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Written by Carole

Do you have a rooster in your coop? I do and he is two years old now and has a very large set of spurs on him.

Roosterraising roosters
Check out the spurs in these pictures. This rooster has some spurs!

Our rooster is friendly and does not show any signs of aggression but my concern about the spurs is for the hens. If he accidentally stuck one of these hens with his spur when he was breeding they may not fare very well.

So I have been researching the best way to get rid of rooster spurs and have come up with a list of ways recommended on how to deal with them. Here it is:

  1. File down the tip of the spur with a dremmel or other grinding instrument. Since the spur continuously grows, like the toe nails, this procedure will have to be repeated as the spur tip grows out.
  2. The spur can be removed when the rooster is still a chick. A veterinary uses electrocautery to hinder the growing cells of the spur.
  3. Instead of cutting them, which is dangerous, you can take a pair of pliers, place them at the base of the spur near the leg, and twist until they come off. It removes the outer sheath of the spur leaving a much smaller spur underneath. I do this to my show roosters as it makes them look more “classy” to the judges’ eye.
  4. The plier method will make them bleed, but I have never had one scream in pain yet and I’ve done thousands of roosters like this. Just put some water on the spur and dab some fresh household WHITE SUGAR on it. This will keep the spur clean while helping to clot the blood. The spur shell makes for unique jewelry/pendants too.
  5. Wire cutters may also be used by snipping off the tip of the spur. Be careful not to snip off too much as this can cause profuse bleeding and a very unhappy rooster. Cutting too deep means that you’ve cut too far into the new soft spur that is found underneath the old cap. After snipping a metal file may be used to file the edges smooth.
  6. This method is said to remove a spur permanently. This is done when the cockerel is 10-16 weeks old and the spur is 1/4 inch long. The spur is cut off close to the cockeral’s leg. After cutting the spur then rub potassium hydroxide into the wound to prevent profuse bleeding and also preventing the spur from regrowing again.
  7. Another known method is using an electric calf dehorner and burning them off. This has been said that it is a permanent form of removal. With this method you must be extremely careful not to burn too much or too little. It’s said it doesn’t bother the rooster and he’s back to normal in a couple of days.
  8. According to Stromberg’s Book of Poultry is the following: Place a hot baked potato on the spur and hold it there for a few minutes. Remove the baked potato, twist the spur and you will find it comes right off. There is no blood or mess. This technique really works well.
  9. A Dremel Motor tool with a cut off wheel attachment may also be used. With this method one person holds the rooster’s leg and the other cutting the spur off just before the quik. There is the risk of cutting too close and profuse bleeding may result.

These are just some methods I have found while searching the internet. I think the potato method sounds like the easiest and maybe the least painful. I am definitely going to give it a try.

If you know of a better way, please share in the comment section. I am sure many of the readers have roosters and would like to hear from everyone.

I will share the results of my spur removal procedure once I get the courage to do it.

Until the next time…

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86 Responses to “How to Remove Rooster Spurs”

  1. I love that top pic, so colorful. I might try to sketch that! I know nothing about roosters but I love to look at them.

    sandy

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  2. This rooster is so colorful. This picture was taken at dusk. I have alot of pictures of the rooster and if you check out google images under rooster you will see my rooster listed there also.

    Thanks for stopping by!

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    Jill Reply:

    Carole, i have a rooster that looks just like the one above, do you know what breed it is?

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  3. Please send me an email , if you try the hot potato to remove rooster spurs. I have an Astralorp rooster that has spurs longer than the rooster you have pictured. He {Elvis} is not mean but can do damage to the hens, so would like to get those spurs to manageable levels. Maybe someone else has done this?

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    william Reply:

    hot potato worked better than expected George was having trouble
    walking due to 3in plus spurs they came right off with no blood or u trauma involved

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    Terry Reply:

    I’ve used the hot potato and it worked great no pain no blood and much happier hens now

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    Genevieve Reply:

    I just used the hot potato method on my aunt’s bantam rooster. Worked great, only a little bleeding!

    Doris Rodriguez Reply:

    Hello Terry, my name is Doris and I have a Rhoade Island Red his spur’s are so big and long it makes walk bad I’m afraid to do anything with them he’s a house rooster and I watch him very close I noticed that on each leg he has a rise on each of his legs, could the size of his spur’s cause that rise, he seems to limp while walking. I have cliped his nails but not very good at that. I know nothing about spurs and still don’t know anything about cutting his nails. I cut his nails and one begain to bleed I just don’t want to hurt him (he’s my baby/heart I dont know what I would if somthing happens to him (his name is Stewart)

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  4. Let me know if this works as well..sounds like rubbish as there is bone underneath the keratine covering.

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  5. robert chiarizia
    May 16th, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    Are you guys sure you are farmers? I have freeranged jungle reds like the your photo. You have an alpha rooster there, he is not going to spur your hens, that is what he uses to defend them from everything. Eventually when the babies get to adolescence they will range with him as he protects them and teaches them the finer things of survival away from the mother hen who by then will have another clutch that she is raising. That big boy is capable of fending off dogs, cats, you name it, he is essential to the species survival and training. If you take his spurs out of your own ignorance you will be doing your whole flock a huge disservice. He knows exactly what he is doing with those and he gets a little piece of the action several times daily if you are treating him properly.

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    Liz Turner Reply:

    Dear Robert,
    we have a dead rooster,killed during the day. We can’t find the head. One breast is almost completely defeathered,meat somewhat mangled but mainly there.Feathers and some blood around in a large area We have never lost a chicken during the day that the predator did not take the body away. Is our other rooster a suspect?He look blood free. Or is there an animal with this MO during the day? The dead rooster was a buff orpington. The live one is a Rhoade Island Red.We assume they fought the other day, because when we got home they were both very bloody.
    Thank you,
    Elizabeth

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    Laura B. Reply:

    Years ago this happened to me. I ws losing one chicken after another until I went down one night and found a possum eating the head of of another chicken. That was the end of the possum and the end of me losing chickens. I don’t know why they only ate the head.

