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What Is Chicken Spurring?

What Is Chicken Spurring?

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So let’s get right to it and answer the question: What is chicken spurring? Keep reading and find out more.

If you have a rooster in your backyard or have spent time around one, you probably notice a sharp and scary-looking protrusion on their leg.

These sharp, scary protrusions on roosters are known as spurs. They are natural features found on every rooster.

While they help roosters to defend themselves against predators, they can also be a thorn in the flesh.

Not only are they scary, but they can also initiate a fatal blow to other birds in a flock or even cause severe injuries to the keeper. 

Understanding what chicken spurs are can help reduce some of your fear. It can also help you deal with aggressive roosters in your backyard flock.

This article will discuss everything you need to know about chicken spurring. Keep reading to learn more.

Backyard chickens

What Are Rooster Spurs?

A rooster spur is a pointed, claw-like growth on the back of its leg. They have a light arch and look like other toes.

Spurs are among the main differences between a hen and a rooster. Roosters have large spurs, while hens do not.

However, some hens may have spurs, although not as large as those of a rooster.

Spurs are covered in a hard layer of protein known as keratin, which can also be found on the bodies and beaks of other animals.

The spurs will not be visible on young roosters. This is why you can hardly distinguish between a hen and a rooster at a young age.

Spurs appear when your rooster is older, usually after a few months. A rooster’s spurs usually start small and develop over time into large properties.

They will become harder and larger until they are prominent features on their bodies. While spurs tend to be more pronounced on roosters, some hens have spurs too. 

Importance Of Spurs

Spurs serve different purposes in chickens. One of the main functions is that they help roosters by offering flock protection and personal protection.

While the primary purpose of a hen in a flock is to lay eggs, a rooster’s primary purpose is to provide protection.

Rooster spurs are sharp and can be used as a weapon against predators or other intruders.

Roosters can also use their sharp spurs to fight one another in the flock. The fight can even turn into a bloody, deadly mess. In most cases, roosters in your flock will fight over hens.

They can also fight over food or territory. In extreme cases, overly territorial and aggressive roosters may attack their keepers.

Even the sweetest young rooster in a flock may change his attitude suddenly and attack. Therefore, you should be cautious with them to avoid a spur in your calf.

Dangers Of Rooster Spurs

While there are valid reasons why roosters have spurs, there are also several dangers that come with spurs. Here are some of the risks.

They Can Harm Humans

Roosters with long and sharp spurs can cause severe injuries to your family members or even yourself.

While most roosters will leave their handlers alone, especially if unprovoked, there are cases where roosters have attacked their keepers and even caused severe injuries.

A rooster spur can inflict a nasty cut when aimed correctly.

They Can Harm Your Rooster

A rooster spurs are not only dangerous to humans, but they can also harm your rooster too. It is just like having long, jagged fingernails.

If your fingernails grow too long, they will snag on things and break easily. A broken chicken spur can be very painful and even cause much bleeding. 

Other Birds In The Flock Can Be at Risk

Roosters can hurt other flock members with their spurs. It can happen intentionally or accidentally.

If you have several roosters in your flock, they will fight each other to establish and maintain a pecking order.

These squabbles can sometimes lead to the death of one of the roosters or even both. The spurs can also hurt hens in the flock. This is more likely to happen during mating.

Overgrown spurs may injure your hen during mating, leading to a risk for more significant injury.

The open wound will invite other birds in the flock to engage in picking behaviors, eventually leading to cannibalism.

The Spurs Can Get Stuck On Objects

A long set of spurs can cause your bird to get stuck on several objects. If your bird gets stuck and does not get out quickly, he might become the victim of an opportunist chicken predator.

A rooster’s spurs do not grow uniformly and evenly. Therefore, they can sometimes rub against your birds and cause them wounds and various infections.

Removing Rooster Spurs

One of the controversial things when it comes to chickens is removing their spurs. It may not be a great idea if not done correctly.

If you decide to remove them, you must be very careful. Since they are made of bones, incorrectly removing them can cause severe damage to your chicken.

The best time to remove them is when your birds are still young. Since the bone is not well-developed at this age, your chick will feel less pain and recover quickly.

This is easier than having your vet remove the spurs later in life when your birds are mature.

Here are ways you can remove or trim your rooster’s spurs.


Filing is one of the most popular ways of removing rooster spurs. It is also an easy method done the same way you would file the hooves of a horse or your own fingernails.

You can use a metal file or a mechanical Dremel tool with a standing attachment.

The process entails grinding the spurs down so that they are less of a dangerous length. You can seek help from someone if your rooster is too challenging to handle.

Be sure to calm down your rooster by wrapping him in a towel, leaving only the leg you need to work on exposed.

When filing the spur of your chicken, you should not get near the bone to avoid injuring your bird.


Clipping is done more like you would trim the claws of your cat or dog. You will need a large set of clippers that can fit around the spurs.

The clippers should be nice and sharp. This will ensure that your rooster is safe and your work is done within a short time.

If your rooster is too stubborn, you will need someone to help you. Be sure to hold the rooster’s shank and simply clip clip away at the top of the spurs.

Again, you should not cut to the bone. The only challenge of removing spurs using this method is that it can easily leave behind a jagged and uneven edge.

You can deal with this by using a metal file, which can round down and smooth the edges for a clean and neat finish.

You will need to be careful when clipping the spurs. If you make the spur sheath crack, if you use incorrect tools like wire cutters or pet toenail clippers.

While some successfully use these tools, you need to be more delicate. 

Sheath Removal

Sheath removal does not involve the use of sharp objects. Therefore, it is a bit safer than the other methods as mentioned above.

However, it usually requires more finesse as it involves more steps. You will need to microwave a potato for about eight minutes, then insert the spur into the potato.

The flesh should not touch the rooster’s shank to avoid burning. Allow the tomato to sit on the rooster spur for about four minutes.

The heat and moisture will soften the sheath on top of the bone. The method can be quite relaxing for your bird if done correctly.

Take off the potato and grasp the spur with a pair of pliers. You should then twist it and pull. If done correctly, the sheath will come right off. 

Contact Your Vet

If you do not want to remove the spurs by yourself, you can have them removed professionally.

You can have a vet remove them through surgery and never have to worry about them growing again. You will need to ensure that the vet is skilled in these matters.

Do All Roosters Have Spurs

All roosters will have spurs if allowed to grow to maturity. The spurs may be longer in some chicken breeds and shorter in others. Some hens may also develop spurs.


If you are raising chickens in your backyard, you will have to deal with spurs. Chicken spurs are common in roosters, although some hens may also have them.

They are mainly used for defensive purposes and to fight predators. If you are worried about your rooster’s spurs, you can have them removed through clipping, sheath removal, filing, or even through surgery.

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