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Is this wry neck? 2 chicks in 3 weeks

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
Hello all! I have 10 Swedish Flower Hen chicks that I purchased from a breeder. Seven are 7-weeks-old today and three are a week younger. They are living inside currently and eating non-medicated chick starter. Bedding in their cage is newspaper under foam shelf liner, and they do not damage or eat the liner. The only unusual thing I've noticed between these chicks and others I've raised is that these go crazy over shed feathers and fight to eat them. I haven't noticed my other chicks doing that.

Three weeks ago, one of the chicks from the older group developed an issue overnight with no prior symptoms. She would tuck her head between her legs with her neck curled in a circle and convulse her head rapidly, sometimes stumbling backward until she ran into something. On the morning of the first day, she was very interested in treats and would attempt to stand up to eat them, but would curl her neck under herself as she tried to swallow. Because it was a Monday morning before work, I quickly placed her into a smaller cage with food, water, and a heat lamp before I left for work. By that evening she was minimally responsive. I began treating with Vitamin E and Selinium mixed into a slurry of plain Greek yogurt and water. I also added Sav-a-Chick electrolytes to her water. It took several attempts over several days to find a method of dosing her that seemed to work, so I'm not sure how much of the medicine she actually took in until the third evening. At that point, she seemed to perk up enough immediately after dosing to eat and drink on her own, but would continue to tuck her head and convulse frequently when alert and would slowly get worse until her next dose. I continued dosing her until Wednesday of the following week, at which point she was still having frequent "episodes", but was reasonably alert most of the time, was able to drink from a nipple watered, and clearly wanted to go back with her siblings, which I allowed. Since that time, she has slowly improved and is now having few, if any, episodes (they appear to be mostly stress-triggered), but her posture is slightly stiff and she keeps her head near her body and bent down slightly. This also has improved iver time so that it is now I can tell her from the others by her posture, but my husband can't.

All was well until yesterday evening, when I noticed my favorite cockerel from the younger bunch lying on the brooder floor with his head tucked. He has exactly the same symptoms as the earlier pullet, and his symptoms developed very suddenly. I handled the chicks three times yesterday and was in and out of the room frequently as well. This little cockerel is very friendly and loves to snuggle into my lap for naps, so I know that his behavior and posture was 100% normal as much as an hour or two before symptoms began. I began the same medicine refining with him, and because he is so relaxed with handling, he is much easier to dose and receives nearly 100% of the medicine. He has had two doses so far, with no apparent improvement. I also offered him a large spoonful of water with vitamins and electrolytes and he drank it readily, but is very groggy and does not seem to be eating or drinking on his own. I have so far left him in the pen with his siblings, as he other pullet was much happier with them, and nobody is picking on him.

I've done some reading on wry neck, but I'm still not sure whether this is the problem. Most of the photos and descriptions of wry neck seem to indicate chicks that rotate their neck along its length rather than rolling it in a circle, as my chicks have done. Also, my chicks seem to be far less responsive to treatment than chicks with wry neck (or perhaps simply slower to improve).

Can anyone offer any input on this? Cause, treatment, prevention-anything would help.

I am writing this from my phone, so I am posting as a safeguard and will edit momentarily with pics and video showing the behavior.
post #2 of 3
Thread Starter 
Editing doesn't seem to allow me to add media, so here it is:

I didn't think to take photos or video of the pullet at her worst, but this video shows a much less severe episode, roughly two weeks after symptoms began. By this point, she could pull herself out of the behavior of something caught her attention.

The next four photos are from weekly progression pictures I've been taking of the chicks. The first photo was take five days before symptoms began, the second is the third day after symptoms began (the day she began to respond to treatment-this photo was taken during a rare "lucid"moment), the third photo was taken a week and a half after symptoms began (also the day I stopped treatment), and the fourth was taken a week lasted-this past Tuesday.

This video was taken of the cockerel today, immediately after his last dose.

Any this photo shows his typical posture:
post #3 of 3

Wry neck (also called crook neck and torticolis) is only a neurological symptom, which can be from head injury, vitamin deficiency, Mareks disease or avian leukosis, and any other thing that can affect the brain. The neck can be twisted, curled, or up or down. It is frustrating to treat since there isn't always improvement. Adding water to the feed may make it easier for her to eat or be fed. I would also make sure that your feed is fresh dated, or get some new in a major brand, since vitamins can be depleted in a short time.  I have not treated it until this past week when one of my 4 yr old hens appeared to be dying of some unkown problem. Here are some links to read if you haven't seen them:

Edited by Eggcessive - 12/6/15 at 10:16am
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