Author Topic: Crossbeak  (Read 13327 times)

Michelle Ogden

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Crossbeak
« on: May 04, 2015, 07:21:31 PM »
I've had two out of 20+ lavender/split chicks with crossbeak. Shows up around 2 weeks old.
Does this mean both the cock and hen should not be bred? Or would it just be carried by one of them? Or is it something like Down syndrome, where it is a random genetic anomaly, and I just got unlucky?

Mike Gilbert

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Re: Crossbeak
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2015, 08:09:41 PM »
Some lines have a propensity for this showing up, more than others.   With some lines you seldom if ever see it occur.  Wheaten bantams used to be quite bad for it, but I don't think so much any more.   Select for short, stout beaks and I believe you can breed it out of a line with enough time and effort.
Another thing you can do is check the shape of the beaks.  If the top mandible is curved and the lower one is straight, that is not good.   Especially if it leaves a gap so you can see daylight between them from one side to the other.   Stay away from parrot beaks too. 
« Last Edit: May 04, 2015, 08:11:59 PM by Mike Gilbert »
Mike Gilbert
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Michelle Ogden

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Re: Crossbeak
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2015, 08:25:59 PM »
Both the chicks did not show any signs of it the first week of life. Perfectly straight beaks, indistinguishable from the others. I don't hatch in huge quantities, so my chicks get a lot of attention. I most definitely not keep a chick with an "off" beak for breeding. I'm just curious about the genetics of it, as I've sold chicks and hatching eggs and worry about the odds of a customer getting one with crossbeak... Or worse, perpetuating the problem in their flocks with carrier birds. :(

John W Blehm

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Re: Crossbeak
« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2015, 08:47:37 PM »
It takes a few days or maybe up to a couple weeks before they show up. I generally see a few crossed beaks show up in some of my varieties of bantams each year...normally the silvers and lavenders, but I've had a couple buffs already this year.  Sometimes there are crooked and curved (left or right) beaks also.  My personal opinion is that they are all similar to cleft lips and palettes in humans.   

Mike Gilbert

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Re: Crossbeak
« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2015, 10:40:18 PM »
I'm just curious about the genetics of it, as I've sold chicks and hatching eggs and worry about the odds of a customer getting one with crossbeak... Or worse, perpetuating the problem in their flocks with carrier birds. :(     

I don't think anybody knows for sure, but if I had to guess I would say it involves two recessive genes working together to cause the crossed/scissor beaks.   If that is correct, and you wanted to eliminate the problem altogether, you would not use any bird that threw crossed beaks.   But you might want to save a couple to test mate with, one male to test females and at least one female to test your male(s).    I never found it to be worth the bother, but I could see why someone might want to eliminate the problem from their flock. 
Mike Gilbert
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Russ Blair

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Re: Crossbeak
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2015, 07:42:19 AM »
This was a problem with my LF Silvers I believe in my instance it was from my foundation flock being to small. In the beginning I didn't keep enough cockerels to increase the gene pool. After a couple years I purchased another trio from the original line and started really keeping track of matings. Either by luck or by increasing the genetic make up of my flock I have drastically seen less in the last few years. Usually I notice it was from chicks I helped out of the shell also. I don't help any chicks that seem "stuck" anymore either. Which may of helped also, I agree with Mike as well. If I know for sure which one throws it into the crockpot they must go.
S.E. Michigan

Beth Curran

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Re: Crossbeak
« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2015, 07:23:09 PM »
Were they both from the same hatch? Don swears it's an incubation problem, which would go along with the observation about assisted hatches. If you know which cock & hen they came from, and still have them paired up, I'd keep a close watch and see if you get any more. If you don't, I'd suspect something went wrong during incubation. If they keep popping up, then it might be the parents. I usually see 1 or 2 a year, usually in the buffs but occasionally in lavender, too. Knock on wood, so far none this year.
Beth Curran

John W Blehm

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Re: Crossbeak
« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2015, 07:36:29 PM »
I did see it on one LF silver chick this year and a customer said she had a LF silver chick or more from me that developed a crossed beak.

Mike Gilbert

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Re: Crossbeak
« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2015, 08:51:19 PM »
I know it is more than an incubation problem, because I hatch about a dozen different breeds and varieties in the same incubator at the same time.   Some lines are more prone to crossbeak than others.   Some I have never had a crossbeak appear over a period of many years. 
Mike Gilbert
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Russ Blair

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Re: Crossbeak
« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2015, 12:31:47 PM »
I also doubt it's An incubation related problem I am leaning more towards genetics more so when line breeding. I say this because I have had 2 Blue LF chicks (out of 75) have it this year and I know the pen it came from is a Father to Daughter cross where I am trying to lock in the lacing. I have never had a problem with the Blues before this year. I also noticed when each bird both Cock and Pullet are bred in different matings I don't get any with cross beak. Which to me tells me it is definitely a recessive gene of some sort. I will be keeping both birds to test mate all breeders next year and try to eliminate it if possible without losing the extraordinary lacing I have achieved. Thankfully I toe punch all matings faithfully and keep records 😀
S.E. Michigan

Patti Jordan

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Re: Crossbeak
« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2015, 01:22:05 PM »
Some lines have a propensity for this showing up, more than others.   With some lines you seldom if ever see it occur.  Wheaten bantams used to be quite bad for it, but I don't think so much any more.   Select for short, stout beaks and I believe you can breed it out of a line with enough time and effort.
Another thing you can do is check the shape of the beaks.  If the top mandible is curved and the lower one is straight, that is not good.   Especially if it leaves a gap so you can see daylight between them from one side to the other.   Stay away from parrot beaks too.

I found this very helpful Mike.  I too had several cross beak chicks this year over previous years with my LF WBS.  I went out and looked and some of my breeding stock have exactly what you describe above; curved upper and straight lower beaks with a slight gap!  I know to cull for this now - thanks

Mike Gilbert

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Re: Crossbeak
« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2015, 04:06:29 PM »
 :)
Mike Gilbert
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Michelle Ogden

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Re: Crossbeak
« Reply #12 on: May 23, 2015, 08:45:34 PM »
Wow, I have a few busy weeks with no time to check the forum and come back to a thread full of answers!
Beth- I do know which two birds they came from as I had them specifically paired together. The two chicks I got were from separate hatches, but same parents.
I also had another chick that was severely crossbeaked from completely different parents, that was so severe, I culled it rather than allowing it to hatch (I had intended to assist it as it was a late-hatcher and a desired chick for a project).
My husband won't let me put-down the crossbeak chicks (he's a real softy at heart), so I'm really not sure what to do with them... I had a "chicken rescue" that was going to pick them up, but she's not responding to my emails. If anyone has suggestions, I'm all ears.

Mike Gilbert

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Re: Crossbeak
« Reply #13 on: May 23, 2015, 10:09:11 PM »
Tell your husband to "man up."   They're chickens, not children.   Life is terminal.   And looking back, short.  Choose to spend your time and other resources wisely. 
Mike Gilbert
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Michelle Ogden

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Re: Crossbeak
« Reply #14 on: May 23, 2015, 10:24:43 PM »
My thoughts precisely, Mike.
Hopefully he'll come around sooner than later.