Wry Neck in Chickens

by Meghan H

Published August 28, 2017

Wry neck, also called crook or crooked neck, twisted neck, or stargazing, is a condition that can affect chicks, chickens, and other poultry. This condition causes your chicken to lose control of its neck and not be able to hold it up. It can progress to the point where the bird cannot stand without falling or walk without stumbling, and even death if left untreated. There are many causes of Wry Neck. Here we will focus on the nutritional deficiency aspect of the disease in chickens.

What causes Wry Neck?

There are multiple different reasons wry neck can occur. It can be a genetic issue, a vitamin deficiency, or even a head injury. Wry Neck can also be a symptom of a bigger problem such as exposure to toxins, Botulism, Newscastle Disease, Marek’s Disease, or even an ear infection.

Vitamin Deficiency

It is crucial to make sure your birds are fed a proper diet. Poultry diets lacking in the proper amount of Vitamin E, in particular, can result in wry neck. The recommended level of Vitamin E for chickens of all ages and types is between 10 and 25 IUs. If you observe signs or symptoms of this condition, you should increase the Vitamin E immediately in your flock’s diet. Please note that selenium is also required for Vitamin E to be properly absorbed. These following are great natural sources of vitamin E:

  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Pumpkin
  • Spinach
  • Turnips
  • Beets
  • Collard Greens
  • Dandelion Greens
  • Purslane
  • Paprika
  • Red or Cayenne Pepper
  • Chili
  • Curry
  • Oregano
  • Ginger
  • Cloves

Meyer Hatchery also offers supplements that include Vitamin E:

A deficiency in Vitamin B-1, better known as thiamine, can also result in wry neck in chickens. Brewer’s yeast is absolutely the best natural source of thiamin. Other natural sources include cereal grains and their by-product meals, and in fact, the by-product meals are higher because the thiamin is primarily in the germ and seed coats of those grains.
Meyer Hatchery also offers supplements that include thiamine:

  • Durvet Vitamins & Electrolytes
  • Vital Pack or Vital Pack Plus

Are Certain Breeds at higher risk for this condition?

Not having the protection of a hard skull like other breeds, Polish and Silkie breeds are more susceptible to head injuries. Having fancy headdresses makes them the perfect target to be pecked by the other chicks. It is highly recommended that they are separated from any aggressive flock mates to avoid head injury that may lead to wry neck and a host of other issues.

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