Rescue hen has trouble eating-clipped beak

DDRanch

Songster
12 Years
Feb 15, 2008
1,189
23
202
California
One of my 5 rescue hens appears to have trouble grasping food and eating. She is quite underweight and not "thriving" like the others since I have taken them in. I have had them about a month now. 4 are growing back feathers, putting on weight, laying eggs and recovering.

All these hens have had their upper beaks clipped.

The one I am concerned about has a lower beak that is 1/4 inch plus longer than the top beak. It looks to be a more severe angle than the others and she can't really pick up food well.

Can I trim the lower beak so that it it picks up food easier? And how should I do that? What should I use.

Thanks for your experience. These hens are so sweet and have been through so much, I would like to solve this problem.

Anne
 

Michael Apple

Crowing
11 Years
Mar 6, 2008
3,495
585
318
Northern California
I never liked beak clipping, and the excuse is to prevent feather picking among the breeds that tend to be more cannibalistic. I have done it to particularly nasty birds in the past but never 1/4". That's too far. Have you tried feeding layer pellets? If it is a newly clipped beak, it may be sensitive, especially if cut back that far.

Usually, if done young enough, clipped beaks can grow back. I don't know how old your chickens are, but an Avian vet may be able to help you shape the beak making it easier to eat.
 
Last edited:

realsis

Crazy for Silkies
7 Years
Jan 17, 2013
3,968
370
263
California
hi. I have a cross beak at home so I have some experience with beak problems. first yes I have to keep my birds beak trimmed. I trim once a month . I do trim upper and lower. I use plain large toe nail clippers and they work just fine. I do want warn you about trimming the lower beak. it must be done in very small increments. remember the tongue is there. when trimming be aware the beak has a quick like fingernails and you can trim too much. if you accidentally get into the quick it will bleed. I've only done this once but it sure bleeds a lot. I just dab the blood until it stopped and the bird was fine but be cautious about that area . second my bird was on the thin side also until I started adding water to her regular food and mashing it up into a mash. I feed her separately the mashed food and she is able to eat it much better and in larger quantity at a time. so she finally gained weight and is now a normal weight. they really seem to love the mash and gobble it up. its so easy to make. just use the regular seed food and mix it with water to make a consistently of mash. not too runny. this really helped my bird gain her weight back. I feed her it separately every day. from time to time I sneak vitamins in the mash for her. I know your bird is not a cross beak but with her having beak issues I believe the same principals would apply. my bird is now doing very well with just doing these simple things. I hope this helps you and your bird. I believe it will. good luck and best wishes
 

lakebound

In the Brooder
6 Years
May 10, 2013
21
0
24
Southern Indiana
I have a crooked beak and she was having a hard time also, but I put her food into a deep dish bowl so she would stick her in it and get some food, so far it seems to work just fine. Good Luck!
 

DDRanch

Songster
12 Years
Feb 15, 2008
1,189
23
202
California
hi. I have a cross beak at home so I have some experience with beak problems. first yes I have to keep my birds beak trimmed. I trim once a month . I do trim upper and lower. I use plain large toe nail clippers and they work just fine. I do want warn you about trimming the lower beak. it must be done in very small increments. remember the tongue is there. when trimming be aware the beak has a quick like fingernails and you can trim too much. if you accidentally get into the quick it will bleed. I've only done this once but it sure bleeds a lot. I just dab the blood until it stopped and the bird was fine but be cautious about that area . second my bird was on the thin side also until I started adding water to her regular food and mashing it up into a mash. I feed her separately the mashed food and she is able to eat it much better and in larger quantity at a time. so she finally gained weight and is now a normal weight. they really seem to love the mash and gobble it up. its so easy to make. just use the regular seed food and mix it with water to make a consistently of mash. not too runny. this really helped my bird gain her weight back. I feed her it separately every day. from time to time I sneak vitamins in the mash for her. I know your bird is not a cross beak but with her having beak issues I believe the same principals would apply. my bird is now doing very well with just doing these simple things. I hope this helps you and your bird. I believe it will. good luck and best wishes
Thank you for your reply and your experience. I followed your suggestions and thought I was winning the battle as she was indeed eating better, but sadly I lost her this morning. I wonder if I had done this earlier if it would have made a difference. Perhaps not, but I know more now if the situation arises again. Thank you.
Anne
 

DDRanch

Songster
12 Years
Feb 15, 2008
1,189
23
202
California
I have a crooked beak and she was having a hard time also, but I put her food into a deep dish bowl so she would stick her in it and get some food, so far it seems to work just fine. Good Luck!
Thank you for your experience. I did incorporate your suggestions a few days ago, but sadly lost her this morning. I am glad for the advice as I can use it again....perhaps the next time sooner than later. Thank you.
anne
 

DDRanch

Songster
12 Years
Feb 15, 2008
1,189
23
202
California
I never liked beak clipping, and the excuse is to prevent feather picking among the breeds that tend to be more cannibalistic. I have done it to particularly nasty birds in the past but never 1/4". That's too far. Have you tried feeding layer pellets? If it is a newly clipped beak, it may be sensitive, especially if cut back that far.

Usually, if done young enough, clipped beaks can grow back. I don't know how old your chickens are, but an Avian vet may be able to help you shape the beak making it easier to eat.
Thank you for your reply. I appreciate your response. Apparently, the rescue hens were about 2 years old. Sadly, I lost her this morning.
 

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