Are my chickens at risk


In the Brooder
7 Years
May 18, 2012
I recently found my Buff Orpington, Maris, dead. I suspect that she was sick. She had been limping and laying eggs without shells for a few days before I found her.Should I worry that my other hens will get sick too? If so, what should I do?
Last edited:

Uniontown Poultry

9 Years
Sep 7, 2010
Southwestern Pennsylvania
So sorry to hear about your hen. What a good name, too.
Shell-less eggs can be caused by a number of things. Sometimes pullets that are just starting out drop a few shell-less ones before their system gets going. This can also happen in hens coming out of a molt, since their reproductive system goes through massive changes during the molt. It can be something that is indicative of illness, as many poultry diseases will interfere with laying (usually reducing the laying). And it can be something that is just wrong in the system of that particular hen. Without doing a necropsy (or having one done) you may never know just what the problem was. Sometimes, even if you do a necropsy, you don't find the answers. Sometimes, they just die, for reasons way beyond our ken. I had a gorgeous 9-month old Delaware rooster who came out into the yard one morning, let out a lusty crow, and fell down dead as soon as it was done - no one knows why, just another poultry mystery.
There are a few causes of limping, too - Marek's, injury, bumblefoot, to name a few.
So poor Maris' fate may be a mystery.

If it were me, here's what I'd do. I'd pick up my girls and give each one a "home health check": feel the breast and 'drumsticks' to see if your girls are nice and meaty rather than really thin (they can get skinny on you if they have worms or other illnesses, and it pays to discover it fast); gently squeeze/feel up their abdomen to see if it feels hard like a rock or full of fluid (neither of which are good); check them for parasites like lice, mites, and scaley leg mites (which can burden their immune systems); check the bottom of each foot for the black scab that is the herald of bumblefoot (you may have to wash their feet first); look for bright eyes, clear nostrils, listen for any raspiness or gurgling in the breathing, and take a look at the vent just to make sure everything looks normal. Do this one day out of the month, and you should be able to keep them healthy by catching anything early, and making sure their immune system's not bogged down fighting simple things like parasites (things you can fix for them with wazine, pumpkin, or ivomec).

In the meantime, just keep an eye on your other girls. Don't be worried, just watchful. For the most part, chickens that are sick tend to act sick - they're not as mobile, eyes half-closed, not as interested in food or other chickens or water or treats, they just stand around, sometimes they huddle, sometimes they smell bad. If you give your girls a once-over and they sem fine, and they are acting normally, you may just need to chalk this up to one of those poultry mysteries, like my poor rooster. I feel for your loss of poor Maris. Good luck with her flock mates!

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom