Chickens Beware: The Unsettling Truth Behind Head Shaking

Head shaking in chickens can indicate underlying health issues that range from minor irritations to more serious conditions. It can be caused by factors such as fly irritation, respiratory diseases, neurological disorders, and external parasites.

In this article, we delve into the unsettling truth behind head shaking in chickens, exploring the various potential causes and their implications. By understanding these concerns, chicken owners can take appropriate measures to ensure the well-being of their flock.

Key Takeaways

  • Head shaking in chickens can be caused by various factors such as irritation from flies, lice and mites, underlying diseases, and natural reasons like annoyance from insects or water on the head.
  • An impacted crop, where the crop gets partially blocked by stuck food, can lead to vigorous head shaking in chickens.
  • External parasites like mites, lice, and fleas can cause irritation and discomfort in chickens, and prevention is important in avoiding infestations.
  • Respiratory issues, such as gapeworm infection, chronic respiratory disease, infectious coryza, infectious laryngotracheitis, and Mareks disease, can also cause head shaking in chickens.

Reasons for Head Shaking in Chickens

One of the reasons for head shaking in chickens is irritation from flies, which can lead to discomfort and potential health issues. Flies are known to bother chickens, especially around their heads, and can cause them to shake their heads vigorously to ward off these pesky insects.

To address this issue, potential treatments for head shaking in chickens include using fly repellents or insecticides specifically designed for poultry. Additionally, implementing preventive measures can help avoid head shaking in chickens.

These measures may include keeping the coop clean and free from flies, providing adequate ventilation to reduce moisture and prevent fly breeding, and using fly traps or sticky tapes to catch flies. Regular health checks and maintaining good overall hygiene can also contribute to preventing head shaking in chickens.

Natural Causes of Head Shaking in Chickens

The natural causes of head shaking in chickens can include irritation from flies, water in nares, and the need to break up large pieces of food or swallow something stuck in their throat. Chickens exhibit various natural behaviors that may lead to head shaking, such as annoyance from flies buzzing near their ears or the need to get rid of water on their head or nares. They may also shake their heads to break up food or clear their throat. To prevent head shaking, it is important to take preventive measures, such as providing a clean and fly-free environment for the chickens, ensuring their water sources are clean, and feeding them appropriate-sized food. By understanding and addressing these natural behaviors, chicken owners can help keep their flock healthy and comfortable.

Natural Behaviors Preventive Measures
Annoyance from flies Clean and fly-free environment
Water on head or nares Clean water sources
Breaking up food Appropriate-sized food

Impacted Crop: A Possible Cause of Head Shaking

An impacted crop, causing blockage in the digestive system, can lead to head shaking and excessive drinking in chickens. This condition occurs when the crop, a part of the chicken's digestive system where food is temporarily stored, becomes partially blocked by stuck food or foreign objects.

To prevent and treat an impacted crop, it is important to recognize the symptoms early on. These may include vigorous head shaking, increased drinking, and a distended crop. If left untreated, a severe blockage may require veterinary intervention.

To prevent an impacted crop, it is crucial to provide chickens with a balanced diet, avoid feeding long blades of grass or feathers, and ensure access to clean water.

Treatment options for an impacted crop may include massaging the crop, administering probiotics, or surgically removing the blockage if necessary.

The Link Between Mites & Lice and Head Shaking

Several studies have shown a significant correlation between the presence of mites and lice and the occurrence of head shaking in chickens. These external parasites can cause itchiness and irritation, leading to discomfort and frequent head shaking in affected birds.

To emphasize the impact of mites and lice on head shaking in chickens, it is important to prioritize prevention measures. This can include regular cleaning and disinfection of coops, using plastic coops that are less prone to infestations, and implementing proper biosecurity practices.

Gapeworm Infection: A Serious Respiratory Issue

Caused by a tiny red parasitic worm in the windpipe, gapeworm infection poses a serious respiratory issue for chickens, leading to difficulty in breathing and a range of distressing symptoms. This infection can have a significant impact on egg production in chickens.

Gapeworms can cause damage to the respiratory system, leading to decreased lung capacity and increased stress on the bird's body. This can result in reduced egg production and poor egg quality.

To prevent gapeworm infection, it is essential to implement effective strategies, such as practicing good hygiene, providing clean water sources, and regularly deworming chickens. Additionally, maintaining proper ventilation in the coop and minimizing exposure to wild birds can help reduce the risk of gapeworm infection.

