When it rains...it pours. What is it this time?


10 Years
May 18, 2010
I swear, my chickens keep their illnesses for when I come home for break.

This time, it's one of my EEs. She was recently in a very close run-in with a predator, but escaped with just two chunks of feathers missing. A couple of days ago I went in the coop and she had one eye that was closed and she did NOT want me to open it. She was still perky, but didn't want to go outside of the coop. Over the next couple days she got to the point where she's not laying on the coop floor, her eye is swollen and sealed shut (I managed to open it yesterday but she kept closing it again), she neck is extremely twisted with her good eye looking at the ceiling but she keeps it closed as well, and she's not eating or drinking. I haven't listened to her breathing yet, and she is pooping very little.

Any ideas?
Oh, I am so sorry about this. If you think she is in pain, put her out of her misery. If you think she is in no pain, maybe you could take her to a knowlegible feed store and supply? She may have a disease in addition to her run-in. Poor little thing. I feel for both of you.

I don't think she's in pain...but then again I can't really tell. I do know she didn't get injured from the predator...there are no lesions or anything. She just has a big section of pin feathers growing in on one side of her neck and at the base of her tail.

I don't want to take her into the feed store in case she has a disease. What if she infected their birds?
Sounds like she is in shock. You might want to bring her in for a few days. Either put her under a light or on a heating pad to keep her warm. See if you can get some Vitamin/electrolyte water or sugar water and offer her, her favorite treat or maybe some cooked egg, yogurt, oatmeal etc. Chickens usually recover pretty quickly.
The predator attack was about 2 weeks ago, so I don't think it's shock either. Are there any diseases that could cause this? Or can an eye injury lead to this? I thought she was just pecked in the eye...but now she's not eating/drinking because her neck is twisted. I brought her inside and I'm going to try and get some water into her.
her eye could be infecting as far as the twisted neck it could something as simple as wry neck which you treat with poly visol without iron(baby vitamins).
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I think that's the issue now, but she started off with JUST a bad eye. She was perfectly normal except she had an eye that was bothering her. No respiratory issues, injuries, or anything. I just don't get it.

She looks terrible, and I don't have much hope for her right now, honestly. She's not standing, opening her eyes, and hardly moving unless you address her and pet her. She's losing a lot of water in her poop and she's not drinking or eating anything to replace it. I'd be surprised if she made it through the night honestly.
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I agree this is most likely not from attack but the stress and healing needed could have made her weaker and susceptible. Always immediately separate unhealthy birds for their own protection and rehabilitation as well as just in case it's turns out to be anything contagious - and practice extreme bio-security measures - don't wear same clothes and have close contact back and forth between ill and healthy, care for healthy flock first then ill. Always wash hands vigilantly. Your hen needs all of her resources to be conserved to heal and rebuild strength. Most illnesses need little monetary means but lots of time and care; Some illnesses need moderate care and tending to others need hours per day. If you don't have the time consider your options carefully. You have gotten the beginnings of lots of good advice. BYC was one of my most helpful online resource.

What I have learned recently is that an ill chicken regardless of what ails it ... very often will assume the position you describe (twisted neck, eye or eyes shut, partially or completely immobilized/sedentary, pale tongue (healthy tongue is pink) and pink or red skin (healthy skin is yellow). Why one eye? it could be isolated infection however also could be her not feeling well and symptom of her not feeling well. It is wise to continue to monitor her symptoms and weigh them to the various diseases and ailments continuously ... read, read, and read to get as much advice as possible - do all that you can to cross reference other disease symptoms to rule out. Here's a quick run down/some distinguishing factors but please research yourself:
p.s. the heavy hitter diseases are less common and unless you are in high risk situations/locations very much less likely - youtube will have video clips to show you visual symptoms to help further differentiate

Marek's - signs more common in younger from 6 weeks on, commonly 12-24 weeks, classic leg splay
New Castles - swelling of tissue around the eye and in neck
Mycoplasma - respiratory with foamy eyes, sneezing, nasal discharge, swollen eyelids (feather staining from discharge & sweet smell)

Botulism - generally more than one in flock falls ill
Wry neck/crookneck (used interchangeably) -
Star gazing - throw there head straight back looking head on at ceiling

outer ear - discharge usually present
inner ear - wry neck/balance issues

My currently recovering rooster (3 weeks and counting) presented with an acute onset - seemingly behaving healthy and about one day and lying on coop floor not struggling, twisted neck, one eye shut --- his eye(s) showing no real sign of infection but him not wanting to or able to open ... first one then both ... after a while and other promising improvements, his eyes are now also improved however he still sleeps a lot and when I feed him ...he will shut his eyes towards the end. I opted to use antibiotics (baytril) as well as all the other more natural and food based remedies. (1) He also showed signs of pneumonia (early on when his head would loose support and fall below his chest fluid would come out his mouth, nose or eye - support was critical and needed monitoring - antibiotics cleared that up). (2) local vet (and Wry Neck with rabbits) is most commonly caused by inner ear infection (now outward symptoms like discharge, only wry neck and balance).

Secure her inside, warm (heating pad and/or lamp), supported if necessary (I used a laundry basket with rolled towels), hydrated with an easy electrolyte/sugar water recipe (16 oz H2O, 1 tsp sugar, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp baking soda), vitamins are good/never hurt/but might not be the only thing to aid in recovery (children's Poli Sol liquid). Food is essential (I started with a modified favorite treat (tuna juice) you will have to re-position her head and hold both food & head to see if/how much she will take on her own ... Her taking something is encouraging but that alone will not sustain her ... you will need to hand and/or syringe feed (other soft, semi solids and liquids incl tuna, scrambled egg, yogurt with probiotics (essential when using antibiotics), baby food veggies/fruit/meat too. I also used cooked Quinoa and evolved to making a "cereal formula" like a baby bird powder mix you can buy at the store grinding whole seed feed I use mixing with baby veggie/water and syringe feeding.

re: eye infection or closed eye - reluctant to use it is not the only thing to look for other symptoms like discharge, irritation (redness, rubbing), and cloudy-ness would be clearer signs of conjunctivitis. If you seriously suspect condition includes or is limited to eye infection here are options to combat it from moderate to aggressive treatments: warm saline wash, colloidal silver, golden seal tincture, or Terramycin Antibiotic Eye Ointment.

Also realize ... what goes in ... must come out (I immediately coordinated a "bed pan" set up which worked delightfully when my roo was basically immobilized but now that he is more mobile I haven't yet figured out how to efficiently contend better than I am - he is now more mobile (in a play pen) so poo gets disbursed but also very sedentary so his bottom gets covered. I've managed to get away with only three bottom baths in same number of weeks - I wish I could figure out a different measure.) If you discover anything different that works, please pass on.

Another thing is to realize, check for and be on top of ... any lice naturally kept in check with regular dusting and grooming will bloom now that she is not caring for herself naturally (I used DE (applied in isolation with puff bottle) but ended up reverting to a cage bird liquid and applied scant and selectively with q-tip on head (DE chased everything up). Of course, not life threatening and they don't bite but will want to be aware and keep in check.

here are other resources/links:

Feel free to pm and share the outcome.
Good Luck. Michele

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