I would like to preface this post by saying if your chicken has wry neck (aka “crook neck”) do not despair and do not give up hope! It takes patience, time, and dedication, but you CAN help your chicken pull out of her crisis.
We have only been chicken owners for the last three or four months – so it has definitely been a “learn as you go” deal. We have five chickens – Lil, Bo, Peep, Butch, and Pistol. Lil, Butch, and Pistol are silkies – Bo is believed to be a silkie mix and Peep is definitely a Rhode Island Red mix. Bo and Peep were our original two chickens and then we decided to bring on more (because you all know that you can’t just have two chickens) and so Lil, Butch, and then Pistol were added into the mix. We noticed on day one that Butch was a little wobbly with her neck but didn’t give it any thought. Here is a photo of her (or him) before the wry neck:
Then we noticed that she started tilting her head a lot more (seen here):
Then one day out of nowhere, she was dragging her head across the coop, unable to lift it, and then holding her head in a completely 180 degree angle which gave me nightmares:
It was horrifying. I called the sweet woman who we had purchased the silkies from in a panic – she suggested it might be wry neck. I immediately hopped on the computer and began researching. We immediately pulled Butch out of her coop and brought her into the house into our bathroom in a large box. Whenever she moved in the coop, Lil got so excited that she bounded over and jumped on Butch – causing her neck to worsen. Wry neck worsens with stress so you must remove the chick from a stressful situation. I went and purchased Poly Vi Sol and began giving it to Butch to start with 2x a day. She made zero progress. It was heart breaking. I had to give her water through the dropper as well.
After more research, I went and purchased Selenium tablets and vitamin E capsules, and electrolyte powder to put in her water. I crushed the selenium tablets and put it in her food (she would untwist her head a little to eat, but then would fall right back into twisting) but then I realized she probably wasn’t getting any. I crushed ONE tablet of the selenium and inserted it into HALF a bottle of poly vi sol and opened up the capsule of vitamin E and poured it in as well. I increased her dosage to a quarter of the dropper 3x a day with this new mixture (and at this point my heart had broken and I was losing hope). After giving her the mixture, I would fill the dropper with the electrolyte water and give it to her (one drop at a time so they don’t drown). Then I would GENTLY untwist her neck (be sure you’re going the right way!!! They twist in a specific direction. Going the wrong way will make the chick chirp painfully and you can snap it’s neck – but you MUST help them get out of their twist) and put her by the food – which she would then start to peck at and eat. Right after eating she would go back to the twisted position.
Thursday she could hold her head up for about 30 seconds at a time.
Friday she made it up to 15 minutes. Saturday she progressed to 30 minutes at a time. (Saturday she also regressed worse than ever – be prepared for ups and downs but don’t give up). On Sunday I tried something new after she made it to almost two hours. I remembered that Bo and Peep got really stressed and aggressive with house lighting – so I turned off all of the lights on Sunday night before I went to bed (I normally left on a little tiny light as a night light). Monday she progressed to four hours of head up! By Tuesday morning (after another night of darkness) her head was still up from the night before! She had made it 8 hours!
I honestly sat down and cried I was so emotional (hey – you really begin to bond with the chick when you’re feeding her with a dropper several times a day praying for her survival!). During the day I covered the box with a towel to make it dark inside. I came back for lunch – head still up. That night… head STILL UP! This morning she’s made it to 36 amazing hours of no twisting! (all this time still giving her the mixture 3x day and finishing it with the water).
I feel like we have finally gotten over the hump. Wry neck can easily regress, however, if you don’t give your chick sufficient time to recover. She will remain in the bathroom for the next two to three weeks until we are confident that she has regained all of her former strength and that going back with the chickens will not cause her to stress and twist again.
Here is a photo of her this morning : notice! HEAD IS UP!! Sorry about the darkness – I didn’t want to startle her.
I hope this gives some of you some hope and the tools you need to save your chicks. :)
Edited by chinzilla - 5/15/12 at 8:42am