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    vincent Reply:

    Sounds like a typical coon attack. That’s how coons do it. They will take one bird a night if you aren’t careful and lock your birds in. They like to grab the bird, break its neck or bite its neck, then eat the meaty portion of the upper body under the head. Last winter I lost 10 good layers to a big coon. I’ve never had much problems with them before, but this guy was huge, looked like a small bear. Twice I trapped him in drop style (home-made) traps, and both times he figured out how to escape. Some coons are unbelievably smart, and with those nasty little hands they can do amazing stuff. I bought an expensive large animal live trap, but he won’t come near it. Now I close my coop doors religiously. I’d be surprised if a possum did the original killing. They like spoiled meat and are big carrion eaters. Skunks will kill, as will weasels. Weasels tend to just cut the big neck artery, though and gorge on blood. They’ll go through several birds in one night if the opportunity allows. Over the years, I’ve probably killed a hundred possums in my coop, by going out at night with a faint light in my hand, to collect eggs from the nest. Frequently have found possums gorging on eggs. Never had a chicken-killer. Be careful with the possum if you intend to kill it. A shotgun (I use a 410 with no. 4 shot) is the best and quickest. Aim for the body, not the head. Things have the brain of a pea, surrounded by bony armor.

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    Speedy Reply:

    i dont think it was a coon. I live in Alaska and we dont have coons.I have had 2 chickens lost that way one rooster one hen,we saw a goss Hawk fly off my chicken when we went over to investigate its head was off we coudnt find it and its have of its brest was eaten. ps we is me and my dad.

    vincent Reply:

    Now that I see your original post, I would agree that a coon is unlikely as the predator. They are much too nocturnal. Hawks, however will attack during the day… that’s when they see best, and if they have clearance to dive on a bird, it’s going to be gone, gone, gone. If it’s little, the whole bird will go. If it’s larger the hawk’s dive will be a killing strike and the hawk will eat its fill and move on. We’ve had hawks and also owls attack our little critters. My favorite cat got carried off by a great gray owl about 4 years ago.. really irked me, cause I usually am not a big cat lover. This guy was truly cool….”Spots” we called him. He got high on catnip a lot, and was just plain funny to have around, because he was always doing something crazy. Ironic that the one cat I get attached to bites the dust because of the simple laws of nature.

    Hawks can be deterred if your range is filled with trees that interfere with flight attacks. Otherwise, a small chicken yard helps. A large chicken yard gives hawks enough room to maneuver. Some people string colored rope or wire with streamers or other distractors across the potential flight path. If you are really going to free range, though…. you takes your chances….

    wendy Reply:

    did you figure it ou?
    Mink kill them that way.

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    Kristin Shirley Reply:

    I know exactly what you are saying and agree with you. However we are going to trim our Rooster’s spurs as they are so long it is affecting his walking. We do not want to permanently remove them because of preditors. He does not hurt the hens. Yes the hens have feathers pulled out during mating but that is caused by his feet not his spurs and is quite normal. There was an article on our TV about a fox that made a mistake and ventured into a chicken coop. The farmer found the fox dead in the doorway. It had puncture wounds in his chest as well as pecking wounds all over.

    Kristin

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    Carolyn Reply:

    Robert,
    I have a very large Rhode Island Red that has dug his spurs into the last of my sweet hens. He is not mean but as you say loves “a piece of the action.” I have a large Buff Rock that has two large wounds in each side that I hope she survives from. I also had a Americana hen that I had to separate from him for 4 months to heal and then purchase a canvas vest to protect her. You don’t have to be a FARMER to care for your chickens and not want them injured or dead from the wounds of the spurs.
    I am going to continue to study the techniques for the one that seems the best for our big guy. I have also contacted the local vet for help.
    Carolyn

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    robert Reply:

    sorry for the delayed response. you have already probably learned you most likely have some type of predatory cat as the culprit. My guess immediately is a feral house cat.
    They have taken down my geese as well. Yeah they kill and leave the carcass. from bad feral breeding. I reduced the feral cat population. there are humane ways if you don’t eat them. Cat taste good though. would never pass one up if hungry. Taste like goat a little, texture different. Check local laws on this. Americans are a little opinionated about eating animals that are popular pets in USA. The live cat trap works very well, but relocation is difficult, better to give him to local aspca instead. YOur description of the attack is feline in nature I believe.

    Good luck, it sounds like you love your animals, that is nice to hear about. You are absolutely correct, you don’t need to be a farmer. But you are one, so aloha, and be well.

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    Tanya Reply:

    I as well have a very large Rhode Island Red rooster, with a small flock of only 6 hens. I have just within the last year became interested in poulty. So, not being an “experienced farmer”, I started small, and I was really surprised to find how long his spurs grew. And of course I too have hens who are suffering, one now has a 4 or 5 inch gash under her wing and seem to have what looks like it may be some intestines showing because her rump is staying messy. Now I am down to 3 out of my 6 hens showing damage from spurs, and all are missing some feathers under their wing area. So I have no idea what should be the best approach here, its sure that something needs to be done. I am uneasy about trying some of the above suggestions on my own. If I just file the spurs down would this be enough to stop the cutting under the hens’ wings? I have been told that I may need to get more hens which I am working on, or seperate the hens from the rooster for a while, which I am doing now, but suggestions?

    Thanks,
    Tanya

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    ruby Reply:

    I have a pair of rooster and they are actually cutting my hens open with their spurs. So I must come up with a good way to de spur them. They also are very mean and have spurred me a few times so either the spurs go or they go. They are compltely enclosed in a large area so really do not need to fend off other animals. I do not planned to use the potatoe, but the twisting of hte spur off sounds interesting. Wish me luck.

