Have you got yourself some frequent flyers in your flock? Not to worry, there are several things you can do to keep those chickens safe and keep them from flying over the fence.
I will go over some of the reasons chickens try to fly the coop and what you can do to prevent this. Here is a brief snippet of what you can do to keep your girls safe.
- Build a higher fence
- Clip their wings
- Build an enclosure around the coop
- Give them something to do
Can Chickens Fly?
While it may be a pathetic sight to see, chickens can fly. Sort of. But not very well.
While they may have wings and feathers that seem rather impressive, you won’t see them in the air very long. Remarkable as a chicken’s plumage may look, they are one of the reasons that these fowl do not fly well.
The wings of a chicken are tiny, and their muscles for flying are cumbersome. And while it may sound contradictory, a chicken’s large flight muscles are what hinder its flight.
To fly successfully, birds need a proper ratio of body mass to wing area, and they need to have 1 square inch of a wing for every .6 ounces of mass. But the domesticated chicken, with its smaller wings and heavier mass than other birds, struggles to fly. And when they do fly, it’s not for long, and it’s very short distances.
Depending on their size and weight, some breeds will also be easier to get off the ground.
Why Do Chickens Try to Escape?
There is no way around it; chickens are vertically challenged. Most chickens can’t make it over a three-foot fence or enclosure if there is not something for them to perch on. However, with the right motivation, they can jump pretty high.
She May Not Yet Recognize the Coop as Home
This will hold true, particularly if you introduce new chickens or pullets into your coop. It takes a little bit of time for them to get adjusted to new surroundings.
If she doesn’t understand that your coop is her new home, she may try to fly over the fence and escape. If you see her confused about heading into the coop at night, there is a chance she may need some help getting adjusted.
She May Have Been Frightened
Surely you have heard the term, “You’re chicken!” The term is used to describe someone or something that is afraid because chickens spook easily.
By nature, most chickens understand that they are at the bottom of the food chain, so they are always on the lookout for danger. There may be a predator lurking that scared your chicken.
It’s not uncommon for critters to make their way into the pen, and if a chicken’s only defense is getting out of there, she will most likely fly right over that fence.
She’s Looking to Explore
One of a chicken’s greatest joys in life is to forage for food. She loves to wander in search of goodies or that bright green shade of grass. However, if she is continuously flying over the fence, there is a good chance she is just curious about what is on the other side.
She May Be Looking for a Place to Lay Her Eggs
Even if provided with nesting boxes, chickens can be particular about where they lay their eggs. Your chicken may be jumping the fence because she has found a more desirable place to lay her eggs.
Some chickens prefer to lay their eggs under a tree or in bushes instead of the coop.
Ways to Keep Your Chickens From Flying Over the Fence
While we may now understand the different reasons that cause your feathered friends to fly over the fence, we also need to know what to do to prevent it.
Build a Higher Fence
This method may seem fairly obvious, but it works. There are a few different options for building a higher or more sturdy fence, but this will depend on your budget.
Hog fencing is a good material to use as it’s fairly inexpensive. It is best used for keeping adult chickens in one area as the large, square openings in the fencing are big enough for chicks to walk through.
If you are installing hog fencing, it’s best to try not to move it afterward. The panels for hog fencing are more attractive and can be as high as 8 feet which is ideal when trying to keep your girls in.
Chicken wire continues to be one of the best options for keeping chickens contained. It’s relatively cheap, can be found at any agricultural store, and is easy to install.
It is available in several different lengths, but ideally, you want at least four feet in height, if not more, to keep your girls from jumping over the fence.
Chain Link Fence
Another practical option for keeping chickens contained is a chain-link fence. While they are usually used for dogs, they work great for chickens as well.
Chain link fences are sturdy and at least 6 feet high, making it hard for your chickens to fly over.
Clip Their Wings
Clipping your chicken’s wings is a great way to keep them from flying off. It will not hurt them and can easily be done with a pair of sharp kitchen scissors.
Take your chicken in your lap and calm her for a minute by petting her. Turning a chicken over on her back will cause her to relax, making it easier to work with her.
Have someone hold her upside down so you can identify the right wing to clip. You are looking for the primary flight feathers and can find them by taking your hen’s wing and gently pulling it away from her body.
Primary feathers are usually a different color and are generally the longer feathers closest to the tip of her wing. You’ll want to clip 2/3rd of the length of her first 10 flight feathers, being careful to avoid the quick.
Some people only clip one wing, while some clip both. The idea behind clipping just one wing is that it will throw her off balance enough so she won’t be able to fly.
Get a Full Enclosure
If all else fails, making a run for your chickens is an excellent idea. A run will allow them to range freely while foraging for bugs and grass.
Many runs already come with a run attached, or you can build or purchase a detachable run.
A chicken run will also protect your hens from predators on all sides while allowing them to move freely and stretch their wings.
Give Them Something to Do
Chickens can get bored quickly, which may be why she is trying to jump the fence, searching for more fun. Giving your hens something to do or play with will help immensely.
Sometimes tying a head of lettuce or cabbage into the coop will give your hens hours of fun plucking away at the leaves. Other people have bought or made chicken swings, and many chickens look forward to using them!
Your chicken will try to jump the fence for many reasons, but by knowing how to prevent this, you can keep her safe and ease your frustrations.
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