nothing cruel about clipping a chickens wing, there is no damage to bones as with ducks, it’s just like you or I cutting our nails. A firm grip, a sharp pair of scissors & idea of what you’re doing & it’s done.

Once you have a firm grip of your bird, bum facing the furthest away from you it could possibly be and you’re both calm, wrapped in a towel might help, extend the wing so that both parts of the wing are clearly visible, the shorter feathers from the body to the elbow and the longer feathers from the elbow up to the wing tip, the flight feathers…it’s only the longer feathers that require clipping.

With one hand, count out the first ten feathers and cut them about half way in length in a straight line, just below the covert smaller feathers above…if you’re strong you can snip at them in one go, or one by one. You’ve clipped your wing and when you fold your chickens wing up you won’t notice you’ve done it, but she’ll be sufficiently unbalanced enough that flight isn’t impossible just severely hampered.

Now, hen allowing, be kind and pop her on the ground…Doris however just wanted to fly & it was the funniest thing I’ve seen her do, poor thing just face planted the floor, but at least now she can snuffle in safety & I can stop worrying!