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askST: What are these nodules found on chicken feet?

Ms Sher Yen Wee sent in a photograph of chicken feet she had purchased from NTUC and asked: "Can you find out what are these nodules that are found on all the chicken feet? They are more or less in the same area too. All the chicken feet in the box had them."

Environment reporter Audrey Tan found the answer.

The nodules seen on the chicken feet are likely the region where bony projections called metatarsal spurs grow out from.


Photograph courtesy of Sher Yen Wee.

National University of Singapore bird researcher David Tan said chickens use these spurs for self-defence and aggression.

In roosters, this spur can grow up to several inches, said Mr Tan.

Hens usually have shorter spurs although they can grow to "impressive lengths" in some breeds.

"All chickens have them, but in different breeds, it will look slightly different," said Mr Tan.

Some farmers may trim or cut off the spur to ensure the chickens do not accidentally injure each other.

More askST stories here.