Debeaked Chickens-Please Help Me!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by equinity, Feb 11, 2008.

  1. equinity

    equinity Hatching

    Feb 11, 2008
    I have two ex battery hens that are several years old, and are debeaked. They have always had difficulty eating like normal chickens, and have always seemed underweight (their breastbone feels very prominent when they are held, unlike an ordinary chicken), but I am noticing this even more as they get older. I tend to mix up bread and cut up steamed vegetables with layers pettlets and water into a mash every day as this seems to be the only way they will eat properly (they only rarely eat pellets by themselves). Their eggshells are also extremely thin and as they wont eat shell grit by itself I have taken to mixing this in with their mash so they are forced to eat it, but this makes them aeven more fussy about eating. They free range most of the day and so are able to eat grass etc, but their insect catching skills are virtually non existant (I have tried cathcing live earwigs/cockroaches etc and they dont seems to be able to grab them in time.)I asked a bird vet if there was any way of getting the protruding lower half of the beak removed to the the top and bottom part of the beak would be even but he said it wasn't possible.

    Sorry about the extremely long post but I am worried about my girls as they are very much loved pets! :|

    Has anyone encountered a similar problem and overcome it?

    Thanks for any advice you may have [​IMG]
  2. jjthink

    jjthink Crowing

    Jan 17, 2007
    New Jersey
    You are such a dear person to be helping these ladies. Debeaking - UGH!!!!!!

    One thing you might try, if you haven't already - is adding Avia Charge 2000 to their water (McMurray Hatchery is one place that carries it). It'll help ensure they get some vital nutrients.

    As to calories, a variety of possible adds to what you're doing may help, such as a scrambled egg with oats mixed in. I break an egg into a ceramic cup, add one tablespoon of water and some oats - the kind that you make oatmeal with - and then microwave for about 45 seconds - and then I add a bit of Avia Charge sprinkled in once it's cooled down - my feathered friends hate oatmeal on its own so I've had to improvise and this may work in your case because the egg helps bind so that pieces can be picked up and gobbled down (I break up the final product into dime size pieces with a fork). You may be able to sneak some oyster shell powder into this dish for the calcium they need (in every bag I buy some is reduced to a fine powder).

    They may be able to handle mealworms if you hand feed? (there's a thread on BYC somewhere with some great sources for bargains on these things).

    Now I mention these ideas without consideration of overall ratios of protein/fat/carbs but I'm gathering that with their situation, building up their strength and weight is the first consideration.

    Not big on calories but enjoyed by my feathered friends, and easy to grab with a compromised beak: bite size pieces of tomato, grape, cantelope, watermelon, etc.

    Wishing you and the girls all the best. JJ
  3. MissPrissy

    MissPrissy Crowing

    May 7, 2007
    Forks, Virginia
    I would advise you to change their feed from layer feed pellets to the crumbles. Obviously this has been going on for a while and they have dropped considerable weight.

    Use the crumbles and mix in boiled eggs chopped or scrambled eggs (with the shells!), yogurt and rice and old fashioned oats will help it clump a little and some finely crushed oyster shell to get a good healthy food into them. Once a week at least I would give them some wet cat food -another protein boost.

    Give them avia charge in their water. If you can't find it you can give them polyvisol (children's liquid vitamins) until you can order an aviary vitamin made specifically for chickens.

    It will take some time but if you are diligent you will get them back in good shape.

    This is exactly the reason why most people find de-beaking to be very cruel.

    Good luck with them.
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    I have 2 (was 3) debeaked hens -- I ordered them as ready-to-lay pullets thru the feed store since I really wanted chickens but being about to have a baby myself didn't feel up to dealing with tiny fragile fluffy chicks. It just didn't occur to me, tho in retrospect I guess it should have, that they'd come debeaked, but of course they did and it wasn't like I was going to send them back at that point.

    Mine do pretty well (on crumbles, fwiw - never actually tried pellets or mash, tho) as long as their food is on a deep soft surface. So I made their feeder so it holds a fairly deep layer of the crumbles; I feed them table scraps on top of deep bedding or on grass or hay in the summer; I give them a dollop of yogurt as 'topping' on a couple inches of crumbles in a bowl; etc. The extra depth lets them plunge the protruding lower beak far enough down to be able to take a good 'bite' with the top part.

    If your chickens free-range for a lot of their nutrition then I can see where that would be a *lot* harder for debeaked hens -- mine can catch big fat slow bugs, but that's about it. They may just need extra 'feed' food, even if it means putting them in a run by themselves for part of each day so that others don't steal all the food.

    Yogurt may be another way of getting more calcium into them, btw, or take the 'dust' from a normal bag of oystershell (or you could grind 'em to dust) and mix it in with oatmeal or something, then serve in a dollop over top of some feed as per above.

    Good luck,

  5. hooligan

    hooligan Songster

    Aug 20, 2007
    Have you joined the Ex-Battery Hens yahoo group? I am on there, tho I have no ex-batts and there is a TON of info:

    By the way [​IMG] to the forum. You will love it here!

    And thanks so much for rescuing those girls. The world needs more people like you. [​IMG] [​IMG]
  6. Lunachick

    Lunachick Chicken Slave

    Mar 19, 2007
    Brick, NJ
    Two out of three of my hens were debeaked. Like Patandchickens, I got mine as started pullets. They eat layer mash fine. I chop up their food. They free range also. When they're out in the yard they scratch and peck like other chickens, but they have to peck a little bit harder then a normal chicken. They also accomodate themselves by putting their head slightly sideways to get bugs and grass into their beaks. They do very well, to the point that they are little piggies.

    I just make sure their feed dish is deep enough for them. And their water dish.
  7. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress

    Sep 6, 2007
    spring hill, florida
    My debeaked chicken is huge and plump. I have always fed her from a bowl, with the feed about 2 inches deep. She also gets oatmeal suprise every day as a treat.
    A few weeks ago, I found a regular chicken feeder that had a wide deep tray under it, about 2 inches wide and 2 inches deep. Perfect! However after a week, I was watching her, and she really wasn't getting anything out of it. I put food in a bowl down and she ate for 2 HOURS straight, and she still is a bottomless pit.
    You might want to watch yours and see if they are having any trouble picking up the crumbles. Since I put the bowl back, she is getting huge!
    And thick wet mash is easier for them to eat as well, you might want to make them a small cup every day.
  8. miss_thenorth

    miss_thenorth Songster

    Dec 28, 2007
    SW Ont, Canada
    Ok, can someone help me now please? My hens were given to me--they were a product of a divorce, and I really knew zilch about them before I got them. but it was either I take them or they would be destroyed. Can someone show my pics of a beaked hen and a debeaked hen? I don't know what mine are--and I am so computer illiterate--I haven't figured out how to post pics.
  9. hooligan

    hooligan Songster

    Aug 20, 2007

    Last edited: Feb 12, 2008
  10. airmom1c05

    airmom1c05 Songster

    Feb 3, 2008
    Raymond, Mississippi
    So debeaked is nothing like a barely trimmed beak?

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