NEED HELP ASAP: Trimming a Crooked Beak...

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Gresh, Nov 25, 2011.

  1. Gresh

    Gresh Songster

    Jul 9, 2011
    North Carolina
    I have somewhat of an emergency with my poultry flock that I need opinions on. One of my pullets has a very crooked beak in which the top beak is fairly centered but the bottom curves off so that the beaks cross almost like an 'X'. She has had a crooked beak all of her life but only recently did I notice that it was getting worse. The worst part about it is that her lower beak is so off that she cannot eat grains anymore, and she can barely eat grass. She is unable to hold things properly in her beak.

    I need to know if it is possible for me to trim her lower beak using nail clippers. We don't have a professional break-trimming instrument around and we need to go about things in the cheaper manner. Can I trim her lower beak with nail clippers and not hurt her?

    Please respond with your opinions and suggestions. Again, it is somewhat of an emergency because she is unable to eat grains.


  2. petejd

    petejd Chirping

    Sep 25, 2011
    Bluffton, SC.
    Try sending this to the emergency forum. I never had this problem, so I can't be of help.
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2011
  3. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    I clipped the tip off the upper beak of my EE, Flo today. She's a feather picker, you see.

    I'm not sure about the lower beak, but it seems if you take care not to get into the "quick" where the blood supply is, you could do it. Maybe trimming both upper and lower, you could get a better alignment.

    It's like trimming toe nails. I do it with a dog/cat nail clipper. I've found that holding the beak open usually makes it easier since the chicken won't struggle as much as when the beak is closed.

    Great care should be given not to cut into the quick, and at the first sign of a drop of blood, you need to quit.

    I hope it improves the situation.
  4. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    I had a very bad experience trimming my cross beak chick's beak. A tiny sliver of beak was left behind and it bled like no other. I'll tell you the advice I was given.

    I'm told it's best to trim the top beak, not the bottom. They use the bottom beak to scoop up food. You should trim a little at a time, over a period of time, until both beaks are as aligned as possible.

    We used dog nail trimmers, but if I ever get the nerve to try again I'm going to insist we use my DH's dremel tool with the grinding wheel.

    Good luck.
  5. poseygrace

    poseygrace Songster

    Apr 29, 2011
    Quote:I agree that it's best to use a dog nail trimmer. Also, there is a product you can dip the dog's nail in after you clip it to stop the bleeding. I can't remember the name of it, but I have seen it at Petco. Never tried it on a chicken but don't see why it wouldn't work. Good luck. We did it once and it bled a lot, but it worked like a charm and he was able to eat normally after that.
  6. Gresh

    Gresh Songster

    Jul 9, 2011
    North Carolina
    Thank you all very much for your input and advice, but I do have one question: how do I know something is the "quick" of the beak? What color should it be? I only plan on trimming about .4 or .5 centimeters of her beak. Will that be too far? And I really need to know if it can just be done with human nail clippers. We're on a tight budget, not only financially but also in regards to time, and I don't want to have to drive 1/2 hour to get to our local Petco to pay $7 for a dog nail clipper. However, if that's the absolutely only option, I may have to do it.

    Thanks again, ya'll! [​IMG]
  7. NewToFarming

    NewToFarming Songster

    Apr 28, 2010
    Millersburg, PA
    You also have to be careful you don't cut the tongue when you trim the bottom beak. I have a cross beak and I use the pedipaws for dogs to grind away what is too long. I did try to trim but she did not tolerate and strangely she prefers the grinding over the trim. I would not do alot at one time. Just a little every few days until you get it to where it needs to be.

  8. Bear Foot Farm

    Bear Foot Farm Crowing

    Mar 31, 2008
    Grifton NC
    she cannot eat grains anymore, and she can barely eat grass.

    How will cutting it off make it any better?​
  9. welasharon

    welasharon Songster

    Jun 28, 2010
    North Florida
    I have a cross beak that I got from someone because she was not able to get individualized care there. I have fewer chickens so I had the time. I started feeding her on a cement walking stone and after some time she was able to get it ground down herself and it is much less an issue. Do you think it you tried clipping a little and using some type of cement to let her eat on it may help? You may have to feed her food that is made into a mash so she can get a hold of it. Do you have a picture so we could see how much it crosses? certainly in the meantime feed her easy to eat food. You can do a search on here for cross beaks. I found some when I first got mine.
  10. AinaWGSD

    AinaWGSD Songster

    Apr 2, 2010
    Sullivan, IL
    If you have a very heavy duty set of human nail clippers (such as toenail clippers) you may be able to do some trimming with those. To see the quick, hold a bright light behind the beak, the areas that are dark where none of the light tries to shine through are where the quick is. This part of the beak is living tissue, which will not only bleed like crazy if you cut into it but is also very sensitive.

    If at all possible, your best option is to file the beak down using a grinding tool (dremmels also come in handy for about a million and one other things besides beak trimming, so it may be a worthwhile investment). Grinding the beak down is much safer as you don't have nearly the risk of quciking them that you do with nail trimmers. And if you do happen to go too far and hit the quick, a grinding tool should be moving at a fast enough rate of speed to cauterize it right away. Nail trimmers also have the risk of splitting the beak when trimming, which grinding does not.

    This is something you will have to do regularly. It's not just that her top beak and bottom beak line up, if you look closely you'll likely see that her whole skull is misaligned. It's not something that's going to get better and it will definitely get worse without you stepping in to keep the beak trimmed up.

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