There are more than a handful of pets that require semi-regular manicures and pedicures to keep their nails from overgrowing.
But, are chickens really one of them?
well actually, most of the time your chickens won’t need any nail maintenance at all.
However, there are a few key things to look out for that indicate exactly when you should clip your chicken’s nails — for both their health and wellbeing.
Here’s everything you need to know about a chicken’s nails, when you SHOULD clip your chicken’s nails, and how to do it easily.
Do Chickens Nails Grow?
If you’ve owned chickens for some time you might be questioning why their nails aren’t growing.
Truth be told, chickens’ nails DO grow, much like other animals’ nails too.
However, the reason you usually don’t see this happening is that a chicken’s normal behavior usually keeps their nails on fleek.
Active and healthy chickens will spend a lot of time scratching in the dirt, grass, or bark, which acts as a natural way to file down their nails.
However, older chickens who are much less active or chickens raised inside or in cages are often unable to scratch their nails down. So for these reasons and more, a chicken’s nails may require clipping!
Do You Need To Clip A Chickens Nails?
In normal circumstances, an active chicken will naturally file their own nails as they run around the yard and scratch up the lawn, dirt, or any other surface they’re on!
As a result, new nail growth is gradually worn away as it grows in, and most chickens’ nails won’t need to be trimmed.
Still, you should check your flock’s feet three or four times a year just to ensure everything appears normal. Giving your girls pedicures when they need it can drastically improve their well-being, and avoid future issues.
So in most circumstances, chickens do a pretty good job at keeping their nails due to their frequent scratching and digging.
However, there are some situations that can lead to overgrown nails, deformed tails, or sharp tips – all of which can cause some serious issues in your chicken’s health and wellbeing!
When You Should Clip Your Chickens Nails
Although chickens normally take care of their nails by naturally scratching and foraging, it’s important to check examine your flock every few months just to be sure things appear normal.
This is because there are a few circumstances where a chicken’s nails can become overgrown, deformed, or overly sharp.
Plus, some chickens have extra toes, like Silkie chickens or Sultan chickens. These extra toes don’t make contact with the ground as often and as a result, their nails can become overgrown.
So, if you notice any of these abnormal nails growing on your chickens, it’s time to intervene and clip your chicken’s nails!
Trim Them When They’re Overgrown
A chicken’s nails can become overgrown for a handful of reasons, many outside of our control.
However, older chickens and those chooks which are much less active tend to suffer from overgrown nails more so than younger hens.
Further to this, chickens kept in cages or raised in runs with softer substrates tend to get overgrown nails more often too.
Although it’s certainly fine for some time, if left untreated for extended periods of time then chickens can begin to experience difficulty walking. This can lead to further foot troubles like bumblefoot or infection.
Obviously, this causes discomfort for your chickens too and they are more likely to remain inactive, which can lead to unhealthy weight gain too.
So, if you notice your chicken’s nails are unnaturally long, it’s worth trimming them down for the health and wellbeing of your flock!
Clip Them When They’re Deformed
There are a few reasons your chicken’s nails may become deformed, all of which can lead to more drastic impacts on their health and wellbeing.
Chickens or chicks with a vitamin b deficiency often experience curling of their toes, which can cause further deformities in their nails too.
Deformed nails can also arise from accidental injury, where they begin to grow in abnormal directions.
It’s important to clip any deformed nails to alleviate any pain or discomfort for your chickens and minimize the risk of further injury or infection.
File Them When They’re Sharp
If a chicken’s nails have developed a sharp edge, it’s essential that you file them down or clip them back into a regular shape.
This is because a chicken with sharp nails can inflict severe scratches to other flock members or even to themselves accidentally while dust bathing or itching themselves.
When a chicken’s nails are sharp they are even capable of hurting us chicken owners too!
Trimming Silkies Extra Toe Nails!
Normally chickens have four toes, all of which make contact with the ground, naturally filing their nails. However, some chickens actually have five toes, like silkies!
These “extra’ toes don’t make contact with the ground like the four “normal” toes. Because of this, they don’t naturally get filed down when they go about their normal foraging and scratching behavior.
So, if you own silkies or other chickens with five toes, it’s best you keep an eye on their growth and trim them down if they start becoming overgrown or appear to be causing discomfort to your chooks!
How To Clip Your Chickens Nails
Clipping or trimming your chicken’s nails is best done as a two-person job.
Having your chicken in a relaxed and calm state helps the whole process too, believe me!
Have one person hold your chicken firmly with two hands gently laying them on their side, supported by their thigh or knee. When you lay your chicken on its side it tends to be easier to handle its feet.
Ensure you do this in a light space, so you can easily see where the nail ends and where the toe begins.
With pet nail clippers, firmly clip off any overgrown, deformed, or sharp nails. If you accidentally create a sharp edge, either clip or file it down to a more rounded edge.
Although a chicken’s nails are essential for a chicken to go about their daily routines, you generally don’t need to stress about them.
It’s certainly worth checking them from time to time, but if you have active free-ranging chickens then you’ll barely ever need to trim them!
Still, if you do notice that a chicken’s nails have become overgrown, deformed, or overly sharp then it’s time to get out the clippers!
But, this shouldn’t be a stressful time for you or your chickens! Seek assistance from another person to make things as easy as possible and carefully give your chook a pedicure!