Clipping A Chicken’s Beak

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 🙂


9 Responses to “Clipping A Chicken’s Beak”

  1. charlotte says:

    Duke, looks back to his good old handsome self again now.

  2. Melissa says:

    Thank you! This is a terrific post!!!!

  3. Kitaye says:

    I’ve been really lucky that none of my girls have this problem. Glad to know if I have to do it in the future I can just refer back here for the how to.

  4. Paul says:

    I am glad to see this post. Animal rights groups often list beak clipping as cruelty. Folks need to be informed that some simple upkeep is needed when raising animals. Nice job, and nice rooster.

  5. Tricia says:

    Thanks for taking the tme to post this. My little buddy has had a crocked beak all his life. I have worried about him eating enough but have alway kept the feeder over full so he could dip down far enough to get food. He is always eating way past the others and often run to me for more.
    I didn’t know I could trim. I will do this first thing in the morning. Thanks a ton.

  6. Susie says:

    Thanks for the info! I just found one of my hens with the same issue – and am embarrassed that I didn’t notice it before this evening. Your explanation and pictures were very helpful.

  7. Karen says:

    Thank you for the pics and instructions. One of my 3 laying hens is having the same problem, the other 2 are fine. Now I know how to go about trimming her beak.

  8. Pauline says:

    Can you trim a hens bottom beak the same way

  9. Kim says:

    We have a 15 year old bantam named Blackie with a top beak nearly like Dukes & were wondering how to trim her top beak so it was great to see your pic’s. I had rang the vet & was told it’s quite easy but to see how you did it was really helpful. We have new doggie nail trimmers so hubby & I are off to remedy Blackies problem beak now. Thanks alot! Cheers! Kim

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