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  6. Thanks Robert for visiting and voicing your concern and opinion. I don’t claim to be a farmer, just enjoy raising chickens. Having read many blogs and other articles concerning the species and also experiencing what he can do with those spurs, I am a little concerned but not overly in what the rooster might do to the hens.

    My rooster is so friendly I have no fear of him hurting me or his flock of hens intentionally, so haven’t proceeded in ridding him of his spurs. I have seen him kill another hen because she was new to the flock. I learned from the experience and will know better in the future in bringing new hens into his environment. If I ever have a reason I will do what is necessary but for now I will share some of the ways I have found through the internet ways to rid roosters of their spurs for those that may have a need. Some can be dangerous. It all depends on their personality.

    Again, thanks for visiting and I hope you come back again soon and comment.

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  7. Robert & Carole, Great thread here. Not a farmer either but have had birds for years now. I have a very large rooster, I mean spooky large. Like the size I’ve seen in the past in Jersy Giants, not sure what breed this one is but the point is he is BIG. the hens are no match for him as my wife and daughters love the wee ones (silkies, etc.). A month ago a hen received a piercing blow to her sternum which I thought would surely kill her, but she still lives today. The wound has closed and apears to have a cyst under the skin where it happended. My point here is I believe the roosters spurs to have been the cause. He is over sized for these wee hens, but I do not know if i can seperate them indefinatly cause it’s a bit of a hassle. I thought about this spur thing and is how I found this thread. I like the idea of Roberst pos because I am a believer in Natures way. But I certainly do not want the wee hens at risk all the time. Any suggestions? I like the Big guy, but also like the wee hens. i have recently purchased some stout girls for his manly duties. (far beit from me to deny him of this) But can he intermingle with these other wee hens without risk of accidental killing or wounding them? Please advise.

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    robert Reply:

    corral them like cattle and separate into various groups. cockpit, henhut, open range, corral, etc. mix and move learn the flock and it subgroups. starting with roosters that have been properly trained by an adult rooster helps just like a good teacher for humans.
    Create natural shelters in their range and let the hens ‘disappear’. They will develop secret nests and will be able to avoid violent behaviour. They are just like us, if couped up too long like a concrete jungle, genocide inevitably rebalances population if disease doesn’t balance it first. They literally get all stressed out from their living conditions and react violently. We can learn alot about ourselves from chickens, one of our oldest domesticated symbiotic relationships developed over tens of thousands of years.

    I generally let some areas get snarled with underbrush, and eventually you will find them flocking together in these ‘sanctuaries’. Keep a good Beta around, he is the eyes and shamanic ears of the flock, keeps the alpha honest and competing rather than becoming a wifebeater. In turn he wants to show up the alpha and show all the ladies he knows where ALL the good spots are for shelter, water, lays, and food.

    if a dog doesn’t run around enough in a natural environment, his ‘spurs’ get too long as well. Proper holistic natural order care commands a healthy spur by letting rooster do what he has adapted to do for 50,000 years. All the best to you.

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  8. Bruce, Just yesterday I ran across another forum that was speaking of this same incident and gave a couple of other alternatives for removing spurs:
    1. ok here is a way to trim the spurs is get you a lil hack saw with like a metal cutting blade an get you a bar of soap. just take the saw run it back an forth on the bar of soap an you can cut the spur to were it is only 1/2 inch long an it wont bleed yes the bird may fuss some but it dont really hurt them an soap will keep it from bleeding . i do this to my roosters that are in with hens most the time.
    2. Here in cock pit country, I have seen them put small corks on the roosters spurs to keep them from hurting each other if they were running loose. I am thinking the same would work for keeping the hens safe. What I have seen looks like used wine corks.

    Those were the entries that I read on this post: http://www.homesteadingtoday.c.....p?t=258410.

    If you will note in that same post someone mentioned their rooster being much larger and they kept him separate unless they wanted fertilized eggs. That may be option for you. Or perhaps one of the methods listed will work also.

    Good luck in whichever way you choose. Thanks for visiting and commenting and I hope you come back soon!

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  9. I am going to try the potato method, my rooster has spurred me for the last time. I hope it works on a 2 yr. old Dominecker. His spurs are longer than the rooster in the pic. I thought he was a hen when I bought him as a chick and I named him Shirley, I had a grown rooster named The Fonz and a hen named Laverne. Well Shirley was a cock, and he’s mean as a snake. I say he’s mad because I named him Shirley, you know “A Boy Named Sue”!

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  10. I too have a large rooster that is twice the size of my hens. His spurs are almost 5 inches long and he can no longer fly up with the hens to roost. He is not mean but for his own welfare will have to have something done soon. I plan on trying the potato tonight after dark. I hope this works.

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  11. I just completed the baked potato procedure for removing my 5 yr old Rooster’s spurs. Both were 5 inches long. My wife baked two potatoes in the microwave and put them in tin foil. I put the rooster in a burlap bag with his feet out,and put both potatoes on both spurs for 3 minutes. Both spurs popped off very easily. I was surprised how easy this was. His legs on the inside were starting to get red or raw from attempting to walk, I’m glad I attempted this when I did. I left the tin foil on the potatoes when I put them on the spurs.

