Crossed beaks in day old chicks and what can be done to avoid this?

Causes and remedies

What are the reasons for crossed beaks in day old chicks, and what can be done to avoid this?


Crossed beaks or scissor beaks are when the top and bottom beaks do not align normally:


Detailed Causes and Preventive Measures


  1. Genetic Factors




  • Crossed beaks can be inherited from parent birds carrying genetic mutations that predispose their offspring to this deformity.
  • Lack of genetic diversity within a breeding flock can exacerbate the incidence of genetic defects.


Preventive Measures:


  • Selective Breeding: Implement a robust breeding program that selects for birds with healthy beaks and excludes those with deformities. Keep detailed records of lineage and health traits.
  • Genetic Testing: Utilize genetic testing to identify carriers of deleterious genes. This can help in making informed breeding decisions.
  • Breeding Diversity: Rotate breeding stock to maintain genetic diversity. Avoid inbreeding to reduce the concentration of harmful genetic traits.


  1. Nutritional Deficiencies



  • Inadequate nutrition, particularly in the diet of laying hens, can result in deficiencies that affect embryo development.
  • Specific nutrients, such as calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D, are crucial for proper skeletal and beak formation.


Preventive Measures:


  • Balanced Diet: Ensure that breeding hens receive a well-balanced diet rich in essential nutrients. Feed should be formulated to meet all the dietary needs of the hens.
  • Supplementation: Provide additional supplements, if necessary, especially during the breeding season. Focus on calcium, phosphorus, and vitamins.
  • Quality Control: Regularly test feed quality to ensure it meets nutritional standards. Use reputable feed suppliers to avoid deficiencies.


  1. Incubation Problems




  • Incorrect temperature and humidity levels during incubation can lead to developmental issues.
  • Fluctuations in incubation conditions can stress developing embryos, increasing the risk of deformities.


Preventive Measures:


  • Consistent Conditions: Maintain a stable and appropriate temperature (typically around 99.5°F or 37.5°C) and humidity (around 50-55% relative humidity, increasing to 65-70% in the final days of incubation).
  • Regular Monitoring: Use reliable thermometers and hygrometers to constantly monitor conditions. Regularly calibrate these instruments to ensure accuracy.
  • Proper Ventilation: Ensure good airflow in the incubator to distribute heat and humidity evenly.
  • Egg Handling: Handle eggs with care to avoid physical damage. Store eggs at the correct temperature and humidity before incubation, and avoid long storage periods.


  1. Environmental Factors




  • Exposure to toxins, pollutants, or certain medications during egg development can cause congenital defects.
  • Stress or trauma, such as rough handling or abrupt changes in the environment, can negatively impact embryo development.


Preventive Measures:


  • Toxin Management: Ensure that the environment is free from harmful chemicals, pesticides, and pollutants. Use safe, approved cleaning agents and disinfectants.
  • Medication Management: Only administer medications that are safe for breeding hens and their developing embryos. Consult with a veterinarian before using any treatments.
  • Stress Reduction: Provide a calm, stable environment for breeding hens. Minimize noise, sudden movements, and other stressors.


  1. Veterinary Care


Preventive Measures:


  • Regular Health Checks: Schedule routine veterinary check-ups for your flock. Early detection of health issues can prevent complications that might lead to deformities.
  • Health Monitoring: Keep a close watch on the health and behavior of breeding hens. Any signs of illness or stress should be addressed promptly.
  • Vaccinations and Disease Control: Maintain an appropriate vaccination schedule and implement biosecurity measures to prevent disease outbreaks.

Additional Tips


  • Record Keeping: Maintain detailed records of breeding pairs, hatch rates, and any instances of deformities. This data can help identify patterns and inform future breeding decisions.
  • Education: Stay informed about the latest research and best practices in poultry breeding and husbandry. Attend workshops, read scientific literature, and network with other breeders.
  • Community and Support: Engage with poultry breeding communities, both local and online. Sharing experiences and knowledge can provide valuable insights and support.


By addressing these factors comprehensively, you can significantly reduce the incidence of crossed beaks and improve the overall health and vitality of your chicks.


For help with any incubation issues using EMKA Incubators, please contact our technical staff