beak loss (injury- result total amputation of top beak)

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by element149, Jan 4, 2014.

  1. element149

    element149 New Egg

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    Hi,
    I am wondering if you can help me. I have a broody light sussex bantam who has somehow damaged her top beak, in fact it has been totally removed. The wound seems 'sealed' and I have treated it with antiseptic. The bottom beak and tongue are not damaged. She is able to eat from a syringe. She seems to be comfortable and in good health apart from the beak (good comb colour and temperature, bright eyes, lively in manner and very responsive to hand feeding). She cannot eat/drink on her own and I have been feeding her with a syringe (cooked egg, chick starter crumble and today I liquified these to get them in the syringe easier). However, I'm not sure on the amount to fed her or the frequency, she is approximately 3 kilograms.

    She is due to hatch around the 20th January (I don't have an incubator or substitute broody) and is currently in a pen on her own. I imagine she will not be able to be put back with the flock with the beak damage as I fear she won't be able to defend herself.

    So, should I continue to hand feed her, if so how much and how often?
    Will she be able to preen herself as I fear without this she will be susceptible to disease?
    She was part of a trio (2 hens and 1 rooster), will she become a target with her damaged beak?

    I am able to euthanise her if that is best for her (unfortunetly she is my best hen).

    Any thoughts/suggestions would be greatly appreciated?

    I do have a bird vet (50 minute car ride) - however as she is broody I am reluctant to move her.

    Thanks
    Element149
     
  2. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict

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    Welcome to BYC. My you have a big problem. Tube feeding is possible, but you would need to remove her from her eggs twice a day, perform it quickly, and then put her back on the nest. Some beaks can be repaired with glues and I think an artificial beak might be fashioned, but the broody hen should not be moved right now. A piece of aquarium tubing from WalMart can be burned with a lighter to round off the edges, then connected to a 60 cc regular syringe to be used for tube feeding. Baby bird feed can be used. Here are a couple of links to help you.
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/805728/go-team-tube-feeding
    http://www.avianweb.com/brokenbeaks.html
    http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2013/01/repairing-chickens-broken-beak.html
     
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  3. Nambroth

    Nambroth Fud Lady

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    Oh no! I am so sorry to hear about this. Is the top beak completely missing? Is there any stump left? (Maybe photos would help).

    Depending on the severity of the wound, her beak sounds unlikely to grow back. With less severe breaks they can grow the beak back, but once the nerves and core cells are damaged the beak won't return. Think of it like a giant fingernail with more nerve endings and blood supply inside. Once you damage the "nail bed", regrowth is very unlikely.

    Her life will be difficult if this is the case; and at this point you will decide how much time you are willing to invest in her. In captivity, some birds DO seem to return to a high quality of life after beak loss... and others do not. Only you know your hen, your time limitations, and your situation so it is a decision you'll have to make carefully.
    Until she is done brooding, you will need to help her eat and drink as you have been.

    After that, you will need to decide what to do. Beak prosthesis is actually an option these days, and increasingly a viable option with the advent of 3D printers, if you find a vet that is knowledgeable about it, but it can be expensive because it usually needs to be applied under anesthesia. This is sort of an extreme approach and some people might do it for pet hens, the same way they might go to lengths to save any other pet. If she is a utility bird to you, well, of course you need to decide accordingly what she is worth.
    If this is beyond your means or your willingness to do, and no one would blame you!, there are a few other options.
    As you mentioned, preening will become an issue. She will still be able to preen in a fashion; preening involves not only running the feathers through the beak, but actually using the face to help disperse preen gland oil onto the feathers. She will be able to do a little of this. If you live in an adverse climate where it gets cold or is often rainy, and she does not maintain her feathers well via preening and oil distribution, she may be more prone to problems such as hypothermia in the extreme cold or if it's cold and wet out. The inability to preen her feathers will not really lead to disease, but is more of a physical problem-- essentially, her feathers may become less insulating to her. OR not! It's very hard to say.
    Eating of course is the big issue, and she will probably need help for the rest of her life. She may learn to drink, depending on what is left of her beak, but eating might always be hard to impossible for her. She will not be able to forage via nipping greens and picking up edibles the way a normal chicken would.
    If your flock is calm and there isn't much aggression, I think she may do best with the other chickens, as they are social birds. If you have some bossy birds that give her trouble, though, you may need to separate her. It is really hard to know how the other birds will react to her until you put her back with them. If you do this, I suggest carefully observing them for a few days to make sure she doesn't get beat up. If she is assertive about herself, the other birds probably won't pick on her, even with her deformed beak (as long as it is healed up and not still invitingly red/bloody looking). If she is meek, well, they may really gang up on her. It's hard to know.

    If she is a sweet/friendly bird, and seems otherwise healthy and has a good quality of life overall, she might make a good house pet for someone that has the time to help her eat. Again, this all depends on the hen and her personality; some birds seem to adapt well to that type of life, and others seem to hate being indoors and away from the flock. If she seems the type to be friendly and adapt to indoor life, you might even consider running an add in the classified section to see if anyone wants a special needs bird. While we may not all have time for it, for some people 'special projects' can be very rewarding-- as long as she has a good quality of life of course. I'd never condone keeping her alive if she is miserable.
     
