Advice needed please. sick with guilt over chicken's death.

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by wingn_it, Jan 18, 2018.

  1. wingn_it

    wingn_it In the Brooder

    Jan 12, 2018
    Western Australia
    hey 20171108_170935[1].jpg y
    This is my first post, I don't use social media usually but I'm feeling so low right now I needa reach out...
    Today my best and favourite chicken died and I am blaming myself. I believe if I was more educated I would have seen the signs and taken action sooner, so here I am to ask all the questions going around my head that I can prevent losing another in this manner.

    Now firstly, I need to assure you all that i'm no stranger to animal/pet death - living on a hobby farm and growing up on one I am a realist and understand these things happen etc... HOWEVER, out of all the chickens in my flock, Paris the wheaten Marans (profile pic) was the friendliest, most motherly, sweet natured and social one I have ever had and I feel that I let her down so here I am to ask the questions going around my head and I will appreciate any help/advice/kicks up the backside I get.

    Starting from the beginning...

    Paris was 3 years old, bought from a reputable breeder as a 3wk old along with 3 others like her. She was full-time free range in our 10m x 10m enclosure, and despite having a warm/dry roosting house, she chose to roost every night, rain or shine, on her favourite gum tree branch next to her sister.
    She was fed on premium poultry mix and vegetables/watermelon for treats. She had access to fresh water, plenty of dust bathing space, shade and sunny areas. We have no roosters and we have never had a problem with predators.

    She was wormed about every 6 months with Avitrol tablet, and dusted for lice/mites every 3 months. She layed regularly every day or so for the first 2 1/2 years, even during winter, until the most recent winter (last jun, jul, aug being in Australia) which was colder and wetter than usual and they all stopped laying, coming back I early September. This is the earliest point I would at things changed a bit....

    when she came back on the lay at the end of September, her eggs were paler than usual and misshapen - see pic - so I upped her calcium and protein intake. They slightly improved but not completely. This coincided with a flock of scavenging effing crows deciding to come and steal the eggs before we had a chance to collect them each day. This went on for weeks until I had a brainwave and put up plastic flaps to stop them getting to the nests. This worked but I suspected Paris was laying her eggs under the tree as she sometimes did and the crows were still stealing them......
    I now suspect paris wasn't laying at all? From that time until she died I wasn't worried about her because she was bright and alert, eating normally and her comb was normal colour so I didn't suspect anything was off.

    Then today I went to feed and water and Paris was hiding in the corner fluffed up. I picked her up and her vent had a terrible prolapse and the whole area was crawling with maggots. Her eyes were closed and breathing laboured. She was in so much pain we put her out of her misery. Now I have so much guilt about whether I should have done more when I thought she wasn't laying eggs instead of assuming the crows got them and I have questions I need answers for please help me if u can.

    could she have been egg bound for 2 months and seemed otherwise healthy?
    is it normal for a 3 year old hen to stop laying?
    what causes prolapse?
    should I have done something different when the eggs were oddly shaped?
    how long would an average chook like paris live for?
    can anybody relate with a similar story?

    Sorry for the long post, but I needed to get this off my chest, thanks so much for your advice..
  2. Feather Hearts

    Feather Hearts Crowing

    Oct 4, 2016
    Northland, New Zealand
    Poor girl... If there were maggots you could see, there would have probably been internal maggots as well. Putting her out of her misery was the kindest thing to do.
    When you picked her up could you feel a hard egg? In summer I have to trim the feathers from underneath my hens vents (especially bantams) as otherwise they collect poop, which flies think are just great. Check if your chickens have any poop build up.
    The average lifespan of a chicken is 7-8 years.
    wingn_it likes this.
  3. Lolacan

    Lolacan Chirping

    Jan 1, 2018
    You are allowed to cry your eyes out and mourn your girl. I've had pet chickens for 10 years and can't tell you how many times I've cried uncontrollably for a beloved bird. In fact, with Marek's,, I've had to start burying in rows so I don't run out of room. There are just some chickens, not even all your favorites that you just can't let go of emotionally. I've dwelled on a few for months. I think you have to cry them out of your system.

    But it's a sad sad thing to admit but most of what we learn about chickens is after something happens. It helps to love the ones you have more, and spoil them.

    I had one with the maggot bottom. Turned out she had egg yolk peritonitis for months and her discharge or poop must have made her tasty to flies that laid eggs around her vent. Another thing is most chickens don't give you signs that they are sick until it's too late.

    So have your good cry. Guilt will get you no where. Live and learn. Hug a few chickens. Help others. There's no easy way to mourn. ((Hugs))
    wingn_it and biophiliac like this.
  4. birdofhermes

    birdofhermes Songster

    Aug 16, 2017
    sorry for your loss that sounds horrible. never been more happy my chicken turned out to be a rooster
  5. theoldchick

    theoldchick The Chicken Whisperer

    May 11, 2010
    So tough when you lose one. And finding her maggot infested body is truly horrifying. I remember when I was a kid I came home from school to find my two guinea pigs dead and covered with maggots. I was horrified as I had fed and watered them that morning and they were fine. This was my first lesson in how fast nature works-especially in the humid south.

