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Chicken walking backwards

Posted: 17 Jul 2010, 11:27
by dara
One of our chickens has been spending alot of time in the house, we thought she had gone broody. However when she comes out she keeps dropping her head and starts walking backwards. She was drinking when she was out this morning but didn't eat. Other than the weird behaviour she seems well.
Anyone any ideas as it's the first time we have seen this. :scratch:

Re: Chicken walking backwards

Posted: 17 Jul 2010, 11:31
by tweedy
Looking for bugs and such. :thumbright:

Re: Chicken walking backwards

Posted: 17 Jul 2010, 13:29
by dara
Mmmmm, probably not as she does it when the cockerel tries to mount her......
tweedy wrote:Looking for bugs and such. :thumbright:

Re: Chicken walking backwards

Posted: 17 Jul 2010, 13:33
by Funny Farm
Is it like this,my sussex has been doing it

Re: Chicken walking backwards

Posted: 17 Jul 2010, 14:44
by dara
That's kind of it, except she tends to twist her neck when doing it, any ideas why yours does it?
Funny Farm wrote:Is it like this,my sussex has been doing it

Re: Chicken walking backwards

Posted: 17 Jul 2010, 14:55
by laffinfowl
She,s been watching wacko jacko videos then! :lol:

Re: Chicken walking backwards

Posted: 18 Jul 2010, 01:33
by birdsofparadise
Alan Stanford on CROOKNECK (from injury to head)

I followed this advice a couple of years ago and successfully cured a young silkie who is still going strong and you would never know there had ever been a problem. (the vet told me there was no point) I kept up with it for a couple of mnths. GOOD LUCK

« Thread started on: Oct 15th, 2006, 11:44am »
Here is a video showing the condition:

The following "case study" includes the treatment article for CROOKNECK due to injury to the head (occurs quite often in SILKIES and other crested fowl)
reposted here with the relevant "HOLE-IN-HEAD" article from Alan Stanfords excellent article base at his site BROWN EGG BLUE EGG:
THANKS Alan for your generosity and knowledge in sharing this!

Hi everyone,
> I think that one of my little birds is sick or getting sick. She seems fine as far as eacting or drinking, but she stumbles when she walks, and when you pick her up to pet her, she tucks her head in at a very wierd angle. I know that I've read symptoms like this on the list, just can't find the info - can someone help me out? What do I giveher, and do I give the other two the same? Thanks for all the help!!

This can be many things.
The first things to check on chickens are lice, mites, and coccidiosis. These
can sap the strength of a bird and cause all sorts of symptoms. What's more,
all 3 of these are typically much worse on just a few birds in a flock. The
others have at least limited resistance. Yes, it is true, limited resistance
to lice and mites!

After that it sounds like a neurological problem.

One possibility is botulism or toxins from mold. Just a bit of moldy grain or fungus on the underside of floor boards, in bedding, or one walls can be the cause.

Another possibility is what I call crookneck. Silkies have a hole in the top of their skull and brain bulges out. A bow to this exposed brain can kill or cause
crookneck. The symptoms of crookneck include
1. Tucking the head between legs
2. Tucking the head between legs and backing up
3. Tucking the head between legs and tumbling over
4. Walking in circles
5. Holding the head to one side
6. Loss of balance

I have a treatment for crookneck that I will append to this email. Remember that I am not a vet and the best bet is to take my information to a vet. The prednisone in my treatment was suggested by a vet who did a necropsy on a Silkie with crookneck. He saw �water on the brain.�

In my treatment, the most important part is to hand feed if necessary and keep
the bird from harm from the other birds. The vitamins and prednisone will not
harm a bird with a different problem.


Treating "Crookneck"
by Alan Stanford
Permission to share this is granted as long as you give credit to the Author

Here is my theory and therapy for what some call "limber neck" and I call crookneck. The symptoms first show as a crook in the neck. It progresses to
tucking the head, then tucking the head between the legs, then backing up, and tumbling over. It usually hits young birds but can happen at any age.

