Sway head back and forth, rolling eyes, off balance


13 Years
Jan 12, 2007
Central Texas
I have a hen who is probably 7 years old. She was down today, swaying her head back and forth and had her head tipped as far backwards as it would go. Her eyes were rolling into her head and she could not stand well or walk for more than a step or two. She was attacked repeatedly by several members of the flock including the Roo, althought 1 hen did stand by her and attempt to fight him off.

Any thoughts on what this could be? Thanks!



11 Years
Sep 8, 2008
Lebanon, Ohio
Wow, seven years old is pretty old for a hen, at least in my experience. If she were mine I would suspect that she was coming to the end of her life. I would be interested to hear other's opinions as I might be wrong about that though. I would certainly isolate her from the flock, at least.

I hope that you get some more helpful responses.


In the Brooder
10 Years
Feb 25, 2009
Justin, Texas
I had a hen with similar symptoms last year. She was about 3. She went completely blind the 3rd day. She would get up and around, find the water & drink, and I would pour feed at her feet so she could feel it, and she would eat. Eventually, though, we had to put her down. Then, a week later, another hen with the same symptoms. We finally figured out in our case it was rat poison. We had some rats move into the feed room, so we put out Havoc rat poison in the feed room only. The rats were eating that, then at night, they would go to the hen house and eat out of the auto-feeders and leave behind "poisoned" poop in the feeder. The hens would eat it and then have the neurological reaction and symptoms from the poison.

Check to be sure there is nothing poison around - might not be the same thing going on, but it sounds neurological to me. That's what our vet told us was going on with the head bobbing up and down, back and forth, and side to side. They would walk in circles, and then go blind.

I hope yours is not so bad and she gets better
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