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Beak Injury

The most common ways chickens damage their beaks are from fights with other flock members, getting them caught in hardware wire or other small spaces, or from predator attacks. Beak injuries can range from mild indentations in the beak wall to partial loss of the beak. Beak injuries can have initial as well as potential long-term consequences. Initial complications include reduced feed intake, reduced activity and pain. Potential long term consequences include secondary deformations to beak, especially if the injury isn't treated promptly and correctly.

Anatomy of a Chicken's Beak

Chickens have a conical-shaped, moderately curved beak. Normally, the tip of maxilla (top portion of the beak) slightly overlapping the mandible (bottom part of the beak). The beak is composed of several different structures and layers. Keratin surrounds the outer portion of the beak, which protects inner soft tissues, dermis, and bone. The keratin that coats the lower beak is referred to as gnathotheca and the upper beak keratin layer is termed rhinotheca. Kertin is a hard skin surface that is produced by the dermis of the beak.


Treatment of beak injuries varies depending on the severity and extent of the damage. Minor beak injuries may not require any treatment at all, other than modification of the bird's environment to help prevent further damage to the beak. This may require separating certain chickens from each other, or covering hardware wire or other small holes with soft mesh, or other soft material. For more extensive beak injuries, the chicken should be brought in to see your veterinarian for wound care and reconstruction of the beak. Methods for beak reconstruction range from filling with dental acrylic with or without small pins to stabilize the beak tip, to use of 3D printing.

Clinical Signs

Cracking in the beak
Partial loss of the beak


  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam


Supportive careIsolate the bird from the flock and place in a safe, comfortable, warm location (your own chicken "intensive care unit") with easy access to water and food. Limit stress. Call your veterinarian.
AntibioticsMay be needed to help prevent secondary infections.
Pain medication
Assistance feeding or modified foodsMay be needed if the bird is unable to eat on their own. Provide soft foods until the new layer of keratin underneath hardens
Keep the beak cleanSpray Vetericyn or alternative product on the affected area a few times a day.
If only the cornified integument of the beak is damagedIt can often be glued back into position using epoxy resin glue, super glue, or bone cement (cyanomethylacrylate)



In areas where roosters (who are not in the same flock) may encounter one another, line with polyurethane roof panels, window screen, or alternative soft or solid materials which prevent beaks from getting caught in any holes.


Depends on the extent of the injury

Scientific References

Risk Factors

  • Roosters trying to fight one another that are separated by hardware cloth of any size. Line with a solid material such as polyurethane roof panels or window screen instead.
  • Using traditional snap rodent traps where chickens have access.

Case Stories