Sunday, March 13, 2011

Clipping Duck and Goose Wings to Prevent Flight

Originally posted by John Metzer on Fri, Feb 11, 2011 @ 04:20 PM 

Clipping the wings of your birds is really very simple.  Some things to keep in mind:

1)Clip only one wing.  This keeps them off balance when they try to fly.
2)Leave 3-4 of the large flight feathers at the tip of the wing.  By leaving these feathers, the wing looks more normally when it is folded against the body.
3)Use heavy scissors or tin snips.
4)Clip within 1-2 inches of the skin.

Mallard wing before clipping.

Mallard wing after clipping.
Right wing has been clipped on this male mallard duck.
Embden wing before clipping.
Embden wing after clipping.
By leaving a few feathers at the tip of the wing, it appears more normal.
The left wing was clipped on this Embden goose.

Keep in mind that ducks and geese go through several sets of feathers as they mature.  For ducks, wait until they are at least 15 weeks of age and geese 17 weeks of age before you clip the feathers.  At that point they will have their final set of feathers.

Feather clipping needs to be done annually.  Depending on your location, adult waterfowl molt and grow a new set of feathers in the summer or fall.  When you start seeing feathers on the ground from their molting, keep a careful watch.  You don't want them to fully develop their feathers and discover they can again fly before you clip the wings!

The only ducks we have that fly easily are the Mallards.  I have read of all breeds of geese flying except the Super African, Large Dewlap Toulouse and Sebastopol.  Of course the Canada are very capable of flight.

39 comments:

  1. Phillip-Mojave AcresJune 7, 2011 at 3:08 PM

    What is your advice regarding pinioning at home for a small flock of 40-50 ducks?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I would only recommend pinioning day old ducklings. If you decide to prevent their flight after that age, you will need to clip their feathers. But if you have flying ducks, such as Mallards, pinioning the ducklings is a great way to permanetely prevent their flight. They will not leave but are more susceptible to predator attacks. Most domestic ducks, however, do not fly and do not need flight control.

    ReplyDelete
  3. how can i clip my rescue canada goose wings how can i tell were the blood feathers are please

    ReplyDelete
  4. You can clip the Canada's wings the same as domestic birds - as described above. You typically only have blood in growing feathers and you can see the shafts are darker. But by this time of year (fall and winter), all the feathers should be mature. And, you don't have to cut the feathers extremely short. We only cut off about 2/3 of the feather's length.

    ReplyDelete
  5. sound rather cruel to me

    ReplyDelete
  6. I don't see how it is cruel, I mean if your keeping it as a pet, and treating it well, feeding it normally, keeping water with it, and taking good care of it, I don't find it cruel for wanting your duck that you raised up to be healthy... I mean if we had ducks out here, and if it would ever fly, it probably wouldn't come back because of predators... Plus, holding the duck in a position where it's not being hurt isn't cruel... I don't know why some of you people flip out about this because there are millions of wild ducks in the world, like no offence, because I really don't have the time to argue, or get into little immature fights with people.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Some people like to make blanket statements, like *I think it's cruel* but have NO IDEA what they're talking about. It doesn't hurt the bird and there's nothing wrong with wanting to keep your pet safe and out of trouble. So when someone makes a blanket statement like that without any facts to back it up, I usually take it with a grain of salt because usually their minds are as small as a grain of salt. It makes no difference if you think it's cruel or not, you have a right to you misinformed ignorant opinion as any other closed minded individual.

    ReplyDelete
  8. would it hurt the birds?i wouldn't want to hurt birds just so they can't fly ;n;

    ReplyDelete
  9. How do you catch ducks that roam free on a large patch of land

    ReplyDelete
  10. How do you catch ducks that roam free on large acres and are the ducks smart enough to find there own protection when first introduced

    ReplyDelete
  11. To answer the last three comments:
    1) It hurts them to have their feathers clipped as much as it hurts you to have your hair cut.
    2)If you want to catch nonflying ducks, you can herd them into a pen to catch. If you want to catch flying ducks, you have to entice them into a netted pen. It is probably easiest to do this with feed once a day. The first day the feed is far from the netted pen. Each day it is closer and closer. By the time you are feeding them in the pen, you can set up a net that closes behind them when you pull a string or rope.
    3) Ducks are not safe from predators unless they can fly and/or have a body of water to escape into. And some will be caught if they have both of these.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thank you for your instruction! I cut my ducks wing yesterday to prevent it flying over my fence and being attacked by their dog as my other duck did last night. Prevention is the key and responsible pet ownership.

    ReplyDelete
  13. We are new duck owners and we bought are ducks from a feed store,do you recommend clipping the wings on our ducks?

    ReplyDelete
  14. You only need to do it if they are true, flying Mallards. But if they are Rouen (which look like Mallards but are much larger and do not fly) or any other domestic breed, it is not necessary. If the feed store does not know if it is a Mallard or Rouen, a back toe should be clipped on Mallards. This is a federal regulation. If you are not sure what breed you have, go to our website and on each breed page, we have a picture of a day old duckling of that breed.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Will my Chinese geese fly if I don't clip their wings?

