Rooster spurs are VERY intimidating to look at. And if you’ve ever been “spurred” by a rooster you will likely always be leery of roosters from then on out. I get it. They are scary, and they can hurt you.
However, most roosters use them for the protection of their hens, and not for attacking their owners. But that doesn’t mean you have to love them, or even have them. There are many things to consider.
Let’s dig into this subject and learn all about rooster spurs!
Table of Contents (Quickly Jump To Information)
What Are Spurs Anyway?
Spurs start as a spur bud on chick-sized roosters (and some hens). Many of them develop into large spurs, and sometimes they do not. Spurs are part of the leg bone and they are super tough. The spurs are wrapped in a hard layer of keratin (the same stuff their beaks are made of, our nails are made of, and rhinoceros horns are made of).
Rooster spurs DO have a purpose, other than intimidating their owners – they are protective weapons. Weapons attached to their legs…hmmm…handy indeed. And don’t think that the word weapon is too strong, they are just that. Roosters use them to hurt, harm, and even kill predators or fight off other threats to them or their ladies (like a rival male).
If you have any roosters that do their protective job well, be sure to reward them with a sweet treat (chicken style)! It’s the way to their hearts.
Do All Roosters Have Spurs?
No, not all…but most do. However, the rate at which they grow and their final size varies greatly. There is no standard schedule or size. Usually, a rooster that grows spurs has them on both legs. But sometimes they only have one that really grows. At times they will start to grow and then fall off.
A female chicken can have spur buds or even full-grown spurs, although it is less common than that of roosters.
Because of all these variables, you cannot sex chicks with spur buds or even grown spurs.
Can a Rooster Protect Hens Without Spurs?
Yes, they can. Roosters have claws that are pretty much weapons as well. If a rooster feels threatened, or if his ladies are threatened, and his protective nature kicks in – then watch out. Some roosters will fight to the death with, or without, spurs (especially if you have an aggressive rooster). Obviously, spurs can be helpful but they aren’t the only weapon in his arsenal.
Can Rooster Spurs Be Removed?
Yes, they can. Many people think you should remove them at a very young age. The theory is that the smaller the spur, the less traumatic it will be to remove them. It’s much like disbudding a goat kid compared to cutting off their horns as mature goats.
Others claim it’s not that traumatic to remove them even once the rooster is fully grown. But these are human opinions made by humans who have never had spurs removed 😉.
The big question is – do you REALLY need to remove them? Perhaps, if you have had a bad experience with a rooster spur. Or if you have a rooster that is starting to show aggression.
The thing to remember is that they can still harmfully attack with their claws, even if the spurs are removed. Yes, one of the weapons would be removed and that would increase your chances of avoiding unnecessary wounds and possible infections caused by such wounds.
How To Remove Rooster Spurs
As for HOW to remove them, there are many methods. Here are a few to consider.
- Heat up a potato and press the hot potato onto the spurs and let it heat the spurs up for a bit. Then clip the spurs off with a sharp tool. This sounds weird, but it’s an actual method called the potato method.
- File them off with something like a Dremel tool.
- Break the spurs off with a pair of pliers.
- Use clippers to cut them off.
The biggest caution is to not clip or cut or file them too close to the bone or you might cause significant bleeding (much like when you cut a human fingernail). If this does happen, use corn starch or styptic powder to help stop the bleeding.
If you just can’t stand the thought of removing a rooster’s line of defense, you may want to consider just trimming them to keep them from being as dangerous.
In the worst case scenario, if you really want to take the spurs off – but just don’t want to do it yourself – you can have a veterinarian remove them. Although, in many areas, vets don’t even take chickens and roosters as patients (cold-hearted non-chicken-loving vets 😆).
Should I Remove My Rooster’s Spurs?
There is no right or wrong answer to this question. It completely depends on your animal husbandry philosophy, your specific rooster, and your environment.
Top 5 Things to Consider Before Removing Spurs
#1 What Breeds of Roosters Do You have?
As you may already know, there are many different kinds of chicken breeds. Some are super friendly and docile, some are not. If you have a breed known for being a bit aggressive, then you likely have the potential for a aggressive rooster or two. If you have a an aggressive rooster that you want to keep around, then you might consider removing his spurs for your protection.
#2 The Personality Factor
Regardless of the breed you have, you also need to take into consideration the individual personality of your rooster. Even if the breed is not known for being docile, your rooster may be friendly. Perhaps you handled him a lot as a chick, or perhaps he just doesn’t fit the standard personality for that breed.
Many times your rooster is just playing king of the coop, and what may be interpreted as aggressive is actually just a show. You will have to be the judge of that taking all the different aspects of your rooster into consideration.
There’s no reason to feel like you have to remove your rooster’s spurs if he’s kind and doesn’t misuse them.
#3 Your Personalized Environment
Do you live in an area where you are constantly fighting off chicken predators? If so, then you may need your rooster to have his spurs as protective weapons. Sure he can fight off some things without his spurs, but they do come in handy when the fighting gets tough.
Another thing to consider is children. Do you have small children running around, that may or may not be pestering your rooster? I do. I have a son that sometimes thinks it’s fun to pester our rooster and then run from him. Of course, I tell him not to and we are striving to teach him to be kind to our roosters. But he’s a wild child running free on our land half of the day, and things happen.
If you free range your flock, you will likely need to have a rooster with a protective weapon (spurs).
You need to take your personal surroundings and situation into consideration. Apply common sense and make the best decision for you and yours.
#4 Respect Your Roosters
When you talk to your rooster, be sure to call him “Sir” and maintain good eye contact with him. Okay, I’m kidding. But there is a real respect you can learn (and teach your kids about). Unless you have a naturally aggressive breed, most roosters will not bother people, or even other roosters, unless they feel threatened.
I show respect to our roosters by being calm around them, walking around them instead directly at them, giving them treats from time to time, and not flustering their hens in front of them. I also try to teach my kids these principles too.
You can sense when a rooster might be feeling threatened by his body language. So be alert and back off if you see the need.
As a side note, if you give your rooster lots of love and attention when they are chicks and while growing up – you will have a much better chance of having a friendly rooster. So be sure to be generous with love, treats, and other good eats.
#5 Rooster Hen Ratio
Another simple thing you can do is keep your rooster hen ratio in check. If you end up with too many roosters per number of hens, you will have fighting roosters. It’s how they are built and there’s no amount of rooster therapy that will fix this.
You either need to separate the roosters and allow them each to have their own set of hens, or perhaps rehome some roosters. Too many roosters in the mix will cause problems with duelling males as well as over-mating.
Whether or not you keep or remove your rooster’s spurs is up to you. If you have a rooster you love and don’t want to get rid of… AND you are afraid of his spurs – then maybe it’s ok to remove them. If you have an aggressive rooster that isn’t really using his spurs for good, it may just be a good idea to rehome him.
Learn more about dealing with an aggressive rooster by reading this article we wrote about that topic.
A happy wife, mother, teacher, writer, hobby farmer, lover of chickens, and contributor to Pampered Chicken Mama!