Managing Rooster Spurs

  1. GPS1504
    It is no secret that roosters have spurs. Some of us are rather well acquainted with those spurs, having been greeted with them a time or two. While I personally have managed to dodge them successfully, I have seen firsthand others who were not so lucky. A spur wound can be quite nasty and may bleed profusely. It is also highly likely to be at risk of infection due to the location of a rooster's spur; since spurs are low to the ground, they are exposed to ground-level bacteria and may have even come into contact with fecal matter before puncturing your skin. If you are spurred, clean it thoroughly and watch closely for the development of anything abnormal around the site of the injury.

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    Spurs can be a bit of a controversial subject. There are some who oppose to spur alterations due to considering doing so, or the methods of doing so, inhumane. With that said, the choice is yours. No one is going to make you lay a finger on those spurs. Let them be if you so desire. Do keep in mind, however, that there may come a time when addressing the spur matter is necessary. Even if you have the sweetest, most docile rooster who would never in a million years dream of spurring you, his spurs may still someday need your attention. Spurs can grow incredibly long to a point where the rooster can actually injure himself when walking, not to mention gouging hens when mounting. Armed with this knowledge, it is up to you to do what is best for you, your rooster, and the hens in your flock. In no way is spur altering for fighting cocks condoned or encouraged!

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    If you don't want to make changes to your roosters spurs, stop reading now. If you do, then by all means let's continue. There are three methods of spur removal. In all cases, when handling your rooster, be careful to avoid damaging large quill feathers, as those will bleed a good bit if broken.

    1. Trim spurs back to a dull point with a hacksaw. Anything involving a saw sounds like it might not be a whole lot of fun, but the process is relatively easy. Catch rooster, wrap rooster in towel, saw spurs, let rooster go. Done! The rooster did not object at any point in this process, nor did he bleed, although you do have to be careful not to cut too close to the leg because spurs do have a bloodline in them much like dog or cat claws do. By making careful yet deliberate actions with the hacksaw, our rooster's spur was reduced to a blunt stub that could no longer inflict the damage which he had become known for inflicting.

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    2. Take a set of pliers to those spurs and twist gently from side to side. After the same process of catching the rooster and wrapping him in a towel, grasp his spur in a pair of pliers and move them back and forth carefully (hard jerking could damage the inner spur or cause the quick to bleed), being careful to avoid tugging at odd angles. This is said to pop off the outer shell of the spur, leaving a fresh, new, baby spur behind. This baby spur, while short, will be very sharp, so you might want to consider the hacksaw method if you want a dull point. Also, the baby spur will be a little raw and tender initially so spraying some Vetericyn or a similar product on there for a few days is helpful.

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    3. Hot potato! This is basically an addition to the second method that makes popping the outer spurs off easier to do. Microwave a potato until it is thoroughly cooked and slide it onto the spur, being careful not to let it contact the rooster. Hold it in place for about a minute, then remove. With pliers, gently work the spur from side to side. The exterior spur is said to pop off much more easily with this method than if you were to skip the potato. Again, a baby spur will be left with a sharp point, and that spur will be tender for a few days so will need a little TLC (Vetericyn).

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    Regardless of which method you choose, spurs will grow back so expect to repeat this process from time to time. While the outer spur casings to sometimes break off on their own, most of them require human intervention. The only way to avoid having spur problems is to have a vet perform a spur papilla on a rooster chick which will inhibit spur growth from a young age.

    Taking care of problem spurs does not have to be a traumatic experience as long as you are careful while doing it and mindful of your rooster's wellbeing. There are many other tools that have been used, such as rotary tools and dremels, but only use that with which you are comfortable and know how to operate. Remember, too, that there are reasons not to remove spurs, such as making your rooster less of a threat to predators when it comes to protecting his flock. However, if you have a rooster with spurs that are a danger to himself, the hens with whom he mates, or to you, it may be time to take action. Whether that action is the stew pot or the hacksaw is up to you.

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