    Sounds like your hen was experiencing age related reproductive problems that many people will guess about. I won't waste your time with guesses, but I will recommend a necropsy. However, if that is not an option, I'd recommend keeping an eye on the rest of your flock. Get your hands on them and do a physical inspection. Having a veterinarian perform a fecal test on your flock is a great help as to how your deworming program is working.

    And to answer your question about if it is normal for a 3 year old to stop laying is yes. In certain breeds bred to be super layers will stop laying. Many of these hens experience internal laying problems which mean the egg does not progress normally in the reproductive tract and ends up in the wrong place which ends up causing peritonitis. So many things can go wrong with these super layers, and often no matter how well they are cared for, they will succumb. I guarantee just about all of here have experienced the same thing. I know I have and it was truly heartbreaking. I'm sorry for your loss.
    N Sully, wingn_it and biophiliac like this.
  6. rebrascora

    rebrascora Crowing

    Feb 14, 2014
    Consett Co.Durham. UK
    Hi and welcome to our BYC community. I am so sorry it is under such desperately sad circumstances. Most of us can sympathise with your situation as there have been occasions when we missed something vital and like you we deal with it by beating ourselves up a bit and then vowing to learn from it and not make that mistake again. I know that I have certainly gone through that process.
    @Lolacan is right....
    Unfortunately none of us come into poultry keeping with absolute knowledge and we learn most of it through experiences like these. I too have Marek's in my flock, so I am more familiar with loss than I would like to be, but still shed tears each time.
    What helps me if I have a death is to do an informal necropsy on the bird and see what I can learn from it after death. I know that not everyone can get their head around that, especially when it is a beloved pet. An alternative it to have it done professionally by a vet at a state or university lab..... I'm not sure what options are available in Australia and I imagine a bird crawling with maggots might not be happily received.
    What I can tell you is that there is no way that she was egg bound. That would have killed her within a couple of days because it prevents them from eliminating waste (pooping) and toxins build up pretty quick when that happens. The irregular shaped and pale coloured eggs may have been the preliminary to an infection of the oviduct. (salpingitis) This often causes a build up of egg and pus material inside the oviduct resulting in it becoming impacted. The impaction does not usually prevent pooping unless it gets very bad and can go on for weeks. Sometimes it also causes egg yolks that cannot pass into the oviduct due to the blockage, to drop into the abdominal cavity (internal laying) where they also start to put pressure on the hind gut. I've had birds live for 9 months whilst laying internally but eventually they get so swollen that their system shuts down or they can even explode with the pressure of it. Apart from hormonal implants to prevent further ovulation, which is an expensive veterinary procedure, there is nothing that can be done about these ailments and they always prove fatal eventually, so if that is what your lovely girl was suffering from, you probably could not have done anything more for her anyway.

    The only thing that might be relevant is her diet. It would be interesting to know (and again a necropsy would show it) if she was carrying excess fat. Chickens can very easily become obese and with all those feathers it is hard to tell. This can cause problems with laying as the fat deposits narrow the oviduct and the cloaca.
    I have a theory that some of these mixed grain feeds allow hens to selectively pick their favourite components out of the feeder and leave the less palatable but more beneficial ones... like children eating their meat and potatoes off their plate and leaving their veg. Too much carbohydrate from wheat and corn can cause these fatty deposits. A pelleted feed or crumble is homogenous, so the birds cannot pick and choose which bits to eat. I have responded to a few threads recently where birds had suffered prolapses or died suddenly and were found to be carrying these thick fatty deposits and were on a mixed grain diet. If I am correct, it is a real shame because these feeds are usually organic and much more expensive and the chicken owners think they are buying the best for their birds. This is purely a theory on my part based on my experience with chickens and how they will scratch through food to find their favourite bits if it is not homogenous. If she was a high ranking hen, she may have got more than her share of the "best bits" or perhaps she just had more of a taste for them than other birds in your flock, or perhaps you have other birds developing similar problems..... without a necropsy, you will never know if this may be an issue.

    I wish you luck with your remaining flock and hope that it is a long time before you suffer another loss.

    BYC is a great place to learn and has been invaluable to me in improving my knowledge as well as making friends. There are even threads here where some of us share photos of our necropsies and discuss our findings to figure out the cause of death between us. I'm not into social media either, but this is an educational tool as well as being a great place to hang out.

    Best wishes

  7. wingn_it

    wingn_it In the Brooder

    Jan 12, 2018
    Western Australia
    oh thank you so much for your encouragement it makes me feel better that people can relate! big hugs back xoxo
  8. wingn_it

    wingn_it In the Brooder

    Jan 12, 2018
    Western Australia
    wow! thanks so much for the advice about the mixed grain feeds, ill put them on a layer pellet from now on. Thanks again for your time and advice xoxox
    N Sully likes this.
  9. crazyroosterlady

    crazyroosterlady In the Brooder

    Jan 22, 2018
    This is so horrible I feel like I'm going to cry I'm so sorry for your loss.
    Honestly I don't think your to blame it sounds like you tried your absolute best and it was just a freak accident and putting her out of her misery was the best thing you could've done.
    I'm so sorry, try not to beat yourself up too much (I know how hard it is to not after an unexpected pet death) Keep your chin up and keep her memory alive and use this to educate yourself to help her flock <3

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