Duck, Goose & Chicken Hatchery

Clipping Duck and Goose Wings to Prevent Flight

Sunday, March 13, 2011
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.


We have a 12 week old female African and male Toulouse. This past week each of them discovered they can fly about 5-7 feet away, and about 4-5 feet high.

The male is barely starting to moult while the smaller female African has already mounted her entire neck and is now starting down her belly & under her her wings.

We live in the high desert, so it's very hot here with a very low humidity. We have about 3 weeks of fall, and then starts the cold and snow in October. Their moulting needs to be done by then, or I'll be crocheting neck-warmers for the two!

That was just a little bit of background information. My question is about clipping their wings. I read that you recommend waiting until they are 17 weeks old, but since they are starting to learn that they are able to fly, should we clip now, or keep waiting as long as possible? And also, can you help me with exactly which feathers to clip?
Lisa, Sunday, August 13, 2023