Broody hen keels over dead- what happened?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Tam'ra of Rainbow Vortex, Jul 13, 2010.

  1. Ebony and her sister Char, my black Jersey giant hens went everywhere together. Eb was fairly timid while Char was bold. Both were intelligent and sweet birds. On thursday we decided the two had gone broody (as opposed to just hanging out in nest boxes, which both did frequently), and stopped stealing their eggs. At first all was well and my giants both acted just like my 2 other broodies. But then yesterday, one stopped acting so fierce. She wouldn't budge, even when prodded, but no hissing or other threats. I assumed it was just because she wasn't worried we would take her eggs. We try not to bug the broodies, but with one due to hatch any day now, we check on them 2-10 times a day.
    In the morning, they were fine.
    In the afternoon they were fine.
    In the evening, one of my girls was sprawled out on the run floor dead.
    She is the 3rd we have lost in the 4 months we have lived here, the 4th since we got them about 1 1/2 years ago (only counting natural causes, not predators). The others we had warning for. The first had an impacted crop (we found out too late to save her) the second seemed haggard and droopy for a week or more (but we couldn't find any problems) and the last gradually lost his voice over about a week and, though he seemed healthy up till the end, died overnight.
    We didn't know what else to do so we took the orphan eggs and put them under their aunt whom we hope can care for them in addition to her own (they total 10 now). They started setting the same day, so we hope it works out.
    But now I am horrified something is making my chickens sick. The only other chickens they have even second-hand contact with are my 12 hatchery peeps who moved outside this week. They share a fence with the big birds and are all healthy-so far. The deaths have been spread out by a month or more and have totally different warning signs, so am I wrong to think it is not a disease? Could they be eating something poisonous? Could it just be coincidence? My roomie thinks our Giant just got heat stroke/dehydration. We have water about 15 feet away from their boxes and the others take breaks (in this heat, one hen stands above her eggs as often as she sits on them, it seems) We have a 3 x 5' hardware cloth door on the coop for ventilation, but it is hot in there.
    I just don't know what to do. I am worried about the others, and distraught that I don't even know which of the two is the survivor. I could only ever tell them apart by their behavior, and with one broody and the other dead, how can I know?
  2. Gallusfarm

    Gallusfarm Songster

    Jul 14, 2009
    I'm sorry about your loss. Which one passed away - Char or Ebony - I feel bad for the other one now?!! I'm not an expert on this but I do know that your hatchery chicks should not have been the problem. It's typically older chickens with questionable pasts that you need to be concerned with as far as bringing in problems, and the young ones haven't been out there very long. There are a lot of good threads on here about biosecurity.

    Really, I'd have to go with coincidence in your case. We've lost a bird here and there - it's weird when they just drop dead - it could have even been some sort of trauma/broken neck.

    Definitely keep an eye on them. Just like people, chickens do drop dead for various reasons. It could have been a bug and one had lowered immunity and then some tolerate heat a lot better than others. It just too bad that it keeps happening to you.

    One of yours had crop issues, the other one it was a slow decline and now this one it happened fast. Three really different cases. I would say watch them and you might want to try adding some electrolyte solution to their drinking water when it's really hot. You can get it at the feed store, or the poultry catalogs.

    Good luck to you.
  3. EweSheep

    EweSheep Flock Mistress

    Jan 12, 2007
    Land of Lincoln
    Were they skinny? Sometimes they never seem to get off the nest to take a break and some would just starve themselves to death. If you can feel the surviving one, with her breastbone and if she does not have any meat, it is a good indication she has been starving herself. Force her to take a break at least once a day to eat, drink and poop.

    sometimes heat or heavy parasite problems (worms) can do them in too!
  4. Thanks for the replies!
    I am really worried about my others since this happened. We check on them regularly, but with my poor giant it was so sudden. She didn't seem too skinny, she weighed as much as my BLRW roo who died last month. Its just hard... 2 months ago, If I had been asked to pick my 3 favorite chickens, it would be the BLRW roo, and my pair of black giants. 2 out of 3 are now dead and I don't know why, and I don't know if the others are safe. I just moved the chicks out, and I worry that they might catch something from the big birds, but since no one else seems sick I am TRYING to believe it is coincidence. Our first year we only lost 3 (2 hawk attacks, 1 impacted crop) while free ranging, so this really freaks me out.

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