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  12. I HAVE A VERY BEAUTIFUL ROOSTER ALOT LIKE THE ONE IN YOUR PICTURES–HE WAS A FRIENDLY GUY UNTIL HE GOT 4 HENS–NOW WATCH OUT!! HE IS A MEAN GUY–FOR NO REASON HE WILL TRY TO ATTACK YOU–A FEW DAYS AGO I WENT OUT TO FEED AND HE TURNED ON MY AND SPURED MY ON MY LEG RIGHT UNDER MY KNEE–OUCH!! IT STARTED BLEEDING AND HURT SOOOOO BAD!! THIS HAPPENED 5 DAYS AGO AND I’M STILL HAVING TROUBLES WALKING–MY LEG HAS SWELLED UP AND JUST HURTS!!!! I AM GOING TO TRY THE POTATOE METHOUD BECAUSE I CAN’T INAGINE WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF HE GETS MY KIDS!!!

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    Kalavati Reply:

    Dear Amy, Spurs intact or not, it is important to break the rooster of his mean habits. I found great advice on this site: http://shilala.homestead.com/roosters.html . I’ve been working with my aggressive roo for a bit over a week and he is becoming very sweet with me. I even have our kids involved in the “rooster training program” so he will stop attacking them. He just needs to know his place in the pecking order and then he can calm down. Good luck!

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    Haley Reply:

    Just spray him with a hose if my 3 roosters see the hose they run into the coop and mine also get freaked out when i chase them

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  13. we bought a little rooster and his spurs were so long they curled up under his body. we found on another sight that you twist the spur back and forth and it will pop right off. it didnt hurt the chicken and it only bled for a minute. he ran around like he was happier.

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  14. I am so glad to find this site….one of my roosters has a two and a half inch spur on one leg and about an inch on the other, he is practically crippled not to mention how badly threaded my hens are. My little Banty rooster has one very long spur which is dangerous to all as he loves to be held or fly’s up to sit on my head…that spur is razor sharp.

    I was just about to put the big fellow down but will try the pliers, sugar etc. as I have seen that method done. Thanks, will let you know how we all fair!

    Johanna

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  15. Great discussion topic. Determining what to do about a rooster’s spurs took me quite a while as well.

    Robert brings up a good point in that the spurs are the bird’s means of defending himself and his flock. If he is not misusing them, its best to leave them.

    Ive found another reason to trim spurs however. Some of my roosters had grown spurs so long that they had difficulty walking. I waited too long with my first rooster and he developed hip problems. Because of this, I use the twist-off method. It leaves him with his spurs, only shorter.

    Amy: What you have is a rooster who thinks he runs the farm. The next time your bird charges you, try to grab him by his legs and pin him on his back for a few minutes. My latest dominant rooster has never since troubled me but it is not always a permanent solution. If he remains agressive, the only sure cure is, sadly, rooster stew.

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  16. I suppose i understand the quandary you are in…just understand most of your problems are stemming from couping your animals up. You create more work for yourself as you move farther from the natural order. I would recommend getting a rare copy of Fukuoka Masanobu’s nobel peace prize winning book, titled,”One straw revolution” it will change the modern backward inefficient way of farming forever. People are making it much more time consuming than it has to be. I see it first hand on the farm i am visiting now. i have already proved fukuoka correct on maui at 100 poli poli road in kula, hawaii. the way people farm now is the equivalent of building a house without modern tools. Another good book, more for gardening organically is Anastasia. More of a story than a guidebook. entertaining and informational. Aloha and happy new year!

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    Carolyn Reply:

    Robert,
    My chickens ARE free range, but the rooster’s spurs are still the problem. They all are free to run around all day until dark when they roost and I close the door for their protection. The rooster still has his other toes and sharp nails for protection of his girls.
    Carolyn

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    robert Reply:

    wow, hope you can teach that old boy some proper edicate around his ladies. good luck.

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    mike Reply:

    you city people kill me just take a hack saw cut the dam things off slap some greese on the cut and throw them back in the pen get a dog and let him run with the chickens i got a dobe he does real good even sleeps with the chickens being a real chicken farmer is a lot more than you think…..eat more chicken….

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  17. I did the potato remedy today for my rooster – and SUCCESS!!!!! How easy and stress free for me and the bird. Heated two potatoes and wrapped them in tinfoil. Caught the rooster and tucked him under my arm, placed a pototo on each spur and left them on for 10 minutes. Took the potatoes off and gently pulled on the spurs and they came away very easily. No bleeding, no pain, no squacking!!!! The new, little spurs are tender looking but no blood to speak of. BRILLIANT!

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  18. I did the potato remedy at 3 minutes to 10 minutes and it works great.Bleed just a little, no pain to the chicken.Alsome remedy, the safe way. Thanks.

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  19. Great site for getting great information on roosters and trimming.etc….
    I think the best thing to do witha rooster that spurs the famrer who feeds them is to put hin in a pot with those two potatoes….

    Enjoy reading your site.
    Dale in Ga.

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  20. wendy woolstenhulme
    April 20th, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    For some time we have been reading all of your stories trying to decide what to do with the spurs on our agressive rooster.
    I finally talked my husband into trying the baked potato method even though he had some concerns. Results, not sure…We held the potato on his spurs for about four minutes. When we twisted just the outer portion came off of the spur. Question? Can anyone tell me what happpens now. Will this discontinue the growth of the spur? I haven’t read anywhere that it needs done more than once. We have only had our chickens for a year and so he is still young. My concern is my sweet little hens,their backs look so sore from him riding them. Unlike my husband, I am not concerned about his fun. My concern is for my little hens… Please let me know ASAP what you think I should do..
    SAVE THE HENS…

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    Susie Reply:

    Every rooster needs a minimum of 5 hens in his “haram” so that he won’t mate so much with just one so that they lose their feathers along their back. He could still have his FAVORITE hen and she will suffer but if there are at least 5 this is usually not a problem.

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    LInda Reply:

    I have a somewhat different question: My HEN has “spurs” or a toe (?) growing off from her leg and it is curving so that very soon it will grow back into her leg. Is this considered a spur and can it be removed with the potato the same way? Any help would be appreciated as something has to be done soon….. Thanks!

