How to remove rooster spurs (the easy way)

As far as chickens go, my least favorite part of the rooster is the spur. I bet you're not surprised at all by that little confession. Spurs are actually quite useful though, as they are a roosters main line of defense against predators. However when they're used against people or are hurting the hens, then it's time to remove your roosters spurs!

Removing the spurs from a rooster

Spurs are actually an outgrowth of bone covered by a sheath of horn. A spur grows from the base outwards. Like an animals toenail, there is only a blood supply at the base and the tip can be easily trimmed. Spurs continuously grow and can get quite long. 

To control the length of a roosters spurs you can either trim each spur, or remove them. When you remove a spur you leave the base and only take off the hard outer covering. Removing spurs on a rooster is fairly easy to do. It requires very few tools and only takes a few seconds to remove each spur. In fact it's so easy to do, I once did it by accident!

Is it easy to despur a rooster?

The first time I removed a roosters spur I had only meant to trim it. The spur had actually grown with a curve backwards toward him and was pressing into his leg. I noticed the rooster limping and when I picked him up, I saw that it was because the spur had started digging into his leg.

Rooster spur removal

I decided to cut the sharp part of the spur off but was having a hard time getting the clippers to grip it. I tried with the big toenail cutters but they weren't getting a grip. 

Finally I switch to dog nail clippers and grabbed the spur with them then I was no longer attached! It had come off just like that from me trying to trim it! After I got past the surprise, I grabbed some pliers and popped the other one off.

Removing a roosters spurs


How to remove Rooster Spurs

To remove a roosters spurs you'll need a pair of pliers and some cornstarch or blood stop powder. Have someone hold the rooster and flip him over onto his back. 

Holding the leg with one hand, grasp the spur with the pliers and gently twist slightly in a clockwise motion, then turn back in a counterclockwise motion. The spur should pop free exposing the quick below it.

Remove the second spur then dust them both with the cornstarch or blood stop powder. They should only bleed a tiny bit and will dry up fairly quickly. Don't put him back in the coop till the bleeding has stopped. It shouldn't bother him much but might bleed a tiny bit if he bumps it over the next few days.

After removing rooster spurs: care

Other ways to despur a rooster

A roosters spurs will grow back, so you will have to repeat the process annually. This is the way I remove spurs though many people like to use the potato method

I don't use this method but in the interest of education: How that works is you microwave a potato until it's cooked through. Shove the potato over the spur and let it sit for several minutes. Remove potato then twist off spur with your fingers.

The theory is that the heat and moisture of the potato softens the spur making removal easier. The spur may be a hard object outside, but the inside is softer and sensitive. I just can't imagine the pain he must feel as heat is applied to his spur heating up the quick where the blood supply is. 

If I can't stick my finger in a hot potato for several minutes without hurting me, why would I do it to an animal? However, many people have used the potato method to remove rooster spurs and it does work.

If you just want to blunt the end of a roosters spur you can file it down with a metal file like you would a fingernail. Just be careful to hold it steady because they do pop off fairly easily. 

I've also used a Pedi Paws that I had for my dog to blunt the tip of the spur a little. It's just a rotating nail file disc inside a holder to prevent injury. Just be careful not to file too far down or it will cause pain and bleeding. Good luck!

Want to know more about having a rooster in your flock? Click here for everything I've written about roosters.


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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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  1. How disgraceful for a rooster to lose his only means of defending his flock against predators.

    If my roosters kick me (I have four, two of whom have ever kicked me), I use a dog leash as a soft whip. I do not whip hard, just enough to stroke over the back. If a dog leash is not handy, a stick,a pair of pants, or any object. This is not done to hurt the animal, just to show it I can wield power too.

    1. Thank you for your opinion, however I cannot bring myself to whip an animal whose intelligence is only equal to that of a 4 year old child.

      If you look at the lead image you'll see that this particular roosters spur was actually curving back towards him and starting to dig into his leg. The tutorial is here for those who want to know the right way to remove a roosters spurs if need be. I don't regularly despur my roosters. I prefer to hug them when they try to challenge me. lol It embarrases them to be picked up and they stop shortly.


    2. My roosters spurs are digging into my hens each time he mounts them leaving them with large wounds. One has a large gaping wound and a limp from being deeply stabbed. Sometimes it is necessary.

  2. This was very helpful! My rooster's spurs were extremely long and he would literally gouge large, horrendous holes into my hens. My chickens are cooped at night and let out while we are outside, so there is nothing he needs to defend himself against, so this method is perfect fornus!

    Thanks so much for your help!

    1. Awesome! I am so glad the tutorial was helpful! Have you ever tried saddles for your hens? I found they really help a lot when the girls backs get bald from an over-amorous roo.


  3. thank you for the information. I am new to roosters. My boy is almost 4 months old. I'm preparing for what he needs from me. As a pet owner and having 9 hens for a few years, a rooster is a new thing. Everyone will have an opinion but we loose nothing from sharing knowledge! I appreciate it.

    1. I love having roosters. I know some people don't like them, but I truly think they are a great addition to the flock. Good luck with your rooster!

  4. Thank you for the information.My roos spurs are so long he does not even attempt to cover his girls. I will try your method this afternoon when my grandson comes to help.

    1. Sorry, just saw this...I hope it helped him to be able to do his rooster duties again!


  5. Thank you for this post. We do have a rooster. He is pretty aggressive to some of the hens. But we have been looking for a way to remove his spurs. He has broken them off, but they do grow back. They are like your picture; growing into his leg. So, this is very helpful. We are willing to try anything. Thank again, the Kiessling family