Wing Band Instructions For Chickens
Wing bands are a method of record-keeping among poultry farmers. They are very similar to earrings on humans, except that they are permanent and their only decoration is a number.
Most flock owners use wing bands to track breeding and identify their birds, but applying them for the first time can be a frightening prospect. Wing bands are attached to a narrow strip of skin on a chicken's wing, which is surrounded by tendons and nerves. This means that an error of just half an inch can cause pain or damage to the chick's wing.
Once you have the basic routine down, however, you'll find that banding chicks is not so difficult. With these simple instructions, you too will be able to keep track of every chicken in your flock safely and effectively.
A Step By Step Guide to Wing Banding Chicks
- First, you'll need the chicks and you'll need the bands. Most band their chicks either at one day old or at four to five weeks, but adult birds can also be banded. I have found that the Jiffy 893 bands with an applicator are the easiest to use and are also very durable. These instructions focus on using an 893 applicator, but bands applied by hand use the same concept.
- Take your first band and examine the ends. One will have a 'bubble' receiver and the other a fastener. The band is loaded onto the applicator by resting the bubble on a similarly shaped indentation on the applicator. The bubble side of the wing should sit flat against the applicator as shown.
- Select your first chick. If it's a day old, you should be able to perform the banding on your own. However, larger chicks more than a few weeks old are best done with another person to hold them in place.
- Stretch out a wing and examine the V-shape it makes. The shoulder, where the wing meets the body, the elbow, and the carpal joint make up the V. Between them is a flap of skin, which is where the band will be applied. There is a tendon running along the edge of the flap. The band goes right underneath this tendon, above the elbow. The 'X' marks the spot in this simple diagram.
- With the applicator loaded, hold the chick's wing outstretched and find the spot you want. The bubble side should be underneath the wing. Once it's in the right spot, clamp down quickly.
The chick may squawk a bit in surprise, but the skin there has almost no nerve endings and the banding should be forgotten within a minute. Repeat this for every chick you need to band. The wing band is designed to stay on for life, and will not hamper flight or show once the feathers have grown in.
That's all there is to it! Keeping your flock records accurate will help with any breeding programs you undertake, or simply make it easier to tell your birds apart. After the first few times, you'll wonder how it ever seemed nerve-wracking in the first place.