banty cochin neck twisting behavior


In the Brooder
12 Years
Jun 21, 2007
Hello, I have 6 backyard birds. I have a broody cochin (exactly one year old and her first bout of being broody). I came home today and found her doing the STRANGEST thing. When i opened the door to the nest box, she was kinda looking backwards at the roof, it was not too crazy. However, when I encouraged her to get up and take a walk on the lawn with the others, she did, and went in down the floor area. She shares her quarters with her "surrogate" banty OE momma that raised her from purchased egg (along with her 2 sisters a silkie and a mille fleur d'uccle).

When she went down she was very interested in eating and ate her Nutrena layer pellets, tackled the fresh treat corn cob, and drank water....BUT she kept bending her neck back and looking at the skyreally fast, and sortof movin it back and forth in the bent-back position quite rapidly. She almost lost her balance. Then she didnt do it again for 5 minutes and foraged on the lawn nicely. She keeps repeating it!
My first thought is that she isnt getting enough good nutrition (the others throw and waste and eat lots of food which i refill daily). I know she must have access to food, but she is eating---she makes the big poop of a broody. Maybe such a long brooding period (now a MONTH) has caused her to fall behind on vitamins or other nutrition needs? Would an elctrolytes drink be in order? Never had a sick bird before---if this is even sick? Its not normal.

Other info about her: lays regularly, not vacinated, generally well adjusted bird but at the bottom of the totem pole, skittish, poop perfect, wood frame coop 6ftx6ftx5fthigh, bedding is woodchips in floor and nest box, no sign of injury or trauma, and i plan to treat her myself as far as is reasonable for a person to do.
I'm NOT an expert, so take this with a grain of salt - but that sounds like a neurological problem. Neurological problems can come from a certain diseases. I hope others might have advice on what exactly it might be. You are right to be concerned.
Neurological, I think it could be too. It was so unnatural a movement. I'm sitting on here all evening watching for posts and am ready to converse with anyone that thinks they can help. (I just have a hard time thinking what possible diseases, I looked at a silkie video on youtube with wry neck, and, it didnt look like that really). Thanks for checkin on me. (I used to be on another forum, but, I find you all more supportive!).
Hang in there. I know it is horrible waiting for someone to come with good advice - but they'll find your post and you'll soon have lots of help here.
Oh my goodness, I found a scientific article online from the Journal of Poultry Science volume 5 pages 804-807 titled Vitamin Deficiency-Induced Neurological Diseases of Poultry. It discusses the vitamins and dietary requirements and consequences of not getting them.

Maybe, just maybe, she is deficient in THIAMINE. Here is a quote from the article that really caught my attention:

Thiamin (B1): This vitamin deficiency -in animals- is
characterized by appetite and weight loss, cardiac and
neurologic symptoms. The latter, particularly in birds, is
seen as a severe hyperextension and spastic tendency
in which the individual enters a complete ‘bridging’ or
‘arching’ position with the head, neck and spinal column
arching backward in extreme extension, most commonly
known in the field as stargazing or opisthotonos (Greek:
opistho for back, behind and tonos for tension) and other
peripheral neuropathies of various degrees.

HOLY COW!!!! WHen she does the movement, its like the back of her head is itchy and she wants to rub the back of her head on her back. Anyone seen this before? Other ideas?
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Hey - good research! You really have nothing to lose by giving her b-vits/thiamine right now. If you have a good multi with lots of B vits, give her some. If not, try googling which foods have a lot of thiamine in particular. In fact, maybe some fortefied cereal in your cupboard might have enough as a start?
I have you to thank: your post inspired me to try the search terms: Neurologic + Poultry! I have the gut feeling this is spawned by nutritional issues.....she is the bottom - rung bird in the hierarchy, and broodiness has left her not eating as much I'm guessing. No other bird has it, and she is different from the others because she is broody.
I'm still totally willing to listen to other ideas too--whatever you guys got.
Ok, I made a very very thiamine rich meal: cooled baked potato for a bit of a mashy paste, green peas, Basic Four cereal, nutritional yeast (its so tasty!) and also a quarter packet of a powdered drink packet that has 100% of the thiamine for a human/per day. I made two mini-bowl servings of these and I will get her to eat it as soon as she wakes up in the AM and as soon as i return from work. Other vitamins are also in that packet too. I will report the results soon. Wish me luck that I might have the right idea here.
Well I have my fingers and toes crossed for you and your little hen.
At least from what I read about thiamin it doesn't seem to show any overdose level - at least on humans you can't give too much - so what you're doing should be safe. If it is the vitamin mineral problem, I wonder if it might take some days or weeks to make the change? Keep us posted!

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