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Scissors Beak

Crossed Beak, Crooked Beak, Lateral Beak Deviation

Scissors Beak Overview

Scissors beak, also referred to as Crossed Beak, is a common type of beak deformity which occurs in chickens, especially in certain breeds, such as the Silkie. Scissors beak occurs when the top and bottom portions of the beak don't align correctly. There are a number of factors involved with how scissors beak develops in chickens, often related to nutrition, genetics, trauma/injury, disease/parasites, tumor growth, incubator parameters, and toxins.

Impact of Scissors Beak on Daily Chicken Activities

Chickens use their beaks for many important activities including:
  • Eating
  • Drinking water
  • Maintaining feather quality (known as Preening)
  • Pecking (to investigate objects as well as for establishing of group social structure, "the pecking order").
Chickens with scissors beak often have increased difficult time performing the above mentioned activities. The extent of the impact depends on the severity of the deformity and the underlying cause. It is important to closely monitor affected birds' body weight (a good indicator for feed intake) and keep an eye out for any bullying by other flock members.

Managing Birds with Scissors Beak

Most birds with scissors beak will require some additional support from their human caregivers, most often consisting of:
  • Tube feeding to maintain their body weight. It is important that you seek assistance from your veterinarian or someone experienced with performing this on chickens, before attempting this procedure. If it is not done right it can kill the bird.
  • Relocation to a separate living space, such as inside the house as a 'house chicken' or in a seperate predator-proofed enclosure with a flock member who doesn't pick on them.
  • Bathes to help maintain feather quality
  • Regular beak inspections to clean out any accumulation of feed

Clinical Signs

Bending or curving of the beak


  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam


Supportive careChickens with moderate to severe scissors beak will likely need to be tube feed and extra provisions incorporated into management routines
SurgeryIf recognized and addressed early when the chick is still growing, a surgical procedure referred to as Trans-Sinus Pinning can be done, by an Avian Veterinarian.


Scientific References

Good Overviews


Cases Stories