Trimming your chicken’s nails

Things you will need before you start:

If your chicken’s nails are curled, sharp, or extend below the toe, it’s time to trim.
  • Bird claw scissors (clean)
  • Styptic powder or swabs (taken out of container)
  • Toilet paper or cotton balls
  • A bowl of warm water and a wash rag
  • Rubbing alcohol (poured in a small container)

Prepare for Trimming
Our Henny & Roo monthly chicken supply box subscribers received pet nail clippers and styptic swabs in their June boxes (subscribe for our next box here). Set out all of your materials, and have a helper ready if it’s your first time. One person can hold the chicken, and the other can do the trimming. Identify the bird(s) that need trimming. Chickens who are allowed to scratch in the dirt may never need their nails trimmed, while those raised in cages and runs with soft bedding might have claws that are too long and effect their ability to walk and scratch. The nail should be short and level with the bottom of the toe. Trim nails that have curled, extend below the toe, or are sharp. Keeping the nails of roosters trimmed is especially important to prevent injuries to hens.

Getting Started
Hold both feet with one hand and flip the bird onto its back. Cradle the bird in your other arm and use that arm to pin the wings down. If you are doing this by yourself, grab the bird’s feet with the same hand you cradled it in and this will free up your other hand for trimming. You may also choose to wrap the bird gently in a towel with its wings pinned down.

Trimming the Nails

1. Grasp the chicken’s toe and keep it still.

2. Clip a small portion off the tip of the nail. It is best to take only about 1/8 to ¼ of an inch. If you cut into the quick (the pink blood vessel inside the nail), it will bleed. But don’t panic! If the bleeding doesn’t stop after a couple of drops, use the styptic swabs per the package directions. You can also use toilet paper with pressure over the cut to stop the bleeding if necessary.

If your bird has extremely long nails, you will have to repeat this process over the course of a few months, because the quick will also be very long. After you cut the nail, however, the quick will begin to shrink back. Repeat the cutting in a week or two if the quick has receded until the nail is of normal length.

3. Dip the clippers in the bowl of rubbing alcohol to sanitize them before using on another bird.

The Henny & Roo June box featured products for chicken care, including bird nail clippers and styptic swabs, and a few fun items for chicken keepers. Order our next box at

More Information
A video from Nutrena Feeds which demonstrates the steps in chicken nail trimming can be found at:

About Henny & Roo
Henny & Roo is the first and only subscription box for backyard chicken keepers. Each month, we select products for your chickens, like treats, first aid, and coop maintenance products. It’s a great way to try new products for your flock and to build your first aid kit. We also throw in a couple of items for you, because why should our chickens have all the fun? Subscribe today, or try out a one-time box at and save 10% on your first subscription with coupon code JULY10.


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