BIZARRO Behavior in Hen - should I be worried? (pic)


14 Years
Dec 16, 2008
Greenleaf, WI
I have a 1-yr-old hatchery Welsummer hen that has started acting very oddly in the last week or two. Sometimes when she is roosting or sitting on the ground, she arches her head way over her back and thrashes her head from side to side, for several minutes straight. She seems to be in a trance; I can walk right over and pick her up (she's not very friendly), and even then she might not snap out of it. A couple times I've found her backed into a corner of the coop, writhing like that. She eats and drinks fine, free-ranges every day. About 4 days ago she expelled an eggy mess, but it doesn't seem to coincide with this behavior. WHAT is going on??

This is what she looks like when she's writhing (and still molting so she is a wreck.)
Wry or twisted neck. Hereditary defect from a recessive gene that both parents carry. Pretty common in brown leghorns. Do not use her to breed.
Found this on another site. The gal had a chick with wry neck symptoms, and this is the response she received:
You will need to use liquid children's vitamins and vitamin E with selenium to treat wry neck. If it is too difficult to give the vitamins directly into his beak, try mixing it into a wet mash of chick starter.

Polyvisol Enfamil (without iron) —3 drops/day in beak for a week, then taper off

vitamin E with selenium—not to exceed 50 mcg; give 1/2 capsule
once his neck is better, continue giving vitamin E for another week
Hope this helps you.
Thank you very much for the replies. I ruled out Mareks and wry neck, as most of the day she is fine and only displays the behavior sporadically. It seems she must be in a sitting position for it to happen. She eats and drinks normally, and free ranges the farthest. I did a little more searching, and I'm thinking it could be stargazing.
this info, it seems to fit closely. I will try supplemental vit B12 to start, and see what happens.
I'm currently treating one of my Silkies for wry neck, maybe my experience thus far could be useful to you. I first noticed my Silkie walking around with it's head tilted just a bit. Then I saw it laying down on it's back to sleep. The next day, the head was tilted all the way over and the neck was carried lower than normal. As of today, the bird walks around dragging it's head, the neck is curled between it's legs. A couple days ago I wouldn't have thought it was wry neck, I'd keep a good eye on her. It wouldn't hurt to treat for wry neck though, even if that isn't the issue. The treatment for it is on my recent thread titled something like "wry neck and swollen head". I'm no expert, but I thought maybe sharing my situation could be helpful. I hope she gets better quick!

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