1 week old chick listless with limp neck


6 Years
Nov 20, 2013
Durango, Colorado
My 25 1 week-old chicks all looked healthy when I last looked them over carefully about 4 pm yesterday. I was gone last night, but checked on them and they were all under the heating plate by 9 pm and I heard no peeping when I checked on them through the night.

This am, one Barred Plymouth rock (cockrell, I think) was on the far end of the brooder away from the heat plate with his head down in the straw. I picked him up an he is not paralyzed, but weak and especially has trouble holding up his head. He had a very small amount of normal-looking feces over his vent, but nothing came out when I removed it. He drank a little water when I put his beak in a cap of it, but not much and he didn't lift his head upward to swallow like a healthy chick would. There are no signs of trauma; he peeps weakly but with normal voice for a few minutes after I've handled him, then he becomes quiet with his head down under the heating pad where I've separated him and am keeping him. There are no droppings on the towel in the 3 hrs he has been there.

I looked at one disease list, and the one that points to a limp neck is boutulism. I have been meticulous about adding new bedding each day (but not removing the old, as per deep litter method. I'm using my own tall dry grass that I gathered from our dried up irrigation ditches - it is very dry. There is no hint of a bad smell in the brooder. I have been feeding moistened feed as a treat, and I remove the little that is left within a couple hours of giving it to them. I change water every day and keep the waterers clean. The only area that gets wet is under the nipple waterer and I take out the wet straw and put in dry every day.

I am most concerned about the remaining 25 chicks, and whether they are being exposed to something that could make them all sick. I hate to wait until they are dropping one by one or all at once. Any suggestions for what this might be and what I should be doing or checking?

UPdate: I just went to check the sick chick. He is peeping with distress and moving around in an incoordinated way, all the time with his head down and now twisted to the side that would suggest a nerve related illness. I am not hopeful for this chick, but would like to know if there may be some disease I should be treating the rest of flock for in some way.
Last edited:
Your chick doesn't have botulism, but is probably suffering from stress. The limp neck and twisting neck are neurological signs. I would give an electrolyte/vitamin in the water such as SaveAChick, or put a teaspoonful of sugar in a quart of water, and dip his beak in it. Botulism happens in older chickens who free range in areas where they come across dead animals, fish, and vegetation.
One of the sites says that one can crop feed a very sick bird to flush the GI tract, in case that is the problem (mycotoxins, for example). I have an eyedropper and electrolytes. How do you use it to make sure it is not going down the trachea instead of the esophagus?

I'm going through the same exact thing. I think its wry neck. I've started feeding my chick pedialyte, 50mg of selenium each day, vitamin e, and two drops of poly vi sol every three hours. It seems to be working so far. Yesterday my chick looked like it was almost going to die but I nursed it every three hours even through the night and it seems to be working. My chick is moving a bit more today than it was yesterday.
So sorry

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom