How To Fix a Broken Beak

December 31, 2011

Sunshine has always had a longer more glamorous beak. Even though Sunshine and Oyster Cracker were born on the same day, their beaks could not be more different. I like to think of beaks as noses. There are short ones, blunt ones, fat and wide ones.  Some are pointy, narrow or rounder. Some hook off the the side and others down toward the ground.  Some even have what appears to be a beak “overbite”.  Oyster Cracker has a short perfect little beak, not too wide yet perfectly straight and blunt. Sunshine on the other hand has a more glamorous beak. Her beak is narrow and long with a tiny downward hook at the end.

 broken beak
Beaks grow like fingernails. Through preening and wiping their beaks, chickens control the shape and length. For over a year I wondered how Sunshine has been able to grow her beak as some ladies grow long elegant fingernails.  Down the middle of the beak runs the quick, just like dog’s toenails. Beaks can and will bleed if they are cut or scraped and the quick is injured. A few months back, Sunshine scraped her beak. It has since healed. You can read about it here.
Yesterday afternoon, when I went out to give the girls their treats, I noticed that Sunshine’s long and beautiful beak was cracked down the middle.  On the left side, from the tip up a 1/3 of an inch, it was broken off and jagged rough edges were left ready to snag on something else. How, when and where this happened, I did not know.  I can only imagine that she must have stuck her beak somewhere where it did not belong, it got caught, she twisted and it broke off.  This broken beak required my immediate attention.
I went into the house and grabbed an emery board, Krazy Glue and an old towel.  I headed out to the coop.
Sunshine was easy to catch. As she came over to say hello, I scooped her up and wrapped her in the towel. Being sure to cover her wings and neck, I swaddled her snugly within the towel.  This makes chickens feel safe. In my best chicken voice I whispered, “doh, doh, doh.”  After a few second I felt her relax.
I held her head in my left hand. She wriggled. It took me a few tries to finally get a firm grip on her beak. Eventually, she stopped twisting and I went quickly to work.  With the emery board, I slowly and methodically filed away the rough jagged edges. These were my firsts concern. I blended them as best I could and softened their sharpness.  Next, I repaired the front of the beak into a softer point following the natural line of her beak.  I wiped it clean. Lastly, where the beak had split in the middle, I placed a thin layer of Krazy glue. This was the hardest part.  I had to hold her still until it dried.  To do so, I sat with her still wrapped in the towel and gave her some nice love.  As I petted her, I told her she was a good girl, reassuring her that I was trying to make her boo boo better.  It dried and I returned her to the run.  She was off and running, back to show the other girls her repaired beak.  She was happy as a lark and probably none the wiser on how to prevent more injuries in the future.
broken beak
After the repair
Photo/Sketch Credits:  Tilly’s Nest


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18 thoughts on “How To Fix a Broken Beak”

  1. Melissa — what a pro! I'm so glad you know your girls well enough to notice a problem, and were creative enough to come up with a solution. Now, if Sunshine can just stay out of trouble til that beak grows out…

  2. Not long after our chicks had outgrown their brooder and we put them in their new digs outside, one of our girls, Henny Penny, had a major gash in her beak. I had to take her inside and clean up the blood that was oozing out so the other girls wouldn't pick on her. Once that was done I rubbed a little bit of neosporin onto her beak hoping it would help it heal faster. Never would have thought of crazy glue, but the neosporin seemed to work, within a day it scabbed over and by the end of the week you couldn't tell anything had happened!

  3. So glad everything ended well MSliver! Isn't it amazing at how quickly they heal? Your Henny Penny was very lucky that she had you to help! Who knew what would have happened if you were not there to step in and take care of her!

  4. As my feathered friends get older it seems I have to do more beak and toe nail trimming. I started yesterday in the bachelor pad with a major trim that had split. He was such a good Roo and did not fuss at all. I

  5. About giving egg shells to chickens: unless you really just like to putter it is unnecessary to do anything to the shells but crush them, which I usually do by hand as they are used, and toss them in with whatever other scraps you usually feed. I learned this from some farmer friends that we used to buy milk and eggs from. (Still would be if they hadn't moved across the country!)
    Honestly, I have been doing it for over a dozen years now myself and have never had any egg eaters. I did have one old hen who began to lay very thin shelled eggs that broke easily and on occasion one would break in the nest. Not much evidence would be left as they do love eating eggs but they never ate anybody else's eggs even after those tasty accidents.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your personal experiences with us on the subject of egg eating. We always love to hear how others do the same thing. Glad you stopped in today.

  6. We just rescued a hen yesterday. I noticed her beak is awfully deformed. She has trouble eating free range. Her beak on the top is shorter them the bottom is longer but squared off then curls under. Any suggestions would be helpful.

    • Poor baby. Was she debeaked at a factory farm? I would give it some time and see what happens now that she is with you eating and getting good nutrition. See if the top begins to regrow. Then you can help trim the bottom and shape it just a bit. Give her access to a log so she can maintain her beak and scrape, sharpen and form it. Beaks are like dog or cat toenails and should grow back as long as the quick is not damaged. Keep me posted.

  7. I just bought 4 hens and noticed that the top of their beaks were cut. I have one that it is really short on top and has trouble eating, however she does seem to be growing and is beginning to lay eggs. Do I need to worry about her getting enough to eat? They have free run of my large back yard and I feel this may be helping her.

    • The beaks should grow back if they were not trimmed too severely. If she seems health and is laying eggs then I would assume she is getting enough. During this time, you could provide crumbles vs. pellets as they are easier to eat. I think with time it will all work out.


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Sharing an inspired life from the New England seaside. Chickens, Bees, Gardens, Art and Yummy Goodness.