Chicken Wiki
Hen spurs

Spurs on a hen

A spur is a sharp, upward-curving, horn-like protrusion that can grow on the legs of chickens, and is used for fighting and self-defense. Spurs are made of keratin, the same material that makes up the beak and claws. Although all chickens have the potential to grow spurs from the spur bud, spurs are most common on roosters. Hens can and sometimes do have spurs, but generally do not.


A cockerel typically begins to develop his spurs at three or four months of age. If the cockerel has a low amount of hormones, which can be observed by seeing how friendly he is or how often he breeds and dances, then he will have a likely chance of developing his spurs later than others. The beginning of a spur will start out as a spur nub, and slowly protrude more outward until finally curving into a spur.


Spurs have numerous functions for a rooster, although the primary usage of them is to serve as weapons. In a flock with multiple adult males, the rooster who has the longest and sharpest spurs, signaling his wisdom and strength in battle, is very likely to be the most dominant. As well as choosing them by their overall appearance and temperament, hens will pick which rooster they will follow by the length of his spurs; females wish to have a rooster that will best protect them.

Because of this, during the breeding season, roosters will be more aggressive, engaging in deadly battles that last for a longer time than usual. Whilst this is happening, chicken owners with multiple roosters often choose to trim their males' spurs multiple times in spring to lessen the occurrence of casualties.

Another reason that roosters possess spurs is to not only protect their hens from other males, but predators. Roosters are the most skilled fighters in the flock, and will battle the predator while the hens retreat to safety. Although they are often the first to die because of this, roosters serve great protection to their hens in the end.

Removal and Trimming[]

If a spur is cut off or broken, it can bleed profusely and even kill the chicken from blood loss if the bleeding is not stopped. Although some people prefer to remove the spurs from their roosters, great care has to be taken, and the right methods used to avoid blood loss. A better way to do this is to trim the spur instead, ensuring that the rooster does not have to go through any pain. You can do this by using nail clippers or a nail file.


  • Chickens are not the only fowl to have spurs. Other birds that possess spurs include the turkey and the pheasant.
  • There have been roosters who grow multiple spurs; one of the largest amounts of spurs recorded was nine spurs on each leg.
  • Spurs are actually part of the leg bone.
  • A single spur has the chance of killing a person in one blow, and a rooster can hit something with his spurs seven-to-ten times in a second.