@SallyinIndiana and all others with experience.
Let's talk about removing spur casings from roosters.
-Is it totally necessary to remove spur casings? my opinion is it depends on the breed of the rooster and the hens he has in his pen.
-Is this something that has been practiced for years or is it something relatively new in terms of small farm flocks? Not sure
-At what age do you do it? no set age. we choose roosters over a year as we had a big gap in age most of our roosters were under 6 months or > 1.5 yrs old
-What happens if you don't do it? For us we had 3 different roosters in 3 different pens that had spurs well past 1.5 inches long and they were starting to curl in. They were sharp. It was hard to hold the rooster to check for lice without getting scratched. Then within a 2 week time frame, we had 2 hens in 2 of the 3 pens get mating injuries from the spurs.
-Do you separate them from the flock after removing spur casings? If so, for how long? I pulled mine out for at least 2 days from the flock they were with to make sure the spurs had clotted nicely. we did not just get the outer shell off like the potato method would. We sawed through the entire spur leaving only about 1/3 of an inch sticking out of the leg. Two of the 3 roosters went back in with their flocks after the 2 days. The other rooster was separated for about 4 weeks from his tiny flock of 9 because I had a bare back (overly mated while molting) hen as well as the other injured hens in that pen.
-Are you able to do it by yourself or do you need someone to help? My DH was able to do it himself. There was a bit of bleeding but we had flour on hand. If one is able to process a chicken then they should more than be able to stand the sight off the spur removal process. Still a second set of hands to hold the rooster so the noise of the saw does not spook him is better.
-Do you have any photos you can post? No, I was too busy holding the roosters.
-Any advice for first-time spur removers? Watch you tube videos of the different methods. Consider how the spur looks once the method is done as well as the effort each method takes. The hot potato method looked painful for the roster imo and there was a risk of me getting burned. I have baked potatoes in foil before ~ those things get very hot. The potato method reminded me of a dehorning or disbudding process for goats. While needed for some goats, disbudding does cause pain. I imagine removing spurs is the same for roosters, needed but some amount of pain is involved. The rotary saw did not seem to cause that much pain in our roosters. For a first timer, the pain of the animal should be mentioned not as a deterrent but as a this is part of it. After all if there are people who will talk to or cuddle a rooster right before putting it down, then I'm sure that there are people that will do the same for despurring both before and after the procedure.
We have ONLY done this for 3 roosters. So I'm not an expert by any means. This is just what we learned from our 3 roosters.