~Common Chicken Practices ~ How to do so, why, and preventions

  1. CochinBrahmaLover
    No matter how long you've been in chicken keeping, you're bound to run into a chicken who needs to be dubbed or trimming of some sort. The reasons can vary a lot, but lets look at the preventative reasons first. Here will be the instructions to trim nails, beaks, spurs and dub your chickens comb, earlobes and wattles.

    Preventing beak and nail trimming is quite simple. Let your chickens have access to something rough such as some cement, or wood, or brick. Then when a chicken scratches on one of those surfaces, the nail or beak will be worn. Ever had your chicken do the cute act of rubbing their beak on you? They'll also do this to the hard surface which will prevent the beak from overgrowing. When it comes to spurs it really depends on the breed and age. An Old English game rooster would grow much larger spurs then a cochin rooster, inthe same way a 5 year old rooster will have larger spurs then a 8 month old rooster. There's really no"Sure fire ways" to keep a rooster's spurs from growing or naturally keep them down, but there are a few ways to keep them temporarily down. When it comes down to combs there aren't really any ways to keep them from growing other then getting a pea combed bird for cold climates.

    Lets start with nail clipping. Maybe your chicken has overgrown nails, or you're showing them and may want them a bit shorter. Regardless of the reasons, here's the steps.
    Grasp your chicken's legs firmly.
    And flip him upside down
    The best way is to snug them between your legs.
    Once they are still, grasp the foot firmly so you have control of the finger
    I used human nail clippers here, but dog clippers work as well. As you can see the nail isn't revealing the kwik. (See below, its a dog toe nail but the concept is the same)

    In a couple of days I would go back and re-cut the hen's nail since its too long that way but if I cut any more it'd result in bleeding.
    If you see blood, STOP!
    Do you see the blood? Yes, stop there!

    A person will come across a chicken with an overgrown beak every now and then,so keep this in mind, you may need it. [​IMG]
    Trimming a beak is the same as a toenail, but takes more will power.
    Simply look at the beak. Is it too long for the chicken to eat with? Can it be worn down naturally without intervention? Take these things into account.
    Also you should know what a chicken with a good length beak should look like, in case you don't know. For example, this chickens beak perfect.
    However this chicken's overgrown beak could cause eating issues

    What you would do for an overgrown beak is take a pair of human nail clippers, and cut little bits at a time.
    If you ever see blood, stop. If the beak isn't badly overgrown, or you'd rather, use a file and file down the beak. The concept is the same, and is better for the weak hearted ones.

    Spurs can be a pain. Most roosters have spurs of this size or slightly bigger

    Overgrown spurs can injure your hens, cause walking problems, and even injure you.
    A common way to trim them is wrap your rooster in a towel firmly, tuck him (or her! hens can have spurs however they don't grow as long but they can) in between your legs so you don't have to focus on holding him.
    Hold it so his head is faced down so that less blood in his feet.
    Take dog nail clippers (since typical human nail clippers won't fit over them), and began to clip.
    You want to clip at about 5/8 of an inch from the base of the spur.
    If you can't manage to cut the spurs with the clippers get a small, finely toothed hacksaw. It can vary if you need this depending on the thickness of the spurs.
    Another home remedy is sticking a hot potato on the spur.
    Cook the potato then stick it onto the spur.
    Grab pliers, or a rough cloth, and twist. The old growth will come off revealing the newest growth. It's another temporary method however it works well.

    If you've NEVER dubbed a roosters comb (wattles are easier), then I suggest getting a vet or someone who has dubbed a chicken before to help you. If your chickens comb is ESPECIALLY fat, then I suggest getting a vet to do it for you, period.
    Dubbing is pretty easy. It's where you cut the wattles,comb,or earlobes off a chicken. The reason typically is due to a person living in a cold climate and not wanting to let their chicken get frost bite, but a few breeds of chickens require dubbing of their comb and wattles to show.
    So here's the steps to do so.
    Grab your surgical scissors (SURGICAL, make sure they are surgical scissors, they crush the blood vessels instead of a clean cut. It'll keep the bleeding low)

    And grab some flour or 'Quick stop bleeding powder
    Wrap your chicken firmly in an old towel.

    Set the chicken between your legs, hold the chicken firmly with your legs.
    Grab your scissors and line them up with the natural line on the chickens comb.