It is unclear what causes crookneck. American Silkie Bantam Club members suggest water on the brain, vitamin E deficiency, and injury to the brain that
is outside the skull and forms the knob on the top of Silkie's heads. The brain injury is the cause I feel fairly certain about.

Water on the brain was seen in a necropsy of an affected bird. Prednisone was suggested as symptomatic relief. Vitamin E and B complex are both good for neurological disorders. Selenium helps absorb vitamin E.

Here's what I do for affected birds. If started before symptoms get severe, the bird will totally recover. To give vitamin E - just cut the end off a human capsule and squirt it in the bird's mouth.

It is important to be sure the bird gets enough to eat and drink while it has this problem. Birds with severe cases of crookneck can't eat and drink enough to survive. You will need to gently place their head in the feed dish and carefully dip just the tip of the beak in water. Be careful not to dip too far into the water and to not stress the bird while trying to help.

The following is for an adult about 2 pound bird. Scale back for smaller birds.

For the first week I give

Twice a day
2.5 mg of prednisone
400 IU of vitamin E

Once a day
A piece of human vitamin B complex pill or a squirt of human liquid vitamins
Selenium (50 micrograms/day for half size juvenile for 3 days)

For the second week I give

Once a day
2.5 mg of prednisone
400 IU of vitamin E
A piece of human vitamin B complex pill or a squirt of human liquid vitamins

Every other day
Selenium (50 micrograms/day for half size juvenile for 3 days)

For the following weeks I give

Once a day
2.5 mg of prednisone
400 IU of vitamin E
A piece of human vitamin B complex pill or a squirt of human liquid vitamins

Every third day
Selenium (50 micrograms/day for half size juvenile for 3 days)

Do not abruptly stop prednisone, the swelling rebounds, decrease dose
Vitamin E recovery can be slow; continue the vitamin E for several weeks at

You can get the prednisone from a vet; just describe the problem of
swelling in
the brain probably due to injury. Yes Silkies' brains do stick out through a
hole on the top of the skull.

You can get the vitamin E, selenium, and vitamin B complex or liquid
vitamins at
any pharmacy.

To get prednisone, print the pictures at
and take them to a vet. (for those unable to access this article, Alan has generously given his permission to repost the article/photos below)

Silkies Have a Hole in Their Head
By Alan Stanford, Ph.D.
January 30, 2003

Silkies have a hole in the top of their skull. Kate learned this as she and a professor from the University of Wisconsin dissected a Silkie. As far as we know all Silkies have this hole in the head; perhaps the size varies from bird to bird. Our local vet claims there are other breeds with this odd feature.

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Many breeders select for Silkies with a knob on the top of their head because they believe knobs give larger and rounder crests. This knob is brain bulging outside the skull. We call birds these birds round heads and birds without knobs flat heads. Although we do not select for the knob, our friend George Mihalik found 90% of our show birds had round heads. Maybe there is some truth to the theory of round heads having better looking crests; maybe round heads are a dominant trait.

I have heard several stories of Silkies dieing from seemingly insignificant blows to the head. In 2001 Pedro (one of our cockerels) jumped and hit his head in a travel carrier. He died within an hour. After the 2002 Ohio National we found Attila the Hun (another of our cockerels) almost dead in a travel coop but I revived him with mouth to beak resuscitation. We guess he hit his head. I almost killed Attila a month later as I broke up a cockerel fight but once again I resuscitated him. I theorize that what we call crookneck and others call limber neck is caused by trauma to a Silkie's exposed brain.

Birds with crookneck tuck their heads between their legs and their neck muscles are taught. In severe cases the birds back up, twitch their tucked heads side to side, and flip upside down.

A necropsy of one of Valerie Hirvela's birds with crookneck found nothing except some fluid on the brain. The vet suggested prednisone might help afflicted birds. Vitamin E and vitamin B complex seem to help Crookneck birds; these vitamins help the nervous system. All of this is consistent with my theory that an injury to a Silkie's exposed brain produces crookneck. Crookneck strikes birds of any age. I think I saw a correlation with more crowding of our chicks. I also suppose raising Araucanas with our Silkies produced more crookneck birds. I speculate that the feisty Araucanas were popping the Silkies on the head.

