If you have a flock that consists of roosters, then it’s easy to ask the question “can roosters fly”. One reason why you might ask this question is due to the large feathery wings roosters have. Now, roosters, or any other chicken in this regard, can fly. However, they can’t fly too high or for prolonged periods like other birds do. They only flap their wings and jump to perch on elevated areas when they feel threatened.
This hence damps them into the category of dismal flyers where they’re labeled as flightless birds that can’t fly too high for too long. Therefore, if you’re too concerned about your chickens escaping, then you don’t have to worry.
Why Can’t Roosters Fly? Behind the Reasons
If we can get back to history a bit, the Red Jungle Fowl, which is the descendant of the domesticated chicken, could flap its wings to fly and escape predators. Since they lived in the wild, these birds were always alert and could not stay on the ground for too long to avoid attacks.
If the jungle fowl could fly (for short distances of course), what makes a rooster an exemption? Well, here are three reasons that explain why roosters can’t fly.
- Heavy Weight: Well, the first reason why roosters can’t fly is due to their high mass and weight. This comes after years of selective breeding to make them bigger and better for high meat production. So, due to their heavy weight, roosters can’t fly like other wild birds.
- Relatively Small Wings: Now, roosters, and other chickens, for that matter have smaller wingspans that make it hard for them to fly. This is different from large wild birds such as the Albatross and the Pelicans, which have wingspans of around 10 – 12 feet.
- Fewer Flight Muscles: The last reason why roosters can’t fly is the fact that they have fewer flight muscles. This makes it difficult for them to maintain a consistent flight or fly too high above the ground.
How High Can a Rooster Jump?
Although roosters are curious birds, they can’t fly high as wild birds do. We’ve mentioned factors that explain why roosters can’t fly despite having wings. But, that doesn’t mean they can’t fly. So, to answer your question, roosters can fly to an average height of 10 – 15 feet. This means that they can get over short fences and perch on top of short branches and rooftops.
History of Roosters Flying
Now, the red jungle fowl is considered the ancestor of the modern-day chicken. This chicken was wild and was domesticated around 7400 years ago for entertainment (cockfighting) and for producing meat and eggs.
Although it wasn’t a strong flier itself, the jungle fowl could at least fly on top of trees to roost and escape from predators. But, as years passed, curious breeders and scientists chose to breed the jungle fowl with domesticated chickens to create unique breeds.
These new breeds were broad and had more weight-to-wing ratio. As a result, their heavy weights diminished them from flying thus making the modern rooster a flightless bird.
Why Do Roosters Have Wings Though They Can’t Fly
Now, roosters have wings but they don’t use them to fly. This now begs the question, why do they have wings if they can’t fly? So, which are some of the uses of chicken wings?
- To Escape: The first purpose of a rooster’s wings is to help them escape from a desperate situation. Here, they can flap their wings to run faster or get to a higher place where ground predators can’t reach them. Although roosters rely on their caretakers for protection, there are times when they have to take matters into their own hands
- Communication: Roosters have large thicker wings as compared to hens. Since they’re the protectors of the flock, roosters can flap their wings to appear bigger. Sometimes it helps to scare birds and small predators away or warn them to stay off.
- For Entertainment: Lastly, roosters are known for dancing. This helps them to woo hens for mating purposes. So, to showcase their dancing skills, roosters flap their wings to reveal their flamboyant feathers.
Roosters Breeds That Have Better Flying Ability
Now, some rooster breeds such as the Orpingtons and the Australorps might be flighty but their heavy bodies can’t allow them to fly. Others like the Leghorns are light but have no flying instincts. But, there are some specific breeds that enjoy the best out of both worlds.
Since they haven’t been selectively bred for too long, these chicken breeds have less diluted jungle fowl instincts meaning they’re lighter with high-flying instincts. Some of the breeds that tick this checkbox include the bantams, Araucanas, Ancona, Appenzeller, Old English Game, and the White-Faced Black Spanish among others.
If you’re raising any of these breeds, then note that a high fence won’t be enough to confine them. Therefore, you need to consider clipping their primary wings.
Can Roosters Escape?
Yes, they can. Roosters can escape. However, there must be a good reason why they’re planning to escape. Remember, roosters are considered protectors of the flock. Since they can fight to the death just to protect their hens, it will be unusual for them to escape and leave the rest of the flock behind.
In most cases, there are a few reasons that can explain why your roosters might be escaping. First, roosters are curious birds that love to explore their surrounding. So, sometimes, they might just be searching for a new ground to forage on.
