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Scissors Beak

Crossed Beak, Crooked Beak, Lateral Beak Deviation

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.

Chickens use their beaks for many important activities, including eating, drinking, maintaining their feather quality (preening), and for pecking (to investigate objects as well as for establishing of group social structure, "the pecking order"). When chickens have a beak deformity, it usually makes it more difficult for them to perform any of the above-mentioned activities, thus seriously reducing their chances of survival. These chickens often have reduced feed intake, stunted growth, and have a tendency to develop abnormal behaviors. The degree of impairment is generally consistent with the severity of the beak deformity, so a chicken with a mild beak deformity may demonstrate only mild signs of impairment where a chicken with severe crossing of the beak may not be able to eat without assistance through tube feeding from their human.

A surgical procedure (that should only be performed by a veterinarian) referred to as trans-sinus pinning is a possible option for chickens with scissors beak. It involves the placement of a threaded intramedullary pin transversely into the frontal bone of the chicken, from the opposite of the direction of the deviation.

Symptoms

Bending or curving of the beak

Diagnosis

  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam

Treatment

MethodDetails
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.

Prevention

Scientific References

Good Overviews

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Patient Cases