Occasionally you may see a hen will become a bit of a stargazer. No – she won’t be spending time in her garden with a telescope but she will contort her head and bend her head right over her back rather like hen doing her daily yoga.
For hen keepers that have never seen this condition, it can be very alarming to discover and usually people think their hen has broken her neck.
What is it and what causes it?
The technical name for it is Torticollis but we also call the condition Wry Neck, Crook Neck or Stargazing. The cause is not totally known in hens but has been narrowed down to a Vitamin E deficiency, or fungal infection. It is more common in newly hatched caged birds – finches and Love birds are especially susceptible and in these cases, the condition may be due to poor positioning inside the egg.
If you notice that your hen is having difficulty standing or her neck twists and it looks like she’s permanently looking upwards, they’ve likely developed Wry Neck. The good news you’d like to hear is that it is easily treated…
What do you do if this is the case?
Check your hen’s ears and mouth for evidence of a fungal problem or infection. Supplementing Vitamin E and a course of antibiotics should help to correct the condition although often it corrects spontaneously and some hens are normal most of the time with an occasional twist.
An important thing to do is to ensure that your hen can reach food and water easily. Hens usually cope well with Wry Neck and there is no need for drastic action in most cases. You can also make sure their diet is Vitamin E-rich to prevent relapses in the future.
For more information on hen health problems, check out our library of hen heath problems.