Hi all, this is my first post and I am perplexed by our first chicken experience.
About 5 months ago I purchased our small flock for my 8 year old to get some experience with. They were 3 olive eggers and 1 Americana. The Americana was about a week older than the other 3.
All was well until they were about 2 months old. My husband found one dead in their coop/box. They are in an 8x10 tractor. There were no signs of illness before the death and no foul play like predators, etc. No blood, no injury- just a dead chicken. We even keep the tractor very close to our house under shelter to try and prevent them from being too hot/cold.
About two months later we lost our second. We thought that could have been due to a storm that happened the night before, but again, just a dead chicken. No blood, no injury, no previous signs of illness. They all acted fine the day she died.
Tonight my husband went out to check on our remaining 2 girls and was hoping he was seeing some early egg-readiness-signs. Our oldest (Americana) was acting a little lethargic, not interested in food, etc. Within 2 hours, however, she seems barely alive. Barely breathing, panting a bit when she is held, and not able to get into their coop.
We have done as thorough of an exam as amateurs can do. She isn't hurt or injured, no blood, doesn't seem egg-bound or anything. Her eyes were clear and she seemed somewhat alert. When we picked her up to do the exam (we normally don't hold our chickens) she was very passive. After a few minutes of checking her out, she seemed barely able to hold her head up. While my husband was holding her, she was kind of drooling a bit though- clear liquid coming out of her beak and dripping on his shirt, but maybe only 3-4 drops.
We don't have an emergency vet that treats chickens in our area, and even if we did, I honestly don't think I can afford to put more money into this amateur endeavor. I have spent a small fortune for these guys for my daughter and so far it has been nothing but a nightmare. She is crying and crying over this one, for the third time.
Any idea why we are having such bad luck with our chickens? Are we doing something wrong? We check on them at least 2x every day, morning and evening. They have feed which was recommended by the person I bought them from, fresh water 2x per day, shade and a box to stay warm in with a roosting pole and a nesting box... I really don't understand what we have done wrong here.
My mom kept chickens growing up and always said they were so easy to care for. My daughter is distraught over losing another and I don't feel like we can keep the last living bird by itself in our tractor, so I assume we will find a farm home for her assuming the other one passes away tonight (which I expect to happen).
I am so upset that I decided to go into this for my daughter, and now this has happened. If I've done something wrong I would love to know what it is- but all my searching, reading and research turns up nothing. Any ideas for such bad luck?