Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Trimming a rooster's nails

For the last few weeks, I've been noticing a disturbing trend. Four of my hens are showing noticeable signs of feather loss on their backs above their tail feathers. Wynonna seems to be experiencing the worst of it:

But some of my other hens are losing feathers now, too:

After thoroughly checking them for any kind of bugs or mites that may have caused this, I've determined that Roopert the rooster:

is the true culprit. This is due to the, um, special attention he gives his girls on a regular basis.

I recalled a post that my blogging friend, CeeCee, of My Little Bit of Heaven, did last June on trimming her rooster's nails and realized I needed to do something like this or risk my girls' tender skin being damaged.

So, after dark last night, armed with my trusty LED flashlight, I quietly went down to the coop...:

...opened the coop door...and immediately saw Dottie, my crazy White-Crested Black Polish hen, sound asleep in the nest box, her head hanging completely slack:

Then I quickly located Roopert on the roost, squashed in amongst the girls:

I carried him into the house:

And handed him over to Jim to hold him tight:

Now, Roopert and Jim aren't the best of friends, so I'm sure it was interesting for both of them to be so close:

Look at this amazing looking foot. It's not difficult to see dinosaur ancestors when you look at this foot. His spurs have been growing very fast lately:

I used the dog clippers to snip off the pointy ends of his nails and spurs:

Of course, they then needed to be filed. He and I caught up on all the latest gossip as I did this:

I cut one nail a bit too short and applied a styptic solution to stop the bleeding. The quick on his nails was much closer to the nail tip than I could see or expected. The bleeding stopped quickly after applying this:

Look at these gently rounded nails now! Hopefully, this will protect the girls a bit:

Roopert was very well-behaved through the entire pedi-treatment, but he did draw the line at Farmgirl Pink nail polish. He wasn't having any of that:

When it was all over, I think it was clear that Roopert and Jim liked each other just a bit more than when we started:

I carried him back out to the coop and said goodnight.
When last seen, Roopert was back on the roost between the girls, giving me his steely-eyed glare of thanks:


  1. I love the last picture. It looks as though he's in the spotlight getting ready to croon a love song.

    Glad it went well, gives me hope for when it's my turn.

  2. Thanks for the lesson on the roo pedicure! I think you should have gone ahead and painted his toenails pink though! :) Great post!!

  3. I'll be glad to hear if this helps with the feather loss on the hens. My girls are experiencing feather loss too. I suspect it's being cooped up with the roos all winter long. Poor things...

  4. ROFL...you are such a good chicken mama! We made our last rooster into soup (well hubby did) because of the feather lose on the hens...well and the fact he kept attacking the children and I. I am glad you have such a sweet rooster!

    I think pink would have looked stunning!!! Kim

  5. Well, I guess you know you have started something! Now all the Girls are going to want theirs done, too, annnnd, they will want the nail polish, but no two the same color.

  6. Mim's right about the last picture - he looks a bit like Frank Sinatra. lol

  7. Wow Roopert is just so pretty...too bad he turned down the nail polish ;-).

    What does the sign above your coop say?

  8. You crack me up... latest gossip, lol! If you look on the underside of the nail, you can see where the quick ends.

  9. You know, I remember a cartoon about two roosters. One was supposed to be Bing Crosby and the other one Frank Sinatra, I think. Thye competed for the attention of the hens. Bing won, lol.

    Btw, I love reading your blog.

  10. You truly love your chickens. Great job on the pedicure. Roo is such a pretty rooster, he truly is! The problem you're having with feather loss doesn't happen with our girls, simply because we have no rooster! With a day-sleeper in the family, having a rooster wasn't an option. Sure hope the feathers grow back soon.

  11. You did a great job! When I first had my rooster, Frasier, I didn't know that I was supposed to trim his nails to protect my hens during their mating, and I sadly found out too late. My rooster fatally injured one of my girls by cutting her repeatedly with his spurs until the cuts were deep and infected. She did not have any obvious feather loss. The cuts were hidden by her feathers and her wingtips. I first became aware of it when she appeared weak and obviously injured. By then, even though I took her to the vet to have her wounds cleaned and I gave her antibiotics for a few days, she still didn't live. I was so sad and I blamed myself for not knowing any better. From the day I found her injured by him, I moved him into separate living quarters adjacent, but separated by a fence. We built him his own little bachelor pad and he was allowed to look, talk and interact, but not touch or mate with my girls again.

