Chickens are one of the most dynamic birds having different survival features that aid them in different ways both in the wild and in domestic conditions.
Their feathers are one such feature that enables them to survive in cold temperatures by providing the much-required warmth.
Chickens indeed are flightless birds and know their conditions well, evolution has paved them with different specifications, rooster spurs being one of them.
One of the things that surprised me a lot is these pointed outgrowths over the legs of the roosters known as spurs.
What is a Spur? How do Roosters get Spurs?
Rooster spurs are a partial outgrowth at the leg of the rooster, it is quite similar to a toe. It is a bone-like structure having a very bad look and has a claw-like figure. The spur has a very pointy end.
There is a hard covering of keratin all over the spur of roosters. These spurs are an integral part of the leg bone and are mostly found in most adult roosters having a quiet few exceptions as well.
Roosters get their spurs through a small bud opening on their legs near the back claw, as the rooster grows old the spurs get long and curve downwards forming an arc-like structure.
These spurs are used for different purposes by the bird!
What is the use of rooster spurs?
Rooster spurs are very very crucial in giving protection to the roosters from various predators and other birds during a fight by acting as an effective weapon. Roosters use the sharp and pointed end of the spurs to attack predators and other birds while fighting.
Roosters spur also help them while fighting other males for a possible mating opportunity with a hen, generally, if there is more than one rooster around a hen they will fight each other to claim the right over the hen for mating.
Rooster spurs are effective and useful to them but improper management and unstoppable growth of these spurs can also cause a lot of harm to these birds in different situations.
How soon do Roosters get Spurs?
The time period of the outgrowth of Spurs varies from roosters to roosters in different species of the bird. Mostly roosters can get their fully developed Spurs by the time of 6 to 7 months. In some cases, spurs can take a time of 8 to 9 months for full growth.
The spur starts growing at a very young age in most of the birds and it is very hard to spot them in an early phase of growth. These spurs keep on growing as the bird ages.
Do all breeds of roosters have Spurs?
Most of the roosters do develop spurs, but many roosters do not develop any kind of spurs. Even many hens do not have any kind of outgrowth in their legs.
Mostly roosters have spurs and hens can have them in very rare cases too. Generally, hens do not have spurs and they are protected by their males with the help of the pointed spurs from any possible attack.
Maintaining Rooster Spurs
Clipping the Spurs
One of the best ways to maintain the spurs of your roosters is through clipping, it is one of the efficient methods to proceed with if your rooster’s spurs are causing trouble to your rooster or other members of the flock
There are many clippers available in the market that you can use, it is important to look out for sharp and clean clippers. The process of clipping should be performed in a well-lit area and you should be precautions while performing it.
There are high chances that you may hit the bird’s leg bone while clipping down the spurs, so clipping is not the most appropriate method for a newbie.
Filing the Spurs
Filing is an easier and appropriate method for maintaining the rooster spur, one of the best things about filing is that there are very few chances of hurting the rooster’s bone.
In case if your rooster has a very long spur you can clip the pointy end of it with the help of a clipper and later file the remaining part.
Roosters generally do not cause a lot of trouble while getting their spurs trimmed down or getting filed
Outer growth removal
The outer growth on the rooster’s spur is the hardest part of the spur, it is a keratin sheath and is the reason for the most trouble, removing it can help your bird from a lot of discomfort and pain.
The process of outer growth removal involves slight twisting and curving of the spur, the keratin sheath breaks slowly and only the soft core of the spur is left. The soft inner core is not that hard and does not cause much trouble to the birds.
The leftover spur can further be softened by applying some oil on it or by rubbing a hot potato over the bird’s spur.
Do hens have spurs like roosters?
Some hens can develop spurs in very rare cases but generally, hens do not have big pointed spurs that they can use for defense mechanisms.
Generally, all hens have the potential to produce a spur but it mainly remains recessive and the spurs do not show up. One of the popular species of hen that produces spurs is the Polish species of hens.
How big and long do Rooster Spurs get?
Rooster spurs can get very long without proper maintenance and can get curved down and form an arc-like structure, it can often cause a lot of trouble to many roosters while walking. In some cases, the spurs may curl down a lot and can harm the rooster by giving severe cuts in the legs.
Generally, these spurs do not require much maintenance but in some specific cases maintenance is required.
How do you get rid of Rooster Spurs?
In most cases there is no need to get rid of roosters spurs permanently, but periodic maintenance and injuries cause you a lot of trouble opting for permanent removal can be a good option.
It is important to carry out any permanent removal technique under the guidance of a vet.
Some of the ways to get rid of rooster spurs are–
Stopping the growth of Spur
One method for keeping spurs away from your rooster is to stop their growth in the early stages of the rooster’s life. Small chicks have the spur bud and can be easily detected, the bud is the small exterior opening in the leg from where the spurs develop.
You need to sterilize the spur bud to stop its further growth, the process should cauterize the bud completely otherwise there are high chances that the spur may grow from there and can cause a lot of pain and discomfort to the bird while growing from a half cauterized bud.
Removal of the Spur
In case you do not get the chance to prevent the growth of spur at an early age of the bird, this can be done in an adult rooster too. It is not recommended to remove the spurs for a healthy rooster, this process should be carried only for an abnormal or troubling spur growth.
The process should be carried by a specialized vet as it involves some tricky steps and the application of drugs as well. The bird experiences a lot of pain during the process, a professional vet can ease the process by making the birds sleep.
Do Roosters need their spurs trimmed?
Yes, it is appropriate to trim down the spurs of those roosters who live in a flock as there are high chances that they may hurt other birds with their spurs.
A single rooster gets involved with 6 to 7 hens and there are high chances that it can fight multiple roosters for this, while fighting with the roosters there are very high chances that the roosters can get seriously hurt. Trimming down the spurs can save these kinds of injuries.
Species of roosters having spurs
Most of the rooster species have sharply pointed spurs. Some of the popular species of roosters having these spurs are-
- Easter egger roosters
- Polish roosters
- Bantam roosters
- Cochin roosters
- Wyandotte roosters
- Brahma roosters
- Ameraucana roosters
- Barred rock roosters
- Silkie roosters
Those who have roosters and other poultry birds in their farms know the difficulties of their domestication, these birds require constant care and attention.
Small discomforts and problems can lead to a lot of trouble for the birds and the owners as well.
I know that one such thing that can become a headache for the rooster owners is the rooster spurs.
These Spurs are an evolutionary trait of the bird and help in the defense and protection of the bird, but for the roosters living in a flock, it can cause serious injuries to the birds during a fight.
Rooster spurs should be maintained and looked after for a better environment for your chicken flocks.