Wry neck can present as weakness in the neck and/ or legs You may notice your chicken circling, walking backwards, having trouble standing or lying with their head on the ground. It absolutely can be treated and should be treated as soon as you see symptoms for the best results. Many will survive with treatment however, some may not recover and may not survive (especially if Wry Neck is caused by factors other than nutritional deficiencies.
If you are raising Silkies its important to learn how to recognize Wry neck. Silkies are more prone to get wry neck than other breeds. In this section we will cover symptoms, treatment and long term effects.
What is Wry Neck?
Wry neck can effect chicks, juvenile and adult chickens but is more prevalent in certain breeds such as Silkies. It is sometimes called Crook Neck, Twisted Neck and Stargazing. Typically Wry Neck is caused by a vitamin deficiency but can also be caused by genetic disorder, head injury, disease or ingesting toxins. Wry neck does occur in other animals, for this purpose we are discussing Wry Neck in Chickens,
What are the first signs or Wry Neck?
If your chicken develops Wry Neck you may notice them walking backwards sometimes with their heads down, have trouble standing or have difficulty holding up their head. You may also see them walking in circles , looking upward with their neck twisted or lying on their back . Wry Neck is NOT contagious. If you have more than one chicken with these symptoms or if you notice your birds having these symptoms one after the other over a period of time you might consider whether or not you have Merecks Disease or another contagious disease in your flock or if your flock has been exposed to toxins, especially if your chickens are dyeing within hours or days of each other. It is highly unlikely that more than one chicken in your flock will become sick with Wry Neck at the same time. Wry neck itself typically does not cause death but can lead to death if the chicken cannot access food or water or is injured by a flock mate. Some chickens who develop wry neck because of an underlying disease may be unable to recover and will eventually die.
Where do I start with treating my chicken who has Wry Neck?
First take a deep breath. It is extremely upsetting to see a bird with these symptoms but do not panic. This condition is treatable. Second isolate the sick bird away from others as they can trample or accidently injure a flock mate that is immobile. It is also easier to see how well he/she is able to access food and water. I typically use a dog crate unless I have a bird that reacts badly. But you could use a box or plastic tote. Find a dark quiet area that is not so isolated that you can't keep your eye on the progress of treatment
Understand that treating wry neck is a long process and your chicken most likely will have long term effects such as stunted growth, being more fragile than its flock mates or having a tendency to be prone to reoccurrence of symptoms. It is important to assess your ability to feed and medicate your chicken at least 3 times a day over a long period of time. It might not be realistic or may be too stressful to make that commitment if you work fulltime and/ or have many responsibilities. In such cases your best alternative might be to rehome or ask someone to rehabilitate the bird for you .Some people may decide to cull the bird because of the long term reality of this illness. You need to make your decision about how you will handle this illness based on your chickens needs and your own ability to provide intense treatment that may last a long time. My experience has been that birds with Wry Neck are content to stand or lay with their head upside down and do not show signs of suffering unless they are forced to hold their head up.
During the process of treatment your chicken most likely will quickly show progress then wax and wane from day to day. It is important to continue treatment until there are no more symptoms for a week or even two and be prepared to start back treatment if you see symptoms pop back If you have been treating your bird and helping them access water and food for 2 weeks and there has been no progress it is highly likely that nutritional deficiency is not the root problem and your bird probably will not recover, If you see improvement then see some regression that is normal. Continue to help your bird access food and water and treat them with vitamins.
We have successfully treated Wry Neck and learned how to prevent it with these products. There are many other products available that people have successfully used to treat Wry Neck: Poultry Cell, children's liquid vitamins, Feather Fixer feed and many others. These are the ones we use. The important thing to remember is that any product you use should have both Vitamin E & Selenium and not be toxic for poultry.
Treatment for Wry Neck
Goat paste with Vitamin E & Selenium can be used for both chicks and adult poultry. It costs around $12 and can be purchased at TSC. We give ours a pea sized amount in a small medicine cup mixed with wet feed. You may have to direct their beak into the cup. Mild cases of Wry Neck can usually just squirt some on a paper plate and some will eat it without any feed. Our hens actually loved it and still wanted it once they were better. We give it 3 times a day until they have had no symptoms for at least a week or even two. During treatment your chicken will have good days and bad days. When you see relapse just continue the treatment. You might consider giving an extra dose for a day or two but this is the normal course of this illness. Even small stressors can cause a set back. You can retreat the same way each time you notice symptoms returning.
For prevention we use these two products mixed with regular feed every day. The cost of Poultry Booster is about $10 and the Calf Manna is about $15. You need both to get Vitamin E and Selenium. These products are safe for chicks and adult poultry. We only use this for our Silkie because of the cost and we have found that our other breeds do fine without a preventative. Do not confuse Poultry Booster with Rooster Booster. Rooster Booster has a similar bottle but it has electrolytes and it isn't safe to give that much salt on a daily basis. Here is how we mix it:
Poultry Booster has a scoop that comes inside. We use one scoop per pound of feed. Calf Manna should be 1/10 of your flocks diet. We use 1 lb of Calf Manna for 10 lbs of feed. During times when money is tight and we need to reduce our feed bill we put less of these products in the feed but we have learned that we almost always get a case of Wry Neck if we completely stop using this product. There are other products that contain Vitamin E and Selenium that could be used for prevention. As long as the product contains Vitamin E & Selenium and is safe for use with poultry it should work as a preventative.