Rooster spurs gradually become one of the rooster’s means for protecting itself, its hen, and the flock in its entirety. However, there are instances that it becomes a threat instead of a safeguard for it. When that happens, keepers start to ask: How to remove rooster spurs?
That’s where we come in!
There is more than one way to deal with rooster spurs. We’ll be listing down six ways how to handle spurs, and we’ll be guiding you through each one. We’ll also tackle some important questions regarding your roosters and their spurs along the way.
1. Potato Method
Despite its unusual name, the potato method is probably the most popular method of them all. This could be attributed to the fact that it is one of the most efficient ways to carry out the task at hand.
As the name suggests, you need some potatoes for this. You might also need some pliers and gloves, depending on your preference. Furthermore, some blankets or towels might also come in handy if you don’t have anyone to help you.
- Start by heating a potato in a microwave for about four to five minutes until it’s cooked.
- Hold your rooster in place:
- By this time, it might be a good idea to wrap your little fellas in some blanket or towel to calm him down. Leave one leg out.
- On the other hand, if you have someone with you, then ask them to hold your rooster in a way where you have a clear view of the spur. Make sure they hold your little guy down firmly, but not to the point of hurting them.
- Take out the potato and carefully stick your rooster’s spur in it for a few minutes. Make sure it doesn’t touch their leg, so they don’t get burned.
- Take your pliers and gently twist the spur in one direction, and then twist it back. After a few twists, it should pop off. Some use their hands for this. If you’d like to do the same, then don’t forget to put on your gloves.
It is a popular method since it is quite easy and fast to do. However, some have opted for other ways for fear of burning their little guy.
Sometimes, it also just doesn’t work. If this happens, then you can stick your rooster’s spur for a few more minutes and try again.
If it still didn’t work, or you share the same sentiments as the other chicken handlers and owners, then don’t worry. We have you covered. That’s just the first one, and we have five more. Let’s go to the next method.
2. Oil Method
This method is pretty much the same as the potato method. It follows the same steps except that it skips the hot potato and uses oil instead. However, it’s not as known as the hot potato method simply because it takes more time.
This method doesn’t involve any heat, so it’s much safer than the potato method in that regard. If you have some time to spare, then you will have no problem with this one.
The first two methods work because the outside of the chicken’s spur is made up of keratin. The heat and steam from the potato quickly soften the keratinous part of the spur. Oil does the same job, just a little longer.
3. Pliers Method
There is a third way to pop the rooster spurs off. It’s similar to the first two, and the only difference is you skip the softening step. While it might sound painful, it appears that it isn’t.
Removing rooster spurs using pliers can be a hard task, so it’s best to only do this if absolutely necessary and if you know what you’re doing. If in doubt or feeling unsure of your skills, talk to a veterinary or experienced poultry farmer before attempting the procedure. But if the process has been assessed as suitable, here are some general guidelines:
- Firstly collect pliers designed for veterinary use, disinfectant solution of iodine or hydrogen peroxide, clean towels (and potentially an assistant), then restrain the rooster securely and reasonably to stop it from flapping wings.
- Next application of disinfectant should take place around the spur area before assessing it for size length and elasticity.
- Gently grasp the spur with pliers at its base. Slowly and carefully twist the handle of the tool while gently pulling to remove the spur from the rooster’s leg.
- Twist it in one direction very slowly while pulling gently with the pliers. This should help loosen the spur from its position.
- Have some clean towels or gauze (in case there is bleeding) and apply gentle pressure as needed.
Note that as pliers are metal, their use in removing spurs can be risky. Make sure that it’s clean and sanitized before use.
4. Clipping Method
As stated earlier, the rooster’s spurs are made up of keratin which is the same thing that makes up our fingernails, and what do we do with overgrown fingernails? We clip it!
For this, you would mainly need a guillotine-style nail clipper and some cornstarch or blood-stop powder. If you don’t have anyone to help, then a blanket or towel would come in handy.
- Hold your rooster in place. Make sure they’re not moving around too much to avoid hurting them.
