Acute death of otherwise healthy hen

jeepgrrl

Songster
Feb 25, 2017
217
303
207
North Central Ohio
Hello all,

I just lost my New Hampshire Red, Lucy. All seemed well today, she was out free ranging with her sisters. We went out for a couple of hours for dinner. When we returned home, i checked on the girls and Lucy wasn't with her sisters. I found her next to the shed. She was trembling a bit and very lethargic. I immediately took her inside thinking she was cold (Temps low 40s). She died in my arms a few minutes later. No wounds, mites, or anything externally obvious. She did lay an egg today. No fluids coming out of her nose or beak but I did check her vent and it looked like it prolapsed (see pic). Some bubbly fluid was seen. I checked for a possible obstruction but didn't feel anything. No bloody discharge. I am devistated. I found one of her sisters dead about a month ago; she also seemed fine, put them in the coop for the night and when I let them out the next morn, I found her dead, laid out on the roost. Does anyone have any ideas of what might have happened to my dear Lucy? I've lost two hens within a month and I am very worried. I am going to see if I can get a necropsy performed on Lucy. Any input would be greatly appreciated.
IMG_3643.jpg
 

jeepgrrl

Songster
Feb 25, 2017
217
303
207
North Central Ohio
About half my birds will just die one day, appearing fine the day before. I generally assume it's heart problems, or something like fatty liver syndrome which can kill quickly. That's from having too much internal fat.

https://www.thehappychickencoop.com/feeding-your-chickens-to-death/
Thanks for the link. What caught my attention in the article was rhubarb. I have one that was planted by the previous owners. I don't know if Lucy imbibed any of it but I will be digging it up tomorrow. I am just worried that it's something contagious. I am now down to four hens; started with 7 last April, lost one to a predator and the other one of unknown causes (found her dead the next morning after a seemingly normal day of foraging, seemed fine when I checked on them for the night). I have ordered 4 more chicks that won't be hatched until June, but I am worried since I have lost two hens in the past y weeks or so. Its very upsetting, especially when it seems all is well, and a couple of hours later she is gone.
 

tinakevin

Songster
Nov 1, 2015
431
155
141
New hampahire
I had a barredrock die for no apparent reason either. I was working out at the coop and checked on all my hens they were fine and she was just sitting in the sun. When I came back out of the coop she was lying in the ground and had died. I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s heartbreaking to lose a pet that way.
 

oldhenlikesdogs

I love September
BYC Staff
Premium Feather Member
6 Years
Jul 16, 2015
46,191
82,045
1,522
Wisconsin
I generally see more birds dying during spring and fall as the temperature shifts can be stressful on them. I keep a larger flock, so I can see a few die each year. I have had a few die closer together. This spring I have already lost two as well, one was 8, the other a 2 year old.

If it's a disease you will see your whole flock affected and birds die in a similar fashion. Diseases usually come with symptoms first before death. Sudden deaths I think are from natural causes.
 

jeepgrrl

Songster
Feb 25, 2017
217
303
207
North Central Ohio
Thank you all for your input. My flock is small, so each passing hits me pretty hard. I thought I was doing everything right that I could possibly do. Oldhenlikesdogs provided an informative link regarding overfeeding chickens which I admit I have been guilty of. I have cut way back on their treats since we were having spring-like (March) weather in February, but now we are stuck in this February-like weather in March and now into April - we are having snow showers right now. Ironically two of my huskies got into the pasture today because hubby forgot to close the gate but neither one of them came close to the hens, but I lost one anyway. I'm just so bummed, I just wish I knew what happened. So unless I lose another hen here in the next few days I will chalk this up to either overfeeding, stress from temperature fluxuations, or some other unknown natural cause. :hit
 

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