Feeding a cross beak

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by NeuseWorks, Oct 2, 2007.

  1. NeuseWorks

    NeuseWorks In the Brooder

    Feb 8, 2007
    Raleigh, North Carolina
    I need some suggestions for feasibly feeding our little cross beak Auracana. She's about 4 months old and is one of 6 in our flock. She's half or even less than half the size of her sisters. She has never been the aggressive one - in fact, she's the bottom of the pecking order. But lately she has seemed starving! She is the first to me when I go out with food and treats.

    So tonight I made her a mash of ground layer pellets with flax seeds, polenta and a little DE. I mixed it with water to make a soft, dry dough and she went to town! I took it out to her around dusk when they were heading back to the coop, and she stayed out with me for a good 15 minutes and ate and ate. I had to squeeze it into a doughy ball several times while she was eating - she seems to do better when it is in a ball. Her top beak can get a chunk off that will stick to her bottom beak and that she can pull in with her tongue. I noticed that when she tries to eat out of the feeder, she gets about one little piece in 10 pecks and throws food all over the place. I also felt around her crop this evening and noticed that it was very small, so I know she's not getting enough.

    I plan on doing this again tomorrow and again and again. However, while I love my girls, I do have a family to care for. I can't really leave her on her own with her mash b/c the other, more aggressive chickens, will kick her out and eat all her mash. If I remove her and leave her alone, she freaks out b/c she is alone!

    So I'm looking for a practical solution for feeding her. She is so loving and she is our daughter's favorite. Has anyone kept a cross beak and made the effort to feed it? How?


    ps: this is my husband's account; he was nice enough to let me use it to post [​IMG]
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2007
  2. snugglepup

    snugglepup Songster

    Apr 15, 2007
    Creedmoor, NC

    I have had mixed luck with crossbeaks. Our only success (of 3) is Buckbeak. What has worked for him has been to drop him into the feed bin, while I feed everyone else. Then I chase him out of it after the chores are done. This is our routine we go through twice a day. He gets to gorge straight out of the bin for about 15 minutes. It has kept him in good weight and he seems able to fill his crop pretty well. The drawback is sometimes he poops in the bin, and I have to scoop it out.Then about once a week we help groom him because he can't preen normally. I've also been using a dremel to help grind down the extra beak since it doesn't oppose to wear naturally.
    1 person likes this.
  3. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD

    Quote:That is what I do with my crossbeak too. He has a box and a can of food in it. I drop him in the box a few times a day and he fills up. Then drinks out of a dripping hose since he can't drink any other way. When he is done, he's all wet due to leaking out of his mouth but he's growing... slowly. Once he has enough meat, he's on the table since it's alot of baby sitting on him. He also likes to sit up on feet and follow closley. His beak is exatally 90 deg from the correct direction.

  4. Chatychick

    Chatychick Songster

    Jul 9, 2007
    Blue Mound, Kansas
    Mine is doing well she is a Aracana also, I think its the breeding as I got her when she was already grown. I trim her beak when I can catch her and she seems to be doing fine. Try trimming her beak and just do it a little at a time as if you get it to short it will really bleed. Had that happen...Good luck
  5. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress

    Sep 6, 2007
    spring hill, florida
    I was wondering if mush would work. Dropping them in the feed bin sounded like a good idea
  6. NeuseWorks

    NeuseWorks In the Brooder

    Feb 8, 2007
    Raleigh, North Carolina
    Quote:We did trim her beak once, and it bled [​IMG] But since we've planned on trimming it again, but it seems to break off everytime I notice it, so I haven't had to trim it again. Even trimming her beak, she can't hold onto the pellets of food and can't peck up anything small, like seeds and grit. She was doing OK, but now that's she's bigger, I think she needs more food and is slowly starving to death. Poor girl [​IMG]

    The mash works really well for us. I've been doing it for a few days. I remove her from the coop/run or shoo all the other chickens away from her and let her eat twice per day. I have to clump it up in my hand and make like little dough-y "rolls" of food. She seems to be able to hook it with her top beak and use her tongue to draw it into her mouth. She definitely does a lot more swallowing and her crop seems to be filling more. I've also noticed that their food isn't thrown all over the floor as much. Before I think she was spending a large part of the day trying to eat, but when she pecks she throws food out all over the place! She was wasting SO MUCH food!

    Snugglepup, thanks for that suggestion - I realized after reading your post that I don't always have to *stay* with her while she's eating. So I've started going out while/before we're eating breakfast and putting her in the coop and closing the poop hole. I put her mash in there. Then I leave her in the coop for a while to eat. It takes her about 15-20 minutes to finish, so I go open the poop hole and take her mash out. It has worked really well to do this during breakfast and dinner.

    Just as an FYI, I make her mash by putting a bunch of feed into my food processor and making the pellets smaller or powder. To that I add some flax seed, polenta and DE. I was wondering if I need to add some sand or dirt to it - I hope she gets enough grit. Anyhow, I add water to that to make it into a very dry dough, like biscuit dough. It is a lot of work, but if I make a big batch of her mash and keep it in the fridge, it will last me for several days.

    Anyhow, thanks for all the suggestions! Sounds like lots of cross beaks are Auracanas. Interesting.

  7. hsm5grls

    hsm5grls Songster

    Oct 3, 2007
    What causes cross beak? Is it enviromental or genetic???
  8. thndrdancr

    thndrdancr Songster

    Mar 30, 2007
    Belleville, Kansas
    I think it can be genetic OR can be caused by spikes in incubator temps when the chick is developing. Since Easter Eggers seem to have it more than others, I imagine its mainly genetic.
    Neuse, its sounds like what your doing is working well. I was recommended to mix up a mash as well, and that seems the best way for them to eat. Also a deep dish to be able to "scoop" any food if it is dry.
    My little crossbeak slowly starved to death, but gosh she had personality. Loved her to pieces. I was doing mash and trying to hand feed her, everything. It was terribly time consuming and she still didnt make it. [​IMG]
  9. hensnchix

    hensnchix In the Brooder

    Jun 12, 2007
    Hi all, I realize I'm posting late to this thread, but I just found it today. I also have a four-month old cross beak (dark Brahma) and am struggling to figure out how to keep up with her food needs.

    I give her chicken food 2x a day mixed with water, to make a mash that she can scoop up. But she's hungry a LOT and comes racing across the yard everytime I step outside. She can't pick up a lot of the table scraps I put out for the other hens (unless I mash, say, bread with milk) and she definitely can't get grass, bugs, etc.

    She's a great hen--very affectionate, very forward, very demanding for attention and food, very comical, but she looks pretty funky, both because she can't preen and because she gets mash stuck all over her face. (A hen, perhaps, that only a mother could love?) Someone mentioned grooming their cross-beak--how do you do that?

    I'm also wondering if she'll ever lay well, given that she can't be getting as much nutrition as the other hens are getting.

    Anyway, I'm glad to hear other folks are keeping their cross beaks and trying to help them thrive. I'll try sticking her in the food bin tomorrow AM (love that!) while I'm doing the morning chores.

    Power to the cross beaks...
  10. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress

    Sep 6, 2007
    spring hill, florida
    I think you are doing a great job. I use instant oatmeal to get a more sticky mush, I think polenta is fine. I will be adding oyster shell and grit to it, possibly hit a few times with a hammer. Karen

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: