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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 39486
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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One of my hens lower beak has turned black, and also both

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One of my hens lower beak has turned black, and also both sides of the red area around beak appear to be swollen. Is there anything I can do
JA: I'll do all I can to help. What is your bird's name and age?
Customer: It has no name and is 3 or 4 years old - lays lovely blue shelled eggs
JA: Could be a lot of things that cause lethargy. The Expert will know how to help your bird. What is the bird's name?
Customer: silky
JA: Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about Silky?
Customer: no otherwise she seems fine

Dr. Michael Salkin is typing. Please note that experts aren't allowed to prescribe prescription drugs in this venue.

I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner and I'm sorry to hear of this with your Silky. Can you upload a photo(s) of her beak to our conversation? You can upload photos by using the paperclip or add file icon in the toolbar above your message box (if you can see those icons on your particular device) or you can use an external app such as Please check that the photo(s) is in focus prior to uploading it.

Customer: replied 13 days ago.
I have been trying to upload the two photos for some time, but don't seem to be having any luck
Customer: replied 13 days ago.
Ahhy I might have found a way will just try.
Customer: replied 13 days ago.
I appreciate that it is late, so perhaps you would be kind enough to give me your impression tomorrow . Thank you.

Thank you. Give me a moment to take a look, please...

I appreciate your efforts but the photos are quite far away from Silky. You may have to have someone grab her up and then you take photos about a foot away from your cell phone for them to be in focus. I'm in the Pacific Daylight time zone and so I understand if you need to do this tomorrow. I'll watch for your next post.

Customer: replied 13 days ago.
Well I hope these are better. She doesn't seem to actually want to shut her beak up.

Excellent photos. The black appears to be caked on soil which needs to be washed away for us to assess the health of the underlying skin.

Customer: replied 13 days ago.
Ok I will have a try at that tomorrow before I leave for work and then assume you want some more close ups??

I would very much like to see close-ups of her skin/oral cavity once cleansed. Thank you! You can bookmark this page for ease of return.

Customer: replied 12 days ago.
Hello Michael I took some photos this morning, after I had cleaned up her mouth as much as possible. When I got home this evening I had another look at her, she seems very hot on either side of her beak. To be honest,
I am sorry to say I think she may be on the way out. Anyway here are the photos, I was unable to get one of
inside her beak, as she is not at all keen on me touching her there. I think it may be difficult for her to eat although she is certainly very keen on preening herself.

Oh my goodness. There's remarkable inflammation around and under her beak and her oral cavity remains caked with soil. I suspect that it's badly infected with yeast (Candida) and bacteria. I agree with you. Culling her should be considered a kindness. I'm going to forward these photo to a friend of mine who is a specialist veterinary pathologist with a special interest in birds. Let's see what she has to say. I usually hear back from here within 24 hours.

Customer: replied 12 days ago.
OK fine, I will wait until I hear from you . Am zooming to London tomorrow to have lunch with our daughter before taking her to Heathrow for her flight to Australia where she is working for the next 6 months. So will be
nearer your part of the world than mine. Thank you for your help and await your friends prognosis.

You're quite welcome. I'll be back her soon.

Here's what the pathologist had to say: "My oh my....I’ve never seen anything like that! Squamous cell carcinoma? Old trauma or burn? I’d love to do histology on that!!"

Even specialists can be puzzled! I believe that it's time to say goodbye to Silky. Please continue our conversation if you wish.

Customer: replied 11 days ago.
Thank you for letting me know this. I daily check my chickens and first noticed her "Slightly" open beak about 7 days ago, it has got worse since then, hence my question. As to why it happened I have no idea. My only other query is that I hope it is not contagious and can't be passed to the others? In the 30 years of keeping hens I have never seen anything like this.

Nor have we. I don't believe that Silky is contagious.

Customer: replied 10 days ago.
Ok thank you for your input it has been much appreciated.

You're quite welcome. I can't set a follow-up in this venue so please return to our conversation - even after rating - with an update at your convenience. You can bookmark this page for ease of return.

Dr. Michael Salkin and 2 other Vet Specialists are ready to help you

Thank you for your kind accept. I appreciate it. You may receive an inappropriate follow-up from the site ostensibly sent by me. It wasn't and I apologize in advance should you receive it.