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Can chickens fly? It’s a pretty common misconception that chickens can’t fly. You may not see them soaring through the sky like eagles, but it is true that chickens are capable of limited flight. If you are keeping chickens, this shouldn’t worry you too much. Chickens may be physically capable of flying short distances, but they aren’t very adept at it.
Can Chickens Fly?
Your average chicken can make it into a tree to roost or avoid a predator, but they won’t be flying away any time soon. This is because chickens come from a wild species of bird called the red jungle fowl which were definitely more equipped for a life on the ground than in the sky.
Over time, chickens have evolved for life on the ground. What they eat is usually found on the ground and they’ve developed special beaks to be able to eat that way and their feet are better for walking than perching on branches.
Human involvement is largely responsible for all of this. Through gene selection or artificial selection, we bred the red jungle fowl over time into what we now recognize as a chicken. We wanted them to have big muscles which we now use for food. The ability to fly for survival was no longer a priority, so their wings became weaker and weaker with each new chicken. Fatter chickens, bred for meat, are typically heavier which also impedes upon their flying abilities.
How Well Can Chickens Fly?
Now that you know your chickens can fly (sort of) you may be concerned.
- Can they fly away?
- Will they be able to get over fences?
- How far can a chicken fly and how high?
- What kinds of chickens are better fliers?
Most domestic chickens won’t be able to get far, but you should still keep an eye out. 13 seconds is the world record for the longest amount of time a chicken has remained airborne and that one reached about 300 feet.
A determined chicken will be able to scale a fence or wall. Heavier and larger chickens may find it more difficult, but definitely make sure your fences and walls are high enough to keep your birds in safely.
Polish and Silkies are least likely to experiment with flying. A Barred Rock or Australorp chicken is heavier so even if they try, they won’t get very high off the ground. If you own Araucanas, you may want to add a few inches to your fence. They have lighter bodies and seem to enjoy flying more than most.
Stop Chickens From Flying
If you do have chickens prone to flight, you shouldn’t have to worry about them flying away completely. Chances are the food and shelter you offer them will keep them from wanting to leave permanently. But curious chickens may get too eager, jump a fence and now know how to get back. Or they may get themselves into areas of your property you don’t want them in.
Now that the myth is busted, how do you keep your chickens from flying away or getting into places you don’t want them?
The best ways are adding some height to the fence of their area. This is usually the easiest option. You can net the surface of their cage, which can prevent them from breaking out. The most taboo option would be to clip their wings. Many people frown upon this practice, but it may be the only option if your area is too large to net.