Wry neck is not an illness itself but rather a symptom
used to describe an abnormal head and neck position. Other commonly used slang terms include 'twisted neck', 'stargazing', limber neck', 'crook neck', and 'crooked neck'. The correct scientific term is actually torticollis. Wry neck causes the bird's head and neck to appear twisted and tilted. Depending on the cause, affected birds may initially be unable to hold their head up on their own.
Wry Neck in Chicks
In newly hatched chicks, wry neck may develop due to nutritional deficiencies, genetics, and incubation problems. These include:
- Deficiency in vitamins, often as a result of breeder chickens having a deficiency.
- Chicks malpositioned in the egg during incubation. These birds also may have difficulty hatching without intervention. It occurrs when the embryo experiences greater muscle pull on one side of the neck, which together with pressure from the amnion, resulting in the ‘apparent’ skeletal deformity.
- In some cases a chick may simply possess a genetic defect in their bloodlines (inbreed chickens).
Since wry neck prevents the chicken from being able to eat or drink on it's own, the bird can starve or become dehydrated leading to death without assistance and supportive care.
Wry Neck in Adult Chickens
There are multiple causes of wry neck in chickens.