As I shared before, one of our chicks has cross beak (also known as scissor beak). Apparently, this is a know genetic issue with Easter Eggers. We named her Criss-Cross and call her Chrissy.
There’s not much you can do for a scissor-beaked chicken. The misaligned beak effects their ability to eat and drink, making it hard to impossible to pick up seeds and bugs. If the deformity is mild to moderate, the chick has a good chance of survival.
As you can see, Chrissy, has a severe deformity.
Chrissy has been doing okay so far, but she is quite a bit smaller than the other chicks. When she gets older, I will need to figure out how to continue her on crumbles, instead of pellets, and a bowl waterer, instead of a nipple waterer like I have for the big chickens. She will not be able to eat and drink the way the other chickens do. At the same time, I don’t want the other chickens to get into the food and water designated for her.
I read that you need to trim the upper beak frequently to prevent overgrowth, so that was one of the projects this past weekend. The beak is made of keratin, just like finger nails. The instructions were to identify where the quick is and trim tiny bits of beak without cutting into the quick.
Well, as usual, things did not go as easily as the instructions made it sound and we all ended up a bit traumatized.
I don’t know if she twitched, or I did, but I ended up cutting into the quick. There was a lot of blood and, just like a person will shake a hand after smashing a finger, Chrissy shook her head. That meant there was blood everywhere – blood on us, blood in the sink, blood on the Chrissy, blood on the wall. Fortunately, I did have styptic powder on hand. I dipped her beak several times until it at least slowed enough to start clotting.
We put her in the bathtub to recover. Later, I gave her a bath to get all the blood off her feathers. Chickens are attracted to red and if a chicken has a bloody wound the others can go berserk and peck the chicken to death. So, I needed to be sure there was no visible evidence or smell of blood.
After the bath, she did as any bird does – she groomed herself. This, of course, broke open the barely clotted scab and she groomed herself with her bloody beak. Time for another bath.
Is there a happy ending to this story? Yes. Chrissy is fine and is back with the other chicks.
A task that should have taken five minutes to complete ended up taking several hours, counting the clean up, giving her time to recuperate, watching the action of the other chicks when we put her back with them.
It will be awhile before I try that again!
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