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Twisted upside-down head and chest pecking?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
This is my 3.5 month old Orpigton cockerel. He's generally incredibly spry, energetic, friendly, curious - All that awesome chicken stuff. Tonight my girlfriend and I checked on the coop to see him sitting on a roost with his head down below his body, bent under him. Thinking that didn't look like a good sign, I picked him up to get a better look. At first it looked as though he was convulsing, but now I see it's more of a desperate, furious pecking at his neck and chest. He can straighten it out and walk around normally, then he just faceplants down, beak into his neck/chest, making little sooking noises.

My girlfriend and I watched him while trying to figure out what could be wrong, and he can eat normally, drink pretty much normally (he did have some water dribble back out about half the time, but he recently chipped his beak somehow so I'm not sure if it's that), flap and walk around looking alert and completely normal... Then straight back to this. His crop feels extremely full, which isn't surprising as it's night time and he's a total pig, but it also felt a bit harder than usual, maybe a slightly strange texture.

I'm worried and confused, what do you think this is? I've looked into impacted crop, wry neck, checked for ticks (none that I could see)... He's not puffed up, not lethargic, not pale, he's eating and drinking - He's just bent upside down and fixated on his chest.

post #2 of 22
Thread Starter 
Oh, he's been vaccinated for Mareks and Fowl Pox, just by the way. He stops his weird bending and scratching and just eats a bit, looks around, acts normally... It's been hours now and his condition is pretty much the same, certainly hasn't worsened. I've given him some bread soaked in olive oil in case that helps and it actually seems to helping. His poop has a whole lot of styrofoam in it, so I'm guessing he found some styrofoam somewhere and had at it, and now it's making him sick. I really hope that's all it is and he just ends up feeling sorry for himself but ultimately okay.
Edited by ticketism - 12/15/15 at 7:15am
post #3 of 22

From the pictures it really looks like wry neck, but since he ate some styrofoam, he could just be trying to peck at his crop. I would keep an eye on his crop,his droppings, and his appetite. If you want to try a laxative you could give him 1/2 tsp of castor oil, or 1/2 tsp of molasses to help push the styrofoam through his system. Let us know how he gets along. If it does seem like wry neck give him some vitamin E and selenium daily. Poultry Nutri-drench and Poultry Cell contain those, and dosage is 3 ml orally daily. 

post #4 of 22
Originally Posted by ticketism View Post

His crop feels extremely full, which isn't surprising as it's night time and he's a total pig
Well, you did say he was an Orpigton... :p

If he can get his head up normally, it would be good to fix his head and neck in that position so the muscles can't 'set' in the curled-up pose. That's much easier said than done though. Maybe some other BYCers would have some ideas on immobilising a feathery, wriggly chicken neck.
post #5 of 22
Thread Starter 

Haha, I did xD what an appropriate typo.


So this morning we came to find him doing the same thing, but with an empty crop and a whole lot of poop. So I'm guessing it's not his crop. I went with wry neck as a probably cause, so I went upstairs to get him some Pedialyte, yoghurt, scrambled egg and vitamins (all the things I've seen repeatedly suggested on this forum). When I came back down, he was upright, head poking out of his hospital box looking around like 'Where am I and why?'. He just looked completely normal, then desperately leaned down to peck at his chest. I put the yoghurt and scrambled egg down near him, he straightened right up and hooked into them, drank some water, then right back to being all bent over. So he definitely can straighten up and keep it that way, but he's getting fixated by something to do with his chest. Food can distract him from it for a few minutes, as can a bug flying past him or a weird noise outside, but then right back to it. I seriously can't see anything on his skin/in his feathers around the area, or anywhere. What on Earth is this boy doing? Is this common of wry neck or is this something else?

post #6 of 22
Wry neck can be just a symptom of head injury, a vitamin E/selenium deficiency, or a symptom of disease, such as wry nec, avian lymphoid leukosis, or other diseases. It can be difficult to treat, it may be just a temporary problem, but can also last a long time or never be helped.
post #7 of 22
Thread Starter 
He's always been a bit of a klutz, and free ranges around the yard most of the time where there's lots of bushes and garden beds he likes to get into. A head injury isn't out of the picture. I'll be giving him all the proper vitamins/supplements and foods to help him if it's a deficiency of some sort. Does it go away if it's because of an injury? I was under the impression that wth wry neck, they don't have control of the neck and can't hold it properly, at least not fully and not for very long. Which he is doing... And he seems to do the bent neck thing less when he thinks I can't see him, which is strange, haha. He's doing plenty of eating and pooping, all normal. In fact nothing seems to be the problem at all except for his contortionism. Thanks for the info, I'll try a few things and update with anything relevant.
post #8 of 22
Thread Starter 
Okay I'm updating again in the hopes it helps someone in the same situation some time.

I honestly didn't think my boy was gonna make it, he was so bad. Then I got him on vitamin B complex, vitamin E, vitamin A, electrolyte water, and a feed mix of scrambled eggs, tuna, chopped Brazil nuts, chopped leafy greens and sunflower oil with his grower pellets mixed through... He improved so amazingly. It was quick at first, but it's slowed down a bit so I hope he continues to improve even if it does take a while.

I made him neck braces out of toilet rolls (which really seemed to help), and my girlfriend had the great idea to put him inside our huge netted off veggie garden. He did so well eating and drinking by himself when he was able to run around, scratch the dirt, peck at the plants and sunbathe. He even made me chase him around the yard and climb under the hedges to fetch him from one of his favourite dust bathing spot when he managed to get out of the veggie patch. He lost his place in the pecking order and couldn't get along with our other cockerel and 2 pullets, but he had so much spirit back. He started not wanting to put up with me feeding him vitamins, which I take as a good sign, hahaha. He actually seems almost exactly like his old self, then occasionally has an episode, but they're getting less severe, shorter, and less frequent. It's usually worse at night though, so I propped his neck up on a rolled up towel so he could rest better.

Here he is wearing his neck brace one evening. It doesn't even truly show his improvement coz I didn't manage t get photos of him running around outside during the day, but as you can see, he's keeping his chin up =)

And! Merry Christmas from my special little guy!

post #9 of 22

Hurray! Merry Christmas to your little guy.

post #10 of 22
He looks thoroughly daft in his Tube of Shame, and it seems to be doing the job very well. smile.png
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