Chickens are birds, right? This means they should be able to fly, yes? So, why have we never seen a chicken that can fly more than a few feet? Well, that is what we are going to talk about on this page. Plus, we are going to answer the question once and for all ‘can chickens fly?’
Can Chickens Fly?
Absolutely! They just can’t fly all that far. There are a few reasons for this, which we will come onto in a second. However, chickens do have the capability to fly.
All of the body parts are there. Their ancestors could fly. It is just that modern-day chickens are not all that good at lifting off of the ground and staying there. This is something that we ‘gave’ them, but more on that in a short while.
Basically, it is unlikely that you will ever see a domestic chicken fly. They are not built for that nowadays. The whole purpose of a chicken is to provide food to people (as much as some people refuse to believe that).
This means that they have been bred especially for food. Obviously, you do not want your food to fly away.
That being said; some chicken breeds can fly a little bit. It is never going to be more than a few feet, but a couple of chickens have been known to hop over the neighbor’s fence and the like.
Remember; they are still birds. Leghorn chicken can fly.
Birds can naturally fly, and this makes them curious about what they can do. If they have wings, they are going to use them…even if they will never be able to use them all that effectively.
Why Can’t Chickens Fly?
To put it simply; it is a trait that has been bred out of them over the centuries. The chicken that we know today is 100% domesticated. It can’t be found in the wild. It is purely a human creation. Modern chickens were bred from the Junglefowl.
This was (and still is) a bird that lived on the ground. They may have flown about a little bit, but that is about all they have managed to do. The chicken came from these, and there was no evolutionary reason why the chickens needed to adapt to fly.
The problem for chickens is that their bodies have been bred to be large. After all, the larger the body of the chicken, the more meat they are going to produce. Obviously, the larger a chicken’s body gets, the more difficult it is going to be to fly.
Chickens have small wings anyway, which means that even before the Junglefowl was selectively bred it would have difficulty flying. Nowadays, it would take a ridiculous amount of effort for chickens to launch themselves off of the ground.
Not only this, but you don’t want the chickens to use their wing muscles too much. This can completely change up the taste of the meat. It becomes ‘harder’.
Since chicken wings are (obviously) a really popular food, most people try and stop their chickens from flying about too often. Even flapping their wings a little (and all chickens are going to do this), will change up the taste of the meat.
Many chickens that are kept will also have their wings clipped a little. This means that even if they could fly, they wouldn’t be able to get anywhere due to their feathers not being able to generate lift as they are the wrong shape.
Why Other Chickens Can’t Fly
The vast majority of chickens have been bred for food. However, there are some that haven’t. Why can’t these fly? Well, to put it simply; it is because these chickens are ornamental. They are a bit of decoration for an area. This means that they have been bred to look a certain way.
The problem is that their feathers, in order to look good, are simply not functional. This means that these ornamental chickens can have massive wingspans and the right size body to actually fly, but they would never be able to get off of the ground simply because they can’t generate any lift because of their wingspans.
Of course, once again, you also not want to have your birds flying off if you want them for decoration purposes too, so that whole trait has been bred out of ornamental chicken breeds.