How to Deal with Flighty Chickens

The ability of chickens to fly is not particularly well-known. While they do have the potential of catching some air when they really want to, most chickens can’t get very far off the ground.

The capacity for a hen to fly, even short distances, can be a huge issue for any chicken keeper. Chickens in the wild can perch and roost in trees thanks to their ability to fly high enough to avoid predators.

You might have trouble with chicken breeds that are more flighty than others if you’re keeping domestic chickens. When you need to wrangle a chicken, it’s difficult to do both, and keeping it confined in a pen is even more difficult.

What is a Flighty Chicken?

A chicken with a high preference to fly is referred to as a flighty chicken. The natural capacity to fly is found in all hens, although not all of them are skilled at it.

Unless you have concerns about containing your flighty chicken, there is no issue with raising it. In the past, we’ve attempted to raise flighty chickens, but they’ve frequently leaped over our predator-proof fences. In reality, the hens were putting themselves in danger by ignoring our erected barriers!

As a consequence, we had to do some research in order to prevent this frivolous, escapist conduct.

Be Aware of These Most Flighty Chicken Breeds

There isn’t much you can do to change the breed disposition toward flightiness if you’re reading this article and already have a flock of chickens. You can’t go back and change things now.

However, if you’re new to chicken raising and want to avoid flighty behavior from becoming a issue, carefully consider the breed of chicken you choose. Large, heavy breeds like Orpingtons and Wyandottes aren’t prone to flying too much, so you don’t have to worry about it. Light breeds are more likely to be real escape artists.

You don’t have to be too concerned about it taking flight if you’re raising meat birds. Cornish Crosses and Jersey Giants, for example, are typical broiler varieties that can only stand roughly a foot tall. The weight of their bodies is simply too much for their wings to handle.

Lighter breeds, particularly those from the Mediterranean area, are the ones that you should be concerned about. These chickens are frequently kept as pets or for egg production.

Anconas, Leghorns, Fayoumis, and Araucanas are some of the flighty breeds. Due to their light bodyweight, these birds are capable of taking flight as well as loving it. If they’re given the opportunity, they’ll roost in trees, which can be a serious annoyance when you’re trying to get your hens into the coop at night.

Spitzhaubens (a Swiss breed), Red Rangers, and any bantam breed are some other flighty breeds to be aware of. Since they are so tiny, bantam chickens are particularly proficient at flying. Silkie and Polish bantams are the only chickens that aren’t prone to flightiness, for whatever reason.

Tips for Keeping Your Birds Contained

The following are some of the greatest strategies for preventing (or at least reducing) flying behavior in your flock.

1. Understand the Reasons for Flightiness

The first step in managing flighty behavior is to identify the source of the issue. After all, isn’t it preferable to focus on the problem rather than the symptom?

For two separate reasons, chickens are flighty: determination and curiosity, with curiosity taking precedence.

Chickens will regularly fly over to the neighbor’s yard out of curiosity. If your neighbors have a lovely lawn, a vegetable garden, or other spots with plenty of tasty temptations for your hens to investigate, the grass is always greener on the other side.

If they feel endangered in any way, they may also fly the coop, to use a metaphor. If you scare a bird, it’s going to be more likely to try to fly away from you, as any chicken keeper who has ever tried to wrangle an anxious runaway chicken back into the coop knows.

2. Build Preventative Fences and Housing

In order to keep your flighty chickens in place, the first (and maybe most obvious) step you can take is to construct systems. Build some fences if you don’t have any! To prevent chickens from simply hopping over fences, make sure they are at least 6 feet tall.

Not only does a tall fence keep your flitty birds in, but it also protects you from predators. Digging predators can be avoided by burying part of the fence, and climbing carnivores can be deterred by lining the top with barbed wire.

You might want to consider completely covering the run if you have super flighty birds. Your birds’ capacity to fly and flee will be totally disabled as a result of this. Of course, this may be difficult if you want to rear pastured fowl who have continuous fresh grass available.

