How many toes does a rooster have? I’ve heard people say 3, 4, and 5 before.
The answer is four. Roosters have four toes, like almost all chickens (a few breeds have five toes). They also have a spur sticking out from the back of their legs, which looks like a toe and is often confused for one.
Do Roosters Have Toes or Claws?
Technically speaking, roosters have both toes and claws. They have four toes, and each toe has a claw on it.
Their claws are fairly short but are very strong. You won’t often see a chicken breaking or damaging a claw during normal use. Although, obviously it does happen from time to time.
Their toes have a good range of motion, to enable them to form a tight grip on things like prey, and their roosting bar or perch.
Their nails only have a slight curve. This enables them to scratch around for things and dig in hard soil to make a dust bath or unearth something under the surface.
Do Roosters have Talons?
A lot of birds have talons, but chickens and roosters do not have talons.
The difference between a talon and a claw is subtle. Essentially, a talon is a sharper, more curved claw found specifically on a bird of prey.
It gets a little confusing because both words are used interchangeably at times. And, all talons are also claws, but not all claws are talons.
Why Do Roosters Have Spurs?
If you’ve seen that sharp toe-like thing sticking out from the back of a roosters leg - that’s a “spur”.
Just like a cowboy spur, the metal tool that attaches to a cowboy’s boots and also sticks out from the back of their legs.
Cowboys use their spurs to direct the horse they’re riding what to do. Roosters, on the other hand, use their spurs primarily as weapons.
A rooster will turn their leg and use the rooster like a knife to stab and cut other roosters, animals, and even us.
Some roosters are so aggressive and pose such a threat that they have to be removed from a flock. With the only option being that they end up on the dinner table.
It may look like an extra toe or just a small stick-like thing sticking out of their leg, but roosters are capable of inflicting some serious damage with their spurs.
Related - Do we eat rooster meat?
What Breed of Chicken Has 5 Toes?
According to the University of Illinois Incubation and Embryology site, there are five breeds of chicken with 5 toes.
These breeds are:
The most popular backyard breed from that list is the Silkie. Silkies are probably the most recognizable breed of chicken, they have a unique fluffy plumage that separates them from almost every other breed.
Interestingly, this “extra toe” on all of these breeds isn’t used and doesn’t provide any function. It’s higher up on their legs and does not even touch the floor.
Related - Silkie characteristics explained.
Next time the question of how many toes a rooster has comes up, you now know without any doubt that roosters have 4 toes.
That “extra toe” higher up on the back of a rooster’s leg is actually a spur. It’s not a toe, and it’s not used as a toe.
They use their spurs as weapons. If you’re going to take a closer look to see exactly what I mean, just do so very carefully - you’ve been warned!