Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Wry neck in chicks

We recently had the issue of wry neck rear it's ugly little head in our Silkie coop, multiple times. It seems that Silkies tend to get wry neck more then other breeds and over the years I have had an isolated instance of it here and there. Wry neck is a condition where the neck is twisted. It's also called crook neck, twisted neck or stargazing. Some time their necks twist up so it looks like their looking at the sky, others are backwards and still others are almost upside down like this little guy....

hoe to heal wry neck in chicks

That's not good! There are several different beliefs on why chicks get wry neck. Some say it's strictly a vitamin deficiency, other say its certain breeds (Silkies and polish) and then there's the genetic link. I've found that it's actually a combination. Yes, my Silkies get it more then any other breed. However, I have cured it with supplements. I've also found (as with the chick in the picture) that if a chick outgrows wry neck, their offspring are more likely to get it. Confused yet? It's certainly not a cut and dried answer, but it's the only one I've got!

Now, lets get back to my chicks getting wry neck. The first one I just accepted as a sometimes silkie thing. The next one clicked the light bulb on in my head. Genetics! Sure enough once I moved her mama hen to the grow out pen and ran through the current incubation cycle, the wry neck chicks stopped. Problem solved. Finally. All of those chick had been from this little girl.

She was hatched last year from a reputable breeder (who shall remain unnamed)  to add to our breeding stock. At about 3 weeks old she developed wry neck. I got her through it with vitamin E and selenium three times daily and neck massages. I bought the capsules and pierced them open, squeezing a few drops on her beak each time. She quit getting worse as soon as I started treatment. It probably took about a week to tell she was getting better though. Another 2 weeks and you could barely tell at all. Success! However, there is still the genetic issue to contend with. Even though she's healed, some of her chicks have problems with wry neck. It's better to just remove a hen from the breeding group rather then take the chance of wry neck in her chicks. Sadly, they don't all make it even with treatment.

This pretty black hen now resides in the grow out pen with the teenager silkies. She's looking for a 'laying hen' home with full disclosure of her ailments. She's fluffed out a bit since that first picture was taken of her as a pullet. She's a pretty girl, a sweetheart and might even be able to be shown....but never used as a breeder! Lesson learned!
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