Who Cut My Chickens Beaks Off!

| 2/14/2013 1:16:43 PM

Tags: animal husbandry, dehorning, Faith Schlabach,

clipped beaksThis week I went to pick up 20 new chickens from an older gentleman in our area that raises them in a sprawling red brick building. He was so kind that when I looked at the chickens and saw they didn’t have beaks, I didn’t know what to say. Being a little speechless, as I had forgotten they still clipped beaks and my mind was trying to grasp the thought, I didn’t know what to say. It was hard to get angry with him and “tell” my elder what I thought was wrong with him, consequently, I kicked myself all the way home that I bought them. It was just so cold and windy and all he was wearing was a thin pair of coveralls, so in trying to hurry for his sake, my mind could not come up with a proper reaction until I was homeward bound.

The reason they clip them is so that they do not peck one another to a bloody demise when many birds are housed close together. Occasionally, that is a problem in any environment, but it is usually a side effect of too many chickens in to little space.  I did call him back and order 50 more WITH their beaks.

Our chickens are getting older and not laying as we would like so we will make chicken broth and soup out of the older hens and replace them with younger layers.

Infection From Dehorning 

dehorningLily, one of the Dexter/Mini Jersey crosses that we dehorned just recently, has a pretty good infection in her horn root. I had to get her in what we call the triangle (a gate installed close to a corner and when we close it against the wall, it forms a tight triangular place to work with a cow (see pic). A very cheap alternative to a shoot for vetting, haltering a cow that is shy, etc.

We cleaned out her horn area by spraying it with very diluted iodine to soften and then used a brush that we cleaned in Clorox water and rinsed out to brush away the dried up gunk. I then doused it with peroxide and then treated it with a product called Vetricyn Wound Spray which is a non-toxic healing spray that every household and barn should have.  (A rep told be that it should be refrigerated after opening to keep it at full strength.)  We use this for pink eye and almost any wound that needs treatment. It works very well and is safe. You can buy it at about any farm supply store.

7/28/2016 11:17:54 AM

I was just curious about the chickens beak. I recently just picked up 2 chickens from a man that raises them and one of them has a short beak, like the one in the picture, however her bottom beak is a little longer than the top one. I am a little concerned because she can't seem to pick up mealworms but she has been eating normally besides that. Will her beak grow back normally? And is there any way that I can make things easier for her? Any help or tips would be greatly appreciated.

t brandt
2/19/2013 12:14:33 PM

You owe no one any apologies. Those who would protest have probably never ever gotten any manure on their boots, had thsoe boots stepped on by a hoof or placed themselves in a position where they could get gored in the ribs by an inadvertant bovine horn. You're a good steward respecting your livestock, providing for their needs at great sacrifice to yourself.. You don't get to avoid your chores because its too hot or rainy or too cold or you're sick...Those who object to these normal farm practices are apparently graduates of the Bambi School of Environmental Sciences, headquarters in Fantasyland, where all things are always perfect, at least to thier way of thinking.

adam schlabach
2/19/2013 3:16:21 AM

hugs to you Kate! After helping my husband build a shelter for our new girls coming this weekend, in the brutal cold wind, it is nice to hear kind words. It IS hard work, but for some odd reason, we both enjoy it and get tremendous satisfaction from bettering our farm, their lives, and the lives of those who come to the farm.

2/19/2013 2:41:36 AM

The world is full of dirt, Anony Mouse and Radical Mama. And animals are exposed to dirt and get infections, no matter how carefully they are cared for. And they are carefully cared for; I am just amazed at the responses to these careful, kind folks. These aren't the enemies, guys. These are the small farmers who care for their animals and make careful decisions, as is clear from the blog. They aren't Perdue and other battery farmers. I'm just stunned at the responses here.

2/19/2013 2:34:15 AM

I'll repeat that message: you all are doing a great job. :) I have just a couple of chickens and I have a new appreciation for the hard work that goes into taking care of farm animals.

