Posts Tagged ‘silkie chicken with wry neck’

That’s what I heard when I finally figured out the number that had been calling me repeatedly was my home phone and I called back.

My 11-year-old daughter was panicked. I was able to get out of her that she thought one of the chickens had a broken neck and was flopping around in the brooder.

Because we were nearly done at the one store, I figured the rest of the grocery shopping would have to wait. It was going to take me at least 45 minutes to get home, since we still had to check out.

My response was, “Separate her out and I’ll be home as soon as I can.”

You may have figured out by now that while I’m not writing as much as I used to, it doesn’t mean that nothing is going on around here. I’ve come to learn that when you live on a farm, there is never-ending stuff to do. 😆

This is some of that stuff.

I pretty well knew what I was going to walk into, but there was still a chance that it was an actual broken neck, so I didn’t pick anything up at the time. I probably should have, because sending Hunny to buy baby vitamins on the way home was something neither of us thought we’d ever be doing again. 😆

When I got home, I was surprised to see that my favorite silkie, Silver, was not only not dead, but actually wasn’t as poorly off as I had expected. My relief was short-lived.

It took me a while, but I finally managed to get a picture:


Go ahead and click and enlarge the picture. I’ll wait. 😀

Yes, her feet are flat on the ground. She is not upside-down. And yes, her head is completely on backwards.

This, my friends, is what wry neck looks like.

It didn’t seem to be hurting her; she just seemed more confused than anything else.



Because I research things endlessly even when they don’t apply to me at the time, I knew that wry neck was not usually fatal, and that there was a way to treat it. The most critical issue was going to be making sure she had adequate food and water intake.

Wry neck {sometimes called “crook neck”} seems to most often affect Silkies. Some thinking is that because silkies have a vaulted skull (a hole in the top of the skull), this makes them more susceptible to injury.

Some believe it can have a neurological cause, and sometimes, diseases like Marek’s and Newcastle’s can have wry neck as a symptom.

Others believe there is a genetic component to it; and others think it’s a vitamin deficiency.

In our case, I think it’s injury.

I’ve had silkies before; I’ve got 8 right now, and this is the first time we’ve had a baby affected. I wasn’t there to see what happened, but we’ve got at least 3 boys in there right now, and well, boys will be boys. 😉 {I am not fond of adolescent cockerels, but usually they grow out of the obnoxiousness relatively quickly}

Once I got home, I was surprised to see her preening and eating and drinking. I was hoping we would have a mild case of it, and I’d be able to get her back in with the others in a few days.

By evening, I knew it was going to take longer than a few days.

Hunny had been called and was bringing home baby vitamins; Poly Vi Sol *without* iron, to be exact. He had to go to two different places to find them, and when he did, wow- $10 for a 1.75 fl oz bottle. He reminded me that the vitamins cost more than the chicken did. 😆

By the time he got home, Silver had already been switched over to a yogurt/crumble mash with added vitamin E capsule squeezed out.

The following morning, I went back into town to get some selenium, which is needed to help the vitamin E absorption. I also went ahead and went back to Tractor Supply and got some 20% protein chick feed and some electrolytes for her water.

I am not a big believer in extra added stuff as a rule- unless it’s needed. I figured electrolytes in the water couldn’t hurt.

I always give my babies yogurt. Yogurt has extra protein for growing chicks, and it helps give them good intestinal bugs, of the probiotic kind. Got a chick with pasty butt? Give them yogurt.

I always give my chicks yogurt by day 2, and I have never had an issue with pasty butt. I’ve gotten chicks that came pasty, and the yogurt cleared it right up.

Yogurt is a triple whammy- probiotics + good for additional protein, and also a help in keeping hydrated, because it’s not quite solid.

The electrolyte powder comes in a packet, for one gallon of water. I confess  I did not measure out a gallon, since the packet says to use fresh every day. Now, I assume some of that is to get you to buy more product, but I wasn’t going to risk it. I put a couple of pinches in the water mix.

The first few days, I crushed the selenium and mixed it in with the electrolyte water, in which I put a dropper full of Poly Vi Sol {without iron}, and I also added the vitamin E, to make sure she was actually getting some.

I had read that they should get 50 mcgs of selenium. The dosage I had was 200 mcgs. I got a pill crusher and crushed it into quarters. I had read one situation where the lady crushed some and put it in the entire bottle of vitamins, but I didn’t really want to go that route.

I did a heavy dose of selenium on day 2- 50 mcgs in the water and another 50 mcgs crushed into the food.

The vitamin E capsules are 400 I.U.s, which I gave twice a day. I just snipped the capsule enough to squeeze out the contents and put on the food and in the water a few days.


The wry neck was exhausting.



She often had to rest.


Then she’d perk back up a little and eat some.






And then another rest.



She was lonely, that first day, so I added a friend for her; one I knew couldn’t hurt her.



By the time I got up on day 2, things were not looking good. Her head was completely dragging on the ground {which was nasty, because they still poo….} and she was going in circles. She could only go in reverse, which resulted in her getting wedged into the corner much of the time because she could only go so far.

