How much do you trim off, just the pointy tip? Can you use dog nail trimmers or do you have to have something special? My chicks are starting to peck each other occasionally and the adult hens peck at each other too.
I dont file or cut their beaks. They do that on their own when the rub their beaks back and forth on things. If you have a picking issue, instead of trimming thier beaks give them more room.
Thanks for the info! I wondered what they were doing when they rubbed their beaks on the ground. Lol.
I'd only use a dremel to correct a problem. Beaks are very vascular and if you cut them, they can bleed for a very very long time. I imagine its painful too.
In 3 years, I've never trimmed my girls beaks. Not worth the risk of making a bigger problem than what they started with. Chickens are pretty efficient at taking care of things like that themselves. Won't fix the pecking problem. That's just something chickens do as they re-establish pecking order periodically which does change even amongst themselves without new additions.
If pecking is getting to the point where the birds are injuring each other, you might want to think about increasing the space allotted to the birds.
That being said, some chickens' beaks do get long, and need to be trimmed. I found our Dutch Bantams in particular needed their beaks trimmed regularly for some reason. But as Energyvet says, be VERY careful, as they do have veins and if you nick a quick in a beak, you're going to have blood a'gushin'!
I wrote an article on my website about beak trimming, which you can see here: http://www.pathfindersfarm.com/Beaktrim.html
Here are the steps:
Trimming a Chickens' Beak for Shows
It's not hard to trim your chickens beak, as long as you
take your time. This article will show you how.
What you'll need:
Remove the chicken whose beak you wish to trim from its
pen. Sit on a chair or stool in a bright place with your
tools assembled near you. Put a towel over your lap to
keep yourself clean, and to wrap the bird in if needed.
Open your chicken's mouth gently, by pressing on the
sides of the mouth. Sometimes you must hold their heads,
as some birds don't like having their beaks clipped. With
male birds that have larger combs, you can hold onto the
comb with one hand and clip with the other.
Using the dog or cat clippers, gently clip a small amount
of the top half of the beak (the bottom half generally
doesn't need to be trimmed.) Doing this in small steps
works best, you don't want to go too far, as beaks have a
"quick" just like toes on a dog or cat. In some birds you
can see the quick, in those with darker beaks you cannot.
Clip the top half of the beak squarely, so that it is just
slightly longer than the bottom half. Then take your nail
file, and gently round the edges so that it follows the
natural shape of the beak. You can follow up with a slight
polish of baby oil if you'd like, but it's not required to do
If you cut too far and the beak starts to bleed, gather
some Styptic Powder, Blood Stop, cayenne pepper, or
flour in your fingers and place it against the bleeding end.
You will need to apply pressure here for several minutes,
you don't want to put a bleeding bird back in a pen with
other birds, who might attack it when they see blood
(chickens can be like that!)
Hope that helps!
Thank you for all the helpful information. It's probably a space issue but we're in the process of building them a bigger coop and its still too cold to turn them loose in the yard. I have a smaller coop already for the 7 adult chickens and the 2 adult ducks we've got but its not big enough to add in all the young ones we've got now. I have the young ones in a ginormous wire dog crate in the house until the bigger coop is done. I decided to try something I had read so I cut some varying lengths of yarn and hung them from the top of the crates. It seems to be occupying them fairly well and I haven't seen them pecking each other quite as much. :)
Another fun toy for young birds is to hang a head of cabbage from the ceiling of their pen. It gives them something to peck at besides each other, and is good for them to eat as well. Plus, cabbage is cheap! :D
Beware. I've heard stories of strangling with anything that hangs. I would never hang anything in with my birds.
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