Raising your birds in chicken tractors is a great option. Your birds will always have access to new pasture because these facilities are moved every day or every other day. When it comes to chicken tractors, there are a variety of designs available, ranging from simple hoop house designs to more complex creations.

When there’s significant snowpack, chicken tractors aren’t an excellent option, but they are if you want to raise chickens on fresh pasture. You should relocate the birds to winter housing anyway, since grass won’t grow beneath the snow. Your birds can freely range in a chicken tractor, but they can’t go too far before getting into difficulty.

3. Clip Wings

Clipping their wings is one of the first steps in keeping flighty chickens at home. Others may object to this plan because they believe it is inhumane to clip wings. This, however, is not the case.

The goal of this is to trim the flight feathers on one wing so that the bird is unbalanced and cannot take off from the ground. Rather than chopping off the whole wing of a bird, only one side will be trimmed. You aren’t cutting into your birds’ feathers, so it doesn’t hurt them in the slightest.

The key is to only chop the hollow quills of the feather. You may cause severe discomfort and bleeding by cutting too deeply or into any emerging pin feathers after molting. During each year’s molt, you’ll need to retrim feathers as new ones develop to replace the ones that were shed.

4. Brailing

You cannot clip chickens’ wings if you are raising them for exhibition purposes. They are disqualified from demonstrating as a result of this. You can, however, brail them if you want. By tying the wing with a soft cord, the wing may’t be opened up for flight, which is a basic process.

To avoid over-tightening of the binding, be careful when brailing. Blood flow can be restricted as a result of this. Furthermore, to avoid becoming disabled, you must remove and reapply the brail every week to the opposite wing.

Because it takes more time and may be inhibitory to your flock, brailing isn’t a particularly frequent technique. Obviously, for farmers who raise thousands of chickens, this isn’t a great option. However, it’s a good alternative to clipping wings if you raise exhibition birds.

5. Reduce Curiosity

I came home a few years ago to find the entire flock pecking and scratching in my garden, thanks to pastured pens with a solar fence that we moved daily.

That day, not only did we lose a number of birds to predators, but we lost all of our freshly planted seedlings as well.

Yet, it was our fault for making the mistake. The hens had gotten bored with the scratched-over pasture because we hadn’t moved the solar fence in a few days. As a consequence, they chose to fly over the barrier to investigate the neighboring garden.

Remember how curious chickens are about that grass! The grass is always greener on the other side. Eliminate the need for your hens to fly in search of new pastures. You can accomplish this by ensuring that all of your birds have sufficient area to move about and get access to new food and water. You may even give them their own chicken coop.

Chickens who are well-fed and amused are much more likely to take flight than those who are crammed, threatened, or in any way deprived. Don’t take a chance of jeopardizing your chickens’ vital needs by not meeting some of their most fundamental needs!

6. Learn How to Handle Your Birds

Don’t worry if your hens do go flying. As long as you know what you’re doing, they’re simple to catch.

Sure, you can race who gets worn out first around the yard with your chicken. Nonetheless, the probability is that it will be you, not your chicken. She’ll also be more likely to fly, perhaps to a treetop that you can’t access.

Instead, use incentives like treats to try to attract your chicken back to the others. You can wait until nightfall if that doesn’t work. She’s probably going to return to the coop to the roost if you haven’t scared her too much.

She’ll likely circle the area she’s used to going home until someone lets her back in, even if she can’t get back to her flockmates (for example, if she’s having trouble flying back over the fence or getting into the coop).

Why You Need to Keep an Eye on Flighty Chickens

It’s simple to dismiss fidgety conduct as a natural urge to fly and assume that it can’t harm your birds because they are acting out. That isn’t the case, however.

Keeping your flighty hens confined has a number of benefits. Keeping your runaway hens at home is especially important for their own protection, since they may easily wreak havoc on your neighbor’s property (or your own garden!). Your birds are fair game for predators once they’re out of sight and behind the protection of your fencing skills.

In addition, a hen may get so lost that she never manages to return from a long trip away from home, whether it was due to curiosity or because she was scared. The odds of a chicken making it back to its flock mates after flying far from the coop are very low.

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