2 hens dead in 5 days with no obvious injuries

Sonnetray

Hatching
May 27, 2020
3
0
3
So I have a mixed flock of what was 13 hens. They are almost a year old. We got them as day old chicks and they were vaccinated with the vaccines offered at Murray McMurray. I have been raising chickens now for almost 6 years. My last flock was only 5 hens, and they all lived for 5-6 years and were all killed by predators. This flock has been up until five days ago healthy and strong with no signs of disease. About two and a half weeks ago my buff Orpington, Sonnet suddenly became what I assumed was broody. We separated her and the day before she died she seemed to be coming out of the broody situation I thought she was in. That day she acted completely normal and was back with the rest of the girls. She did not appear sick or anything. The next day when I opened the coop she was passed just laying on the floor with no injuries. After a little more research I came to the conclusion that what I thought was broody behavior maybe was actually a sign of being egg bound and I then assumed that is probably what killed her. We were terribly heart broken- she was my husbands special bird and she was just such a sweetheart. Five days later, today I opened the coop door and after the rest of the girls ran out, I noticed Ray, my lovey black Astro seeming to have trouble walking. She slid down the ramp instead of walking and I scooped her her up to examine her. Her mouth was open and she just seemed to be in and out of consciousness. I thought her eyes were glossy but it could’ve been because she was dying. At this point she could no longer stand and then she did some flailing and passed away on my arms. Last night she was perfectly fine. She had no signs of any sickness at all. Now I’m devastated. I obviously no longer think that Sonnet died from being egg bound and am starting to think I have some kind of disease or something that is attacking my girls. We are surrounded by woods and have turkeys and rabbits and all kinds of wildlife frequenting our yard But never entering their enclosure. I am just looking for some direction of finding what could be causing this so I don’t have to lose anymore. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
 

humblehillsfarm

Crowing
Mar 27, 2020
3,078
5,858
411
Southwestern Pennsylvania
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I am so, so sorry for your loss. Chickens can often have internal issues without showing signs. If you can, find a location that can perform a necropsy on the carcass. It's the only way to really know for sure. I'm sorry I don't have any other ideas or suggestions.
 

coach723

Free Ranging
6 Years
Feb 12, 2015
6,531
10,923
611
North Florida
I'm very sorry for your loss. :hugs
@humblehillsfarm is correct, the best way to know what is going on is by necropsy. The possiblilites are many, from reproductive problems, virus's, bacterial infections, parasites or coccidia, etc. Birds are very good at hiding symptoms, and many conditions can present with similar symptoms. Losing two close together could mean something contagious, or it could just be coincidence and completely separate causes. If you still have the body, you can refrigerate (don't freeze) and send off for necropsy. If you don't, then I would consider having another one done in the future if you lose another to unknown causes or similar symptoms. It can be very helpful to know what was the cause, to know if there is something you can do going forward, or it can bring peace of mind if it was something out of your control.
Some necropsy resources below.
https://www.metzerfarms.com/PoultryLabs.cfm
https://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/nahln/downloads/all_nahln_lab_list.pdf
 

Sonnetray

Hatching
May 27, 2020
3
0
3
Thank you all so much for your help and advice! I hope I don’t lose anymore of my girls. Just a thought- has anyone ever had spiders or bees or anything that pose a danger to their chickens? I haven’t seen any but it was kind of strange and it may be coincidental but when I say Ray this morning all lethargic she was in the same spot where Sonnet had died. I had thought maybe it’s something about that roosting location- and it was maybe just a coincidence that Sonnet had been “broody” the days prior. I’ve never heard of anything like this but I also would consider myself experienced with a small scale- but definitely no expert in all the possibilities and technical aspects of it. I do it because I love them and I love watching them and having them around- not for shows or anything.
 

coach723

Free Ranging
6 Years
Feb 12, 2015
6,531
10,923
611
North Florida
Usually spiders and bees are not an issue, in fact they are often eaten by the birds. While bites or stings do occasionally happen, the most common symptoms are localized swelling and pain, just like with us. Scorpions are an issue for some, depending on where you are located. A broody bird will usually protest about being moved from the nest, fluff up like a turkey, squawk like a teratactyl, etc. while a sick bird will be lethargic, sleepy, isolate themselves, and generally they just look like they don't feel good. They will often isolate in an out of the way place, like a nest box, since being sick or weak can draw attacks from flock mates.
 

Sonnetray

Hatching
May 27, 2020
3
0
3
Thank you for your reply and Yes this is exactly how Sonnet was acting and I was sure she was broody. She wasn’t laying any eggs either once she was separated just sitting on everyone else’s eggs and hogging the preferred nesting box. I am in NH so we don’t have any scorpions, but we did just have a pretty dramatic temperature shift... from 50s to 90s. We do have metal screened vents.... and the thermometer in the coop this morning was 80....Do you think I could have a ventilation issue? Sonnet has died but was still soft and warm the morning she died and Ray was disoriented and lethargic and unable to hold herself up when I opened the coop this morning.
 

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