The Mechanics Of Mercy

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Skwishface, Mar 14, 2012.

  1. Skwishface

    Skwishface Out Of The Brooder

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    Hey y'all!

    I'm a first-time chicken mama, and it seems I've already got a rough decision to make. One of my chicks has a badly crossed beak. It's gotten steadily worse and worse, and now it's becoming apparent that she's getting thinner. Her feathers are coming in just fine, but the body underneath them is skin and bones. She tries and tries to eat, but clearly isnt' getting much. I've seen the other birds pick feed right out of her crooked beak, poor thing. I've tried all kinds of things to help her to eat - deeper bowls, a mash of feed with water or yogurt, etc - but nothing has really helped. The fact is that despite how very sweet she is (a real cuddler!) her deformity will never improve and she'll always be a high maintenance and very hungry bird, if she doesn't simply starve to death because food can't get into her belly.

    So. Now I just have to decide at what point she's had enough and it's time to do the merciful thing and put her down. My practical side really doesn't want to take her to a vet and spend $30+ to get her put to sleep. Are there humane methods for putting down a bird that I could do myself? I don't want her to suffer any more than she already has.

    Thanks!
     
  2. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    If she's already skin and bones, the kindest thing would be to put her down now. There are several methods, most of which may seem gory, but they are quick and merciful. Take a VERY sharp knife and decapitate her. Use a broom handle, put it on her neck and jerk up on the body breaking the neck. Use an ax for decapitation. I've never done the broom handle method, but we use an ax when butchering. Fast, painless, effective. Also bloody. I guess it all depends on how comfortable you are with putting an animal down yourself.
     
  3. ReikiStar

    ReikiStar Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sorry to hear about your cross beak chick. Depending on the severity they can live healthy lives. Sometimes all they require is regular filing of their beak. Not to different from trimming a dog's toenails. Have you tried keeping her beak trim? We have a cross beak EE roo who is turning 1 year old this week. He's 2nd in command of a 3 roo group. A cross beak isn't a death sentence if it can be maintained to a level where they can feed themselves.

    BTW, he feeds himself and eats the same food the other two roos eat. He just has a harder time foraging.
     
  4. Skwishface

    Skwishface Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 6, 2012
    My little cross-beak girl is doing better! We filed her beak down a bit, and she had an easier time eating. She's still thinner than the other birds, but she's just as perky and active as they are. I'm hoping she'll pull through, but keeping a realistic eye on her.
     
  5. Skwishface

    Skwishface Out Of The Brooder

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    What do you use to file your roo's beak down? Right now, my girl's a little pullet, so an emery board is getting the job done. But if she gets much bigger, I'll have to find other solutions,
     
  6. chickenzoo

    chickenzoo Emu Hugger

    As she gets bigger you can trim it back with cat nail clippers or grind it down with a $20 cordless Dremel tool with sanding disc.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2012
  7. Skwishface

    Skwishface Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks! Trimming her beak has been an adventure. Holding her beak steady for the file involves plugger her little nose with my giant (to her) fingers. We tried clipping it with small dog toenail clippers, but as soon as she felt the pinch of the clippers on her beak she squeaked like it hurt. She's normally a very quiet and even-tempered little critter, so that squeak was believable.

    We'll try a dremel, though. Thanks again!
     
  8. tweetysvoice

    tweetysvoice Chillin' With My Peeps

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  9. Skwishface

    Skwishface Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you so much! That's very helpful, and reassuring. The hen mentioned in that blog post has a beak about as bad as my little chick's. I'm hoping hers doesn't get any worse as she gets older. Fingers crossed!

    I love how this thread has gone from "how can I kill this bird?" to "hey, she could totally make it". :)
     
  10. tyjaco

    tyjaco Chillin' With My Peeps

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    please just make sure - if you use a dremel - take it S L O W.
    It can make her little beak get very hot and burn her. That will hurt,
    please take little breaks to be sure her beak does't heat up...
     

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