How to trim chick's beaks?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Desert-Chicken, Dec 30, 2012.

  1. Desert-Chicken

    Desert-Chicken Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 22, 2011
    Hi there folks,

    I'm encountering some problems with my month-old chicks. I have 7 chicks in a fairly large enclosure, they have a box and tunnel in there and plenty of room and things to hop on etc. I'm in the middle-east and can't find chicken feed but I feed them daily grains and regularly give them cabbage, fish or boiled egg, and our table-craps. But yesterday I found one of the smaller chicks had one of his toes bleeding, I removed him but only had a small box to put him in, he was crying in there, so by the evening I saw that there was no trace of blood so put him back with the others. Now today I saw one of the biggest chicks bleeding on one of his wings and 2 of his toes and most of the chicks covered in blood from where they'd been pecking at him, it was quite a shocking scene! I was surprised he would be picked on as he's one of the biggest. So I separated him, but again he hates being in a small box and is crying a lot. I don't know what to do, I'm scared I'm going to find every day a new chick bleeding. I've been looking online, and I don't understand why my chicks would be pecking each other as they don't seem to have any symptoms that encourage picking (they have plenty of space, not hot, eating protein-rich food, and an interesting large home so shouldn't be bored). So I'm considering trimming the beaks of the bigger ones, as I guess they're the most likely to be starting the picking, I did observe them for a while but can't work out which one is doing it.
    So as a last resort I'm thinking to trimming the bigger chicks' beaks, but I don't know how to do it. I read you cut a little off the top portion of the beak. Can I just do it with regular nail clippers? Till what point to I trim, I obviously want to avoid hurting them too much or letting them bleed.
    Appreciate any help,
  2. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

    Jun 28, 2011
    Rep of Ireland
    See if you can find some Blu cote or another purple coloured wound care spray. It will mask the red (blood). Or pine tar (traditional antiseptic and hoof care product for horses and cattle) and apply that to the chicks' wounds to stop the others pecking it. Putting them under a red coloured light will also help. Leave the beak trimming as an absolute last resort. It's tricky and it can cause permanent nerve damage to the chick's beaks if done incorrectly.
    Also see if you can distract and amuse the chicks somehow. Put some edible toys in there, like apples, corn on the cob or a cabbage. Or just a pile of leaves/straw with some treats or scratch mixed in.

    Edited to add: I've had some ex battery hens who had their beaks trimmed. Some of them had great difficulty eating anything if it wasn't in a deep bowl. It was sad to see them out and about, battling to eat things and losing out on treats.
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2012
  3. Azriel

    Azriel Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 19, 2010
    Do you still have a heat lamp on them? If so is it white or red. Red light will discourage pecking. Have you checked for mites or lice, and do they have an area to dust in. They are most likley getting their new feathers in so it make them ichy and irritable, the red light will help, and make sure at that age that they have plenty of room. Please keep in mind that if you trim their top beak, it will make it almost impossible for them to get anything to eat if you free range.
  4. Desert-Chicken

    Desert-Chicken Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 22, 2011
    Thanx for your advice.
    Well I never did use a heat lamp, in the hot climate here we don't need one! I just had one chick die out of 8. Although these days the weather is cooling down a bit. Unfortunately I found the first little chick who was pecked at has died, I don't know if it was due to the pecking (because he seemed to have healed and it was just his toe bleeding) or maybe due to something else, he was the smallest chick and always seemed a bit meek... The other one seems to be healing and doing better so I put him back with the others, he has places to hide and he seems to be doing OK. I gave them some apple quarters to peck at. No we don't have any of those wound sprays or anything here, I'm in the Middle-East and I don't know of any vets or anything around here. Yes they have a big "sand pit" to bathe in that I mix with lime so that should help against any bugs... So right now they all seem OK and no pecking apparent, so I'm hoping that it'll stay that way and I won't need to consider trimming any beaks.

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