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Trimming a rooster's spurs

Poor Wilbur doesn't particularly appreciate being picked up, but we noticed that he had injured a couple of the hens with his spurs, so we decided it was time for a pedicure.  This is required every year or so, depending on how fast the rooster's spurs grow, this was the first time we had done Wilbur, but we've done plenty of other roosters.

Wilbur looking unhappy - you can see it too, can't you?
There are various methods involving pliers and even a hot potato, but our preferred method is to use the angle grinder.  Although the noise is a bit scary, the process is very quick and the heat seals the spur so there is very little blood loss.  Its easier with two people, one to hold the rooster (me) and the other to operate the power tool (Peter).  I usually hold the rooster so that his head is under my arm, and his wings are secure, then Peter grabs the rooster's leg and holds that tight before quickly taking off the sharp point of the spur.

spur before

after angle grinding
 Peter then quickly files the spur so there are no sharp edges and after a quick cuddle (completely unappreciated by the rooster), he is released back to his hens.

after filing

me and Wilbur

Do you trim your rooster's spurs?  What method do you use?

By the way, my chicken eBook is now available if you want to know more about backyard chickens and using chicken tractors.  More information over at the chicken tractor ebook blog.  Or you can get it directly from my shop on Etsy (.pdf format), or Amazon Kindle or just send me an email eight.acres.liz {at}

What's the eBook about?
Chickens in a confined coop can end up living in an unpleasant dust-bowl, but allowing chickens to free-range can result in chickens getting into gardens and expose them to predators.

 A movable cage or “chicken tractor” is the best of both options – the chickens are safe, have access to clean grass, fresh air and bugs. Feed costs are reduced, chickens are happier, and egg production increases. 

 But how do you build a chicken tractor? What aspects should be considered in designing and using a chicken tractor effectively? In this eBook I aim to explain how to make a chicken tractor work for you in your environment to meet your goals for keeping chickens. 

I also list what I have learnt over 10 years of keeping chickens in tractors of various designs and sizes, from hatching chicks, through to butchering roosters.

Reviews of the Design and Use a Chicken Tractor


  1. Interesting :) I am dreading the day we have to do ours. I have a thought in my brain that I might be able to use our dog nail clippers? Mo

    1. I suppose it depends on the size of the spurs and the size of the clippers! You only really need to take off the pointy end, so it might work. We just find that the grinder is good because its hot and seals the spur so there's no blood loss.

  2. Our rooster The Big Yin, has spurs that are now too long and we are going to have to tackle him as well. I am NOT looking forward to that prospect, he is a big boy! Hopefully you don't have to do this very often because both Yin, Steve and I will probably be traumatised by the event. The dog STILL doesn't trust us (checks treats MOST carefully) since we had to wrestle him and force him to take a worm tablet (It took almost an hour!) and next time he is off to the vet's to be sedated first! And people think that life on a farm is "SO quaint darling!" ;)

  3. Our rooster is getting fairly old and his spurs grow out and eventually break off after awhile and leave a small cone like area that grows back into another 3 inch spur over time. I have 3 of them that I have found. His kind of curve back out of the way so he doesn't seem to hurt the hens but then he is a gentleman about the whole thing.

  4. You learn something new every day! I never knew you should do that! I'm new to chicken breeding, so thanks. Trouble is we have three of them (all kept separate). It's no wonder the hens try to run away!

  5. At least you only need to do it once a year from when the rooster is about 2 years old and the spurs are just getting too long.

  6. Thanks Liz for the info. Red Rooster is now in for a bit of a shock, I've noticed he's injuring the hens with his big spurs. Now, I just have to catch him...


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