A few weeks ago we started clipping chicken wings. We do this every fall for that spring's pullets to keep them in the half acre yard we've designated as theirs. Even though the feathers we clip in the fall grow back every year it seems that either the birds just get too heavy to go over the fence or lose the desire to see what's on the other side as they get older. We used to let them range all over our property but really had two problems with that. The first was the dogs. While three of our dogs are pretty good about the chickens, two of them were not. The combination of chickens committing suicide in the dog pen and us not being able to let all of the dogs outside to hang out with us without something terrible happening led to a new fence and clipped wings. The other reason, while less traumatic but just as disgusting, was that in the heat of the summer the birds wanted to come up in the barn and hang out on the cool concrete. And while I don't blame them, I did not like constantly walking through what they inevitably left behind.
These issues have been pretty much resolved by fencing them off a large yard and clipping wings. This year though I put off clipping wings a little longer than usual to let them roam the yard a little more because there just wasn't anything green in their pasture due to the drought. After the first yellow bird committed suicide in the dog pen though it was time to get it done. We started a few weeks ago at dusk while the birds had pretty much decided to roost. It was a little bit early though which caused quite a commotion because the birds didn't want to stay roosted when we started messing with them which made it hard to keep track of which birds had been done. We've caught a few every couple nights since then trying to get the majority of them. The morning after we took care of most of them the entrance of their coop was littered with feathers.
I'm not sure how most people clip wings but we've been pretty successful clipping just one wing on each bird which is supposed to put them off balance and unable to get very high in the air. We clip the primary feathers and use a set of sheet metal shears that seem to work better than scissors. The process is completely painless and the birds don't mind at all once they've succumbed to being caught. The next morning they went on about their business of grooming in the sunlight just a few feathers lighter.