Your roosters might also be stressed due to a lack of enough pasture, cases of extreme bullying, or being scared by predators. Lastly, if you leave items near the fence, your rooster can hop onto them and get easy access over the fence.
What Should You Do if Roosters Fly?
Although roosters can fly over the fence and escape, they can’t fly too far as they’re flightless birds. However, you might suffer some setbacks as a result. First, your rooster can land on your immediate neighbor’s property and destroy their garden.
It can also land in an unprotected area and get attacked by predators. Since you don’t want any complaints or risk losing your rooster, it’s good to restrict them altogether. So, how can you restrict your roosters from flying?
- Feed them Well: The first thing you need to do is to feed your chickens with enough food and supplements. A well-fed rooster will be comfortable and will never attempt to escape. Make sure you have enough feeders and waterers for every rooster to feed including those at the bottom of the pecking order.
- Provide Entertainment: Just like humans, chickens require a form of entertainment to kick out boredom. Here, you can provide them with some toys or you can decide to spare some time to interact with them. This will create a social bond that will make your roosters comfortable when they’re beside you.
- Cover the Pen: Now, this is a great option if you’re dealing with bantams or flighty chicken breeds. Since such roosters are capable of flying over fences, perhaps covering the pen with mesh netting can help to keep them confined. But also remember, if you pick this option, then you have to give your flock enough space to prevent overcrowding.
- Clip the Wings: Some chickens dislike confinement. Others will feel stressed while others might get ill due to overcrowding. So, to give your roosters the freedom to free range without flying over the fence, then you can consider clipping their wings.
How to Clip Rooster’s Wings to Prevent Flying
Now, before we get started, allow me to mention that clipping a rooster’s feathers might cause a safety hazard as he uses the feathers for defense purposes. So, without the feathers, the rooster is disadvantaged. Therefore, this step should be taken after you’ve exhausted all the other available options.
Secondly clipping chicken feathers is not a permanent fix. During winter, your rooster will undergo the usual annual molt where he’ll lose all the feathers, including the clipped feathers, and grow new ones. So, with these two facts in your mind, let’s discuss how to clip a rooster’s wings.
Things Youll Need:
- Sharp scissors
- A first-aid kit
- A hen
- An assistant
- Start by grabbing the rooster gently and allow it to calm down. Press it against your chest and stretch one of the wings, maybe the left or the right wing.
- While holding the rooster, allow the other person to fan out the feathers on the wing. When stretched, the long primary feathers will be visible. These are the flight wings that will be cut.
- Cut a few inches of the primary feathers without getting too deep. Trimming the feathers too far from the edges can cause bleeding if you accidentally cut the blood capillaries.
- In case of injuries, you can use the first aid kit to stop the bleeding. Otherwise, if all goes well, switch to the other wing and repeat the same procedure.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. How High Can Roosters Fly with Clipped Wings?
On average, your rooster can jump between 4 – 6 feet high. However, how high your rooster can jump will depend on factors such as the breed, size, weight, and whether the primary flight wings are clipped or not. In case the primary feathers are clipped or trimmed, then your rooster will manage to jump as high as 2 – 3 feet up.
Q2. Can All Chicken Breeds Fly?
Technically yes. Chickens can fly but not like actual birds. However, some breeds are considered flightier than others. But, even after being considered good fliers, due to their small sizes, these chicken breeds will only take short flight bursts to get over fences or perch on trees or rooftops. Otherwise, chickens are considered flightless birds due to their short wing spans and heavy bodies.
So, can roosters fly? The answer is yes. Roosters can fly for a variety of reasons. One of them is negligence from their caretakers who fail to offer them the best care. Another reason is boredom while the other is extreme bullying, which makes some roosters feel stressed and uncomfortable.
The last reason is when you’re raising a flock of flighty chicken breeds. In this regard, there are several options you can consider such as confining them or simply trimming their wings.
- How Long Do Roosters Live? (Lifespan of a Rooster)
- Ameraucana Rooster vs. Hen (The Ultimate Differences Explained)
- How High Can Chickens Fly with Clipped Wings?
- Do Roosters Lay Eggs? Everything You Need to Know
Hello, I am John Reid. I have been raising chickens for the last 15 years. I have got my experience from my father. My father is the owner of a large chicken farm. This is our family business that has been continuing for over 35 years. I am very interested in backyard chickens and I know how to take care of them. You can learn more About Us here. Happy Reading!!