Poor Duke. It seems like that fella just can’t get a break sometimes. And I’ve been so preoccupied lately that I didn’t even realize how long his beak had gotten.
Bernie brought it to my attention last night and I told him I would get Duke out of the coop at first light, before the others were released for the day, and trim that beak first thing.
Duke is my only chicken that has a beak like that. For some reason the top of his beak doesn’t quite match up to the bottom, and the top often continues to grow over the bottom to the point where he has difficulty eating. If allowed to get too long, (which, sadly, is where Duke’s top beak is in that picture) he will be pretty much unable to get enough food into his mouth to sustain him.
I am embarrassed to admit I let this go on for too long, but I want to share it here so any of you that notice the same issue with one of your chickens will know that it is extremely easy to remedy, and it is painless for the chicken.
A chicken’s beak is very similar to our finger and toe nails. If your chicken has a white beak, you can probably see the “quick” in it – the tender portion that contains blood vessels. The portion of the beak that grows past the “quick” does not have blood vessels, or nerve endings. So if you are very careful not to clip the “quick”, it is really quite painless when trimmed.
The first thing I do whenever I have to work on one of my chickens is lay him on a towel (or her, but I’m gonna refer to the chicken as a “him” because we’re talking about Duke here), and wrap the towel completely and snugly around him, so he can not flap his wings. Securely holding your chicken while working on him is extremely important.
Once I had Duke wrapped in a towel, I laid him on my lap and used dog nail trimmers to trim his beak – not all the way back to the “quick”, but just to the point that his top beak was fairly even with his lower beak. If you don’t have dog nail trimmers, you can use side cuts, but the cut may be a little more jagged.
I know he looks awful in that picture, but it’s just for sympathy, I assure you. Even though Duke and I have spent many moments in similar situations and you’d think he would have learned by now, I honestly think he believes if he looks dead enough I’ll leave him alone. Goofy rooster.
And here he is all trimmed up.
This whole procedure took about 5 minutes – and the actual beak trimming took about 10 seconds.
So if you’ve never trimmed a chicken’s beak and find yourself needing to, go forth with confidence. It will be over before you know it, and your chicken will thank you for it