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  4. element149

    element149 New Egg

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    Thank you for the replays, they are very helpful and informative. Think I will take a wait and see approach. I certainly don't want her to suffer. I also have buff pekins bantams that I could put her with (only a third of her size), because you are right, they always recover best with a few mates around them!

    [​IMG]

    Given her age (4-5 years old) I'm not sure about surgery and there is not a lot to work with, most of the top is missing (no idea how it could have happened, no signs of predators; foxes, cats or hawks). Any ideas on the amount to be feeding her? She is about 3 kgs which is 6Ib 9.8oz. I know broody hens don't feed the same as no broody hens. Normally the sussex are like tractors, very industrial and on the go all day (i'm sure they would roam all 5 acres if I let them) unlike the buff pekins who are happy to have naps in the sunshine and preen a lot more.[​IMG]

    Once again thanks for the great advice. Looks like my next week of summer holidays will be closely spent with my chicken.
     
  5. Nambroth

    Nambroth Fud Lady

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    Oh dear, poor girl. Yes, it is almost certain her beak will not grow back from that. If she were mine, I would tube feed her until her crop was comfortably full.
    Here is a FANTASTIC thread on how to tube feed, if you are interested:
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/...h-my-bird-pics-for-visuals-very-detailed-post

    The reason I prefer tube feeding, vs. feeding with a syringe into the mouth, is that there is no chance to choke or aspirate the hen.

    As for the amounts, I need to do some research how much a healthy bird needs for food and water per day. She may need slightly higher hydration than normal, since she cannot close her mouth and keep her glottis moist that way.
    I do have a book that says that birds need approximately 30ml of water per kg of bird every 6-8 hours. Are you in Australia (just a guess on my part)? If it's hot, she may need extra, both to keep cool and to replenish any that she loses when panting. It will be hard when she is brooding, but once she's off the eggs you can tell how firm or loose her stools are, and adjust accordingly.

    You may want to also read some cross-beak chicken articles, as the issues are essentially similar (abnormal beak function causing eating disability): https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/...ds-chickens-including-tube-feeding-techniques
     
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  6. element149

    element149 New Egg

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    Tricky to check the crop because she is sitting. She strongly protested when I got her off the nest - fair response as to my surprise a chick was make noise through the egg as it had just started to put a tiny hole in the egg (hopefully it hatches out over night). I thought she had another 2 weeks till hatching. Luckily one on my buff pekins is sitting properly today and maybe able to use her and swap some eggs over.

    However, I spoke to my bird vet nurse who was also very informative. She recommended to feed sick birds 2% of their weight - 3 times a day, preferably bulk (solid food rather than my blended liquid) extra fun with the syringe!! Mashed boiled egg and the started crumble, with some broccoli worked well today. So that means breakfast, lunch and dinner - 60 grams per feed (think thats 2.1 ounces).

    I am from Melbourne, Victoria - Australia. I breed Light Sussex bantams and Buff pekin bantams, about 20 adults birds in total and chicks everywhere at the moment from 8 weeks to 1 week old. I love the contrast in colour, shape and behaviour of both breeds. The sussex are so industrial and gentle and gain your trust over time. While the buffys are your friend instantly, like to have a bit of a scratch (always in the garden) and a lie about with plenty of time to preen all those feathers down their legs. Looks like they wear pants and can be tricky with leg mites. Although my little ginger boys are always ready to take on the light sussex roosters when they cross paths (rotate free ranging even though they are in very large outdoor pens, then still enjoy a change of scenery and strutting past everyone else). So far our summer has been very mild around 22 celsius ( 72 Fahrenheit) for the last week and into this week although very dry as there has been little to no rain. So excellent weather to manage a sicky hen with the double excellence of being on summer holidays for another couple of weeks.

    Once again, I have really found the links everyone has sent very valuable and have learnt a lot. It is great practical workable advice and information. Hopefully her health holds for a bit and she can enjoy her chicks and a little more time in the sunshine.
     
  7. element149

    element149 New Egg

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    Also I have enjoyed travelling around the US, I have spent a few summers based in southern New Hampshire. I must say I have never spent a winter there - looks challenging.

    Cheers
    Karyn
     
  8. element149

    element149 New Egg

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    update beak loss - winter June
    My hen who lost her top beak in summer (Jan) this year while broody, has just started laying again!! She has plenty of weight on her and is still enjoying being hand fed a boiled egg a couple of times a week. Still worried about her ability to preen and oil her self over the winter months to come, may have to move her to a more inside location. She still loves escaping her cage to free roam the sheep and house paddocks!!

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Fancychooklady

    Fancychooklady Chicken Obsessed

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    Oh what a little trooper.:)
     
  10. lovetopaint

    lovetopaint Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oh, I feel so bad for you & your poor hen! She looks very happy!
     

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