There is some confusion around how many wings chickens have, but it’s quite simple; chickens have two wings like all birds. However, their wings are split into 3 pieces when prepared for eating, with only 2 parts typically being eaten.
This is why chicken wings come prepared in different shapes, it depends on which part of the wing you’re eating.
The meat also tastes slightly different from the different parts of the wing, too. So, if you’ve heard someone say there are four chicken wings on a chicken, it’s not strictly incorrect.
Still a little confused? Here is a complete breakdown of how many wings a chicken has and how many pieces each chicken wing becomes when they’re prepared for eating:
Is a Chicken Wing 2 Parts?
When it comes to preparing chicken wings, there is some confusion around how many parts a wing has.
When you look at a cooked wing (see the pic below of seasoned and fried wings), you see a ‘V’ shape and are right to assume there are two parts connected by a joint.
The correct answer however is that there are three parts to a chicken wing.
The fatter part of the wing is actually split into two parts by butchers, and then the thinner part on the other side of the joint is also treated as a separate part.
The correct names for each part of a raw chicken wing are:
- Drumette - This is the first half of the thicker part of the wing and is attached to the chicken. It’s called a ‘drumette’ because it’s shaped like a drumstick, and has cartilage on both ends when split.
- Wingette - Also called ‘flats’ the wingette is the other part of the thicker end of the wing. It has two bones running through and is often separated and sold separately.
- Tip - This is the thinner part which is aptly described as the ‘tip’. There isn’t a lot of meat on this part and unless sold as part of the whole wing you may not have seen them.
Now you know, you’ve been eating drumettes and wingettes when eating wings - and both parts do taste slightly different.
This is also why some people say that chickens have 4 wings. They don’t actually have 4 wings, of course, but some butchers do sell 4 parts of wings from a chicken’s two wings.
Related - Do we eat roosters or just hens?
Do Chickens Have Wings?
They do, yes!
This may be obvious to most, and certainly, if you’ve been reading this article to this point you are well aware that chickens do, in fact, have wings like any other bird.
This question does come up from time to time though. I think it's because chickens are not great at flying and you don’t see them flapping or using their wings very often.
So, it raises the question - why do chickens have wings if they do not fly?
The short answer to this question is simply that chickens have been selectively bred by humans for many years to be bigger and bigger and yield more meat.
It’s estimated that we eat somewhere in the region of 65 billion chickens each year. That’s a huge amount of chicken meat, so the fatter they are the better.
The fatter and heavier a chicken is, however, the harder it is for them to fly. Birds that fly long distances have good wing mass/strength to weight ratio and are more aerodynamic.
Domestic chickens have become rounder, heavier, and their wings just simply aren’t strong enough to carry them long distances.
Some breeds can still get over a pretty high fence, so some chickens do need their wings clipped.
But, despite having wings you’re not going to see chickens flying overhead any time soon, that’s for sure.
What Does a Chicken Use Its Wings For?
Just because chickens can’t fly, it doesn't mean they do not need or rely on their wings - they do use their wings for a lot of tasks.
For a start, chickens can get airborne briefly and will use their wings to help climb or reach higher ground.
Most importantly chickens like to roost up high or at least off the ground. In the wild, chickens will fly up into the trees to sleep so they are safe from predators.
This is why backyard chickens like to have a roosting bar in their coop to sleep on. If you've watched a chicken making its way onto a roosting bar, you'll notice they flap their wings to help hop up onto the bar.
They also use their wings to help themselves balance, defend themselves should the need arise, and also to make themselves bigger when incubating eggs or protecting their chicks.
It's possible for chickens to survive if their wings were amputated. But it will certainly make going about their day-to-day business more difficult.
I hope the question of how many wings a chicken has now makes perfect sense. From an anatomical standpoint, chickens have two wings just like any bird.
As far as the food industry is concerned, there are three parts to chicken wings. Only two of those parts; the drumette and wingette are commonly eaten.
So, 6 wings, 4 wings, and 2 wings are all technically correct. It really depends on what exactly you’re talking about.
If you’re talking about the wings a chicken has, then yes they have two. If you’re talking about how many pieces of meat we get from wings, it’s either four or six.
Image credits - Header image by Kim Gorga, chicken wing picture by Photo by Keriliwi on Unsplash