Although the connection between crookneck and the exposed brain is only a supposition, the exposed brain is a fact.
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Here is an interesting link about the subject.

(scroll down to >Crested fowl - Cerebral Hemmorhage)
« Last Edit: Nov 11th, 2006, 11:37pm by DL »

Re: Chicken walking backwards

Posted: 18 Jul 2010, 10:59
by laffinfowl
Interesting B.O.P. Looks the ideal type of post for Greggorios proposed Data Base. :-k

Re: Chicken walking backwards

Posted: 23 Jul 2010, 19:20
by Woodburner
When I was worried that the chicks were contracting Marek's I read that article, and, figuring that the things mentioned were good for nerves, I gave the chicks chopped brazil nuts for selenium and poultry vits in the water for vit B. I couldn't get prednisolone and was worried about the withdrawal business anyway. I don't know how much the nuts and vits had to do with it, or the other seeds, garlic and stuff I gave them, but they didn't get any worse, and soon stopped showing symptoms too.

Forgot to mention my hole in the head hen. Several weeks ago, shortly after letting the silkies out, there was an unusual kerfuffle under one of the boards sheltering a feeder. I dashed over to find her totally spazzing out, like she was having a stroke. I realised that the over randy young cockerels had been after her just before, as they were after all of the hens, and must have grabbed her on or near the front of her crest. She was having trouble breathing, her wings were all over the place, so I folded them and held them to her sides, her head was lolling about over her back, and I really expected her to die in my arms. Gradually, her breathing returned to normal though, and she just about lifted her head back to it's normal position. I isolated her and after a coule of hours was walking and eating ok, albeit much subdued. She had been the tamest and feistiest hen until then. None of the normal flat skulled ones have had anything happen, even when the cockerels were at their worst.

Re: Chicken walking backwards

Posted: 24 Jul 2010, 00:50
by CP
Is prednisone, mentioned in the article, the same as prednisolone? Prednisolone is a steroid - OH has had it for his arthritis. ;)

Re: Chicken walking backwards

Posted: 24 Jul 2010, 08:11
by Woodburner
Oops typo! :oops:
It's nearly the same though.
Prednisone is a prodrug that is converted by the liver into prednisolone

Re: Chicken walking backwards

Posted: 24 Jul 2010, 20:40
by subruss
Should be ok along as she does not start sucking eggs up

Re: Chicken walking backwards

Posted: 26 Nov 2010, 04:06
by lilac777
My 1.5 year old Ameraucana hen has started doing this in the past week - tucking her head in and walking backwards - sometimes only a short ways, sometimes keeps going until she runs into something. Sometimes she walks forward and is about to eat or drink and then she walks backward. No diarrhea, no other sign of ill health, but she is molting and now getting thinner because this is interfering with her eating. Her neck isn't twisted; she's just backing up. Our other 4 hens are behaving normally. Does the other person who posted about this have an update on their hen?

Re: Chicken walking backwards

Posted: 27 Nov 2010, 21:07
by Helen Jones
I've got a chicken who's doing this too.

I spoke to the vet and he gave me steroids for her working on the basis that it was some sort of inflammation in the brain due to a possible head injury from a fall.

She only does it occasionally now although does still do it and we were thinking of giving her another round of steroids as it'll be a month next week since we gave her the last round of treatment.

She seems fine in all other respects and only seems to do it first thing in the morning.

She seems to drop her head and sometimes just walks one or two paces backwards and other times carries on going until she backs into something. She appears to be 'out of it' when she's doing it and then backing into something 'wakes her up' and then she returns to normal.

She's laying fine and doesn't seem too bothered by it, but might try and brazil nuts and nutri drops.


Re: Chicken walking backwards

Posted: 09 Nov 2016, 09:55
by HowardBaker
Chicken walking backwards... This is the first time when I read such a hilarious post. Thanks for making my day:)