Chicken tilting head all the way back and rolling it side to side, loss of balance

NodakTwoBravo

In the Brooder
Nov 20, 2018
4
5
19
Hello all,

My parents have a backyard chicken coop with 8 chickens. 3 days ago, I noticed one speckled sussex not in the henhouse with the others. I picked her up and placed her on her stick with the other chickens in her normal spot, because the weather at night has been between 10 and 20 degrees F at night. The next night when I went to close their door(they roam the backyard during the day), I noticed the same sussex on the ground of the coop at night. She seemed disoriented, and was doing the head waggle thing. I again placed her in the coop on the stick. Last night, the same chicken was on the ground, and could not balance on any sticks. She pins her neck to her back, looking straight up, and waves her head from side to side, and loses her balance and falls backwards off the stick, in a back-flip motion. If she is on the ground, she sits down completely, no weight on the legs, all sitting, and pins her neck back and does the head waving. see video.

The bird in particular is an 8 month old speckled sussex that weighs 5 pounds. This is the only bird in the flock exhibiting this behavior. There is no bleeding or broken bones that i have seen. This just sprung up 3 days ago, normal behavior, until this. She will snap out of it occasionally to take a drink and eat some food. Also, when she is scratching with her friend, she does not go into this behavior. It seems to come on as soon as the birds get ready to bed down for the night. The feed is nutrina country feeds egg producer. Poops look normal. I have separated her from the flock with one of her friends for the time being. I hope to be able to remedy the chicken. The vet said she had never seen a chicken do this, and it might be wise to put it down. Has anyone seen this? Attached are pictures of the coop, and a video of the chicken exhibiting this behavior at the vets.
 

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coach723

Free Ranging
6 Years
Feb 12, 2015
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Looks like wry neck, also called crook neck or star gazing.
I would treat with Vitamin E and selenium supplements to see if you get improvement.
It can be caused by a vitamin deficiency, it can have a genetic component, and some diseases, like Mareks disease, or injury can cause it. Check your mill dates on feed bags and make sure you are getting the freshest you can, the vitamins degrade over time in feed.
Here is more info and discusses treatment (not long to read) at the very bottom is a video showing how to help her eat and drink, which you may need to do: https://www.raising-happy-chickens.com/wry-neck.html
 

NodakTwoBravo

In the Brooder
Nov 20, 2018
4
5
19
Thought I'd follow up on this, the hen is all better as far as I can tell. She no longer has the stargazing symptom, and can eat, drink, and keep balance on a branch again. Thanks for all the help!

 

YukitaCynder

In the Brooder
Jun 21, 2020
5
3
11
I know this thread is 2 years old but I have a speckled Sussex bantam chick that just hatched with this exact problem. It’s very distressing. She’ll walk a few steps and lay down and pull her head back, twist it around, and flip over. She can eat and drink just about fine when I hold her and put the food right in front of her. It only afflicts her when she lays down. I can hold her head down till she falls asleep and then she’ll sleep normally. However with 22 siblings in the same tote as her and no way to separate them at the moment, she doesn’t get much rest. I’ve started mixing capsule liquid vitamin E with her feed and then sprinkling selenium powder on it to try and help. Haven’t been at it very long but it’s already discouraging.
I just found it interesting that it’s the same breed of chicken.
 

Wyorp Rock

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Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Sep 20, 2015
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However with 22 siblings in the same tote as her and no way to separate them at the moment, she doesn’t get much rest. I’ve started mixing capsule liquid vitamin E with her feed and then sprinkling selenium powder on it to try and help.
Welcome To BYC

Can you please post some photos of the chick?
How old is the chick?

It would likely be a good idea to separate out the chick to give her specialized care.
Give her 400IU vitamin E daily along with 1/4 tablet B-Complex and a bit of scrambled egg.
The egg has sufficient Selenium - I would not add any more powder to the feed.
 

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