    ReplyDelete
  16. It is highly unlikely but the last goose I saw fly here (20 years ago) was a White Chinese.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thank you for posting these clear instructions. I have a white Chinese and she has lots of company from my little dogs, but she's starting to flap around a bit and we want to keep her from getting hurt (ending up in the scrap wood pile, getting into the street, meeting an unfamiliar dog, etc.).

    I was able to clip her on my own by going into her shed at night and gently sitting over her to clip her wing. I love her and her eggs. I'm glad you made your post.

    I do have one question for you. What is the best water container for a goose. She poops in every container we've tried so far, or knocked them over. Any DIY suggestions?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My mom has three geese and we are in winter weather so she every morning runs a hose out to a small kiddy swimming pool for her geese with warm water in it. They splash and bath but as night fall comes she dumps the pool to do it again the next day. If you forget to dump it the pool freezes and makes it harder to dump the next day. But her geese love it by summer the water gets into her stream and they play in that water. But use a small kids pool so it is easier to dump and they can get into it without any problems.

      Delete
  18. They do not have to have swimming water all the time. I would provide swimming water only once or twice a week for them to clean. The rest of the time it can be a 5 gallon bucket that is hooked on a wall so it cannot be tipped over. Or use a smaller bucket that is set on a shelf so she can drink but not get in the bucket.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hi, we rescued some duckling which are about 12 weeks old now and we think they are all female mallards, they have got some of their flight feathers growing now,
    we have them trained to go to their pen in the evening where we then shut them away til morning. Do you thin we will need to clip their wings? Dee

    ReplyDelete
  20. If they are true flying Mallards, you will need to clip their wings as they may decide to fly at any time. If they are Rouens (three times the size of Mallards and they don't fly) you will not need to clip their wings.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Do Toulouse geese fly ? mine look like they are practicing and if they do they will be mistaken by the hunting neighbors for Canadian geese and shot for sure. I have grey and white ones and regular African ones too. I would like to keep the look for pictures if there's any that don't require feather trimming...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have never seen my African or Toulouse geese fly in 35 years. The only time they might fly would be if you had a strong wind one day and something chased them into the wind. If you are still concerned about flight, then just clip one wing and leave the outer few feathers intact.

      Delete
    2. Sorry Mr. Metzer...I have a pair of African Geese. They can fly especially the female. I am having to clip her because she flew n top of or barn...also was found out in the pasture lost. She tried to follow the Canadians in the field.

      Delete
  22. we have a baby (month old) cayuga duck. Is this a duck that needs to have it's wing clipped to prevent flying?

    ReplyDelete
  23. I have a mature Embden gander with both wings deformed. Is there any way of correcting this so that he can fold them or should I clip them every year?
    Is pinioning a solution? I don't know how to do this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You cannot correct it on an adult. I would simply trim the misshapen feathers when they come out each year after their molt. Pinioning would be major surgery so I would not recommend that.

      Delete
  24. We just purchased khaki Campbell eggs (candled look like 100% fertile thank you) and I've read elsewhere males can't fly bu the females can.. your take?

    We have a couple of young Pekin and also about ten of their eggs incubating too.. but understand they can't fly.. please correct me if I'm wrong.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have not heard of Khaki Cambpells flying but I suppose the rare bird could if they were on a real diet and had a strong head wind.

      Delete
    2. I have 4 Khakis (2 ducks and 2 drakes). They "fly" all the time, after a fashion. It's not what you'd call sustained flight. They go for perhaps 30 or 40 feet, and get no higher than about 6 feet off the ground. It seems to be part of their play routine -- they get on a small hill or rise, and take off. All four will fly from my backyard through the breezeway and into the front yard.

      Delete
  25. I have 2 mallards that are about 3 months old. We had their wings clipped but one can still do a wing assisted "jump" over the fence of their pen, which is about 3 feet high. Do I need to have her wings clipped more or is there a certain amount of vertical mobility to be expected?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I woujld trim her wings some more. Yes, they have some jump in their legs but I don't think they have 3' of jump.

      Delete
  26. i clipped my chikens wig because he always was always fly around my back yard .i thught that shude do that because i was scard he would fly away .

    ReplyDelete
  27. i have tow white ducks and one coloured grey headed duck i dont know who can cut the wings of do you know anyone or a place that i could take them and get them done please reply back thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anyone can do it. You don't need any special skills as long as you can use scissors and are not afraid of holding animals. If you are uncomfortable doing it, ask a friend or neighbor.

      Delete
  28. I cut my pet Mascovys' wing feathers on the one side, when she was young, 4 years later they have not regrown, and the wings on both sides are looking very tatty.
    is this normal, should i pull them out so they can regrow or just leave it for nature to take care of...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am very surprised she has not molted those feathers years ago. Normally they get a new set of feathers once a year. If you do remove the wing stubs, they will definitely grow new ones. But I don't know how easy it will be to remove them. If they just pop out, do it. If there is loss of blood, I would stop and, if she is healthy in all other ways, I would just leave her be.

      Delete
  29. Thank you for these helpful posts. My 15 yr old Emden goose has learnt how to fly over the fence and hangs around by the kitchen door. She loves me but bites everybody else, so needs to be penned. I hope clipping her wings does the trick.

    ReplyDelete