Beak Injuries in Chickens
Beak injuries are common among chickens and are generally the result of fighting with a predator or another chicken, trying to flee from a scary situation, or just a clumsy chicken doing everyday tasks.
Every so often, you may find one of your chickens has hurt their beak; you may see blood, the beak broken off completely or chipped, or discoloration indicating a bruise (like Margo’s beak in the picture above).
What are beaks made of?
Normal chicken beaks have two halves: the upper and lower mandible. The mandibles are made of bone covered by keratin (like your fingernails and hair), which is constantly growing and being sharpened through daily use.
The upper mandible is longer than the lower mandible, and ⅔ of the upper mandible contains tiny blood vessels and nerves between the bone and keratin layers.
If the upper mandible is hit hard enough, the capillaries between the keratin and bone can rupture, causing a bruise, just like in humans. Unfortunately, only time will heal this type of injury.
You can add water to your chicken’s feed to soften it while they heal, but likely the bruise will not go away for months, until that part of the beak grows out and is worn away through everyday activities such as eating and honing (The act of filing a chicken’s own beak by wiping it on hard objects to maintain its shape and length).
More Serious Injuries
If your chicken sustains a greater beak injury (visible blood, chipped, cracked, or broken beak), it is always best to seek veterinary help.
By the way, please do not wait to find a vet until after your chicken is sick! Find a poultry vet before getting chickens.
If a vet is not an option, check out articles below about home fixes for some beak injuries.
Image from PoutlryDVM.com