Yes, Chicken Can Fly: Here’s How to Keep Them Secure

Have you ever wondered if your backyard chickens could take to the skies? I remember the first time I saw one of my chickens fluttering awkwardly into the air – it was both amusing and surprising.

While chickens can indeed fly, their aerial abilities are quite limited compared to birds like hawks or eagles.

Chickens, with their relatively small wings and light bone structure, are designed more for short, brief flights rather than soaring high or traveling long distances.

It’s an interesting sight, seeing them flap their wings energetically, managing only to get a few feet off the ground or onto a low perch.

If you’re curious about the flight capabilities of your feathered friends or have ever chased a chicken attempting an ambitious takeoff, you’re not alone.

In this blog post, we’ll dive into the science behind chicken flight. We’ll also share some practical tips on how to keep your adventurous chickens safely grounded.

Which chicken breeds can fly?

Not all chicken breeds are able to fly. Some breeds, such as the Rhode Island Red and the Plymouth Rock, are bred for their meat and eggs, and they don’t have the strong wings that are needed for flying.

Other breeds, such as the Wyandotte and the Australorp, are bred for their dual purpose of meat and eggs, and they have stronger wings that allow them to fly.

The best way to tell if a chicken breed can fly is to look at its wings.

Chickens that can fly have long, pointed wings that are well-developed. Chickens that can’t fly have shorter, rounder wings that are not as well-developed.

How old do chickens have to be to fly?

As I observed my flock of chickens, I became curious about their development, particularly their ability to fly. It was fascinating to watch them grow and see how their flying skills evolved over time.

Understanding the Flying Abilities of Chickens

  • Early Flight Attempts
    • I noticed that around the age of 6 weeks, the young chickens started to test their wings. These initial attempts were clumsy and short, but it marked the beginning of their flying journey.
  • Improvement with Age
    • As the weeks passed, their flying ability gradually improved. They started to fly with more confidence and for longer distances, although still within the limitations of their species.
  • Peak Flying Ability
    • By the time they were about 6 months old, most of my chickens had reached their peak flying capability. They could now fly well enough to get over small obstacles or reach low perches, which added a new dimension to managing their environment.

This growth in their flying skills was a natural part of their development. It was a reminder of the importance of understanding the different stages of a chicken’s life and their changing needs.

Can chickens fly over fences?

As my chickens grew and their flying abilities improved, I faced a new challenge: keeping them from flying over the fences.

The reality that a full-grown chicken could travel up to 500 feet in a single flight and reach heights of about 10 feet became evident.

Yes, chickens can indeed fly over fences, and mine were no exception.

Managing Chickens’ Flight Over Fences

  • Assessing Fence Height
    • The height of the fence in my yard became a crucial factor. I noticed that my chickens could easily clear a 4-foot fence. However, they seemed hesitant or unable to fly over the 6-foot sections, suggesting that a taller barrier could be an effective deterrent.
  • Enhancing Fence Security
    • To discourage their escapades, I considered several options. Firstly, installing a taller fence seemed like a straightforward solution. This would physically limit their ability to fly out of the enclosed area.
  • Using Chicken Wire
    • Another method I explored was covering the top of the fence with chicken wire. This added an extra layer of security, making it more challenging for the chickens to find a suitable launching or landing spot on the fence.
  • Training as a Deterrent
    • Training the chickens not to fly was also an option. Similar to the earlier training I had undertaken, this would involve encouraging them to stay grounded and feel comfortable within their designated space.

Each of these solutions had its merits and challenges.

The decision depended on various factors, including the layout of my yard, the number of chickens I had, and how determined they were to explore beyond their boundaries.

How to train your chickens not to fly

Here’s how I successfully trained my chickens to not fly, and how you can do the same:

I began by keeping them in a confined area, like their run or coop, to acclimatize them to staying grounded.

This initial step was crucial in getting them used to their surroundings and discouraging their natural inclination to fly.

Once they seemed comfortable on the ground, I started letting them out into a larger area.

During this phase, vigilance was key. I had to keep a close eye on them, ready to guide them back if they attempted to fly. It was a delicate balance of giving them freedom while setting boundaries.

On occasions when they did start to fly, my approach was to gently shoo them back down. I avoided yelling or chasing them, as I knew this would only exacerbate their fear and potentially encourage more flying.

Patience and consistency were my mantras throughout this training process. It wasn’t an overnight change, taking several weeks, even months, for the chickens to fully adapt.

However, with consistent guidance and a gentle approach, they gradually learned to stay within their designated area, curbing their flying escapades.

How to clip a chicken’s wings

Despite my best efforts at training, a few of my more adventurous chickens continued their aerial escapades, compelling me to consider wing clipping as a safe and humane solution.

  1. Preparing for the Process
    • I gathered everything I needed: sharp scissors for a clean cut, a towel to cover and calm the chicken, and a helper to assist me.
  2. Setting the Scene
    • I placed the chicken on a flat surface, such as a table, to ensure stability.
  3. Calming the Chicken
    • Covering the chicken’s head gently with a towel, I noticed it helped keep them calm and still during the process.
  4. Spreading the Wings
    • With my helper holding the chicken, I carefully spread out one of its wings.
  5. Clipping the Feathers
    • I used the scissors to clip the flight feathers located on the underside of the wing. It was important to clip only the tips of the feathers and avoid cutting into the shafts, as that could cause pain.
  6. Repeating the Process
    • After clipping one wing, I repeated the steps on the other wing to ensure balance.
  7. Post-Clipping Care
    • Following the clipping, I kept a close eye on the chickens to ensure they weren’t attempting to fly and potentially injuring themselves.
  8. Long-Term Considerations
    • I was aware that this was not a permanent solution. The feathers would eventually grow back, and I might need to repeat the process. It made me consider if a different approach or type of poultry would be more suitable in the long term.

While wing clipping was effective, it was a decision I made cautiously, ensuring the welfare of my chickens was always the top priority.

For anyone considering this method, I recommend researching thoroughly or consulting with a poultry expert to understand the implications and the best practices.


In the end, it’s clear that while chickens are capable of flying, their aerial skills are limited to short distances and low altitudes.

Managing my chickens’ occasional attempts to fly over the fence was a journey that taught me about their capabilities and needs.

Whether it was through training, wing clipping, or considering structural modifications like a taller fence, each method had its place in ensuring the safety and happiness of my feathered friends.

For fellow chicken owners, it’s important to remember that while these birds might not soar like eagles, their attempts at flight are a natural expression of their behavior.

Depending on your situation, you might choose training, wing clipping, or modifying their environment to keep them safe and contained.