Do they have a history of fighting? I am relatively new and have never heard of de-spurring. I have 3 roosters in a relatively small flock and have never had a fighting problem or any injuries at all. Is this a common practice? Also, is it different than just trimming the spurs?
Katelk, they don't fight (as of yet). I despur so they don't injure the hens when mating, or if they decide I'm a threat and attack me. Never had a rooster vs rooster fight. Trimming helps, but they grow back very quick. When you de-spur, it takes about a year for them to grow back
Actually, it's more their toenails than spurs that injure hens during mating. They grip with their toenails. I do not take off my rooster's spurs, and they have some decent length ones, because I free range and I will not take away their weapons. No injured hens from breeding from the spurs, only sharp toenails pn very rare occasions (usually during molt when hens don't have protective feather fullness).
What you can do is blunt them with a Dremel tool by just cutting them off shorter and flat and then smoothing the rough edges of the cut. That is all I've ever done to mine.
Yours won't even have decent spurs until they're about a year old or older anyway. You originally asked when to do it, then said you do it for a certain purpose. Sounds like you already have experience doing it. When did you do it before, then?
I'd not use a hot potato-you only risk burning your rooster's leg.
I've never seen a young one with spurs long enough to be able to cause any damage to each other or a hen. I even have one Belgian D'Anver rooster who is about 2 years old with NO spurs while his father has spurs that are almost 3" long and curved. I only blunt his and remove some length so the poor guy can sit down, LOL. He's never hurt the hens with them.