adam schlabach
2/18/2013 12:25:01 AM

Also, just for the record, they did not burn her, they surgically removed them. With pain control and used a procedure very like when I had my wisdom teeth removed. And though it made us sick at heart to make the decision, It's not quite as gruesome as you would lead others to believe. One reason I wrote about it is so that others would know that it is much better for you to dehorn at a VERY young age. Before two weeks is ideal, but before a couple of months for sure. Also, how to handle an infection if one encountered it on their hobby farm. We just write about real life on a non-confinement working farm, not a petting zoo. If we were a petting zoo or animal sanctuary, you can bet some decisions would be different! We have to prepare these animals to live and function in the "real" world. BUT I would dare say that our animals are happy, healthy and we even give back scratches :) OK, I'm done defending myself now. You all choose what you believe about us "farmers" but we know who we've loved, helped, and cared for and Adam and I feel good about our efforts to raise animals that are healthy and a blessing to others on land that is cared for and more and more fertile the longer we own it. Faith

adam schlabach
2/18/2013 12:05:11 AM

Thank you Milan, I needed to hear that. I was just contemplating whether it is worth sharing our experiences here at Misty Morning Farm in Va as I just wrote an article about A1 vs A2 milk for another website and really got torn to shreds by what I will assume were well meaning vegans but non the less, they were none to kind. You know, my husband and I go out and chore to care for these dear hearts in the cold, rain, snow, heat, etc. Every day. During our slow times, it takes me 1 1/2 hours morning and evening and that doesn't count things like going to the feed store or picking up hay or sawdust or straw or supplements or new foster mamas, etc. We don't always make a profit, (example, our dear Lily who was a rescue) as sometimes you encounter situations that just need special care, and in fact, we have not as a farm made a profit yet, but surely hope to make an honest profit in the future. I personally know very few people who go to the efforts that we do and the expense and research to feed them correctly, non gmo, some organic when we can, supplements to get their often depleted systems up to speed, etc. I just needed to hear someone say "Your doing a good job". thanks friend.

milan mccandle
2/17/2013 2:52:33 AM

What is wrong with these commenters? This woman is doing a great job taking care of her animals. A barnyard is not a sanitary place, and even with care any animal can develop an infection. Ignorant people criticize.

adam schlabach
2/17/2013 1:53:38 AM

The only reason they cut off the beaks is so they can house them in small cages and spaces (way to many birds in close confines). I dehorned Lily so she would not hurt others and be able to be re - homed.

adam schlabach
2/17/2013 1:51:53 AM

Lily is a female and will be re-homed as a family milk cow. Most of our homes are getting their first cow and VERY intimidated by a large animal in the first place and especially a milk cow that is handled up close. If she had been a beef cow, we would have be able to possibly re home her into a beef herd and she would have probably been ok. As it is, the small hobby farms are a different story and Lily is a mid mini milk cow. She has not suffered as much as it looks. She's been feeling good, kicking up her heals and bright eyed and "bushy-tailed". We gave her pain control as I mentioned and use natural kelp, trace minerals, probiotics, and other for healing. I think we made the best decision with what we have. We rescued Lily with two others who were starving, I will share the rescue story about Fern (the 3 year old with Lily and another one) someday. We did not make this decision quickly or lightly and waited for several weeks (almost to long for some of our small animals) before admitting that it had to be done.

2/17/2013 1:39:06 AM

Sorry girls I didn't see your comments until tonight. The reason we WITH PAIN CONTROL dehorned (not the way we normally dehorn, we usually dehorn at a couple days old with pain control and they never show any signs of discomfort not have any problems-this method is even ok'd by certified humane) is that they are housed with smaller animals and were using their horns to hurt and maime the other animals! We made a decision based on everyone's good. I'm sorry if you don't agree with it. was it easy? NO! In fact, my husband nor I could assist the vet so our dear sweet neighbor helped. Was it in our opinion necessary so they could be rehomed and handled up close? In the real world yes. She did not get an infection because we neglected her! Any open area in the great outdoors can get infected even though we did it when there were no fly's! I know that I will not convince some of the need even after hearing that they pinned the pregnant goat against the wall and accidentally (no fault of her own) hit me in the cheek very near my eye for example but for those who will understand it, I want to offer an explanation.

donna montgomery
2/16/2013 12:25:07 AM

Thats just like someone cutting off your lips, I can't imagine how hard it must be for those poor birds trying to eat after that! And that poor cow,imagine having your hair ripped out til your scull is showing.You'd be in horrible pain,but I guess when your not feeling it thats ok.

radical mama
2/15/2013 11:27:55 PM

I agree with anony mouse. i was reading on thinking you were going to say that the picture of the cow was a rescue animal you adopted from the aspca, or some similar do-gooder. WOW, how could you do that? and freely admit that not only did you mame this animal but you also neglected him enough that he ended up with an infection which, i'm sorry, but the description of treatment made me woozy. someone should stop you.

anony mouse
2/15/2013 9:39:06 PM

Wait, you are upset with a farmer for cutting beaks, when you burned into your cow's skull to remove it's horns? Rather hypocritical, don't you think?

2/15/2013 5:41:11 PM

Veterycin is a very non toxic mineral based healing spray. It is also good for human wounds! It cleared up a skin rash I had on a bare spot on my head!

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