Year old hen seems to be looking up or sideways a lot, what's up?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Grayling, Apr 26, 2011.

  1. Grayling

    Grayling New Egg

    Apr 26, 2011
    I have a year old Americauna hen that has been picked on a lot. I thought that was why she is so thin and sits hunched up and seems tired. However, she's been separated from the flock for some time and although she seems to be eating she has an odd way of moving her head, doesn't seem to walk in a straight line very often and she seems to be looking up more and more. It's sort of like she is trying to orient herself somehow. When I speak to her she holds her head sideways or seems like she's looking up at something. Any ideas? I have 16 other hens that have been on the same diet and are fine. I keep searching for answers but it looks to me like crooked neck is a problem with chicks and I haven't found any other answers. Thanks for any help you can give me!
  2. Celtic Chick

    Celtic Chick Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 7, 2011
    SE Wis
  3. infernoflower

    infernoflower Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 14, 2011
    That kinda sounds like 'stargazing' Here's info from Avian Web:

    "Stargazers" constantly throw their head back, sleep with their heads between their legs; go around in a circle; look at the ceiling, turn their heads around in a circle and look up.

    Stargazing can strike at random and without warning or past history of problems.

    Finches are particularly susceptible - although other species have been diagnosed with it.


    In some birds, the condition may correct itself over time or may be corrected given certain condition ...:
    ... if it was caused by poor positioning inside the egg / poor egg condition (may only be a consideration if a bird was born with this condition)
    ... condition may be reversed is if the root cause is malnutrition and it is corrected
    ...resolution might be achieved through successfully treatment protocol (antibiotic treatments, etc.).
    If this condition is left uncorrected, the following progression) can be expected:

    Inability to fly.
    Loss of balance/equilibrium. Falls off the perch.
    Difficulty moving around in cage
    Can't find food or water - resulting in starvation
    The end result of stargazing (if untreated or not self-corrected) is almost always death.

    What Cause Stargazing / Twirling?

    A definite cause has not been identified as of yet; however, the following are suspected:

    Egg positioning (?)
    Viral / bacterial or yeast infection
    Chemical imbalance
    Vitamin and/or mineral (nutritional) deficiency; Vitamin D deficiency (lack of natural sunlight exposure). Too much calcium can result in a ‘drunken bird' look
    Genetic predisposition
    Inner-ear problem

    Treatment for Stargazing

    The following treatments have been reported as being fairly effective:

    Trimethoprim Sulfa
    Vitamin B 12 to strengthen the nervous system
    Enhanced nutrition to correct any nutritional deficiencies

    Prevention of Stargazing

    The following steps will be an important step in not only preventing this disease, but others too.

    Prevent birds which carry the genetic predisposition for this disease from breeding so that they cannot pass this condition on to their offspring
    Provide the best nutrition possible.
    Provide uncontaminated water and clean air
    Keep your bird's environment clean
  4. Grayling

    Grayling New Egg

    Apr 26, 2011
    Thanks so much for both of those replys! I've bookmarked the disease sight, it's a really good one. Also, I will check more about stargazing. So far this hen does't go in circles and just tilts her head to the side or sometimes upsidedown. Her poop is sometimes watery and unhealthy looking but her appitite seems good. Her eyes look bright and clear but she seems to "miss" a lot when trying to get scratch off the ground. She can eat best when she's eating from a feeder.She never clucks, she only does a growling kind of noise. The other day we brought her in to my art studio and she just sat there on a studio chair all hunched up. Poor baby, I hope she makes it.
  5. sweetpeachicks

    sweetpeachicks New Egg

    Apr 26, 2011
    My hen has a similar behavior. To make a long story short, turns out she is blind in one eye. The original sign was twitching her head all the time at 3 m/old. My theory is that she was pecked at a lot by others and possibly sustained an eye or head injury this way. Other signs that developed were missing aim with pecking for food so others got the food first and still do. At 5 mos/old she developed a gray eye which is no longer a sharp circle. She uses the good eye to see by twisting her neck and head upward as though she is trying to see everything w/the good eye. She is my favorite and lets me carry her around. I make sure she gets enough food and approach her from the good eye side with things. She doesn't walk in a straight line, and tends to hang around the coop a lot while the other 16 hens are foraging all day. She is a good layer and is a real sweetie, but I have to watch out for her since she cannot see like the others.
    Do you know if your hen can actually see from both eyes? It took me awhile to figure out the blindness, and I will never know the cause. She is 11 mos/old and still twitches her head-like a tic of the neck and head really. Not sure what that is about, but it's probably connected.
    Good Luck, and let me know if you ever get a real diagnosis for your hen.[​IMG]
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2011
  6. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2008
    Jacksonville, Florida
    Quote:Since she is an Americauna there might be a simple reason why she is doing this. Your Americauna has a muff/beard, correct? My EE has one as well, and has sometimes had the same behavior as yours. Use scissors to trim back the muff/beard fluff around her eyes so that she can see better. This is most likely why she gets picked on, she cant see them coming at her or know when to move out of their way. Probably has to look up in the sky, turning her head sideways to look for predators or orient herself to get her bearings. Mine didnt walk in a straight line neither, kinda "feeling" her way around, til I trimmed a good bit of her muff back, especially around her eyes for better field vision. Worked great! I hope this is the answer to your problem. Good luck.

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