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    Susie Reply:

    Linda,
    A spur grows off the side of the leg and a toe would have a toenail….does that help with deciding what your hen has?
    Once you have determined if it is a spur or a toe you can proceed.
    Some chickens have 5 toes! If it is a toenail then I would clip it little by little so as not to make it bleed….if it is a spur then I would try to twist it off.
    A picture would help…but I am by no means a “professional” but I am sure you will figure something out.

    Susie

  21. Wendy, Not from experience but what I have read and seen, the spurs will grow back in time. The hard outer covering is what comes off upon removal. The spur cased inside will grow back and the process will need to be repeated in the future. The inside portion should not be near as sharp as the outer casings and should pose no danger of cutting.

    My roosters spurs are 2″ long and I let him keep them because he does not damage the hens and is not aggressive to me or any of the other animals, just the predators. One time he did get tangled up in a fence because of them and laid on the ground until I came and rescued him.

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  22. I have a beautiful young rooster that just found his voice, but hasn’t grown spurs yet. He has shown some aggression by biting the hens, stomping and fluffing his feathers and crowing at the sight of humans, as if we are his predators. He hasn’t bitten a person yet, but did come at me today like he was about to bite me. I firmly touched his chest before he could strike, catching him off guard. That caused him to forget about biting me. The hens squeal in pain when he bites them.

    The second time the rooster bit a hen, I separated him (via the coop) while the hens roamed the yard. I didn’t let him out until he relaxed and stopped crowing. He crowed a few times when he came out, but didn’t bite the hens. The biting seems to be related to our presence. Perhaps it was a reprimand of some sort? Or a power struggle to let the hens know they should answer to him and not me?

    I just worry about my daughter. Today, he looked like he wanted to bite her (she’s six) when she was standing between him and the hens. To prevent him from getting close enough to bite, I chased him away as soon as he started stomping. He seemed to get the message. But he still stomps occasionally. Should I pin him to the ground to show him who is boss or am I misunderstanding his behavior? This is all new to me.

    There is barely a chance of predators in my enclosed yard. He has me confused with being a predator, but aside from the dogs, who are kept on the other side of the fence and in the house during the heat, he may never know what a real predator looks like. One thing I know: When his spurs grow in, the spuds get nuked! :)
    .-= Whit´s last blog ..Hi, I’m Whit… =-.

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    robert Reply:

    yeah, misunderstanding his behaviour. you are putting him in a difficult position of cutting him off from his flock, he has no choice but to rejoin with them, and if intimidation doesn’t work on the humans, he will reluctantly do what needs to be done in his little T-rex evolved brain to protect them from the young homo sapien who is unpredictable and dangerous through genetic experience. If someone got between you and your mate or mates at the mall, you do the same. The posturing is more subtle in homo sapiens. posturing is nature’s way of peacefully determining dominance and submission. It doesn’t have to go there, because in the animal kingdom, any wound can be fatal from infections. Animals would much rather run you off than actually have to strike. We are all energy conservationists. Nobody wants to take on a deadly threat if there is an alternative. Roosters can even teach us peaceful means to resolve conflict!

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    Whit Reply:

    Hi Robert,

    Thanks for responding, but I posted the question you just answered today in July of 2009… almost a year ago. I found my answer shortly thereafter via research and library books. Yes, my rooster was just being a male chicken! Unfortunately, that rooster has since been eaten (by the dogs when the gardener left the gate open). Now, I have a whole new set of chickens and a new rooster (a Phoenix), along with a better latch on the gate. My new rooster loves my daughter and lets her pick him up any time she wants to. My husband now builds coops for a living, along with other wooden amenities. He built us a grand coop for fifteen recently. Boy, if you had told me in my youth that I would one day be a chicken enthusiast, I might have laughed. Horses, maybe… but chickens? Yet it’s true… I love raising them! We got our first eggs just before Easter. Reading my original post, boy did I sound ignorant… because I was… about chickens anyway. But I do appreciate your input.

    Thanks again,

    Whit

    [Reply]

  23. thats a really nice rooster .. what breed is it?

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  24. Hello,my name is Ann.I have one very large rooster.He was an Easter chick.I bought him on purpose as a chick for a pet.Long story short,we didn’t get our fence put up before he was grown.(new property).He is 2 yrs old and a “house rooster”.I would tell you how wonderfully tame and smart he is but…..I need some advice.please————
    We “play”with him for exercise.We take huge stuffed animals and toss them at him back and forth and he jumps at them and attacks them.I mean how many games can you play with a rooster?
    Anyway back to my problem.While “playing”one day he snagged his own spurr and ripped it off.He weighs 13 lbs and is VERY big.His spurs are huge.Now he only has one.I am hoping he will rip the other off with his nails too.
    My husband and I are chicken to do it ourselves.I am ready to try the hot potato.Any other suggestions?We took him to the vet once awhile back.It was $160.00.We don’t have THAT kind of money.Even though we love him very much.

    [Reply]

    Carole Reply:

    I would highly recommend trying one of the methods listed. One potato and a few minutes and you just saved yourself $160.00. Make sure to read the other comments of people who have tried it successfully.

