If your chickens are kept outside and have plenty of space to scratch and peck at things then it is unlikely that you will ever have to trim their beak or claws. However, sometimes the beak and the claws will get too long and hinder your chickens ability to scratch and peck at things.
A beautiful little Chocolate Orpington Bantam searching for some tasty treats in the grass
It is important to note that we aren’t talking about de-beaking which is a cruel practice that cuts a chicken's beak so short that it can’t carry out its natural behaviours and peck properly. Here we are simply talking about trimming the beak so it is more comfortable for the bird. As already stated it is unlikely you will ever have to do this, however if you notice that the top of the beak is significantly longer than the bottom you may need to trim the top. Please refer to the Mutilations (Permitted Procedures) (England) Regulations 2007 for beak trimming guidelines, especially if you are breeding laying hens.
How To Trim Your Chicken’s Beak
- Wrap your chicken in a towel. This should keep them calm and stop them flapping.
- Take hold of your chicken's head. Be quite firm as you don’t want them to suddenly move.
- Use nail clippers, dog nail clippers are the best but any sort of nail clippers will work. Trim the top of the beak back till it just slightly overhangs the bottom part of the beak.
- Use a file to file any sharp or jagged edges.
Tips: Make sure you don’t clip the ‘quick’. The quick is usually quite easy to spot as it will look like a darker portion of the beak. The ‘quick’ has nerve endings and blood vessels in it so if you cut it it will hurt your chicken and bleed. Having one person hold the chicken and one person clip the beak makes it a much easier and quicker process.
How To Trim Your Chicken’s Claws
It is unlikely that you will have to clip your chickens nails as they naturally keep them short by scratching around in your garden. If the claws are curling round then they will need trimming.
- Wrap your chicken in a towel to calm it and stop it flapping. If you have two people one person should flip the chicken over on to its back and place it in their lap. You should hold the legs firmly. You may need to wait for your chicken to relax into this position.
- Once your chicken is calm and not moving, you can wipe away any dirt or mud to make for easier trimming.
- The person doing the clipping of the nails should hold the toe between their finger and thumb and with the other hand clip about an either to a quarter of an inch off.
Tips: It is better to take off a smaller amount rather than a large amount to avoid cutting the quick which will cause pain to your chickens and will make the claw bleed.