How High Can Chickens Fly? Are They Really Just Jumping?

Gurpuneet Kaur
Jan 17, 2023 By Gurpuneet Kaur
Originally Published on Oct 25, 2021
Edited by Lara Simpson
Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao
The chicken spread its wings and flies

If you had wings or feathers, wouldn't you wish you could fly?

Even though birds have wings and feathers, that does not mean all bird breeds can fly or soar through the air. There are 60 species of birds that are not capable of flight, and some of them are the Cassowary, Emu, Kiwi, Ostrich, Penguin, and Rhea.

Have you ever wondered if a chicken can fly? Continue reading this article to know a chicken's flying ability!

Chickens are widely domesticated throughout the world. These domesticated birds are a subspecies of the Gray or Red Jungle Fowl.

While a male chicken is called a rooster or cock, a female chicken is referred to as a hen. A chicken is the most common bird and has feathers and wings, but you may not find it flying as often as a pigeon. Since chickens are domesticated birds, who would want their petted bird to fly away?

While the noble descendant, gray or red jungle fowl, perches or roosts in trees and is well-adapted to soar and glide to escape its predators, the chicken is a domesticated bird often confined to its owner's backyard or enclosed area like a coop. There are several chicken breeds classified either as heavy breeds or as lighter breeds.

You might wonder if your chicken will be able to fly or not? To be precise, yes, chickens are capable of flying, but not very well.

You might know that the heavier the weight, the more troublesome it will be for the species to lift itself and soar through the air. Likewise, heavier breeds find it challenging to overcome their weight and raise themselves off the ground. Therefore, chickens are neither flying birds nor flightless birds.

If provided a free range, an average chicken can fly as high as 10 ft (3 m) for an average distance of 50 ft (15 m). Different chicken breeds are known to fly at different altitudes for varying distances.

You might not worry about the heavy breeds flying or jumping over your fence, but others will be able to jump or fly across a 4-6 ft (1.2-1.8 m) high fence.

Since some chicken, breeds can make it over an average fence, and wing clipping the primary flight feathers is a precautionary measure not to let go of backyard chicken.

Curious to more about your chicken's ability to fly and wing clipping? Read on!

If you enjoy this article, why not also read about How high can an eagle fly? and How are chicken eggs fertilized? here on Kidadl?

Can chickens fly?

Chickens have flight feathers that allow the chicken to fly. Also, chickens are common and widely domesticated for their meat and eggs. Therefore, who would want their domestic chickens to fly away? Chicks are quite capable of flying, though! Chickens can usually jump and fly, making about 4-6 ft (1.2-1.8 m) in the air.

The wild descendants of chickens perch and roost in trees and scratch grass and forage food on the ground. Also, they fly to escape their predators.

Likewise, chickens can fly too, but their breed type determines their flying ability. While the Mediterranean breed, leghorn, and Araucana are flighty birds, Orpingtons, Plymouth Rocks, Australorps, and wyandottes are heavy, and thus, cannot fly more than a foot off the ground as their wings do not have the strength to lift their weight.

Although chickens do not have any strong urge to fly, as the saying goes, 'the grass is always greener on the other side.' Like other flying animals, chickens are curious and determined to search out new areas, even by flying, rather than just perching and roosting on the grassy ground.

Another reason that makes a chicken fly is a threat! If a chicken is threatened by its predator, be it heavy or light breed, the chickens still fly to escape predators.

They could fly over a reasonable distance if either chased or threatened. Caution!

Chickens that fly away and get lost rarely find their way back to their owners. Are you nervous that your favorite birds may fly away?

You do not need to worry as there is a simple solution, clip their primary flight feathers. Yes, since they are not skilled enough at flying, clipping their wings makes flying and jumping even challenging.

Often a backyard chicken is selectively bred to produce commercially fit meat, making a domesticated chicken fat and heavy, too heavy for their wings to lift their bodies. Furthermore, clipping their wings ensures chickens stay confined within their coop with their flock of birds in their owner's yard or garden.

Bingo! Wing clipping your chicken's wings makes them stay within your yard or garden with no fear of them escaping their coop.

Will backyard chickens fly away?

Can you communicate with your flock of chickens to know what they are up to? Since chickens are different from us, it is impossible to understand each other, even with technology! Although domesticated chickens are usually wing clipped, selective breeding leads to heavily weighted chickens, and therefore, it is pretty challenging for chickens to escape their owner's yard.

