How to Safely Clip Chicken Nails

Chickens do a fairly excellent job of taking care of their hygiene. They take dust baths and preen themselves with their beaks to keep free of bugs and to stay healthy. However, have you ever heard of trimming your chickens’ nails?

For the most part, chickens are able to scratch around the yard and keep their nails naturally filed. However, I’ve noticed that after a long winter of not being able to scratch around as much (aka in MinneSNOWta), a couple of the girls’ nails needed some attention.

I make it a habit to check each of my girls over pretty well on a regular basis. I look for healthy feathers, eyes, feet, vent, beaks, combs, etc. When I picked up my Buff Laced Polish girl, Roxanne, I noticed she had a long, curled toenail. So, I thought I’d take this opportunity to educate you guys on how I like to safely clip their nails.

I really don’t clip them often. Honestly? I hardly ever have to. But chickens with long curly toenails may have trouble walking and holding a natural foot position.

When you decide to trim a nail, you will want to avoid cutting the vein in the nail. The vein brings blood to the nail. If you cut this, it will bleed like crazy! And, if you’ve been around chickens long enough, you know they’re drawn to things like blood and will start pecking. If this happens, it’s best to get the bleeding to stop before you put the chicken back with the rest of the flock. I have read that cornstarch is helpful in getting the bleeding to stop.

You will want to stay a quarter inch or so away from the vein. The nails don’t have to be super short. Again, they do a pretty good job of keeping them filed by scratching. It’s just so they are able to maintain their natural footing.

I bought my nail clippers at our local Runnings. It’s for dogs but works for chickens too! First, I wrapped Roxanne in a towel and that kept her calm. Then, I carefully checked her nail to locate the vein. I slowly took a couple little clips and that’s all it took! She was off to go be her happy, crazy self!

Photographer: Our son, Deacon. Thanks Bud!

Doing anything new in your coop can cause a little bit of stress. Clipping nails is no different, but it’s really not a big deal. The towel is the game changer for me. It kept her feeling safe and secure and also kept her from flapping all over trying to get off my lap. We were both calm and it literally took 1 minute from start to finish.

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out!


Until next time,

–The Wing Lady

Published by Annie

Annie Wing is the author of Strong Animals Chicken 101 blog. She is a busy mom with 3 active kids. Annie and her family reside on an acreage in the Redwood River Valley in Minnesota. She enjoys gardening and her absolute favorite pastime is doting on her 28 chickens!