Veterinary advice should be sought from your local veterinarian before applying any treatment or vaccine. Not sure who to use? Look up veterinarians who specialize in poultry using our directory listing. Find me a Vet

Toe Nail Injuries

Other Names: Broken Toenail, Bleeding Toenail

Chickens can occasional damage their toenails, resulting in cracks and injury to the nail often accompanied by blood loss. There are three general “types” of nail injuries that can occur in chickens: one where the nail has been completely broken off and is bleeding, one where the nail is cracked or broken but is loosely attached, and one where the nail is cracked or broken but remains firmly attached. Most often, the best case scenario is when the nail is fully broken off and some bleeding is noted. In these cases, bleeding can usually be controlled relatively easily, but can be worrisome if it continues. This type of nail injury is easiest to treat, as you generally just need to coat the nail with cornstarch and/or apply pressure to a gauze or clean cloth to the nail until it stops bleeding. You may need to hold pressure for at least 5 to 10 minutes, without constantly checking whether it has stopped.

Significant blood loss can occur with broken or torn toenails in chickens, if they aren't addressed promptly. Bleeding from a toenail can occur as a result of cutting it too short or from damage due to trauma, from a fight, collision, or other accident.

Clinical Signs

Broken or torn toenail
Bleeding from the site of injury
Lameness may be present
A visibly damaged or crooked nail


  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam


Stop the bleeding: Ideally through the use of styptic powder (such as Kwik stop), but cornstarch or flour may be used if unavailable. :



Regularly check chickens' nails and trim back if they start to curl.

Scientific References

Risk Factors

  • Overgrown or long nails are more susceptible to injury
  • Chickens raised on softer floor substrate
  • Broody hens that sit on a nest for any extended length of time
  • Chickens with an existing deformity or injury

Also Consider