Saturday, March 26, 2011

How to Remove Roosters' Spurs

Since some of our hens' backs have been really getting torn up by our roosters, we decided it was time to do something about their spurs.  Previously we had too many roosters, but now we only have two boys, Leggy and Muffin, but the hens are still suffering.  Our roosters are mature, and their spurs are very large.

Leggy (left) and Muffin (right)

Muffin's spurs

Leggy's spurs
We researched several processes to remove spurs online, and we decided to use the plier method to remove the outer bony sheath of the spur.  It will grow back in a few months and will have to removed again.  It appeared to be very humane and almost painless to the roosters. 

Here's a video showing the spur removal:

And so today we performed this procedure on our roosters. 
Our birds are very calm and don't mind being held. 
Caution - there are bloody and graphic pictures in this blog post.  If you are squeamish at the sight of blood, turn away now!
First we cleaned the spur and the leg around it with warm water and soap, and dried it with a paper towel.  Then we put the rooster upside down and just twisted off the bony outer part of the spur with a pair of pliers.

Leggy getting ready

Muffin during the spur-removal procedure
Support the leg when twisting off the spur.  It really doesn't take much and the spur snaps off, leaving the inner core of the spur.

Muffin after the procedure is done on one leg

Both legs done on Muffin

Muffin's spurs bled after the procedure

Leggy after the procedure

Leggy bled more than Muffin

Leggy afterwards
Leggy's legs bled more than Muffin's did.
We put styptic powder on the legs, and also put white sugar on them.  The sugar forms a paste with the blood and helps it clot more quickly.

It only took like 5 or 10 minutes to complete the procedure on one of the roosters, everything was done on both boys and cleaned up in less than 30 minutes.

We planned on confining the roosters to the coop, but afterwards they both were very anxious to be outside with the hens, so we let them outside.  We will have to keep a very close on on them to ensure they don't bleed anymore.  We gave all the birds treats after the procedures, and both Leggy and Muffin ate without any concerns, just like normal.

Hopefully this will help our hens all summer long, and we won't have to repeat this procedure till autumn or later.  I'll keep you posted on the healing process.
If you have ever removed spurs before, please let me know what you did and how it went!!



Country Girl said...

Better you than me sister!

Carla said...

Are there any accounts as to whether the interior is full of nerves? The fact that they are bloody makes me wonder if having exposed spurs might be like having an exposed tooth.

I was always looking for a way to deal with spurs when I had a rooster. I ended up just clipping his spurs once a week, like a dog's toenails. I hadn't seen the way you did it online when I was looking for ways to keep them short.

Kessie said...

Wow, I didn't know you could just pull them off. I always just trimmed my roosters' spurs with a dog toenail clipper. I had a silkie rooster whose spurs would get so long that he would trip over them, so I had to keep them trimmed so he wouldn't hurt himself.

Sometimes they'd bleed, and you have to watch the other chickens because they'll pick at the bloody spots. Mine were in a coop, though, and picking was more of an issue.

Farm Girl said...

My rooster wasn't as big as yours were but when they first started growing spurs before they were very old, I just kept clipping them with dog nail trimmers. I did get one too short one time and used my husbands stick he used when shaving, that helped some but sugar worked the best. I don't have any roosters now though.

Mary Ann said...

Our old Buff Orpington rooster Rambo had long, curving spurs. We finally loaded him into a cat carrier and took him to the vet. The vet used a dremel tool on him to grind the spurs down after clipping the ends off with dog nail clippers! He did not take them all the way down... but stopped at what he thought was the quick. The rooster was calm and the process obviously painless, and we had no blood. We will do it again with a dremel tool if we have any other roosters that grow such long spurs, but we will do it OURSELVES!

Anonymous said...

that is definitely what I was searching for, You have saved me alot of time

Knatolee said...

I;m sitting here with my hand over my mouth saying "Holy crap!" :) I had no idea you could do this! I don't think I'd have the nerve to try this. I might try that Dremel technique; I have just enough gumption for that. Hope your hens feel better soon. How's Lucy doing (was it Lucy with the feather loss?) My Chicky still looks like hell... sigh.

Razzberry Corner said...

Barb - The work never ends here!

CeeCee - The rooster doesn't seem to mind having the spur sheath taken off. I read that it was more dangerous to trim the spur because one may trim them too close into the spur. This way you don't actually touch the inner part of the spur. It really was quite easy to snap them off, surprisingly. And within MINUTES after the boys had the outer sheath of their spurs taken off, they were mounting hens just like nothing happened to them.

Kessie - That was the thing I was worried about, the blood. The roosters exposed spurs bled alot more than they described online. It freaked me out. But eventually it stopped last night. We brought both roos inside several times and cleaned their feet and put more sugar on them last night. The roosters didn't seem to be in pain or anything, they ate and crowed and had sex like nothing happened to them.

Kim - The sugar trick worked the best for me, too! Who knew?!!

Mary Ann - We had a dremel tool allready to do the spur shortening that way, but read it's hard to determine where the quick starts in the spur. And we read it was bad to cut into the quick.

Anon - Good luck with your roosters!

Nat - My Lucy still looks like crap. She's all naked. Poor girl. I don't think she's going to get better-looking till she molts again, next autumn. Ugh. She has a long time to go with no feathers. Let me know if Chicky gets her feathers back before then!


Gail said...

Great tip! I have never done this before but shall try it.

The film plus your demonstration made it look very simple indeed.

Thank you.

Chai Chai said...

This is amazing although I'm not sure I can do it. I am going to have to think on it and see how yours do afterward.

Dog Trot Farm said...

What a great informative post. I never realized sugar could be used as a clotting agent. The procedure appeared pain free and the rooster no worse for wear. Now, for the moment there are no roosters residing here at Dog Trot Farm, however, never say never! Thanks for sharing.

Razzberry Corner said...

Chai Chai - I'll keep you posted on how fast they heal. The roosters really don't seem to act any different.

Julie- Who knew that sugar could be so awesome! You can bake with it, you can put it on your wounds, and you can put it in your tea! Speaking of which, I think I'm going to go make some hot tea, I'm fighting a cold or allergy or something... Have a nice evening!


Lisa said...

Ow! Ow! and double Ow! But it doesn't seem to fizz them any. I hope I never have to do that. Ow!

You could use the spurs for a necklace! Just kidding.

Things ya gotta do on a farm.

Little does my buck know, but he's getting a bath this spring. heh heh

Robin said...

Wow, I had no idea you could do this. This might come in handy when we get our boy chickens this spring.

Razzberry Corner said...

Lisa - Yes, I agree, the things you've got to do on a farm... It never really bothered the roosters at all, having their spurs removed. I don't think they even noticed.

Robin - Please keep us informed about your new chickens! :)


Unknown said...

Always oil base of spur with olive oil or waseline a couple days before it makes it easier and less bleeding