    I did try once to trim his nails once after that, but when one bled, I freaked out and stopped. I was trying to do it by myself and I didn't know about the styptic solution. You are very smart about it. I just decided that since he was already living separately, I didn't need to worry about his nails. The few times he tried to "attack" me, I yelled at him and got in his face. He stopped trying after about 3 times. Your Roopert is a lucky bird to have you for a Mother Hen.

  12. I do not care for nail trims. Just ask the goatmother. At least you didn't subject poor Roopert to the dreaded 'sling'. Oy.

  13. Oh, what a great post! I love how you can do anything to them at night.

  14. Most of my hens have this same problem. I thought it was because I have too many roosters. Maybe I need to cut all their nails too, but that is 5 roosters. But, I don't want my hens to be hurt, either. Thanks for giving me a tutorial!

  15. Looking at the formidable length of his nails it is clear to me now that he didn't puncture me with his beak. Wow, this was a very courageous act you and Jim performed! Rupert's nails are now elegantly filed but - alas- not polished with farmgirl pink nail polish.

  16. His nails look so perfect now. Im with Roopert, tho. I kinda like the natural look when it comes to fingernail painting...now toes on the other hand.....

    And I have to say that I am very happy to see that Roopert and Mr Jim were able to have a nice, calming visit. It sure was nice of Mr Jim to help you. Im just sayin.

    And Dottie? Really? She must have had a hard day. She was totally relaxed.

  17. What a great manicure...or is it a pedicure that you gave Roopert!!

  18. Well, that was certainly interesting! Roo pedicures - what a great post.

  19. I love the photo of Roopert squished between the ladies. Very cozy, that.

    Oooh, I'm always so paranoid about clipping my critters nails too short. I've been procrastinating about doing Bunny's for that very reason.

    Styptic stings like the dickens! It works, but youch.

  20. I don't know if Nepoleon, our rooster, would let us do this to him. It takes both my husband and I forever to clip and file the goat's hooves, but I never think about the rooster. The hens are loosing feathers but I just thought it was spring shedding. I guess I better watch them more carefully.

    You two did a great job!

  21. I love Rooperts comb, what breed is he?
    Maybe Jim felt more comfy with Roo since he didn't actually have to touch him while wearing that thick coat and gloves. Smart man.

    Maybe next time Frugalmom visits, you can make a midnight run with Roopert and paint them different colors.

  22. You got the pedicure for the boy, but don't forget to moisturize the girls who were roughed up. They might get dishpan backs!

  23. If your girls still have problems, you may need to buy them each a chicken saddle.

    This lady over at BYC makes and sells them.

  24. Not sure why my comment had'nt showed up!
    Oh well your MRis a fine looking feathered friend.
    And hopefully much nicer to his Gals now:)

  25. Well now that was a great tutorial. And since I have a few bare backed hens I guess I better follow your lead. Unless you would like to come over and do the job for me. Oh and Jim can come too, to hold the rooster.

  26. Wow! What a fantastic blog you have! I found you via Judy from No Fear Entertaining.

    My husband and I are going to start looking for land in October to do pretty much the same thing you are, so I am enjoying all your stories - and I cannot wait to get out to the country!

  27. Danni if you put pink polish on
    Roopert those hens won't be having none of that....so no baby chicks this year! ha ha!

  28. You're such a good rooster mom! I had a good laugh this morning over you and Rupert catching up on the latest gossip!

  29. Hooray, you did it!! It's great that you're starting so soon. I didn't do Tuesday's spurs/nails until his spurs were two inches long. Just like with dog nails, if you cut them when they are small, the quick moves back.
    I forgot to mention that you can also gently file their beaks if your hens loose too many feathers in their heads and neck. Remember that their beaks are connected to their skulls and so 'gently' is the important work here.
    Glad Jim and Roopert got along. Doing it after dark definitely makes a difference the first time you trim nails.

  30. WOW Danni!! You are quite brave to tackle that...but I should have known Roopert would be a trooper!
    Your trip looked fabulous. and the bread...I could really go for that!


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