How to clip a chicken's nails

Chickens nails grow.....A lot! They keep them filed down by scratching in the dirt for all those yummy bugs and worms. The rough particles act like sandpaper and file the nails down bit by bit as they scratch and dig in the dirt. Normally all of my chickens keep their toenails short. The only ones I have a problem with are the most broody of the Silkies

When hens go broody, they spend 3 weeks just sitting in a nest box keeping those eggs warm. After the chicks hatch they spend the next several weeks sitting on them and keeping them warm. Have you ever tried to go almost 2 months without cutting your nails? Not pretty. Chicken nails can get quite overgrown and require a trim occasionally.

trimming chickens nails

How to clip a chicken's nails

Clipping a chicken's nails is fairly easy though all you need is a guillotine style dog nail clipper. You simply clip the end of the nail off, just like you would do for a cat or dogs nails.

Cutting chickens toenails
disclosure
Much like a cat or dog though, they do have a vein inside their nail called the quick. If you cut it, it can bleed a lot! You may want to grab the blood stop powder to keep on hand just in case. A styptic pencil or cornstarch will work also. 

The end of the nail will be thinner and often curved. This is the part you want to clip away. The top part of the nail will be thicker and in light colored nails it will be darker. This is the part you don't want to cut!

Related reading: Stop an animal's nail from bleeding by Princeton Vet.

Clipping a chickens nails

If you're not sure where to stop, just cut a tiny bit off the end and give the chicken a few days to see if they get it filed down themselves. Often that is all it takes to get it to where the chicken can manage it on their own. 

You can always go back and cut a tiny bit of nail off again in a few days. You don't need to remove a lot of it, just enough to allow the foot to be in its natural position. We use a guillotine style dog nail clipper to clip chickens nails. You can also buy the type with a guard on it to prevent over clipping.

Pet chicken, clipped nails

The chicken will be more comfortable once the excess nail is gone and it allows for proper scratching in the dirt. The better they can scratch, the better they can find all those yummy bugs and grubs! While you're checking out their feet, don't forget to take a look at the roosters spurs and see if they need removed too. 

~L

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I am not a veterinarian or other animal care professional nor do I claim to be. I am simply passing on information that has worked for me and my flock. This information is for entertainment purposes only and is not meant to treat or diagnose any medical condition. Please see a vet if your chicken is ill. Click for my full disclaimer

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10 comments:

  1. Thank you for this tutorial! I've always wondered how to do this. I noticed my broody hen's nails were getting pretty long, so I put a small piece of concrete inside her enclosure so she could file them down if need be. Good to know I can also clip them if I have to!

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    1. YW! The broodys get pretty bad sometimes. Is the concrete working?

      ~L

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  2. Oh good to know this. I have already learned how to trim a beak.

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    1. Awesome! I hate trimming beaks, but sometimes it is necessary.

      ~L

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  3. Our hens have not started laying yet so of course we have not experienced the broody hen, but this is good info. I never thought about this. I just wanted to stop by and let you know that your post will be featured at tomorrow's The HomeAcre Hop. I will also tweet, like, and +1 your post. Please stop by and grab the featured button at:

    http://summersacres.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-homeacre-hop-25.html
    Congrats!
    ~Ann

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    1. Thank you so much for featuring us! I added the button right away, I was so excited!

      ~L

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  4. I am so glad I found this, good to know, a few of my girls will be getting a manicure tomorrow! Sounds simple enough! Thank you!

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    1. It's super simple.....let me know how it work out!

      ~L

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  5. Good to know! I'll keep this for future reference as our chickens are still quite young yet. Thank you for sharing this at the HomeAcre Hop! We'd love to have you back: http://blackfoxhomestead.com/uncategorized/the-homeacre-hop-25/

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  6. Thanks for sharing at the Homestead Blog Hop! Hope to see you again this week. :)

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