Although a lighter breed might jump or leap over your 4 ft (1.2 m) fences, a plump chick will struggle to jump and cross 1 ft (0.3 m) fences.

Often the hens and roosters leap over the fences in search of other places to either forage for good pasture and grass or join a flock of other hens and roosters as they are gregarious species.

You don't want to lose your hens?

Pet them in a favorable environment! It would be best if you tried to provide a large backyard or garden with plenty of pasture and grass hay to feed upon and an extensive area to let chicks, hens, and roosters roost and perch around freely.

Also, to ensure your chickens don't run away, wing clip the flight feathers of birds and draw a fence along the boundary of your yard. Are you wondering how to wing clip the feathers?

Stretch out the primary flight feathers, the largest feathers, cut along the tips of the wing, and tuck the wings back. Do not worry your chicks won't feel any pain during wing clipping. Clipped wings impede the chicken's flying abilities.

Little chicken broiler ion a green background

Can chickens fly with clipped wings? If so, how high?

A chicken flew for around 13 seconds for the longest period of time, while the furthest distance covered by a hen or rooster was about 301.5 ft (91.8 m).

Likewise, a chick ran at the fastest speed of about 9 mph (14.5 kph) compared to the sprinter, Usain Bolt, who is known to have run fastest at 27.7 mph (44.7 kph).

While a chicken can leap up to 10 ft (3 m) high, its flight is restricted to as low as 1 ft (0.3 m) with clip wings.

Owners often clip the wings of their chickens to impede their abilities to leap or soar high. Since chicks are not great at flying and are also heavily weighted due to selective breeding, clipping their wings further limits them from rising or soaring higher.

Clipping their wings allows the chicks to flap their wings without generating enough strength to lift or climb high. Also, clipping their feathers does not mean that they will not grow again, and you will have to trim and clip them again!

Chickens do not feel any pain while they have clipped wings or their wings are being clipped; therefore, it depends on their owners how much they want them grounded. The more restricted the owner wants their chicks from flying, they cut and clip more of their primary flight feathers.

Concluding, clipping both the wings restricts the chickens and makes them grounded.

How high can a chicken jump?

You might not find your hens flying, but you might observe your chicks jumping and leaping over varying heights within their owner's yard. Chickens have strengthened muscles and feathers but are not capable enough to reach great heights, unlike many flying and hopping animals.

Additionally, domestication further restricts the domesticated birds from flying or jumping as they are made to put on a lot of weight due to selective breeding.

Likewise, wing clipping also hinders the flying and jumping abilities of chicks. Although their native descendants, the red jungle fowl, are known to perch and roost in trees and leap or soar to fight off their predators, a chicken is neither a great flyer nor a fantastic jumper.

While a domesticated chicken is not quite capable of flying or jumping, a wild chicken can jump over 6 ft (1.8 m). Also, a chicken flies or jumps even higher if threatened or frightened.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for How high can chickens fly? then why not take a look at How often do chickens lay eggs? or lesser prairie chicken facts?

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Written by Gurpuneet Kaur

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

Gurpuneet Kaur picture

Gurpuneet KaurBachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

As a skilled content writer, Gurpuneet has written and managed engaging content for multiple websites and companies. Driven by a passion for helping young people achieve their full potential, she brings a unique perspective to her work. She is currently pursuing a degree in Economics from Sri Guru Gobind Singh College Of Commerce. With extensive experience as a tutor, Gurpuneet has made a significant impact by providing guidance and academic support to students. Her dedication extends beyond tutoring as she has volunteered with Action India, where she offered medical assistance and educational aid to underprivileged communities. Additionally, Gurpuneet has contributed to the creation of student study guides for various educational agencies.

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Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao

Bachelor of Commerce specializing in Marketing and HR

Pradhanya Rao picture

Pradhanya RaoBachelor of Commerce specializing in Marketing and HR

With a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Christ University, Bangalore, Pradhanya's passion for the English language and literature led her to explore the field of content writing, where she has gained extensive experience in writing, reviewing, editing, and fact-checking. She has also earned certifications in Google Ads Search, Google Ads Display, and Social Media Marketing, showcasing her proficiency in digital marketing.

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