Female chickens or hens are more often familiar with the image of mothers that lay eggs softly. Hens are also less aggressive than roosters, so that is why a lot of people suppose that hens do not have spurs.
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Can hens have spurs?
Hens can have spurs too, but just in some specific breeds.
Spurs are like sharp protrusions which grow on chickens’ legs. Chickens usually use them to protect themselves or fight with other chickens.
Spurs are more common with roosters than hens. While most roosters have spurs, there are some specific types of hens having spurs.
To get a clear understanding of spurs, let’s move on to some below information.
When do chickens have spurs?
Generally, chickens will grow spurs in the age range from 3 to 9 months fully. Both hens and roosters will advance their spur bumps in a few weeks.
While roosters’ spurs continue to develop, most hens’ spurs stop there. But it does not mean that all hens’ spurs do not continue to grow, some specific hen breeds still thrive their spurs as roosters.
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The back of chickens’ legs will appear small bumps where their spurs continue to develop. All chickens have spur buds whether they are roosters or hens.
However, in hens, their buds mostly stay unchanged and stop growing. In the meanwhile, rooster’s bumps become harder, longer, and ultimately construct sharp tips.
Sharp spurs can be considered as roosters’ weapons and definitely cause damage to other chickens when fighting.
Since chickens are known as aggressive animals, they can get into a fight at anytime. So, if you have a chicken flock that has both hens and roosters, you need to keep a close watch on them to interfere in conflicts timely.
In addition, roosters can have extra-long spurs which impede their walks. They also can bend and reach to roosters’ legs when growing. Therefore, if it is necessary, you can trim the rooster’s spurs.
There are a couple of common methods that you can refer to since people usually apply:
- Firstly, “potato method”. All you need to do is push a hot potato over chickens’ spurs, then curl and remove the sheath. This is known as an inexpensive and popular method that people can do themselves.
- Secondly, using a Dremel tool. The Dremel tool is an electric tool equipped with a blade that runs to cut roosters’ spurs.
You can trim your chickens’ spurs less painful and quicker. Most importantly, the heat of the blade will help to clot the blood quickly, so it is very useful. (Source)
If you do not know or follow the two methods mentioned above, here is some essential caution you should notice before clipping your rooster’s spur properly and safely:
- Making sure not to clip rooster’s spurs too short and fast since roosters can bleed and be injured. You need to cut small amounts step by step and check the length to ensure rooster legs’ safety and comfort.
- Another thing is that you need to have some methods to cease the bleeding. Roosters are still able to bleed when being cut spurs, but it will be fine if managed well.
Some people use corn starch to stop the bleeding, or you can ask poultry vets about some effective alternatives too.
Hens also have bumps and the ability to grow fully spurs like roosters, but it is not true for all hens. It is usual to see female chickens of Mediterranean breeds such as: Polish, Leghorn, Minorca, etc growing spurs.
However, it is a little different between hens and roosters’ growing time. To be more specific, hens will take a longer time to have fully grown spurs. They usually develop their spurs when getting older, about two or three years old.
Like roosters, your hens’ spurs also need to be cut if they are too long and make hens difficult to move around. (Source)
Is there any difference between roosters’ spurs and hens’ spurs?
Actually, roosters’ spurs and hens’ spurs are not different. In comparison to roosters, hens are more likely to be less aggressive so they rarely use spurs.
However, if you would like to distinguish between roosters and hens, it does not work depending on one trait. You can tell the exact gender of chickens when they are fully grown with some features like comb, wattle, etc.
Here are some reliable physical feathers that you can rely on to compare rooster and hens:
- The first thing is that only roosters possess saddle feathers. Saddle feathers are thick feathers that grow from the back to roosters’ tails. This is the most distinctive feature that you can rely on to recognize male or female chickens.
- Another thing is roosters have thicker hackle feathers around their necks.
- Last but not least, roosters own larger wattles and combs than hens.
In a nutshell, hens do have spurs though it is not popular and limited to some certain breeds. Therefore, if you would like to distinguish between roosters and hens relying on their spurs, it seems to not work since both of them all have spurs.
Additionally, it would be better if you take up some caution to take care of chickens’ spurs properly and keep your chickens safe.