Chronic Respiratory Disease in Chickens

Chronic Respiratory Disease in chickens can lead to significant health issues, including nasal discharge, sneezing, gurgling sounds, coughing, and inflammation of the eyes. Early identification of these symptoms is crucial for effective prevention and management of the disease. To emphasize the importance of early detection, here is a table highlighting the key symptoms and their significance:

Symptom Significance
Nasal discharge Indicates respiratory infection or inflammation
Sneezing Common sign of respiratory distress
Gurgling sounds Indicates fluid accumulation in the respiratory system
Coughing Indicates irritation or infection in the respiratory tract
Inflammation of eyes Often a result of bacterial or viral infection

Ear Infections and Head Shaking

One potential cause of head shaking in chickens is an ear infection, which can lead to itching and discomfort. Ear infections are a common health issue in chickens and can have a significant impact on their overall well-being. When chickens have ear infections, they may experience the following effects:

  • Itching and discomfort in the affected ear.
  • Scratching or rubbing the affected ear.
  • Head shaking to alleviate the irritation.
  • Difficulty maintaining balance due to inner ear involvement.
  • Potential coordination problems and neurological issues.

It is important to address ear infections promptly to prevent further complications and ensure the chicken's well-being. If you suspect that your chicken may have an ear infection, it is recommended to seek veterinary assistance for proper diagnosis and treatment. By addressing ear infections in chickens, we can help improve their quality of life and overall health.

Understanding Infectious Coryza and Head Shaking

The occurrence of infectious coryza and head shaking among chickens can be observed in a significant number of affected flocks.

Infectious coryza is a highly contagious bacterial disease that targets the respiratory system of chickens. It is characterized by symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, facial swelling, and watery eyes. One of the discomforting signs of this disease is frequent head shaking in chickens.

To prevent the spread of infectious coryza and maintain chicken health, several prevention measures can be implemented. These include strict biosecurity protocols, proper sanitation practices, and vaccination against the disease.

Additionally, effective treatment options for infectious coryza include the use of antibiotics, such as erythromycin or tetracycline, under the guidance of a veterinarian.

Understanding the connection between infectious coryza and head shaking is crucial for early detection and timely intervention to minimize the impact on chicken health and flock productivity.

Exploring Infectious Laryngotracheitis and Head Shaking

Through meticulous exploration, researchers are unraveling the intricate relationship between infectious laryngotracheitis and the perplexing phenomenon of head shaking in chickens.

Head shaking in chickens can be attributed to various factors, including viral respiratory diseases. Infectious laryngotracheitis, caused by the herpes virus, is one such disease that affects the respiratory system and eyes of chickens. Symptoms include nasal discharge, facial swelling, eye infection, coughing, and strange breathing noises.

Treatment options for infectious laryngotracheitis are available, but vaccinated birds can still spread the virus. As researchers delve deeper into understanding the connection between head shaking and infectious laryngotracheitis, it is crucial to develop effective treatment strategies that can alleviate the discomfort caused by this viral respiratory disease.

Mareks Disease: A Hidden Cause of Head Shaking

Researchers are uncovering the potential link between head shaking in chickens and Marek's disease, a hidden cause that poses significant health risks to poultry populations worldwide.

Marek's disease, caused by the herpes virus, has long-term effects on chickens, including paralysis and cancerous tumor growth. The virus stays dormant in a chicken's body, making it difficult to detect and control. Vaccination has been successful in preventing the disease, but recent outbreaks have been caused by severe strains.

To prevent and control Marek's disease, poultry farmers need to implement strict biosecurity measures, including proper disinfection of equipment and facilities, isolation of infected birds, and regular vaccination. Additionally, genetic selection for resistance to Marek's disease can help reduce the risk of transmission and minimize the long-term impact on chicken health.


In conclusion, head shaking in chickens can be a sign of various underlying health issues.

It can be caused by natural factors such as irritation from flies or discomfort from external parasites like lice and mites.

However, it can also be a symptom of more serious conditions like an impacted crop, gapeworm infection, ear infections, infectious coryza, infectious laryngotracheitis, or Mareks disease.

Chicken owners should be aware of these potential health concerns and take appropriate measures to maintain the well-being of their flock.

Similar Posts