Cockerel flipping his head back


In the Brooder
9 Years
Aug 18, 2010
I just bought a pair of Bantam Buff Brahma today. The cockerel will look perfectly normal and then throw his head back so his beak is pointing straight up. He almost seems to get stuck in that position (like off balance) and then eventually goes back to normal. He ate and drank normally when I got him home. He seems to do this most when startled or hears noise above him. He and his girlfriend are separate from the other chickens but not by much - They are about 4 feet off the ground and the other chickens are free ranging but I have not seen any go up where the new birds are. I bought this pair from a very reputable breeder, a really nice man, who said the cockerel looked fine yesterday when they were separating some from the flock and just noticed the head thing today. Any suggestions?
I am updating here and hoping that someone can offer me some information. I think I've pretty much covered the criteria for submitting a post for help. If more information is needed, please let me know and I will try to get it.

The cockerel was about the same this morning - would look normal and then throw his head back and get off balance and stay like that until sometimes I would pick him up and move him around until his head went back to a normal position. I searched the internet and found two possibilities for his problem - Newcastle Disease and thiamin deficiency. It was indicated that a bird with Newcastle would have gray pupils and he does not. I don't know how I would administer thiamin so I made him a breakfast of chick starter, white millet, sunflower seeds and Manna Pro Poultry Conditioner. He ate and drank normally and seemed to like his breakfast. I checked on him around noon and he seemed a little better. He would move his head a little strangely but did not toss it over his back as before. His eyes did seem a little squinty though.

Since I just got him yesterday I have to believe what the breeder told me and that he was fine before. If there is a possibility of a contagious disease, I will need to act quickly so I do not jeapordize the rest of my birds. I will try to upload some pictures and would really appreciate some advice. Re: his age, all I know is that he was hatched this summer. He and his girlfriend are in a temporary cage until we know what's going on. Thanks.





Thanks Carolyn. I am reading through the link you sent in between chores.

The little cockerel is back to his star gazing tonight. It was dark by the time I got down to the barn (the silly guineas were just milling about the barn yard and the cochins were having a fit because they weren't tucked in bed yet) and the cockerel was resting normally but when excited his head would just flip back. I was pretty encouraged this afternoon but he is just as bad as he was this morning. He is still eating and drinking. Poop looks normal to me but hard to tell - they are on straw right now. His eyes do look a little squinty but not puffy.

I am leaning toward some type of vitamin deficiency from what I have read but there is still the possibility of something contagious I guess. This can't be the only chicken in the world with this problem. I WOULD APPRECIATE ANY HELP WITH THIS.

Google "wry neck". I'm not terribly familiar with it. You can try giving him baby vitamins....without iron. Can't think of the name of them offhand. I got them at walmart once upon a time. Could be a vitamin deficiency, could be something else. Hard to say.
My first guess would be wry neck. I used Duck tape for wry neck on a chick, but not sure it would work on an adult bird. I just made a neck brace that supported the neck and the chick could still bend down enough to eat and drink on its own.
Wry neck is a vitamin deficiency disease. Give your bird children's Poly-vi-sol vitamins WITHOUT iron. You will notice a distinct difference within a few days.

The reason you saw an improvement with the sunflower seeds is that it is high in B vitamins. Mine get brown rice pretty often which is high in B vitamins too. Here's a list of foods that will help prevent wry neck: oatmeal, flax, and sunflower seeds, brown rice, whole grain rye, asparagus, kale, cauliflower, liver (beef, pork and chicken), and eggs.

But now that your bird is affected I would go straight for the Poly-vi-sol.

Good Luck,
Thank you all. I am feeling more confident that I can do something to help this handsome guy. I also got a pair of standard Partridge Brahmas from the same man who I am trying to get some standard Buff Brahmas from. The Partridge are in quarantine at a friend's house. They seem fine. I couldn't resist these bantams though - they were on their way to the auction.

Again, thank you. I will start treating him and hopefully post a healthy picture soon.

Oh -- can you please tell me the dosage on the Poly-vi-sol.(?)

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom