Walking backwards

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by WildType, Jun 24, 2019.

  1. One of my hens repeatedly puts its head to the ground and walks backwards for about six paces until it hits something. it appears to be totally involuntary. From what I’ve Googled, it seems to be a condition that can occur in a lot of breeds and other related species.
    Does anyone know what causes this condition? Or know what I can do to cure it? And can I breed from this bird without risk of its offspring having the same condition? (It is my best looking bird). It’s diet is the same for 13 other hens, it is at the bottom of the pecking order, and it has been going on for about six months without sign of improvement.
    CindyinSD likes this.
  2. I had a poult that did that. It died at around a month old. I had considered euthanizing it but kept hoping the condition would resolve. Probably some neurological problem. You might try feeding an anti-inflammatory diet. I just thought of that—too late for my little dead poult. It might be worth a go. I would have to do some research to know what such a diet would look like for humans let alone chickens, but I expect it might involve fewer grains.

    I wouldn’t use her for breeding. Newer understanding of genetics (epigenetics) suggests that even many traits acquired via illness, injury, malnutrition, etc. can in fact (and contrary to what we olders were taught in school) be passed on to offspring.
    Eggscaping likes this.
  3. Rusticwool

    Rusticwool Chirping

    Aug 12, 2018
    My top hen does this and has been doing it for at least six months! I have no idea why she started but it doesn’t seem to bother her. She eats, poops and lays like she should. :idunno
    CindyinSD likes this.
  4. Rusticwool. I’ve considered uthanasia but like your hen, she doesn’t appear to be in pain
    CindyinSd. I guess that instinct tells me not to breed from her. interesting what you said about genetic inheritance. I’ve never quite believed that it is as simple as Darwin’s theories.
    CindyinSD likes this.
  5. micstrachan

    micstrachan Free Ranging

    I think it might be wry neck, which can sometimes be treated with specific vitamins. Vitamin E and Selenium, I believe. And B1?
    CindyinSD and Shadrach like this.
  6. I don’t believe that I’m seeing the symptoms of wry neck.

    Has anyone ever seen a bird recover from the backward walk condition?
    CindyinSD likes this.
  7. Shadrach

    Shadrach Roosterist

    Jul 31, 2018
    Catalonia, Spain
    My Coop
    It depends what you mean by recover.
    I have two hens here that have symptoms that fall under the broad heading of Wry Neck.
    With one, the incidents of this behaviour are sporadic and I believe she suffered some trauma at hatch. Earlier this year such episodes were quite frequent; now they are rare but still evident.
    This hen has sat and hatched healthy chicks, fought and prevailed against a Goshawk attack, eats, drinks and maintains her rank in her tribe.
    I can't see any reason why someone would consider killing a chicken with such a condition unless they believed the chicken was in pain or impaired to a degree that their quality of life was far below par.
    This hen, which I am concerned about has a more sever problem.
    As long as she can feed herself and free range with her tribe I can't see any justification for killing her either.
    Sure some conditions may be genetic but many are problems caused by trauma at some point, often during hatching.
  8. Thank you all who have tried to answer my query. I feel a little more enlightened, though I suspect that I’ll never know the cause, be it genetic, or a deficiency, or contracted illness or trauma from hatch. So long as she isn’t in pain or suffering she will have a home in the shed.
    CindyinSD likes this.
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    CindyinSD likes this.

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