Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Wing Clipping

Before I begin, it is important to understand that this was our first time clipping wings. We are in no way experts of any kind in this area. We are just presenting how we chose to tackle this chore. Learn from us. We'll keep you posted on how successful we were.

Over the past month or so, our chickens have been getting out. Occasionally because they found a weak spot in the fence or because a door was left open. Most of the time, they were getting out because they were flying over the fence.

Flying over into our front yard is no big deal. They forage around 'fresh' territory and eventually get chased back in where they belong. The problem was, they were flying over into the garden.

Earlier this fall and winter, we had opened the garden gate and were happy that they scratched around in the soil and straw, finding grubs and such. A couple weeks ago, Jamey closed the garden gate in hopes to get them used to not being in the garden for when spring planting time comes. Oh, but they like it in the garden, so they proceeded to fly over the fence. This was a problem. They are not welcome in there come Spring.

So, we found ourselves looking into clipping their wings. We read numerous articles on line (this is a good one), one of them introduced us to the potential problem of clipping a wing with blood in the feather shaft which can cause your bird to bleed out. Oh, my. We weren't sure what else to do, so we set a date, inviting our wonderful chicken-assistant and my brother, Ben, to help.

Now, it is important to understand that clipping their wings does not hurt them, it's like getting a hair cut or your finger nails trimmed. If there is blood in the feather shaft, it may. I'm unsure about that. All the more reason to get educated first and avoid those feathers. Thankfully, we had no bleeders.

Jamey and Ben chased the chickens into the roost (here is an explanation of our chicken set up) and closed the little door between the roost and the nesting area. I stood outside with my camera, ready to document this process. When things quieted down in there, I opened the door to find Jamey and Ben in a cloud of dust. They started by catching Marv, figuring they didn't want him around to watch his girls get clipped.

First, they performed some sort of inspection.

Once they determined which feathers to cut, they commenced. Marv was such a good rooster. I'm not sure what Jamey and Ben thought of me standing there cooing and whispering encouraging words to him, but it seemed to work and he cooperated very well.

We decided to only clip one of each of their wings. We read that sometimes this is enough to discourage the birds from flying because their balance is off, but they can still make a valiant run for it if a predator is near. We also read that just clipping one wing sometimes doesn't work and you have to go back and clip the other. We decided to start with one, clipping their right wings so if we have to do it again, we'll know to then clip the left wings.

After Marv was done, they opened the little door and helped him into the nesting room. Next up, our multi-colored bachelor. We have decided he is a rooster mutt of sorts. A kind commenter asked once if he has five toes, wondering if he may be a salmon faverolle. As you can see, he just has three. He, too, was very cooperative. It was because of all my cooing, of course.

Then, off he went into the nesting room. The hens proved to be the most difficult. They squirmed and flapped. Once I started cooing, they were fine. Well, most of the time. Jamey always waited until they were completely calm before clipping.

Jamey loves this next picture. Sorry, dear. He's under the roost, about to snatch the legs of the next bird. He's my soul mate, you know.

And, lastly, here they are sending the clipped chickens into the nesting room where they can eat, drink or lay an egg.

As a little update, I will say that a few chickens have been out into our yard. This likely means they flew over. But, none have flown over in the garden that we know of. The ones coming over the fence were likely trying to escape from a rooster. If Marv was chasing me, I'd fly over the fence if I could. Well-balanced or not. Pin It

1 comment:

  1. A comment via email:

    "you & jamey are great teachers, i wouldn't miss your blog for anything, its great. don't get pregnant again, we really missed you. glad its going better. Anna"


Just a friendly reminder, if you know me personally please try to refrain from using my name. There are those who may try to locate me, break into my pantry and steal my pickled beets. Thanks:-).

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