We have poultry electronet that is four feet high to protect our chickens from predators. We’ve seen coyotes, and there’s 4-6 feral cats around the property, so it’s nice for the hens to have a safe place to spend their days.
However, Ethel had decided that she preferred to spend her time in the Great Outdoors. When the mood struck her, she’d just boing herself right over the fence. At first, she was doing it when one of us was home and she was bored. She’d hop over the fence and then scratch at the ground right under the office window or even make her way to the front door. Then she started to “escape” a few times a day, and it had nothing to do with us. She just knew she could, so she would. We even think she’d learned how to time it so that her feet didn’t touch the fence during an electric shock cycle.
As cute as this was, it was not safe at all for Ethel. And it stressed the other chickens out considerably while she was gone. After diligently researching the chicken books we trust, it was clear that clipping her wing was the right thing to do. Not the easy thing to do, but the right thing.
We clipped only the tips of her primary feathers on one side. It did not hurt her at all; she did not flinch or anything. It really is like clipping fingernails or cutting hair. Ethel was very good during the whole procedure, and was ready to follow me into the house for a treat afterwards. I had to shoo her back out to go find something yummy for her.
The “haircut” definitely affected her flying. When she dropped to the ground after the procedure, she had a major flop landing, which was sad to watch. But at bedtime, we saw her test her ability to still fly up to the roosting bar in the coop, which she did successfully in one try. I’m happy to know that she’ll be safe inside the electronet now. We’ll just have to remember to clip her wing again the next time she molts!