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Beak Injuries

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by cpmart, Sep 10, 2010.

  1. cpmart

    cpmart In the Brooder

    Aug 16, 2010
    New chicken owner here.

    My 4 20 week old Buff Orpington hens were in their tractor which was attached to the coop (so they can freely go in and out) when a roving neighborhood dog came into our yard, spotted the hens and started terrorizing them. I got out there quick as I could, but not before two hens had injured themselves. One hen had her wits about her and ran into the coop while the remaining three threw themselves against the sides of the tractor (wire mesh and wood) in terror. After I frightened the dog away I found two of the hens (Buttercup and Butterscotch) had cracked their beaks and were oozing blood.

    I came on here to see what to do, and was going to put some flour on it, but when I got back outside the bleeding had stopped. I fed them a warm meal of steel cut oats (cooked plus some raw mixed with some yogurt and olive oil) and everyone was able to eat. I also added 1 T apple cider vinegar to their gallon of water, and made sure I cleaned out the waterer really well.

    This morning, I made the same meal, but Buttercup (the more injured one, I think, it looks a little separated near her face) didn't eat, only pecked tentatively at it. The other injured one gobbled it down. I got some chick mash (the stuff I fed when they were babies) and Buttercup gobbled that right down. I'm thinking, as with me, Buttercup may be more sore today than right after it happened. Other than that, they look and are acting fine. Here are some pics of what they look like today.



    Chiffon (She's ok, just wanted her picture taken. The last hen, Kit is camera shy but ok):

    Aside from venting and looking for moral support, I am wondering if there is anything more I should be doing, if there is something I should be watching for, or if anyone else has had their hens recover from a similar injury. I am planning on providing Buttercup with chick food until I see her able to go back to the grown up stuff. I may add a little yogurt and oil to it (thinking the protein and probiotics of the yogurt would be helpful and the extra calories from the oil would be helpful for healing and stress recovery).

    Called the cops and Animal Control last night, and the dog is with Animal control now.

    Thanks in advance for any support and advice.

  2. cpmart

    cpmart In the Brooder

    Aug 16, 2010
    Just bumping this to see if anyone else had any suggestions of what more I can do, or if they have experienced anything similar with a positive result. Thanks Chris
  3. pat45159

    pat45159 In the Brooder

    Jun 29, 2010
    new vienna, OH
    One of my comets cracked or chipped her beak last weekend and I've been doing a lot of checking on beak injuries. Fortunately my comet's crack is not too bad, but she is my favorite (naturally). (See post for "beak injury - 15 week old golden comet). https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=394789

    are some links that I've found helpful



    I also ran a search on the formum here and found a few articles.

    Sorry about the injuries. Hope all goes well.

  4. viktoriacl

    viktoriacl Songster

    Jun 23, 2010
    It looks to me like the blood supply to Buttercups beak is compromised. Look at the color difference from the crack down. I would follow the instructions on the website the above poster listed specificly this one: http://www.avianweb.com/brokenbeaks.html it looks fractured or at least a much deeper split. I would clean with a good stream of saline or sterile water and make a splint to try and allow healing. Go with a syringe feed to allow healing for a bit if you can. Good luck and look foward to updates!
  5. cpmart

    cpmart In the Brooder

    Aug 16, 2010
    Thank you so much for your replies. Pat, I hope your favorite comet with the cracked beak is getting along well. Thanks for the links, I bookmarked the Avian Web one, it looked like it contained a lot of good info on first aid and general health problems.

    Viktoriacl I agree that the blood supply to Buttercup's beak looks damaged in some way. It looks like a bruise/pooling of blood to me. I kept an eye on it to see if it got darker with time or if the area around it became swollen, but it didn't so I think (hope) the internal bleeding must have stopped. I didn't flush it with saline, because by the time of your response, it was already a couple of days after the injury and everything looked healed up and I didn't want to disturb it.

    Buttercup is still eating chick food, but when I throw a handful of scratch in there she eagerly pecks it up. I haven't seen her eat the usual grower pellets yet, but she might just be doing it when I'm not around (she won't eat the pellets from my hand). All in all, I think she is doing ok, and aside from the bruised and cracked beak, you can't tell her apart from the others.

    I'm going to try and take a picture today to compare to the one the day after the injury to see if I can see any changes. I have to put aside some time to do it though, it takes me quite awhile to get a non-blurry close up of a hen head! Thanks again for your suggestions and concern!
  6. Glenda Heywoodo

    Glenda Heywoodo Songster

    Dec 19, 2016
    Cassville Missouri
    Beak Injuries or Loss:
    Many birds will suffer beak injuries during the course of their lives. The upper and lower beaks are vulnerable to trauma and will often fracture as a result. Such injuries are orthopedic in nature. Beaks will not grow back nor repair themselves. (Photo to the right -- a "human-made" beak mutilation to control behavioral problems. A deplorable practice)
    One case I have followed of a Bald Eagle whose upper beak was torn off was resolved by a dentist, who made a dental impression of a healthy beak, reproduced the beak with the same materials used for our teeth -- and he successfully attached the beak -- allowing the Bald Eagle to function normally. I have also heard of beaks being repaired / rebuild with acrylics ... the same material used for artifical nails.
    • Holistic First Aid Recommendation: Do not place back with the cage mate. Give homeopathic Arnica for shock and bleeding. (Ref.: Holistic Birds)
    Minor beak injuries may heal well after they have been cleaned. Large or deep beak wounds can be cleaned and patched with acrylic. The patch not only protects the wound from infection but also adds stability. Birds with severe beak injury may require supportive care with fluids and tube feeding, and the administration of antibiotics and antifungals.
    The horny beak or bill (rhamphotheca) is a hard, tough, keratinised epidermal structure in birds of prey, as well as seed and grass eaters. In waterfowl such as ducks, geese and swans (Anatidae) the beak is much thinner and softer The rhamphotheca is a modified horny layer consisting of layers of flattened keratin-filled cells, separated from the bones of the upper and lower jaws by a thin, fibrous dermis. The beak's strength is dependent on the particular arrangement conferred by a layer of keratin on a firm bed of bone.
    The beak will heal by a process of granulation and epithelialisation, much as with any other epidermal tissue. However, there are practical problems in that the beak will be regularly immersed under water and into food bowls. The objective of any wound management plan should be to keep the wound clean and moist to facilitate the spread of granulation tissue over the exposed bone and protect the bone from dessication. The use of a waterproof dressing is indicated. Products such as the protective paste (Orabase) are resistant to water and can be used to pack the wound cavity. Hydrocolloid dressings can then be applied over the wound to provide further protection. Broad-spectrum antibiotics are indicated until a healthy bed of granulation tissue is established. The rhamphotheca has a good blood supply and will heal well. This can be relied upon when performing surgery on the upper beak.
    Ref.: http://www.worldwidewounds.com/)

    Possible Foods for Birds with Beak Injuries:

    • Zupreem monkey chow has been well received by bird, and is a good choice.
    • Harrison's Handfeeding Formula (information below -- it is pricey, but an excellent product)
    • Soaked Scenic handweaning pellets are an alternative or additional food item
    • Mashed sweet potatoes, bananas, corn - and other healthy vegetables and fruits
    • Organic human baby food is great too -- they have fruits / veggies in jars that have the right consistency and are (or should be!) free from contaminants


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