    [Reply]

  25. We have a rooster running open range. Lately he has become quite aggressive attacking me, my wife and our grand kids. We watched a video on youtube showing how to remove spurs. Looked very easy even though the video says they will grow back. I am going to try this push and twist method and maybe throw in a baked potato. If this don’t work it will be time for chicken dinner. Here is the link to the video.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqF-dHyxQkc

    [Reply]

  26. Hi Carole, this is an old post, but when I did a search on why my rooster tried to kill his hen this came up. I’ve been trying to figure out why our Phoenix rooster who has been so good, gentile, docile, protecting the hens from all danger has turned on one of his RIR hens. We purchased him and 2 Ph hens and 3 RIR hens at the same time about 2 years ago. They’ve lived together in harmony for all this time. The one Phoenix hen was killed by a hawk (part of life death cycle), and the other is with her chicks in another pen. There are 4 new hens just now laying that roost in the trees (wild). But the RIRs and the rooster are accustomed to roosting in the coop at night. We lock them up when they go on the roost and let them out in the mornings to free range. Yesterday they were given plenty of grain and foraged all day. I put bread not stale or moldy in the pen so they’d have something in the morning before I let them out. When I came out this morning, it appears it was the rooster, but he has just about killed or maybe she will be dead before the day is out, one of those RIR hens! I know God has given them instincts and realized when the hawk got one that it was the way things are, but this has me baffled. The rooster is also more aggressive in “mating” with his hens lately. He was always so nice and would do the little courtship thing with his feathers, now he’s chasing them down. What is going on with this rooster? Are we going to have to cull him now? He was so nice and beautiful, did we do something wrong?

    [Reply]

    robert Reply:

    my guess is he has too much on his plate and can’t take all the responsibility. Need another strong rooster or two and they will create a separate flock after some turf battles. Plus animals are like people, some are just jerks. Don’t breed that one, breed the more respectful ones instead.

    another thought was that, animals sense a diseased animal and will peck them to death to cull them from the group for the groups safety. Works for chickens at least. I imagine other animals do the same when they find it absolutely necessary for survival of the species. Ever seen the mommas do this even with their own, for the rest of their chicks survival.

    [Reply]

  27. what should i do about the 2 in deep gashes on my 2 hens i have 3 roosters and 15 hens onlt two roosters mate the other is stuck to fend for himself. the oldest one has 3 in spurs the other has stubs.

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  28. haley: by now, i hope your hen is already doing better. i had this same problem twice with my rooster’s favorite hen. here is my advice: go to your local feed store and buy a package of dry powder antibody. i can’t remember what kind it is, but my store only had one kind. it was for chickens and turkeys. it ws a yellow powder. i had to do some math because the directions told how to mix it with a different kind of waterer than what i use. we use 1 gallon waterers. anyways, i used a two litter bottle, mixed the powder with water in that to make a consentrate, and kept the 2 liter bottle refridgerated. then i used 1 ounce of the consentrate to 1 gallon of water in the waterer. (i think i used half a package of the antibody powder to one 2 liter bottle). every day, you dump out the water that they didn’t drink, and make up a new batch using the 1 oz:1 gal ratio. i think we did this for two weeks. it doesn’t hurt the other chickens, but i definatly recomend discarding the eggs during the two weeks of treatment and also for two weeks afterward. we ended up letting the eggs pile up at the end and ended up with a batch of 10 chicks-every single one of them had hatched. SO, if you don’t want baby chicks-make sure to throw the eggs away and not let them collect up in the hen box. i also used a small amount of neosporin just a few times at the begining. like three times i think. but that may not be recomended. we also made a ball out of duct tape, stuck it on his spurs and then over-wrapped the whole think like a bracelet. this we only did for a while to save the hen from his hassel, but i think it should be irritating to the rooster’s scaley legs.
    we do free range all 20 of our chickens. our alpha rooster is 5 years old and has 5 inch spurs, he now has a son who is about 7 months old. my main rooster has punctured my 16 year old daughter at least 5 times. he seems to prefer to attack her more than anyone else, hence me finding this thread-i did not like the duct tapping thing we did, but at the time had no other option. i will try the baked pataoe method. one note: we lost 7 banty white D’Uccle chickens to a young red tailed hawk, and the rooster did not help. he does warn them all and they get under a cedar bush, but once this hawk realised it could make dinner out of my bantys, he came by every day for lunch. we now have to keep all the bantys cooped up in a nice size coop.
    hope this helps someone!!

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  29. I hope that someone can help me with advise..

    Last year we got 4 hens and a cock bird… They all got on well and we never had any problems.. one of the hens hatty, did not want the attentions of Rigsby the rooster but all was fine and dandy…

    We lost one of the hens to a fox but all was still ok with no problems.. we decided to add another 2 hens to the flock and there was no problem between the hens or rigsby..

    Approx 4 weeks after he started to chase hatty away.. then we noticed that some feathers were missing from her head.. she also started to avoid him.. he would do his best to keep her away from the others in the flock.. she does dip for him but as she does this he just pecks her head if she stays he then starts to rake her back at which point i dive in and seperate them..

    Rigsby is a real gent with the others and with us too but hatty is also very friendly..

    ANY HELP APPRECIATED

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  30. Hey all, the potato works;

    Have a bantam frizzle cochin cockerel with 2″ spurs. This was alright until he shanked a friends 7 month old. The little boy is fine and happy for a pin cushion, and my wife learned a valuable lesson about knee high dinosaurs. But things still had to change. I looked on the web for what to do and the potato looked like the best bet. I nuked 2 small red potatoes for 5 minutes and then wrapped the rooster in a towel and sank each spur into one, wife holding the bird. I think his legs were in a bad position because he kicked the taters off in 30 seconds. I then tried to twist the spur off while supporting his leg bone above and below the spur. No dice. I rewrapped the bird and sank both spurs into one potato for about a minute, making sure that the hot potato did not touch his skin. This time the spur sheathes came off pretty easy, like a stuck pen cap. Still had to twist pretty hard but I wasn’t using close to enough force to break his leg. The inner spur is pretty soft and a little bloody, so put some table sugar on it to help the clotting. I turned him loose for a bit and checked on him to make sure he wouldn’t bleed out. He did not seem in pain at all, just uncomfortable with being restrained for so long.