    Do you see the black line? That demonstrates where you should cut, however your scissors, of course, this can vary depending on how thick or large the comb is, but this is the average spot to cut.
    Set some flour / quick stop bleeding powder to prevent bleeding.
    When you cut the wattles, do not pull them down. If you do, only pull them slightly.

    See how I am holding it? I have a firm grip, and can cut, but not holding it down.
    If you pull them down too hard, then cut, you will cut open the chickens neck. Don't worry, it'll be fine, it looks worse then it is, simply keep it clean and wrap it up.
    For earlobes pinch them and then cut them.
    The next day the cut area will be scabbed over and should be healed in roughly a week. It has been said that a rooster who has been dubbed seems healthier and more robust.

    Well, there you go. Hope this a interesting, and factual article you will someday have the need to use [​IMG]

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  1. Tammy N
    Sorry Folks this sounds cruel to cut the Waddles and the Crown off . Maybe we should work on people first ?
  2. Yay Chicks!
    I'm needing to trim nails as the ground has gotten so soft they are not meeting with resistance. Thank you for this! I guess there will be lots of sessions with a little bit coming off at a time, as I've put it off, ashamedly, for so long.
  3. tammyfarms
    Great article. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I am going home to check the nail length of my chicks! Thankfully I don't have any spur issues right now or areas that need to be dubbed (ewww) although I can think of times it would be necessary. I am so thankful to know that when I have a question BYC is here!
  4. 12321
    More than half of our roosters got frostbite. Earlier today, I practiced dubbing on two 9 month old Jersey Giant roosters that lost their heads. I tried the smaller one first and did cut his wattles too short and left his comb a little larger than I liked, but didn't look like it would have bled. The larger one, I cut his comb shorter and did notice some spots that would have bled. It was pretty thick where I cut. Maybe they should be done when they are younger? It's apparent if I do dub live birds, I'll need better scissors - just used normal large ones. My wife and daughter were not impressed with my handywork, and it seems like we'll be adding more heat in the coop instead of dubbing which is unfortunate because I think I like the look better than a large comb with most of the points frozen. Also, a guy at work, who'd Dad owns a cock farm in the Philippines, did say something about dubbing "bringing the bird to life".
    Thanks for the article. That's information I'll be using.
  5. BorderBrigade
    Wonderful article Cochin. Having step by step pictures for nail trimming and dubbing incase it is ever needing to be used is very helpful. In alot of the country where poultry veterinarians are rarely found and cost prohibitive you can never have to much knowledge and you'll never know when you need it. What's right for one person isn't right for another, people will always add their two cents.
  6. chickenbusiness
    Thank you for posting. Very good information. Excellent diagrams.
  7. CochinBrahmaLover
    SodaBottleBantams :
    *sigh* Thank you! It seems no one believed me that the roosters become better after being dubbed. :)
  8. sodabottlebantams
    I dub all of my old english game bantams. Personally i like the clean and attractive look that it brings out in them once they are dubbed. There stance and appearance seem to change once theyve been dubbed almost like they go from a boy to a man. When it comes to the spurs ive seen people simply cut them off and they wont grow back but i like a rooster with spurs so i prefer to leave mine on but to keep them from getting to long you can take a pair of pliers and gently twist and pull on the spur until it breaks loose and itll be much shorter until a few months later and you can repeat the process.
  9. Emmapee
    While it may be reasonable in certain circumstances (where it is incredibly cold all the time, aka a small area of the US), I just don't think I could do that to my chickens! I honestly think it would be the equivalent of cutting off your ear lobe! I wouldn't have the guts to do it unless it was a case where the comb became a health concern... that's crazy that some chickens have to be dubbed to be shown, I think combs are the coolest/prettiest parts of a chicken.
  10. CochinBrahmaLover
    Thanks Marty
    And yes, I've been begging for my mom to let me cut his comb but she won't let me /: says I have to do it with Peg (person who raises dogs, she clips their toes -the one reeaally far up on the leg, the uh, thumb?- and is too afraid for me to do it alone. GUUH)
    Anna :
    I know the feeling! We have a hen whose toes are bent sideways (we got her when she was full grown, don't know why her toes are like that) and they are really starting to get long. Trimmed them some already but need to re-trim them

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