how to file a scissor beak?


In the Brooder
8 Years
May 16, 2011
Chicago IL
I hope this is the right place to ask this - have searched the forums many times but not found an answer.

I have a 3-week-old scissor beaked Americauna chick. I need to file her beak to make it easier for her to eat, but I can't seem to find clear instructions on how to do this. I don't want to hurt the chick or make the problem worse. But I also need to do this ASAP so that she can keep getting enough to eat!

Can anyone give me detailed directions on how to file down a scissor beak? Or point me toward a good tutorial?

Particularly I don't understand exactly which part of the beak you are supposed to file. I get that you don't file down to the quick, just like cutting cat or dog nails. But what area(s) of the beak are you supposed to file? The sides? The tip? Both? Top or bottom beak or both?

Also how do you hold the bird still and make sure you don't hurt it?

Any advice is much appreciated. Thanks for helping out a newbie!
We were blessed with two scissors beaks.
So this is a weekly task for us. It's a two person job: One holds the chick and the other holds the chick's head steady with their free hand and files with the other. We use a nail dremel on their beaks but we have loads of experience with it on the dogs' nails (we use a different head so no germs from dog nails). Where you file all depends on what's overgrowing on the beak. There isn't any "this is how it's done" because crossbeaks are all different. The bottom line is to keep it as trim as possible so they can open their mouth. You can use a plain old nail file, with those, I'd just have to be really really careful holding their head still because you'll need a little more traction than with a dremel. If you do decide to use dremel type of tool, be quick about it so you don't remove too much and note that the friction creates heat on their beak. Just a little here and there and you're done. But do notice how long it takes for it to grow and keep a regular trimming schedule. Like nails, if they grow longer, so does the inside quick. have some QuikStop or corn starch handy because it's inevitable, one day you'll nick the quick and want to have something to stop the bleeding.
Thats only going to help if its a mild crossbeak. I have hatched a few from shipped eggs with this issue and found there is no fixing a bad one and they will only live until they can no longer feed or drink efficiently and die a slow death from there. Imo and not what you want to here I am sure is to cull them
You can clip or file down from the tip to as far as you can go or need to without getting to soft tissue. The main idea is to get the beak back to where the top and bottm match back up. They may stop eating for awhile after this also.
As long as the bird is doing well or you're willing to work with the bird, you should trim the beak (even if it's severe and they don't match up at all because they will continue to grow and cause more problems) but agreed, with some birds, they will get so severe that culling is the only humane thing to do. For now, if they want to take that bird as far as it will doesn't hurt to try.

Both of ours always went back to eating right after trimming, even when we hit the quick...which made me feel better. But if they didn't eat right away, I would just give them some time before worrying.

It's really disheartening that a crossbeak is usually a death sentence
, not always
, but in most cases
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Oh by all means try and save any that you can I have and still do have a a hen thats crossbeak but its not severe enough to disable feeding or watering. I believe all unlucky critters deserve a chance. But truth is most dont ever get better. I hope yours do
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