cross beaks - advice needed?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by oesdog, Jan 13, 2011.

  1. oesdog

    oesdog Songster

    Jun 7, 2010
    I don;t know much about x beaks as I have never had to deal with it before. Dh came home with three RIR/PR about 10 days ago
    I call them Agnes, Florance and Dorothry. Dorothy was half starved and her feathers were comming out in handfalls when I lifted her. It seemed more to do with her state of malnutrition than a natural molt and you could feel every bone!!!! Its taken a while but she is now fighting for food and is begining to put on a bit of weight. The feathers are not sheading quite so much and her comb is starting to look a bit more pink than grey/white.

    Agnes and Florance were a bit better off in that although they were thin they were not emaciated. They now have redish combs and one has even laid for me. They all seem happier and are integrating well into my flock - so much so that when I lifted Florance to look at her Mable turned on me and started peeking my coat!!!!!
    I do have an issue though as Agnes and Florance are X beaks. Agnes isn't too bad and she is managing fine. Its only when you look at her close you can see the beak doesn't fully meet so its not too much of a disablitiy for her.
    Florance is worse - I think someone has tried to correct the x beak as the top is a good bit shorter than the bottom so she has a bit of a scoop thing going on. She has a rough edge on the bottom that seem to turn up. Although she is getting on ok and seems to be eating fine should I try to "tidy this up a bit" or just leave it.

    How do you go about doing that without hurting her????? How would I trim the bottom back a little and what tool is best to do that with??????? Longterm is it better for her to have it tidied up???? The top looks like its just been cut off like some folk do to a bird that pecks too much but Florance is docile and a good girl!!!! It is obvious that it has grown x over the bottom. Anyhow if anyone has any ideas would be good - I don't think I will be able to get a photo to post though as my camera just doesn;t take pics fast enough and the girls keep on moving!!!!!

    Oesdog [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2011
  2. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

    Apr 15, 2009
    I have a bird with a minor crossbeak. I always want to tidy up the appearance of her beak, but I have realized that the beak has grown the way it has for a reason and it works as well as it's going to. It's never going to look good, but it is functional. I would wait before you do anything to the crossbeaks until you see how well they function. After some observation, if you see how you can improve their functionality then I'd definitely do some light trimming. When you trim, only cut the horn parts, not the quick. If you cut into the quick then the beak will bleed like crazy and be hard to get staunched. Take off a little bit at a time. You can always trim more off later, but if you cut too deeply you will cause problems. Trim with clippers of some variety- human nail clippers or dog nail clippers. I've even heard of folks just using a file to file down the rough areas. Once the beak has the desired appearance, it will be good for a couple months before you need to trim it again.

    Deep food and water dishes will also be helpful for these birds. They will be able to scoop up sustenance will an impaired beak if the bowls are deep enough.

    Hope this helps. Good luck.
  3. Zoey

    Zoey In the Brooder

    Jun 5, 2009
    Big Island, Hawaii
    I agree, deep feeding dishes , a must ...

    and I wouldn't trim it either, unless it starts to impede her eating ...
  4. TreeHugger

    TreeHugger Songster

    Apr 7, 2008
    I've got one with a cross beak. She is the oldest one in my flock - I feel bad with the thought of selling her and going to someone that won't care for her little handicap. I trim it will toe nail clippers every few months (making sure not to get to close) and my feeders are deep enough for her to eat.
  5. True Grit

    True Grit Songster

    I do trim my crossbeak periodically but only a bit at a time with human toenail clippers. If you do just a bit you can see when you start to hit the blood supply. With a strong light you can kind of tell anyway. One thing that helped mine immensely was to sprinkle a little grit on her food that I put in a deep dish. Actually I sprinkle it on a bowl of scratch, mealworms and sunflower hearts they get every morning. Otherwise she couldn't pick up the grit as she is severely cross beaked. She started to lay so I sprinkle just a little oyster shell on there too. Good luck.[​IMG]
  6. buckabucka

    buckabucka Crowing

    Jan 13, 2010
    Fairfield, Maine
    My Coop
    I have a cross-beak EE and it is a severe case. She needs to spend a lot of time at the feeder, and I wondered if she would be able to get enough nutrition to support egg-laying. She is now about 9 months old and lays beautiful blue/green eggs!

    I tried trimming her upper beak once a long time ago, - just taking off the tiniest snip. My birds are not handled a lot, and it seemed traumatic to do this, so I've never trimmed it again. The only other cross-beak I had failed to grow and died at 10 weeks.

    Having a deep feeder or a wide open dish helps, so they can scoop feed in. Mine likes to stand in the center of a wide dish. She's very low on the pecking order, but manages to hold her own.
    Good luck with yours!
  7. oesdog

    oesdog Songster

    Jun 7, 2010
    Thanks all I do have deep feeders about. I always put feeders in defferent places so the low ranking birds can get food.

    I use old Ice cream tubs for deep feeders for the cross beaks and they tend to like these. For food and for water!

  8. chickerdoodle

    chickerdoodle Songster

    Aug 21, 2009
    I have a BLRW named Hyacinth with a wicked cross beak--her top and bottom beak do not meet at all! I trim a tiny bit on occasion to prevent it from growing too far apart so she can groom a little better. (FYI--My EE is named Agnes)

    As for the food--I did buy a special Dura trough that is 3" deep X 4"wide x 19" long and is helpful but it was not enough. Soooooo I now give them a nice moist mash of their organic layer feed every morning in a large deep bowl. Hyacinth gets a nice amount of food with every peck and fills her crop really well--she has become an excellent layer and is top of the pecking order!

    I add enough water to wet all the mash but I don't make it too soupy--more sticky like in texture. You can vary mixing in supplements if you like. I vary adding a little organic yogurt, mealworms, BOSS, organic vegetable baby food, etc. I just tap the dryer supplement on top of the mash so they stick in the mash and she can see them and aim. In the winter I use warm water and summer cool. All the girls dive in like its candy and its totally balanced for her to get great nutrition. [​IMG] I use a deep dish for grit and oyster shell and she has figured out that she can eat it when her beak is still wet right after eating the wet mash or drinking (who said chickens are dumb??).

    Hyacinth cannot peck thin blades of grass with her beak [​IMG] so I give them fresh organic greens and hand feed her some and then plop the rest in a big pile so she can peck and she can always get some that way. [​IMG]
  9. ellyn

    ellyn In the Brooder

    Jun 12, 2011
    This thread has been very helpful and encouraging, I just rec'd a x-beak EE chick and am watching; I'd love to see a picture of deep dishes. Thanks! [​IMG]

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by