I also knew she needed to be alone so as not to stress out another chick, and so she could just rest without having anything else in the same space.

By day 3, I was feeling really sad. She was clearly distressed, and wrestling around with her neck was wiping her out. Her balance had gotten worse, and she was also now falling over. I have to be honest and say I didn’t have a lot of hope for her at that point. 😦

But, I had read that while progress was slow, it would happen. So, I tried not to despair and just waited.

In addition to the yogurt, I added some scrambled egg. She got more egg and yogurt than crumble those days, since I was really trying to bump her protein. Eggs are not only full of protein, but they also have vitamin E and selenium in them.

I also made a point to get the liquids in her. I had initially dipped her beak in her water the first day, to make sure she was getting enough, but by days 2 and 3, she had deteriorated enough that I knew it was more stressful to do that then just have her on my lap and use the dropper.

Medicine droppers are easy to find, and they don’t cost much; just like the 88 cent pill crusher I had gotten.

It’s important to just dribble the water drops on the end of the beak so that the chicken doesn’t aspirate {inhale} the water into its lungs. I basically camped out in the office those first few days, watching, watering, and researching. I didn’t want to miss anything.

Day 5 was the day there was actual noticeable progress. Silver had her head up more and more, and her appetite had dramatically improved.

Today, we’re at the 17 day mark. I could probably put her back in with the others, but the boys are still too rambunctious for me to be relaxed about it. Plus, while her preening has improved and is back to normal, I think I want to give her a bath and clean her head throughly.

She’s also got a buddy in with her again. When she started hopping out when we left the ‘lid’ off, we knew it was time to get her some company. We’re rotating chicks out, so when she goes back in the big brooder, she won’t be a total stranger to them.

If you ever think about getting into chickens, know this: there are abundant resources online to help you with whatever: coop design, identifying chicks, predator information and control suggestions; feeding, and yes, illnesses and emergencies.

Here are a few pages that I used as templates for our situation:

A success story that gave me hope: http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/662850/a-happy-ending-to-a-wry-neck-chick-story-with-pics-with-update

More clinical information, including treatment suggestions: http://dlhunicorn.conforums.com/index.cgi?board=casestudiesemergencies&action=display&num=1160927052

You’ll notice that we didn’t use prednisone. While there are some that swear that using it in addition to the other treatment is necessary, I thought I would give the other suggestions a go before giving a steroid that would compromise her immune system.

Let me recap what I did:

Poly Vi Sol WITHOUT iron– comes in a purple box and I found it with the baby/child vitamins at Walmart. You should be able to find this just about anywhere they sell baby stuff. I gave a full dropper full in the water dish and an added boost of a solid dropper-full of just vitamins for the first few days. By the end of the first week, I was just adding it to her water.

Vitamin E capsules– 400 I.U.s x 2 a day

Selenium– 200 microgram pills, cut into 4 pieces. I used an entire pill in with her water/vitamins the first day; most of it going into her water. If you think this is too much, by all means, stick to a lower dosage. I thought a boost on the first day (which was day 2 of injury) wouldn’t hurt her, especially since she had gotten worse.

Yogurt– good for protein and hydration. I always use plain, non-diet yogurt. Anything with flavor just seems to really stink, since I add some crumble to the top so it doesn’t get flung as far. 😆

Egg- I used both scrambled, and also boiled. The key is to mash it so the pieces are small enough to be eaten, because they can’t smash it on the ground to break it into smaller bits.

Electrolytes– this should be next to the Save-A-Chick stuff; not quite the same, as this is more vitamins/minerals as opposed to sugar/pick-me-up-go-go stuff.

Patience- you’ll probably need it, along with a good dose of hope. I’m pretty sure prayer helps, too. 😉

Time– I am fortunate that I’m home and that the kids are willing to help. It has been hugely helpful to have the kids tag-team with me to make sure she always had food and water, and wasn’t getting too distressed. Because we had her water in bowls instead of a regular waterer, drowning was a concern, because in theory, she could get her head in there and not have the strength to get it out.

As you do with baby chicks, you can add some rocks or large marbles to the water so that they can’t get the whole head in and drown. I took the lid off of an old sports bottle and floated it in the condiment dish. Because I had such little liquid in there, I kept the bowl tipped so the liquid was more on one side than the other, if that makes sense.

Another thing I did was to use a small box and put her food plate on it. I used a saucer for her food. Because she could only go either in circles or in reverse, she was again, dragging her head through her food- and the shavings were getting dragged into everything, too. Having the dish on the little box helped keep her head and the shavings out it, and also helped to encourage her to get her head up a little higher.

I used the dish to better keep track of what she was eating; plus, yogurt is gooey. 😆

I will also confess to giving some massage. In people, we call this condition torticollis. I know massage has been helpful in infants, so I thought, why not try it on my chicken? 😆

While I am absolutely not angling to have more wry neck, I think it was overall less stressful than I imagine coccidiosis would be; having an egg-bound hen, or some other unknown situation.

So. That’s what I’ve been up to. What about you? 😆

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