Emergencies/Illness Health Issues

Dealing With Chicken Beak Injuries

Beaks, nails and spurs are all made of keratin, a type of protein. A normal beak is comprised of two parts that fit together, so that the top slightly overlaps the bottom. The hard outer portion protects the inner soft tissues, skin and bone.

Chickens explore their worlds through their beaks, which function as a part of their sense of touch. There are a number of things that can damage beaks including fights, getting them caught in fencing, small spaces or rodent snap traps, or from predator attacks.

Think of a beak like your fingernails. The tips are not attached and have no blood supply if they were broken. However, injuries to the nail bed itself can be painful and suffer permanent damage (i.e. some nails can’t regrow). Similarly, injuries to the tip of a beak are considered relatively minor and are usually easy to fix, whereas those at the base can result in damage to the bone and a permanently amputated beak.

Treatment

  • Minor injuries may not require any treatment, just monitoring to see that the beak re-grows normally.
  • If the injury is fight related, birds may have to be separated or re-homed.
  • Wounds should be treated and bleeding stopped.
  • Use dog nail clippers or an emery board to shape the beak, making sure not to trim too much.
  • A cracked beak won’t grow together, but will grow out over time.
  • Splits and chips can be repaired using a small square of an empty teabag soaked in crazy glue. Place the patch over the affected area to hold it into proper position until the beak re-grows.
  • Canine nail caps can be glued over the tip of a split beak.
  • Make sure your bird is able to eat properly, providing feed in a deep dish may help.
  • If there is extensive damage pain medications might be required (i.e. Metacam/Meloxicam).
  • Amputated or severely torn beaks can’t grow back. You may be able to manufacture a prosthetic beak, but more likely you will have to find a way to feed and hydrate your injured bird (or consider euthanasia).
  • Crossbeak is usually a genetic or hatching issue, but can result from an injury to the bone structure at the base of the beak. Monitor for deformation of the alignment and ensure the bird is able to eat and drink properly.

Credit: Poultry DVM Featured Photo: Backyard Chickens

11 comments on “Dealing With Chicken Beak Injuries

  1. Anyone considering caring for a chicken with crossed beak should check out the Facebook page Crossbeaks and Special Needs. They have a wealth of information and support. Cheers  Sheryl 

    Liked by 2 people

  2. David Larrimore

    We are currently attempting to nurse a young hen back to health after being attacked by a Guinea fowl this past week. The Injury is almost identical to the 2nd Broken Beak picture you posted. I’m afraid that prognosis isn’t good but she still attempting to feed and drink on her own. Should I consider trimming the lower beak so that the matches up a little better. Any suggestions?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Courtney Bauer

    I have just found my barred rock hen with a broken beak… she is not a fully matured hen, around three months old. Idk if it was caused by confrontation with one of our Leghorns or it she caught it on something…. She let me pick her up and I’ve separated her… top beak is broke about halfway down, and it’s still attached. Any suggestions which course of treatment to do?? Your help is greatly appreated…. I’m sad for my hen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Depending on where the beak is the keratin may regrow. Feel free to send me a photo using the ‘contact’ button on my home page.

      Like

      • Of course, feel free to share far and wide. The only thing I ask is that you not remove/crop the link to my site. Thanks

        Like

      • Courtney Bauer

        Thank you, I will take a photo and share. From what I have read, the reintroduction to the flock it what may be difficult. I’ve already re-homed the two Leghorns we had.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Treat reintegration the same way as you would when introducing a new member. Check out my post “Adding To Your Flock”.

        Like

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