Topic of the Week - Beaks, spurs and nails

sumi

Rest in Peace 1980-2020
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Jun 28, 2011
39,155
25,426
1,302
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Questions relating to beaks, spurs and nails come up on the forum often and I decided for this week's Topic of the Week thread to ask how you all manage the different aspects of helping our flocks maintain these tools. Specifically:

- How and when do you trim your chickens' beaks and nails?
- Do you remove your roosters' spurs and how do you do it?
- How do you manage beak problems, such as cross beaks, broken/cracked beaks?

Anything you'd like to add?


For a complete list of our Topic of the Week threads, see here: https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/topic-of-the-week-thread-archive
 
Last edited:

bigdaddy1950

Hatching
Aug 31, 2016
1
0
9
We have black spots on the cone is that ok? Also one of the chicks was born with the tell feathers alldown. Is tht ok?
 

JanetMarie

Crowing
5 Years
Oct 23, 2014
1,985
2,665
366
Michiana
I have let my roosters' spurs grow out in the past, and have found that they are not really useful as they can tear up a hen's back, and one rooster damaged a hen's vent. Also, very long spurs I've noticed can interfere with the rooster walking.

It was recommended by a veterinarian last year to start trimming the spurs after the cockerel is one year old, when the spurs start to grow more, and keep trimming little at a time as the spurs grow so that way the spurs never get too long. I have two one year old cockerels this year, and I will start trimming their spurs very soon.

A minor cracked beak heals on it's own.
 

kpolenz

Chirping
6 Years
Jul 14, 2013
22
10
64
Interesting thread, hope more will offer up some comments.
How will you trim your roosters spurs janetmarie ?
 

Leahs Mom

Free Ranging
8 Years
Feb 9, 2012
11,572
4,965
562
Northern Indiana
I have let my roosters' spurs grow out in the past, and have found that they are not really useful as they can tear up a hen's back, and one rooster damaged a hen's vent. Also, very long spurs I've noticed can interfere with the rooster walking.

It was recommended by a veterinarian last year to start trimming the spurs after the cockerel is one year old, when the spurs start to grow more, and keep trimming little at a time as the spurs grow so that way the spurs never get too long. I have two one year old cockerels this year, and I will start trimming their spurs very soon.

A minor cracked beak heals on it's own.
@JanetMarie
Could you tell us how you trim the spurs? What do you use to trim, and how much do you take off at a time without reaching the "quick".
 

Leahs Mom

Free Ranging
8 Years
Feb 9, 2012
11,572
4,965
562
Northern Indiana
On my hens/pullets I don't trim anything. They need their beaks in-tact. Having a cement block or some kind of landscape blocks can help them keep their own beaks in proper condition.

Mine are outside most of the time and scratching seems to keep nails under control. I think that having a cement block or some rocky ground can help with that as I "believe" they tend to take care of their nails on their own if allowed to.

If mine were confined all the time I may have to consider trimming nails I suppose.
 

ChicKat

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Spurs:
To remove spurs, I use a pliers. I grasp next to where the spur is attached to the leg, and support the leg with one hand. It takes a bit of practice and gets easier with time. tighten the pliers until they are firm on the spur then rock back and forth. It takes about 6 twists. Keep close to the leg, don't squeeze too hard on the pliers. Amount of blood varies -- sometimes they seem to bleed a lot, other times hardly at all. The remaining flesh underneath will be tender and painful for a bit, then the spurs will begin to regrow.
Here's a link to a video demo where the guy makes it look easy.
It can be done by hand but I prefer the grip that the pliers gives.

Beaks:
Once had an Isbar with slight tendency to cross beak - and using a nail file on her beak enabled her to better eat her feed.

Claws:
If you have dog nail clippers they work well on chicken claws. The kind I have has a plate to put the pointed end of the nail upon to prevent too deep a cut. From time to time, I've had chickens that need claws trimmed.

Great topic Sumi! - good insights from your posters too. :thumbsup
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
10 Years
Nov 12, 2009
8,172
8,987
576
western South Dakota
I have been thinking on removing the spurs on my Rooster, he is going on 3 years old, and he steps funny. They are much longer than the video above. I have been thinking on it, just have not done it.
 

kpolenz

Chirping
6 Years
Jul 14, 2013
22
10
64
Great video and yes he makes it look easy, glad to see the bird was not fussed at all by it.
 

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