Trimming or managing chicken nails

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by frog522, Feb 1, 2014.

  1. frog522

    frog522 In the Brooder

    Jun 16, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Hello, I'd like to seek the advice of fellow forum members on when humans need to intervene with trimming the nails of chickens. I've had a pet chicken for about 4 years now, I've noticed recently her nails are longer than before. She used to have more outdoor playtime in the backyard however with with longer work hours and the shorter daylight hours I've unfortunately had to keep her in her run on most weekdays, and letting her out for a few hours to run around on weekends. It's primarily for safety that I keep her in the run since I come home after dark and who knows what in the neighborhood wants chicken dinner... She still likes to scratch up dirt in the yard and take dirt baths, but I don't think she gets to use her nails as much as before, which may be contributing to her longer nails now. Her run is sand on top of a concrete base layer (no dirt).

    I've included a few pictures of my chicken, I tried to get different snapshots of her feet. Note that I took the pictures at night with limited lighting so she was clumsily walking across the roost which I hope doesn't give the impression that she can't walk straight because of her nails. She walks fine but I want to get the opinion of forum members on whether her nails are too long, and I might need to do some trimming. And if so, how should I trim or cut her nails? I would like to make sure to do it safely so I don't accidentally hurt her or make it uncomfortable afterwards to use her toes and nails effectively.

    Pictures attached--I'm not sure if there is a way to upload a picture larger than the "Large" resolution forum post picture upload option, if the pictures are difficult to view I can maybe edit the pictures that better show her feet. Thanks for your feedback!






  2. Beekissed

    Beekissed Free Ranging

    Yep, they are a tad too long. Any time you see a toe turned to the side, or rolled over a little, because of the pressure of a long nail, it's time to trim. You can trim them with dog nail trimmers or even a sharp pair of scissors, though the dog trimmers work better and place less pressure on the nail. I've even trimmed with a good pair of wire cutters before. To work on a bird with just one person, you can take a towel, lay it down and place the bird on her back in the center of the towel~all the while holding her by the feet with one hand~ then place a flap over her head first, then fold in the sides like you are swaddling a baby.

    She'll be able to breathe just fine but keeping her head covered will calm her a good bit. Then you can kind of tuck this bundle under one arm like a football, with the feet towards the front..just lightly but just enough to hold her still, take the same hand and extend the foot and hold it, while clipping with the other hand. She may squawk or struggle but this does not mean she is in discomfort. Look at the nails from underneath to determine where the quick of the nail starts and then clip right beyond that. On dark nails like hers it can be difficult but you'll just have to go slow and take your time. If you do nip the quick and she bleeds it won't last long and it won't hurt her too bad, just hold the edge of the towel on it until the bleeding slows and stops. Chickens are much easier than dogs so it's not as hard to avoid that quick and the nails clip off very easily.
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    You can use corn starch to help stop the bleeding if you nip the quick...I always have it ready when I do the dogs.
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    Agree with above, and just want to add you can encourage her to keep her nails shorter by scattering feed or scratch on the concrete--it's very instinctive for them to scratch and that keeps their nails short. Concrete usually works wonders for keeping animals' nails/hooves short.

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