What is Wry Neck in Chickens?

Wry neck is a condition also known as Star Gazing, the exact cause of wry neck can be one of a few things but it is simply a miss communication from the body to the brain meaning that your hens nervous system is not functioning correctly. This displays as a twisting of the neck, walking in circles or to one side. This condition can look very severe and can cause the hen to have serious mobility issues.

Wry neck can be caused by one of a few reasons:

  1. Bad hatching, if you have a young chick with this condition it could be that they did not hatch from their egg properly and have some kind of nerve damage.
  2. Lack of Vitamin B12 this is such an important vitamin for chickens, without enough vitamin B12 their brain cognitive function does not work properly resulting in the twisting of the neck and mobility issues.
  3. Brain damage, sometimes and shown particularly in pom pom pure breed chickens a bang to the head in the wrong place can cause this type of nerve damage which is sadly, permanent although it can be treated to be less severe. Causes could be jumping up to roost and hitting the top of the hen house, falling off a walkway that is too steep, a cockerel that is overly aggressive or perhaps too large for the hens.
  4. Inner ear infection, this results in the bird waling in circles a lot more than neck twisting.

What Are the Main Symptoms Wry Neck in Chickens?

  • Twisting of the neck, this can be a subtle head bop to a full twist where the bird’s head will turn to look up at the sky.
  • Walking in circles or from side to side.
  • Symptoms exacerbated by moments of stress or excitement.
  • Dragging their head along the floor.
  • Otherwise showing no signs of illness, hens will appear quite happy in themselves and still want to eat and drink and be with their flock mates.

How to Treat Wry Neck in Chickens?

There are no set cures for this condition as it can depend on how severe the damage is and whether it is nutritional, brain damage or an inner ear infection.

If the cause is nutritional then it can be resolved by changing to a very good high-quality pellet feed. We recommend using Fancy Feed, we use this feed on our small holding and have found it very effective with adult birds that have shown wry neck symptoms. We also recommend giving the hen an undiluted syringe of our Pipinchick Multi vitamin, 5mls once a day, this has been proven very effective and treating a chicken with nutritional wry neck. If this helps it is then advisable to ensure you are giving multi vitamin in their water constantly as your hens have a deficiency.

If this does not help then you could try an anti-inflammatory, we recommend using a liquid suspended ibuprofen, use 5ml per 1kg of chicken weight. Administer once daily for one week, this should really help as it will relax the muscles and allow the bird to have better control of their functions. Wry neck causes the muscles to spasm and this is also why the bird can lose control of their functions. It will also help if she has an inner ear infection or issue.

Sadly, if the hen has permanent brain damage then it is unlikely she will fully recover, however, you can make her more comfortable, you can try giving 5ml of both suspended ibuprofen and Pipinchick multi vitamin daily, this can relieve the symptoms. With brain damage you may notice that the symptoms are not constant, they may show more when the hen is excited or frightened etc. but majority of the time they seem OK.

Wry neck doesn’t often cause fatality unless the bird has lost all control of her motor functions and is unable to eat or drink, they can live with this condition for many years and will be quite happy in themselves but may ned a little extra long-term care.