    Roosters are dangerous pets, but with diligence and careful handling, they can often live in harmony with people. I handle him every day when I take him out of the coop at night, and I groom him and talk to him. He is a great presence in my home, but I never leave him in the same room with children or other pets, because he can be aggressive. Birds are closely related to dinosaurs and they behave accordingly, even when they have been bred as farm animals.

    I love my rooster, and I love my friends and family, so I think the best solution is the potato trick.

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  31. Hi! Thank you SO MUCH for this info!! We just removed 2 very large spurs from our 2-year old Buff Orpington Roo, Jake. He’s such a sweetie, but he’s HUGE and he almost has his ladies bare-backed!! This was our 1st time removing spurs, but they came off just as you said…and yes, there was blood! LOL! All is good now. Thanks again!!

    [Reply]

  32. THE POTATO METHOD WORKS!!!

    After a very unsuccesful first attempt with a small hacksaw as recommended by most poultry books that made the rooster bleed (and me to faint)we found the tip about the hot potato here on your site.
    We waited a week (for me to recover)and carried out the task as suggested. Not only was it successful, but seemed to cause no pain whatsoever to the bird as well as no bleeding.
    “Frank” Maran seems to be well pleased with himself now that his spurs are no longer in his way of normal walking.
    I wouldn’t hesitate to tell anyone that this method is the best way of removing spurs safely. Our only tip for the procedure is to reaffirm a previously state one, is to keep the potato on for 4-5 minutes to properly soften the outer shell. Any longer than that seems unnecessary.

    Thanks so much for the info.

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  33. Two other methods for roosters’ spurs ( also posted on page for treating leg problems in chickens at http://sites.google.com/a/lars.....leg-braces ) are:

    TAPING METHOD FOR BLUNTING SPURS
    * If spurs just need to be blunted temporarily (such as during initial introduction period between roosters), you can wrap their ends with several wraps of masking tape to round and cushion them.

    CUTTING METHOD FOR TRIMMING SPUR
    * Use wire-cutter pliers or horse hoof nippers to cut off the non-sensitive end of the spur. Then use a metal rasp to smooth and round the end of the spur.
    o Caution: If you use pliers/cutters too close to the “quick,” you will pinch and bruise the quick while squeezing with the cutters, even if you do not cut the quick.

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  34. I just tried the baked potatoes, and it worked like a dream! My only suggestion is be sure and have a blanket or towel on your lap because the potatoes will burn you if you are holding the rooster in your lap. I was concentrating on the rooster and forgot about myself! I also wrapped a heavy towel around the rooster and that seemed to help keep him calm and make him easier to hold. Thanks for all the suggestions and tips. Now maybe my hens will be happier!

    [Reply]

  35. We have an OEG bantam rooster who is real mean towards humans! (especially me) So we are planning on trying the potato method to see how the works! Hopefully it will and then he will quit attacking me! :)

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  36. i have aquired a medium sized rooster with about 3in spurs on it. i know that at one point in time it was a fighting rooster before i aquired it because of the band that is on its leg. i want people to know that it is attacking my hens, not with his spurs, but because he towers over them he just continues to peck them on the neck untill i pulll him off. he is scared to death of me and i would like any one with some advice for me to please reply. i have tried pining him on the ground for a couple of minutes and “drawing the line” as described above. i will give him one more week and if he dosent stop (because he has already seriously hurt one of my hens) i will sadly have rooster stew. since he is such a pretty rooster and i am a taxidermest on the side i will have to mount him. so please reply

    [Reply]

  37. So, how does the potato method work if the spur is long and curving? I would say, about 5 inches. Do you insert the spur into the baked potato or just put it on part of it, as in on one side?

    We had/have a very wise rooster who kept the other sub-roosters in line, and had a fine beta, whom we called his lieutenant (one of several McMurray freebies….a cornish rooster known as Amber or Ambrose). One night the head rooster even coaxed in a hen we thought had been taken, he knew where she was hiding (we think they’d had a spat–she’d been in the house recovering from a hawk attack, and was perhaps refusing to buckle under his will), and he didn’t go in for the night until he’d coaxed her in. Beautiful rooster too. (Name of Fabrizio) I considered his saving of the tiny Rose comb, Rosie, to have been quite heroic.

    Anyway, his spurs got caught on a tarp we’d left hanging in their make-shift quarters in the carriage house, and the other roosters, led by the Sumatra and Dominique, attacked him while he hung there. They went for the back of the head, the brutish dinosaurs, and he lost feathers they, but brain is in tact. I’m not sure about his eye, however. We think he may have lost sight in the one. He keeps it closed sometimes.

    He’s in the house often now (sigh), and he stands so still and quiet as if he knows his life depends on it. You wouldn’t even notice him standing in a room (until one of the boys brings in Rosie…). I put him on the porch today, briefly, in the snow. He looked panicked. I opened the door and he came right in. Smart guy.

    Not sure we should even remove these now.

    My son says that a new pecking order needs to be established, but I think it has been, and there will be a brutal fight in which he will lose due to the eye.

    [Reply]

  38. I grew up around chickens and raised a few myself. The potatoe method, i have tried and it didnt work. I followed the instructions well if i do so so myself, unfortunatly, it didn’t help. the spur still remained on the rooster. Not only that, but i believe the hot potatoe made the rooster unconfortable. I think the best thing to do is get a file and file down the rooster’s spur but don’t just file it down, round the spur off. I have found that not only is it less painful to the rooster, but it also makes them feel better. The only problem is, you can’t file them down too much or it will bleed, and also you have to keep filing them down when they come back.

