I'm very sorry to hear that you lost your bird. I really couldn't say, unfortunately, without more information. However I would go ahead and do what I call The Official Chicken Exam and try to figure out what that happened before and eliminate it happening again.
Edited by threehorses - 7/21/09 at 4:56pm
Losing a bird is the exact time to do it.
Here's an outline of the exam and questions I ask myself to troubleshoot. If you want to answer them here, maybe we can help you figure out the cause. If not, it's handy to have when you're doing your check-overs at least monthly to try to catch problems before they get too out of hand.
Nathalie's troubleshooting exam and flock history list:
Examine her body for weight: is she thin, heavy, skinny, lumpy, fat? Can you feel her keel like a spatula, or just slightly, or within a crease of fatty flesh?
Examine her eyes: are they clear and bright? No discoloration on the eyes surface? Any drainage? Pupils both round and reactive to light?
Examine her beak/throat: are her nares (nostrils) clear? Is the inside of her mouth healthy and pink? Does she have excess mucus? Is her beak pale in color? Does she have bad breath or a sour smell?
Examine her crop: Is she holding feed after a night of not eating? Are her crop contents appropriate to what shes been eating? Does she get granite type grit?
Examine her skin: check carefully for lice/mites (see below**). Look for any broken skin, redness of vent, scratches, anything abnormal.
Examine her abdomen: Feel delicately between her legs and back up to her vent - do you feel any lumpiness, or is she firm, or is she hard-bodied?
Listen to her respiratory system: With your ear against her throat and chest, listen to her breathing. Do you hear hiccups, wheezes, rales, or rattles? Do you hear any strange noises or whistles near her nostrils?
Examine her vent: Other than the clinging droppings, do you see white or black waxy stuff near her vent? Any sores from the droppings? Is her actual vent opening tight and dry, or is it dilated (open) and moist. (This can indicate if she's trying to lay.)
Tell us more about diet: do your hens have access to both granite type grit as well as oyster shell? Is she on diet appropriate for her age and type? (Grower,starter-grower, layer, layer-breeder)? Does she have more grains than complete (crumble/pellet) feed? What does her entire diet consist of? Do you use any products in your waterers? If so, what kind?
Tell us more about the environment: Is your ill bird kept with others of different ages? Were any new birds added recently? Are you birds kept in a coop/coop with run/free range, or other arrangement? If injury, is it possible that it was caused by the other chickens,, or a predator? What type of bedding do you use? (shavings, straw, sand, etc) Has the environment been wet lately because of weather or spilled waterers? Do the chickens have 2 square feet of room each? Do they have plenty of ventilation and fresh air, or is the room in which they are kept rather air tight? Do you smell any smells in their housing?
Worming: do you worm? If so, when did you last worm, and with what products?
Misc Environment: does she have access to any compost, kitchen scraps, manure piles, ponds?
New additions: Were any birds, including this one, vaccinated for anything of which youre aware? Were they or her purchased from a feedstore/flea market/private breeder/hatchery?
Thank you for answering all million of these questions (wink). The more info put in, the more info we can put out. I look forward to your reply.
**Mites and lice: they're nearly microscopic, and mites only go onto the birds at night often enough and then occassionally they just remain off the bird while they lay their eggs in the wood of the coops, etc. Check them at night, with a flashlight (and the coop light on), and a light colored pillowcase to help you find mites. Ruffle through all of their feathers. Pay careful attention to the warm/moist areas under the wing feathers, near the vent, along all the feather shafts, etc. If you find them, you must treat the bird and the premises and the birds must be retreated at least once in 7 days - preferably twice. Recheck a few times this week and next to try to find mites. Let us know if you find anything like this and we'll advise on treatment.