The word hyperkeratosis comes from hyper...abnormal excess, and keratin... the outer layer of epidermal structures, such as hair, nails, horns and hoofs (from the American Heritage Dictionary). In birds the leg and foot scales, nails, feathers and beak are composed of keratin. Hyperkeratosis is believed to be caused by a lack of Vitamin A which affects any cellular structures such as skin, feathers, mucus membranes in the mouth and eyes, and internal organs.
FYI: Birds kept indoors can become Vitamin A deficient over time. Sunlight (direct & not thru a glass window) is beneficial, it allows the bird's system to assimilate the minerals & vitamins from their diet. Ensure your birds are getting a proper diet, containing the minerals & vitamins they need & if kept indoors utilize the full spectrum lights to help them absorb the minerals & vitamins. IDS
Alaska-USGov: there are several possible causes to consider. In general, beak deformities may be influenced by contaminants, nutritional deficiencies, disease, parasites, , genetic abnormalities or blunt trauma. We tested for contaminants, disease, and parasites. We also examined genetic components to determine if deformities are heritable or result from genetic abnormalities. We have some evidence for environmental contaminants as a possible causative factor, but more research is needed. Possible nutritional deficiencies also deserve further study.
Taking care of or Trimming the Overgrown Bill
You can trim the beak back to near normal with a scissors or clipper. It is a genetic condition, but not simple. Actually it needs study. If you could find a mate to cross it with that also had the condition, youcould add data to the information on the species. .....wjm (Dove E-group)
I use a pair of toe nail clippers and clip the top of the beak to match the lower beak. I put pick pots (?) in the lofts and it has helped to keep the beaks trimmed. Kay (Dove E-group)
P.S. - if any type of clippers or scissors are used make sure you do not crush the bill when clipping or cutting it; also make sure you do not accidentally clip the vein that in in the bill (many times holding the bill under a strong light one can see the bill vein). I personally have used the battery operated nail files or wheels to trim the beaks. IDS.
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