Wry Neck – Backyard Chickens’ Health and Care

Illnesses in chickens

What is Wry Neck?

Wry neck, also known as crook neck or torticollis, is a condition that affects chickens and is characterised by a twisted neck. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including injury, nutritional deficiencies, infections, or genetic factors.

Wry Neck Symptoms

The most obvious symptom of wry neck is a twisted or tilted neck. It’s quite disturbing to see your hen with a twisted neck, it can look like it’s broken! The chicken may also have difficulty walking, standing, or balancing due to the neck’s abnormal position. Some chickens may also experience paralysis of the neck muscles.

Wry Neck Causes

Wry neck can be caused by a variety of factors. Injuries to the neck or head, such as from pecking or being attacked by other birds, can lead to wry neck. Nutritional deficiencies, particularly a lack of vitamin E or selenium, can also cause the condition. Certain infections, including avian encephalomyelitis and Marek’s disease, can also cause wry neck. Some genetic factors can also make chickens more susceptible to developing wry neck.

Wry Neck Diagnosis

Diagnosing wry neck in chickens usually involves a physical exam and a review of the bird’s medical history. X-rays or other diagnostic imaging may be used to rule out injuries or other underlying conditions.

Wry Neck Treatment

The treatment for wry neck depends on the underlying cause. If the condition is caused by a nutritional deficiency, supplementing the chicken’s diet with vitamin E or selenium can help (you can get these from the pharmacy, but they will look at you funny if you say its for your chicken). Infections can be treated with antibiotics or antiviral medications, if available. In some cases, supportive care, such as physical therapy or immobilisation of the neck, may be necessary.

Wry Neck Prevention

Preventing wry neck in chickens involves maintaining good flock management practices. Providing a balanced diet with adequate vitamins and minerals, preventing injuries, and practicing good biosecurity measures can all help reduce the risk of wry neck in chickens.


Wry neck can be a serious condition in chickens that can impact their quality of life and ability to move around freely. However, with proper diagnosis and treatment, many chickens can recover from wry neck and lead healthy, happy lives. Good flock management practices, including proper nutrition and injury prevention, can also help prevent the condition from occurring in the first place.

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