Many people keep backyard chickens, distant relatives of the Asian junglefowl still in the wild. These birds perch and roost in trees like other birds and can use a burst flight – a speedy, almost vertical take-off – to escape predators.
Although selective breeding has reduced their flight abilities, some smaller or more athletic breeds can reach the rooftop of a house or cover dozens of feet in a single bound. So, what you need to know is, do chickens fly often, and can chicken fly to escape their coop?
Generally, an average chicken can fly to heights of 4 to 8 feet and distances of 30 feet or more. In our guide, you can see that chicken flight isn’t common practice, and generally speaking, they’d only do it when threatened.
By the end, you’ll know the expected longest flight you’d see and how you can stop your chickens from trying to escape by clipping their wing feathers on one wing. (Read What Is A Group Of Chickens Called)
Understanding the Flying Abilities of Domestic Chickens
The ability of a chicken to take flight varies depending on the breed type. Lightweight breeds such as Leghorns, Cornish, and Hamburgs can fly further than heavy breeds like Wyandottes, which can only manage to get a few inches off the ground.
The feathers of Silkie chickens, which are like the fluffy down on chicks, are not aerodynamic and thus make it challenging to fly. Orpingtons, Plymouth Rocks, and Australorps are too heavy for flight, as their bodies cannot generate enough lift from their wings to lift them off the ground.
Why You Don’t Have Flying Chickens?
Chickens are not typically strong fliers because of their round body shape and high-set wings. Some chickens weigh as much as 6 to 10 pounds and have wingspans of several feet, making them too heavy and clumsy to fly.
This is not surprising, given that chickens feed on the ground, and their feet are better adapted for walking and perching than their wings are designed for flying.
To run away from predators, chickens escape by flapping their wings to lift themselves off the ground while using their feet to run away. They may even jump up onto a perch or other object off the ground to escape danger.
The Best Flyers are Bantams
If you are raising chickens and want to know the best flyer, out of all domestic chickens, you’ll find bantams are the breed that flies the best.
Bantams are small and lightweight, meaning they can fly over chicken coop fences compared to larger breeds. Therefore, if you plan on having a flock, ensure you adequately secure the area, so they don’t escape.
Why Chickens Can Fly?
Many things can cause your birds wings and flight muscles to spring into action.
- When feeling threatened, the chicken wings will be all of a flutter as they try to flee.
- Chickens flying are nothing new when they want to explore new areas.
- You can see how high can a chicken fly when a rooster is chasing a hen for mating. This can get his flight muscles going.
- Chickens often fly away to avoid any conflicts or fights with other birds.
Reasons Chickens Can Fly
- If you plan to fence your chicken coop, make sure it is at least 5 feet tall.
- Many chickens can fly up to 6 feet in the air if determined, so height is essential for keeping them safe.
- To prevent escape, you might need to clip the wing feathers on only one wing of each individual chicken to prevent them from flying away.
- Offering your chickens a large, secure area for them to roam reduces the desire to fly away.
How and Why Clip A Birds Wings
Although birds have wings and feathers, not all bird breeds can fly. For some fun facts, 60 species of birds cannot fly at all. Chickens, for example, are one of the few bird species that have some flying ability while also being flightless birds. (Read Can Chickens Eat Bananas Peels)
While some birds soar and glide to escape predators, chickens are usually domesticated and held in place by a five-foot fence. Different chicken breeds are classified as heavy breeds or lighter breeds. The heavier breeds often struggle to get airborne because of their weight. Thus, chickens are neither flying birds nor flightless birds.
This leaves us with the question of how high a chicken fly or how high can chicken jump can. In some cases, some chicken breeds can climb over an average fence, so clipping your chicken’s wings’ primary feathers is done as a precaution.
Clipping chickens’ wings is much easier than it sounds and doesn’t cause them pain or distress.
- All it takes is a sharp pair of scissors. To clip your chickens wings, grab the bird and stretch the wing out into an open position with your fingers.
- Now, you’ll see the primary feathers, the most prominent ones forming the wing’s tip.
- Now, you need to cut along the top of the secondary feathers that show halfway over the primary feathers.
- Trim off a few inches of feathers from the chicken’s wings. With wings clipped, it isn’t possible for your chicken to fly, and thus can struggle to escape predators.
Remember, clipping a chicken’s wings’ primary feathers isn’t a permanent fix, as they will eventually grow back.
Will My Backyard Chickens Fly Away?
Domesticated chickens are usually wing-clipped, although, with selective breeding, you can have heavily weighted chickens; therefore, it is pretty challenging for chickens to escape your yard. If you want to ensure that your chickens don’t escape their owner’s yard, wing clipping is the best way.
This involves stretching out the primary flight feathers, the largest feathers, and cutting along the tips of the wing before tucking the wings back. It is important to note that this process is painless for the chickens.
Even if you have a lighter breed of chicken that may jump over a four-foot fence, wing clipping will still make it difficult for them to cross a 1 ft fence. Therefore, if you want to keep your chickens in your yard, clipped wings, besides adding a boundary fence, is the best way to go.
Can Chickens Fly With Clipped Wings?
A chicken flew for 13 seconds, the longest period, while the furthest distance was about 301.5 ft. A chicken can leap 10 ft high, although the flight is restricted to around 1 ft if you clip wings.
Clipping their wings stops any birds rising, as clipping their wings, especially the primary flight feathers allows them to flap, generating no lift. (Read Can Chickens Eat Black Olives)
How To Stop Chickens Flying Over My Fence
If you still find your chickens attempting to escape despite providing them with food, water, and a suitable shelter, consider covering your fences with chicken wire fencing, netting, or mesh. When considering which chickens may fly over a fence, the type of breed is an essential factor.
However, other factors, such as the amount and quality of the pasture that the flock has access to and the environment within the chickens’ enclosure, should also be considered.
For example, some light chicken breeds may easily fly over a 6-foot fence, while other heavier breeds may not fly over a 4-foot fence. If a free-range flock only has access to small or deteriorated pasture areas, they may be more likely to fly over a fence.
Conclusion To Can Chickens Fly?
Chickens can fly thanks to their flight feathers. Chickens are another ubiquitous and widely domesticated animal raised for their meat and eggs.
The wild offspring search for food on the ground while perching and roosting on trees. They can also fly away from predators. Similar to birds, chickens have the potential to fly, but this depends on the breed.
Orpingtons, Plymouth Rocks, Australorps, and Wyandottes are heavy birds that can only fly up to a foot off the ground since their wings cannot lift their weight, in contrast to the flighty birds of the Mediterranean breed, leghorn and Araucana.
Despite their lack of urge to fly, chickens are curious to explore fresh places rather than only perching and roosting on the grassy ground.
A threat is yet another thing that makes a chicken fly! Whether they are of a heavy or light breed, chickens will still fly away from predators if they feel threatened. If pursued or threatened, they could fly a respectable distance. (Read Can Chickens See In The Dark)
A domesticated chicken raised in a backyard is frequently carefully developed to produce meat for human consumption. As a result, these wings are often heavy and unable to lift.
Clipping their wings ensures chickens stay contained in their coop with their flock of birds in their owner’s yard or garden. By clipping the wings of your chickens, you can keep them in your garden or yard without worrying about them fleeing their coop.