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  39. Just thought I would interject a professional opinion concerning predatory animals. I have investigated attacks by almost every available animal predator. I’m not saying some animals do not or will not attack, however, I have never known a feral cat to attack anything larger than what they can carry in their mouth, they tote off their food to keep from having to fight for it. The description of the attack of your chicken during the day with a breast missing and no head to be found could be a sign of a canine type of creature. Might be a fox, could be a dog. Not sure of the fauna in your area. Also, here is a thought, perhaps the chicken died of something internal, and an opportunist took advantage of the corpse, a buzzard would take the head and throat, as well as eat the breast. Unless you have lost more than one chicken under the same gruesome details, as well as different times of the day/night, you should consider the possibility of an opportunist, or a type of canine, although, a “Dog” usually eats the rear and intestines first, same with the cat.
    Rule out raccoons, opossums, feral cats, owls, and hawks that are about the size of the chicken found dead, larger hawks also eat the entrails first.

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  40. For the past month our hens have been coming up with unusual wounds on their right thighs. One is permanently injured and won’t have the use of her leg but seems to be content sleeping in the shed and hopping around, another we had to put down because the cuts were so deep, two additional hens have been injured but not as deeply. These are not shallow scratches; they are deep cuts that look like someone cut them with a knife! I went through the hen house, the goat house, the yard, everywhere looking for the bit of wire or nail that was causing our problem. This morning when I let everyone out of the hen house our rooster did his morning routine, when he was done the hen was limping badly. I caught her to find out what happened and it was the rooster’s spur! His spur had sliced right through the skin and down into the muscle of her leg. Proof: hens feathers stuck to roosters spur with blood, hen bleeding and with a fresh deep wound.

    Regardless of the evolutionary reason for the spurs, his are going. I’m trying the hot potato this morning.

    My Great Pyrenees can protect everyone just fine!

    [Reply]

  41. I have a dutch bantom rooster. He is beautiful and I love having one rooster at least. Right now I have 13 hens, all large variety. I also have an autistic daughter. The rooster is always trying to attack. Is there a way to calm and tame this rooster. I have never had a mean rooster.

    [Reply]

    mike Reply:

    take your rooster put his feet in a bag and tie it take a large wire nut pit on his beek put a couple of small holes on each side and use a rubber band to hold it on let your daughter hold him everyday and do it longer everyday he will get use to her it may take a while but i know it works….

    [Reply]

  42. I don’t understand what gives you the right to lay hands on the bird.
    Probably because he is at your mercy. And as always, people cannot apprehend the meaning of this word, when of course it involves others.

    Chichen are so harmless and fragile creatures. Almost anything is their enemy. Roosters suppose to be “mean” (mean to what? I never saw my roosters be “mean” to a dog passing by,they always need my protection),but humans are the meanest (without quotes) of all creatures. Mother Nature someday may decides to get rid of their spurs too.

    [Reply]

    Kyle Reply:

    What spurs?

    [Reply]

  43. First, about the baked potato method of removing a rooster spur. I just tried it a few minutes ago and it worked like a charm. I was worried the heat of the potato would hurt him, but apparently not. He started to squirm after about 3 minutes and so I tried loosening then, and it slid right off. To keep him calm, we inserted him into a burlap sack except for his legs. My husband held one leg, I the one with the spur I removed. He was calm and when returned to the roost, was just fine. His spur was huge and curved so that when he would jump off the roost he would stab himself and would stagger. He is a calm big buff orpington and not at all fierce. About the predator chewing the heads off chickens and leaving the rest, I am 69 years old and a chicken raiser most of my life, and in our experience here in the southeast, that is the sure sign of a weasel.

    [Reply]

  44. Could you possibly send me a picture somehow of the baked potato method? Because I’m inducting a new rooster into my coop, and the old one has spurs that are 4 inches or longer… I need to remove them quick! :)

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  45. I have to say thank you for this post and the great discussion! I have a very beloved almost 8 year old rooster who has damaged many a hen. He is not aggressive at all, but he is a big guy and had huge spurs due to his age. He tore up a hen under her wing quite badly recently, and I decided enough was enough. I found this page and tried the baked potato method, and while it did not come off as easily as for some people (because Oliver is older?), it did work like a charm. I tried with a tinfoil-wrapped potato first, but that fell apart quite easily. With a bit of trial and error, this is what worked for me: I held Oliver in my arms with his breast on my knee, head facing back (I was sitting down – get comfortable, this takes a while!) My mom held the baked potato in a dishcloth and slid it onto his spur, holding that leg and the potato for about 5 minutes. Then I used a pair of pliers to wriggle the spur gently a bit, then gave a sharper twist when I felt it give. The spur came off cleanly with what I consider a minimal amount of bloodshed. I put sugar on it as was recommended. Then did the other spur. He took it all in stride and was happy to eat the potatoes afterwards with his girls. :-)

    [Reply]

  46. Candelario Hernandez
    January 22nd, 2013 at 10:40 am

    How can I treat my rooster with one cut off wing he was missing for a couple day’s then he came home with a cut off wing can u help me.

    [Reply]

  47. I twisted off my roosters spurs with a pair of pliers came off pretty easy bleeding now but looks so much better small thank you jim

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  48. I am a bit concerned about removing the spurs from an adult rooster. Are #2 – 9 supposed to all be on an adult or on a chick? I truly need to do something because all of my hens are suffering! But ooohhh the egg production with roosters around. They love the attention.

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  49. I have used the potato method and it works GREAT!! if your rooster isn’t friendly (mine isn’t) it seemed like a long time to sit there holding a hot potato on his spur until it softened, but in reality it was only about 5 mins (each side) I am out of potatoes and he needs them removed again (they are literally 3″ long!!), so this time I am going to try just twisting them off with pliers…with your advice tho I am going to use my “kwik-stop” for the bleeding (normally its for dog nails cut too short that bleed) I liked your page with all the methods listed in one place!

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  50. I am happy to report that using pliers is even easier than a hot potato!! I just grabbed the spur with the pliers close to the base and gently twisted one way and then the other, and it slipped right off. neither one hardly bled at all (maybe one drop)

    [Reply]

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