Can Chickens Fly? – How Far, Fast & MORE

Can chickens fly over fences?

Do chickens fly?

Chickens can fly somewhat. Chickens are not capable of powered flight, but they do have the ability to glide for short distances.

Chickens are a special type of bird and many don’t really know if they’re able to truly fly or not.

Let’s dive into this article and take a look at whether or not chickens can fly, plus a lot more useful information.

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All About Chickens and Their Ability to Fly

chicken hovering or flying
Chickens can fly, but not in the same way that a regular bird can. Flight can also vary based on the type of chicken because some chicken types can’t fly at all.

Chickens can fly but don’t fly very well or far.

They typically can go up about 10 feet in the air and they can fly for about 40 to 50 feet. 

The record for a chicken flying is about 13 seconds in the air for 300 feet, but on average you can expect your chicken to fly for about 40 feet at a time.

They can also fly at about 5-6 miles per hour with some birds able to reach higher speeds.

Can Chickens Fly Over Fences?

A chicken will be able to fly over your fence if they are a breed that isn’t as heavy or if you haven’t clipped its wings.

If you plan to raise chickens for eggs or meat, you’ll need to buy a breed that can’t fly very well and have wings clipped when needed.

Here are some heavy breeds to consider:

  • Orpington
  • Silkies
  • Plymouth Rock

These chickens can weigh about 8 pounds, making it difficult for them to take to the air.

Read More: How Many Chickens Should I Get for Eggs? Whether you’re looking to be self-sufficient or make extra money at your farmer’s market, here’s how many chickens you need for eggs!

Wild vs Domesticated Chickens

Both wild and domesticated have trouble flying.

Wild chickens can fly enough to reach roosts on the top of trees or lower tree branches, but much like their domesticated counterparts, they can’t fly long distances or very high.

Domesticated chickens cannot fly when they have been bred to have larger bodies, or when their wing feathers have been clipped, which makes it impossible for them to take flight.

If they are able to fly, it’s only for about 40 feet, and low to the ground.

In addition, domesticated chickens typically have shorter lifespans than wild or feral chickens, particularly when they’re used for meat or commercial purposes.

Here’s a fun video of a chicken flying pretty well:

How Wings Are Used

Because domesticated chickens’ wings aren’t strong enough to go the distance, they usually use their wings to help balance them while they run.

The chicken’s wings are also helpful in keeping the chicken warm.

Chickens have a lot of feathers, and the feathers on their wings are incredibly thick and dense. It helps to insulate the chicken’s body and keep it warm in cold weather.

The chicken’s wing is also flexible, allowing it to move its wings up and down to create lift. This lift helps the chicken jump into the air and glide to the ground.

Combining all these features makes the chicken’s wing a versatile and essential part of its anatomy.

Read our related article, How Much Do Chickens Weigh? Discover the different weights of small, medium, and large chicken breeds!

Why Some Chickens Can’t Fly

Chickens are a domesticated form of the red junglefowl, a tropical bird that ranges across Southeast Asia and parts of South Asia.

Adult chickens typically weigh between 2 and 4 pounds which is quite heavy for their wings to help them fly.

Chickens use their wings for balance and short bursts of flight to escape predators or reach roosting areas, but they can’t sustain long flights the way many other birds can.

The average chicken can only fly for a few seconds at a time before getting tired. Smaller breeds can fly slightly longer than larger breeds.

Some chickens have been bred to have feathers covering their legs and feet, making it difficult for them to move quickly enough to get airborne.

If you see a chicken with its legs spread out, trying to flap its wings, it’s usually an indication that the bird is too heavy to fly.

Breeds of chickens bred specifically for egg production typically can’t fly very well either since they’ve been selected for qualities like a docile temperament rather than flight capability.

While all chickens can technically fly, some can only manage very short distances before tiring and stopping.

Read More: Can Ducks Fly? We look at how far, how high, and at what age ducks can fly in this guide!

The Benefits of Chicken Flight

How-Chicken-Wings-Work
Chicken wings are very useful when escaping predators, keeping the birds warm, and giving them balance when running or jumping.

While it’s true that chickens can’t fly long distances or very high into the air, they can still fly short distances and perform some impressive aerial feats.

Their little bit of flight can help them in many situations and it’s a great benefit for them.

Let’s look at some benefits of chicken flight:

  • It allows chickens to escape predators.
  • It helps them to find food and water sources that might otherwise be out of reach.
  • Flying also provides chickens with exercise.
  • Chicken flight can be a form of communication to alert you.
  • Chickens use their wings to signal other chickens when they are alarmed or excited.

So, while chicken flight may not be as impressive as other birds, it still provides some significant benefits.

Next time you see a chicken take to the air, remember there’s more to it than meets the eye.

Read More: How Old Are Quail When They Fly? We dive into the wonderful world of quails in this bird guide!

Conclusion

In conclusion, chickens cannot fly how other birds can fly.

They are generally only about to go a few feet into the air and about 40 feet across the barnyard.

They can take some sort of flight, but many wouldn’t consider them to be able to actually fly in comparison to other birds.

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