Feeding a cross-beak hen

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by AinaWGSD, Aug 15, 2010.

  1. AinaWGSD

    AinaWGSD Songster

    Apr 2, 2010
    Sullivan, IL
    I have a 4 week old EE chick with a cross beak. We noticed it at 5 days and it is getting much more severe, so it may not be an issue as she may not make it past this bag of chick starter. But I have known several parrots who lived full lives missing their entire lower beak and once they learned how to eat again after loosing their beak they did very well with only a few changes to the diet to accommodate their special needs so I'm not going to cull her until she is unable to eat well enough to gain/maintain weight. If she does make it, would it be better to offer crumbles or pellets? I know pellets would be less wasteful, but I'm not sure if a "special needs" cross-beak would be able to eat them as easily as the crumbles.

  2. lurky

    lurky Songster

    Jun 4, 2007
    Western MA
  3. b.hromada

    b.hromada Flock Mistress

    I had a hen with cross beak too, and she ate the crumbles just fine. I never tried the pellets with her. I guess it has a lot to do with just how much its "crossed". Like you mentioned, a parrot without a beak to eat with, did just fine. Best luck to you. [​IMG]
  4. kakayona

    kakayona In the Brooder

    Feb 22, 2009
    I have an EE with same problem. I trim the top or file it a little like once a month. She eats everything fine. She is extremely messy though.
  5. AinaWGSD

    AinaWGSD Songster

    Apr 2, 2010
    Sullivan, IL
    Well, at 13 weeks my little cross beak EE Buffy is doing alright for herself. She's usually the first one out the door when I open the coop in the mornings and goes straight to the milk jug feeders I have in the run. My husband thinks she can eat out of the hanging feeder in the coop alright, so maybe it's just that they're "new" and she prefers whatever I just set down. I also have a 2 quart rubber feed pan that I set out in the run when it's not supposed to rain and she seems to have a much easier time eating out of that than anything else. It's kind of sad to watch her when we let them all out in the yard because she tries to forage just like the other chickens but just can't manage to pick anything up. She does seem to be able to eat leftover malt-o-meal, applesauce, and leftover soup treats just fine though [​IMG] And when my husband weighed the three EE yesterday she wasn't the heaviest, but she wasn't the lightest either even though she doesn't really look much bigger than my leghorn pullet...they're all within about 30 grams of each other.

    We're going to stick with the crumbles for sure. Partly because it seems to be hard to find pellets in this area (only one of the 4 stores I've checked even offers a pelleted layer feed, all the rest only have crumbles) but also because after watching Buffy out and about with the other girls it seems clear to me that she would have a really hard time getting enough to eat with pelleted feed. Now I just have to hope that once she starts laying she can get enough calories in to support herself.

    Her cross beak is really pretty bad, the upper and lower beak don't come anywhere near meeting anymore. I have trimmed them back once, but I'm not sure how much help it really was (I didn't really let it get that long before trimming though, clearly keeping the top at least trimmed is going to be necessary). It doesn't seem to slow her down a bit though. She's one of the boldest girls and likes to check out what we're doing in the yard when we're out and about. She's even come when I called her after putting down a bowl of food (although I'm not entirely sure if she was really responding to her name or running because she saw the two SS girls digging in). She's not big on being touched, but she does like to talk to us and walks right up to the dogs (she pecked my poor boy dog right on the nose as he was standing on 3 legs peeing!). And she doesn't let the others push her around either. I've seen her stand up to another pullet when they charged at her, and they backed down just fine. And she's usually one of the girls on the top roost at night. She's worming her way into the soft spot in my heart and quickly becoming one of my favorites. I even started a contest for "special needs chickens" just so I could post a picture of her hanging out under the vines along the back fence.

    ETA the picture
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2010
  6. denim deb

    denim deb Chirping

    Sep 15, 2010
    AinaWGSD, your girl's beak is about as crossed as my EE, Wanda. I got her as a chick in January. They basically just scooped up some chicks, put them in a box, and I paid for it. If I had noticed at the store that she had a cross beak, I would have never gotten her.

