Neck stretching, opening mouth, shaking head


In the Brooder
5 Years
Feb 19, 2014
I just bought 4 silkies and 2 of them are concerning me. They are 5 and 6 months old. Every now and then (as in one or two times a day), they will do this funny neck stretch with a quick open mouth then a little head shake. It almost looks like a yawn and head shake to wake up type of thing. I thought it was cute at first until I started hearing that it is a sign of illness. One person said MG, another said gapeworm. They have no other symptoms. The first night, one of them sneezed a couple of times but nothing since. Today the other one sneezed once but that was it. My older girls sneeze from time to time and doesn't seem to be a big deal. Just a sneeze, they are all healthy and never a single issue.

From what I read, if it were MG, they would have runny noses and runny/crusty eyes and be showing respiratory symptoms. Their lungs sound perfectly clear. No rattling, no rales, no coughing. They have only done it a few "sessions". Each session, they will do it 2-4 times then stop, usually lay down and go to sleep or go grab a drink of water then go eat because they have just woken up.

Could this just be yawning? Or is there cause for real concern? I have had them for 3 days now. They are quarantined in the house away from my other flock members. I of course am taking measures to not carry germs between the birds. I would do that even with no symptoms, you just never know and I want to be careful.

Thanks for any help!
It's not gapeworm. Birds yawn. They yawn to adjust their crop or shake their heads and yawn to swallow feed especially if they gorge feed. They can inhale feed dust or a granule to cause them to sneeze. Since this is only happening twice a day as you mentioned, I wouldnt be too concerned but would observe their eating habits. There could be other environmental issues causing the symptoms in their quarantine area such as ammonia fumes due to improper ventilation, pesticide use, dust etc...which all can be corrected or eliminated.
While you have them in quarantine, inspect them closely for lice/mites and it would be a good idea to worm them while you're at it.
Thank you everyone! I did check for gapeworms and there were one. I did go ahead and worm them but they have been fine. No worms in their poo either. I guess they really were just yawning, or adjusting crops like dawg53 said. I had never noticed my other chickens do it before so it freaked me out! Then when other people started saying MG or gapeworm, I got paranoid and freaked out. One of them sneezed 2 more times so I put the playpen on the porch for fresh air and to watch them. No more sneezing. Now I'm wondering if she is actually allergic to my cats LOL Maybe it's just the cat hair getting to their little noses. Thanks for making me feel better and letting me know that it didn't necessarily mean something drastic was happening. :)

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