Crooked neck relapse - Please help!!


8 Years
Sep 4, 2011
Hi there.

I'll start with a little history first. Cookie was born 3 weeks after Easter. She dragged her egg for quite sometime after hatching, and the egg cord was dragged a little longer until some other chick pecked it off. She was a little behind the other chicks in terms of development. Her breed is unknown, the result of free range breeding of mixed mutt chickens but she hatched from a blue medium sized egg. She is mostly white with black in her, but not an obvious barred rock.

In 3 days after hatching, Cookie developed crooked neck syndrome. I found a vitamin regimen of selenium, B12 liquid complex, and vitamin E gelcaps broken up into the food. Her head went from completely dragging on the ground upsidedown, and she was walking backwards, to completely upright and walking forward in 7 days. I continued her vitamins for another 10 or so days until she started getting to where she wasn't interested in me handfeeding her anymore.

Fastforward to recent times. About 2 weeks ago, I started switching foods from medicated chick starter to layena (purina's hen-laying formula) because I figured we're about 6 weeks out from eggs. Last Saturday night, Cookie wouldn't come in out of the dark. She had backed herself into a corner and couldn't/wouldn't get out. The next morning I got her from the coop, and her head was crooked again. Shoot. I had fed her with her vitamin regimen (adjusted to bigger bird from her baby bird size), chick medicated starter feed with 1 squirt of B12 complex liquid (1x daily), 25 mg selenium (1xdaily), 400 mg vitamin E capsule liquid squished out (2x daily). When the other chickens came in at night, they pecked at her and created a skin wound on her cheek/ear area. I've since quarantined her (this is my first set of chickens, so I didn't think to quarantine her the night before because we hadn't had chicken pecking injuries before). Anyhow, she's been in the house since.

I've had her in the house for a week now. She continues to eat. Sometimes enthusiastically, sometimes not so much. She will drink if I drop water on the side of her beak. Her food is prepared such that it is extra soupy with water so that it goes down easier and doesn't fly around so much when she's pecking at it. Sometimes I can help her hold her neck such that she sees the food. Otherwise, I put her on her back so her head is upright, and feed her that way (if her feet feel secure with my non-feeding hand, she tolerates this - otherwise, she doesn't). Her skin injury on her face is healing nicely. Scabbed over, and one scab is falling off revealing nice bird skin beneath. Her face looks infinitely better. However, her neck is spiraled, and continues to remain as such. She spends the bulk of her time sleeping. Even when eating, she sleeps half the time in my hands/lap. She isn't very mobile. When she is, it's the backing up so that her rump is in a corner, even elevated at times, head on the bottom of the pine shavings.

Last time we went through this, she recovered from the neck thing with noticeable results in 3 days. She was crooked, but standing up. In four she was standing and moving forward, with crooked neck. In seven days, she was 95% normal.

This time, it's been 7 days, and she is still upside down with her head. She moves backwards til she's in the corner, and then she's asleep. I don't want to prolong her misery if this is how it's going to be for the rest of her life. I don't want to help her to chicken heaven if this is too soon to expect results when she's dealing with healing skin and healing neck.

Anyone have guidance on how long to give it? She's my favorite bird, and I'd do anything for her. I can't believe I've become so attached to a chicken - I don't want my selfishness and not wanting to deal with helping her go to decide how long I keep her around. I'm willing to work/hand feed as long as it takes. Do I give her more time, or is her lack of progress with the neck thing a sign that her damage is permanent?

Cookie's mom.
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I have a hen with a similar condition although it's been a few months for me. When I first found her she was listless and would drink water but was uninterested in food. The first few weeks were the hardest. Her face and eyelids were swollen. Her comb was pale and dried up looking. She had a slow mucous drip out of her mouth. Her poops were watery green and foul smelling (more than usual). She got to the place where she wouldn't open her eyes and wouldn't drink. I found large round worms in her poop about the third or fourth day which told me part of the problem but not all. Her neck became bent to one side and would stay there all the time. I believe her immune system may have been compromised from the round worm infection and then she got some sort of virus that damaged her nervous system.
I treated her with ivermectin for a few days and have force fed her once a day with a blended mix of chick feed, molasses, water, raw eggs with their shells, some sort of vegetable like carrots or red cabbage.
I've seen many improvements since first quarantining her which has kept me from putting her down but I wonder if she will ever be normal again. Her face is no longer swollen and she readily opens her eyes. Her poops have returned mostly to normal, they are no longer green. She can again drink water on her own although with some difficulty and with great concentration. She can take two or three steps forward but very often will walk backwards in circles. It's almost like a person who has suffered from a severe stroke and has to go through extensive therapy to reconnect the wires that enable them to talk and walk.
Well, now it's been 14 days of medication regimen for wry neck. And still no signs of improvement. Her pecking injury looks much better, fully healed. She is making a noise like purring, but is still eating when hand fed. I still don't know how long to give her without improvements. But we've told our kids that if there's no change in 48 hours of praying, Cookie will be put down. It saddens me greatly to watch this bird suffer. Not knowing what kind of pain she's in makes it hard to know what the chances are that she'd ever come out of it. Being that it's been over 2 weeks of no improvement... unless I learn something new or she gives any indication of improvement, poor Cookie will have to go.

Didn't sign up for this when I agreed to hatch eggs for my son, but it's been a heckuva learning experience nonetheless.
So sorry about your girl!

We had a silkie that got wry neck when she first started to brood. What an adventure!

We had much the same medical regimen as you have stated, except we also used prednisone. We also did some gentle massage on her neck. It took a very long time for her to show any signs of improvement. We fed her scrambled eggs, and used a dropper for water. She would back herself into a corner or just kind of sit on her head. It was so sad!
Anyway, she started to show only very occasional improvement after 3 weeks, I think. It took a long time and dedication, but she finally came out of it. We could only tell her from the others because of the stains from the baby vitamins on her feathers! And now we can't hardly tell which one she is at all.

If she is holding her own and tolerating the treatments, I say give her more time. Maybe try the massage and add some prednisone, if you can get it.

Good luck.
It can be a wonderful experience owning animals but it's often laced with bits of tragedy which can be tough to deal with. Don't feel bad if you have to put her down, sometimes that's just what you have to do and it can be the greatest act of compassion and love in the situation. Your kids will understand this if you explain it to them properly; at least I did when my parents explained it to me.
This sounds exactly like what our chicken has been going through!
I've been doing "therapy" with ours. I hold her and gently guide her neck and head so that she's facing straight.
This has been seeming to help a little.
I've been hand-feeding her her usual organic feed. I just sort of hold her neck straight, put her beak in the food on my hand, and she usually starts eating. Then I get her to drink some water or gatorade.

I have noticed that the more stressed out she gets, the more she turns her neck upside down. Sometimes it will get so bad that she'll lay almost on her side and sort of write on the ground. When this happens I pick her up, hold her upright and stroke her back. This calms her down enough so that she'll relax her neck and I can hold it straight.

Keeping her in a darkish, quiet area is good; the least stressed she is, the better.
Keep feeding her vitamins!
Something with electrolytes might be benefical. (Gatorade?)

If she's an affectionate-ish chicken, try petting her a little.
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