    Right now, I have her feed in a black rubber dish. Only problem being, everyone eats out of it, and it ends up getting dumped. I bought a plastic rabbit feeder in TSC the other day, put some feed in it, and checked to see if 1) the feed would fall out of the holes in the bottom (they didn't) and 2) she could eat out of it. She can. So, I'm going to figure out a way I can have the dish underneath of it, and mount it for her to eat out of. I figure any that she manages to dump out will end up in the bowl, and I'll be able to just pour it back in the feeder. I don't know if she'll ever lay an egg, but she's my favorite girl. She has a ton of personality, and will follow me all over. Tonight, they were already in a tree roosting when I went to close the door to the pen. She just HAD to fly out of the tree to greet me. And, I have eaten lunch outside w/her on my shoulder. (Maybe she thinks she's a parrot?)
  7. True Grit

    True Grit Songster

    My pic didn't turn out but Zippy started going crossbeak at 10 weeks and rapidly became severely so. She is getting by but got thinner when I was away for a week. She can eat her yogurt mixed with crumbles so she gets that in the coop at night and a big bowl in the morning. We will keep trying. I know what you mean about watching her try to free-range. It is sad but I guess they don't feel that. She will go back into the run and fill up while the others just peck outside.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2010

  8. Rozzie

    Rozzie Songster

    Jul 14, 2010
    I had a cross beaked rooster for a long time. I had two coops at that time, and several bachelor pens. He got to be king of one of the coops, with the best mannered hens as his harem. He did quite well, but I always watched that he was able to eat enough. He couldn't "peck" food to break it up so I did keep crumbles around for him. He did manage to eat scratch grain, too, but mainly because I'd put a cool whip container full in front of him while the girls were hunting around the coop for theirs. He was a pretty spoiled roo.

    I don't think I have any close-up pics of his beak around. Ah well...the memories will do!
  9. Barry Natchitoches

    Barry Natchitoches Songster

    Sep 4, 2008
    I have a cross beaked EE rooster.

    He has trouble eating out of a regular chicken feeder, so I took an empty #10 can (one of those big cans that institutional food comes in), filled it two thirds of the way with sand to weight it down, and then in the upper third of the open can I put layer pellets. (He lives with 13 hens, so he eats layer pellets just like they do).

    Between me and my wife, we fill that can several times a day since other birds besides my cross beak rooster eat out of that can.

    That can is the only thing that the rooster can eat out of. He looses some of the pellets he tries to eat, but he can get enough of those pellets out of the can that he can fill himself.

    The poor bird is not able to eat much else. I give the birds treats like pieces of whole wheat bread, cut up tomatoes or apples, grass and weeds -- but he can't eat them, bless his little heart.

    About the only treats he seems to be able to eat is watermelon (which he pecks off of the quarter sized wedges I give the birds) and cantaloupe. Please note that he can only eat these fruits if they are still on the rind. He can't eat the fruit if it is cut off the rind in chunks. He needs the large area that a fruit like watermelon allows him to peck, and he needs a fruit that will not move in any way while he's eating it.

    Thing is -- he's actually very happy and healthy. My wife and I make sure that he has food in a container that he can retrieve it from (the weighted down #10 can with its wide mouthed opening to eat out of provides this, as does the rind of the watermelon). And we make sure that the food is close enough to the top of the can that he can reach it.
  10. AinaWGSD

    AinaWGSD Songster

    Apr 2, 2010
    Sullivan, IL
    Deb, I made "holders" for my black rubber tubs out of a few bricks I had laying around because, like you've experienced, the girls can and do dump them otherwise. I set one brick on each side of the tub, then a third brick that got broken in half goes on the other ends. I snug the bricks up tight against the tubs and since they're made of rubber they stay put. I imagine you could probably make something similar using scrap lumber or large rocks if you don't have any bricks or pavers handy. If we have enough scrap wood handy I may make a wooden "wishing well" holder for the food with a roof since right now I can't put the rubber tub out for her if it's raining (or very likely to rain) unless I want to waste a lot of feed to getting soaked.

    Today we trimmed Buffy's beak again. My husband was picking up chickens and when he got her he noticed that her upper beak was cracked/split at the tip so we kind of had to grind it down (we use a dremmel with a grinding cone). While I was working on her beak, I noticed that the edge of her lower beak kind of curls in on itself, forming almost a tube where food was getting stuck. I filed down the edges, so hopefully she won't get quite as much stuck in there and maybe she'll be a little more effective at eating now.

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