My 1 year old Silver Gray Dorking hen was totally happy and healthy on Thursday evening, at least as far as I could tell. She was her normal lovely, bold, and friendly self, following me around, getting underfoot, and asking for treats. I didn't get out to check on the hens yesterday, but I went out this afternoon (Saturday) I found her laying dead in the yard. She seemed to have no obvious injuries--no blood, no punctures, not even a feather out of place. Just laying on her side, eyes closed. She was still stiff. There was an egg in the nest box that I think she laid yesterday (she was my only white egg layer, so I know it's hers). The remaining 8 hens are all acting normal as far as I can see.
I suspect she probably died yesterday but I didn't notice until today. I feel terrible not knowing what happened to her--it just doesn't look like a predator to me, and she wasn't obviously sick. I am wondering if it was just random organ failure, or if maybe she ate a plant she shouldn't have, or what. If there's a danger to my other girls, I want to know.
It has been in the 70s/80s the last two days, and humid. I am thinking of trying to get her a necropsy, but it looks like the closest state facility is almost 3 hours from here, so I would have to mail her--and the post office is closed tomorrow, of course. So even if I put her in a cooler with ice packs around her now, she would probably have been dead over 24 hours outside, plus 2-3 more days before she makes it to the lab. Is it worth trying to send her?
She was so sweet, by far my friendliest hen... :(