Rooster misses what he is pecking at!


In the Brooder
5 Years
Jul 28, 2014
San Marcos, TX
Not an emergency or a disease that I am aware of nor an injury.

I have a 15 week old Cream Legbar cock that has a peculiar disability that he has had since we can remember. When he pecks at something, he is low by about 1/2"! If he is trying to catch a cricket or pick up a treat, he keeps pecking at it but is consistently 1/2" or so below. Anyone ever see anything like this? Is it something curable or anything to be concerned about? He eats fine and is growing well, just can't participate too much with treats unless we hand them to him. Even then, they have to be big treats so he can actually hit them! Both eyes look good with no deformities that we can see.

We have a flock of 11 birds. Only one was supposed to be a roo but somehow, the sexing got mixed up on two of them and we ended up with another Cream Legbar roo and a Silver Laced Wyandotte roo. The one that can not hit is target (his name is misfire!) is the largest and prettiest of the two CLs. We plan to keep one CL roo since we also have a CL hen. The other CL roo is much smaller and has a crooked, floppy comb. Which would be best to keep, the small one with the crooked comb or Misfire? Not planning to breed for show but may hatch some eggs to give away.


6 Years
Apr 8, 2013
I've seen and heard of cases where progressive neurological damage occurred for no known or identifiable reason which was shown by this same sort of depth perception issue. It was fatal in all cases I know of as it continued to get worse and worse, but so slowly that most died a year or so after onset. For a few reasons, I believe it is genetic.

If you're sure it's not his sight, then I personally would not breed him. Plenty of beautiful roosters with no problems going to waste for want of a good home, why preserve faulty genetics? ...If that's what's at work here, that is.

Layer breeds are those affected with this in my experience. Myself and others bought Isabrowns from a local hatchery, raised them differently yet lost them to the same issue at the same age. Hardly coincidence. They were normal to start with, progressively lost ability to 'aim', and from there slowly went downhill until they died. I've also spoken to people in other countries with isabrowns and other commercial layer breeds whose birds went the same way. It's possible, just a theory here, that it's the cumulative effects of generations of dietary deficiency. The survival rations we call a 'complete' diet are not truly complete, it's not geared to support longevity or total health, just sufficient health and production to take them up to the cull-by date, two years or under, in the most economical way. Economics and health are often at opposite ends of the range, lol. Generational deficiency causes serious and fatal diseases which can be pretty much incurable even on better diets as the damage done can be irreversible within an individual's lifetime. You can't put in later what never went in there in the first place, doesn't work that way; a bad start is a setback for life in most cases. A half dozen generations of bad starts will take generations to correct, if it's still possible to fix, that is.

I think perhaps in the layers with this issue, it's the body prematurely failing in its capacity to synthesize or assimilate a vital nutrient, probably in the B family, causing progressive neurological degeneration until death. The symptoms correspond to some B deficiencies but obviously aren't corrected by a B-vitamins-rich diet. Again, it's just a theory. Deficiency diseases can cause genetic and heritable diseases, too, so not as far fetched as it may seem to some.

If you're curious enough, you could breed Misfire and see if his offspring exhibit the same trait around the same age or before three years of age (the usual failure date for the layer breeds I've seen with this issue). If none of his offspring show it, I'd cross his daughters back with him to see if it's a recessive trait. If those inbred offspring are also clear you would have a good chance of it being some damage, toxicity, or trauma sustained in his lifetime being at fault rather than some deleterious genetic trait. There's a chance his seemingly unaffected clutchmates also have this problem. If you breed them, and give away eggs, best to know what's being passed on. I definitely recommend experimentation.

Best wishes.

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