Do Rooster Spurs Grow Back ?

Have you noticed your rooster growing long claw-like structures at the back of his legs? These dangerous-looking growths are known as spurs and they’re one of the rooster’s natural defenses or weapons.

When roosters fight, they rely on their spurs to inflict potentially fatal puncture wounds on their rivals. They fly into the air and slash at each other with their spurs while using their claws and beaks to wreak as much havoc as possible.

If you’ve got an aggressive rooster, it’s his spurs you need to worry about. They’re so sharp that they can potentially kill a human.  It’s because of this potential danger that many chicken owners choose to trim or even remove their rooster’s spurs.

I recently trimmed my rooster’s spurs and it proved to be an experience neither of us will ever forget! In fact, the whole event was so traumatic, all I could think was, “Do rooster spurs grow back?” and will I have to go through this ordeal again?

Do Rooster Spurs Grow Back?

Yes, rooster spurs grow back, just like our fingernails do, although fortunately not quite as quickly. The horny material covering the spur bud is made of keratin, the same substance as is found in fingernails, rhinoceros horns, and the claws of cats and dogs. All these creatures have specific cells, known as keratinocytes, that produce this fibrous protein and continue producing it until they die.

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How Long Do Rooster’s Spurs Take to Grow?

Rooster’s spurs don’t grow quite as quickly as our fingernails, and take considerably longer to develop.

When they hatch, the rooster’s spurs are little more than bumps. Known as papillae, these gradually lengthen and harden as the rooster matures and by the time he reaches two years of age, he’ll have hard, sharp spurs up to two inches long!

Do My Rooster’s Spurs Need Trimming?

Having a rooster with well-developed spurs isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If you want him to be armed and dangerous enough to keep snakes and other predators at bay, then you might want to leave his spurs intact. 

There are instances when you might need to trim your rooster’s spurs for the sake of your hens, your family, or even the rooster himself.

If you have an aggressive rooster that’s intent on attacking you, you might want to trim or remove his spurs to reduce the risk of injury. Similarly, a rooster with long spurs could inflict mating injuries on your hens.

Some roosters’ spurs grow so long that they curl back on themselves, cutting into the tender flesh at the back of the rooster’s legs and restricting his mobility.

In these instances, you need to trim or remove a rooster’s spurs annually to stop them from becoming potentially lethal weapons.

Close-up of a rooster's spurs perched on wood.

How to Trim a Rooster’s Spurs

Trimming a rooster’s spurs is much the same as trimming a dog’s claws and in my experience, similarly traumatic. It’s a procedure best performed at night when your rooster is more relaxed and subdued. To keep him calm, wrap a towel around his head and body, leaving his legs and feet exposed.

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Now take a pair of dog claw trimmers or a dremel and remove the sharp tip of the spur. Continue trimming, taking off a millimeter of keratin at a time. Take your time and go slowly. If you trim too much, you’ll hit the quick which is painful for the rooster and bleeds profusely.

As a rooster’s spurs grow back, you’ll need to repeat this procedure annually.

Should I Remove my Rooster’s Spurs?

Spur removal is a painful procedure that involves surgically amputating the bone at the center of the spur. After surgery, the rooster is at high risk of infection until the site of the amputation heals. These factors make spur removal less than ideal.

Parting Thoughts

Roosters’ spurs grow back just as our fingernails do, so regular trimming is required to prevent them from developing into razor-sharp weapons.

Trimming a rooster’s spurs is a relatively simple procedure and is much less painful and invasive than removing them altogether.

Unfortunately, as the spurs regrow, it’s a procedure you’ll have to repeat annually to keep on top of the problem.

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