I didn't get any replies in the egg laying subform, so I'm posting here:
So I went out to let the ducks in and check on the chooks and found one of my hens dead on the floor of the coop. It was a busy day and I wasn't in the garden all afternoon.
Edited by CaptainQwak - 5/9/16 at 4:27pm
There was an egg (definitely hers) on the straw directly behind her. She seemed to be in good health. Comb was a little pale, but not sickly. I have no idea what happened. There was no blood or evidence of trauma, no visible prolapse.
Can they die from the stress of egg laying? She was barely a year old and still laying small pullet eggs, so I don't think it was strain. Her eggs had been fairly consistent.
My son wants to bury her and won't let me take her in for an autopsy. She was a Columbian Wyandotte.
She had been eating feathers and I suspected a protein deficiency. This batch of hens is being fed organic Scratch & Peck layer feed, with supplemental hard boiled eggs, egg shell, veggies, and occasionally some S&P scratch in the afternoon. For the first six months I mixed organic oats in with the feed. The girls all had bad moults and their feathers look very scruffy. They free range once or twice a week, but hadn't been out for a few days on account of rain. The coop was cleaned last weekend and had new, clean straw. I am totally at a loss.