Hens are birds, so just like birds, they are equipped with wings so that they can fly and explore the world around them. In fact, the chickens’ ancestors are decent flyers as they can fly from trees to trees.
But, the hens evolved differently than many other birds. They are crossbred to fit better for being consumed by humans. So while the hens still have wings, can hens fly?
Can hens fly?
Hens can fly, but they suck at doing so. Crossbreeding has made the hens’ body not ideal for flying. Their wings aren’t big enough to get themselves above the ground for too high or too long.
Why are hens bad at flying?
Hens have large and powerful muscles at their wings, which you may think should make the chickens fly better since they have the power source. But, they are what prevent them from flying efficiently.
Extra power means extra weight to carry those power, it needs to be able to carry itself upward. As a result, hens can’t fly as high with that extra mass. Baby hens however can fly a bit higher since they are lighter.
The hen’s ancestor – the red jungle fowl – although are decent flyers, is nowhere near the capability of a normal bird.
They mostly spend their time roosting in low branches, flying sorry distances from branches to branches, and foraging food on the ground, all happening in a jungle forest. And in that environment, they have no motive to fly far out high for long at all.
Compared to the red junglefowl, hens’ wingspan is smaller when 2 individuals have similar weight. And overall, the wing to body ratio of the hens is insufficient, so the hens can’t get enough lifting force to elevate itself above the ground for too high or too long.
Crossbreeding from humans
The low wing to body ratio is the result of the crossbreeding that happened for years. In that evolution, the meat or muscle amount is exaggerated, which makes the hens have more challenges when it comes to flying.
The crossbreeding has made the hens have larger breast wings muscle. This is even more extreme for the breed for meat producing, thus limiting the senility to fly of the hens
That’s why the hens tend to fly up and glide to their landing. The hens’ ancestors aren’t the best flyers to begin with, so it makes sense that the chickens aren’t the best flyer.
How high and how far can chickens fly?
While the hens can’t fly too high or too far like some other birds, there is nothing that stops them from trying at all.
But while most of the time the hens will settle in some bushes or trees. You will still need to hurry up and find them.
What should you do when your hens try to fly away from you?
Let’s say your hea few away, don’t you worry, the hens have the instinct to go back to the coop at dusk since they are vulnerable at night. So if the hens fly away but they remain in your property, you should worry too much about the hens flying away.
But, you need to look for them quickly if they enter a dangerous area or they went too far and reached the roads. They may be hit by a random vehicle or being a meal for larger predators
Provide enough things for your hens
One of the reasons hens leap over the fences is to look for food and water outside of the coop since the coop doesn’t have enough food for the hens. So try to provide your hens with enough food, water, space, and comfort so that your hens don’t have the motivation to fly outside of the coop.
Give your hens higher perches
You should give your hens higher perches since the hens tend to fly up to the higher perch and roost. This makes them vulnerable to predators that hunt at night.
Clip the hens’ wings
The wings are what make the chickens capable of flying, even though not great. So if you want to limit your hens’ flying ability, you can clip their wings
Keep in mind that you should only clip your hens’ wings if the area around the coop doesn’t have prominent danger. Hens need their wings to defend themselves and fly away quickly. Clipping the wings will make the chickens more vulnerable to predators.
However, there hens can adapt to the clipped wings, so you can clip only one of the hens’ wings. Unequal sets of wings are harder to adapt than evenly clipped wings.
Furthermore, if your hens start to adapt to the situation, you can go ahead and clip the remaining wings to throw them off one more time.
So, can hens fly? They can actually fly. They are just very bad at flying for too long or too high. This is because their wings to body ratio isn’t big enough to lift their whole body up and keep them in the sure fit too long or too high.
To be fair, their ancestors are not that great at flying either. The Red Jungle Fowl mostly friends their time flying sorry distances from branches to branches and don’t need to fly long distances at all.
And if you want to stop your hens from flying away, you should give them eggs for, water, space, and comfort to make them not for Luke going outside of the fences for food. Or you can clip their wings if the shovel measures don’t work.