- Examine the spur. Good lighting seems ideal for you to differentiate the sheath from the bone inside.
- Clip! However, take extra caution that you don’t cut into the bone. This is not only painful for the rooster, but it could also cause permanent damage.
- This is where the cornstarch would come in handy. It’s almost inevitable that there would be some bleeding with this method. However, if you didn’t cut too deep, there should only be a small amount of blood. Put a small amount of cornstarch or blood-stop powder where it’s bleeding.
If done right, the clipping method is one of the fastest methods on this list. However, if the idea of accidentally cutting too deep is frightening, then don’t worry. Like, with the potato method, we have a safer way for the clipping method.
5. Filing Method
Since the spur is like our nails, you could also file it. However, an ordinary file won’t do the trick. For this, you would need a metal file or something similar.
This method might not be the fastest way to do the job, but taking everything into account, it is probably the safest one.
Again, you need to hold your rooster in place for this one. Once your rooster is settled and secured, then you can slowly start filing. Make sure to stop once you see the bone.
Usually, chicken owners and keepers use a combination of clipping and filing. They would clip where they’re sure they won’t hurt their rooster and slowly make their way down using the file.
All the methods we have discussed are temporary. Your rooster’s spurs would most likely grow back again after some time – say six weeks, give or take. If your rooster’s spur is causing problems on your coop, this might have to become part of your routine maintenance.
If you’re looking to permanently remove the spur, then it would be time to consult your vet. While you can do it yourself, we strongly suggest against it.
Some suggest cauterizing chicks to prevent the spur from growing when they become adults, although this is a controversial practice and not widely recommended.
Many things could go wrong with these methods. First of all, it could cause pain for your bird, which we believe is something we’re all trying to avoid. Furthermore, it could cause permanent damage to your rooster. Lastly, there is also the possibility that the do-it-yourself operation would be a failure, and the spur would grow anyway.
If you plan on permanently removing your rooster’s spurs, then it would be best left to the experts. If you want to know more about chicken spurs and the procedure to permanently remove them, then you can check Teresa Y. Morishita’s simple explanation here.
Things to Remember
Removing spurs can cause discomfort to your roosters. That said, here are some things to remember after you remove your rooster’s spur.
Use Pain Relief
If you’re planning to use any pain relievers or ointments on your chickens after, make sure it’s safe for them. There are types or variants of pain relief ointments that are bad for little critters. If you’re not sure what are the components of your ointment, then better not use it.
You can click here to learn more about the things you should and should not use to treat your chickens.
Stop the Blood Immediately
Bleeding might be highly associated with the clipping and pliers method, so make sure you always have some cornstarch or blood-stop powder regardless of what procedure you choose, just in case. This would minimize the discomfort and bleeding after the removal.
Isolate the Rooster
Do not immediately put him back after the removal to avoid injuring or infecting the area. If you have other roosters make sure he would be placed where he would be protected from the others, but at the same time, still have contact with other members of the flock. Once your rooster is healed and ready to go, this would make integration easier.
Summary and Final Thoughts
How to remove rooster spurs? Well, as you can see, it’s quite easy! Furthermore, there is a variety of ways from which you can choose.
You could either use the potato, oil, pliers, clipping, or filing method to temporarily remove your rooster’s spurs. On the other hand, you also have the option of permanently removing it via surgery.
However, there are things to take into account before you even consider removing your chicken’s spurs.
Rooster spurs are an important part of your bird. It is one of the main ways of protecting itself, its hen, and its flock. It is especially useful if there are many predators looming on or around your coop.
If you’re looking to remove your rooster’s spurs to try and quell its aggressiveness, then it’s probably not the best way to go at it. An aggressive bird is an aggressive bird, with or without its spurs.
The only time you should consider removing those spurs is when they start to cause more harm than good.
Joseph Hudson has been raising chickens for over 15 years. In 2018, he completed the Agriculture & Natural Resources program at Mt. San Antonio College. He currently raises over 1400 chickens on his 7.5-hectare farm. He keeps sharing his experience on raising healthy and happy chickens on Chicken Scratch.