Buff Orpington hen just died, did an autopsy, what do you think was wrong with her?


7 Years
May 19, 2012
We've been raising chickens for a year now, we've lost a few to foxes/skunks/cat/hawks (unknown as they were found with their heads missing). Anyway, one of the first four hens we raised just died this afternoon and I wanted to check her trachea for signs of gapeworm which we did not find. Need help figuring out if she had something that can be transmitted to the rest of our chickens so we can take action quickly.

1) What type of bird , age and weight (does the chicken seem or feel lighter or thinner than the others.)
One year old laying buff orpington, very healthy, in great shape until this afternoon

2) What is the behavior, exactly.
We found her in her nesting box making the gapeworm/pneumonia symptoms of stretching out her neck, gasping for air, making a small hissing noise.

3) How long has the bird been exhibiting symptoms?
We found her at 2:30pm, she was dead by 4:30pm

4) Are other birds exhibiting the same symptoms?
None of the other 14 hens or 2 roosters are exhibiting the same symptoms

5) Is there any bleeding, injury, broken bones or other sign of trauma.

6) What happened, if anything that you know of, that may have caused the situation.
Nothing preceding her symptoms. They eat a nutrina laying hen feed and have access to food and water 24/7.

7) What has the bird been eating and drinking, if at all.
From her stomach it was clear she was eating plenty, but it was packed very tight, was very rigid and the seeds/grains/food in it were dry, barely moist at all

8) How does the poop look? Normal? Bloody? Runny? etc.
Can't say as she lived in a large coop and had access to a large chicken run with the 16 other chickens (no other animals).

9) What has been the treatment you have administered so far?
We opened her beak when we first noticed and read up on possible causes and in her trachea we saw no food or large objects,nor did we see any gapeworms. After we found her dead, we cut her open to look at her trachea from the inside and there were no gapeworms in her trachea and no major chunks of food in her gullet, in fact it was nearly empty. As I said above her stomach however was tight, packed very very tight and was hard and the seeds/grains/food in her stomach were nearly dry

10 ) What is your intent as far as treatment? For example, do you want to treat completely yourself, or do you need help in stabilizing the bird til you can get to a vet?
Just thought I would share as she died FAST from time of onset to time of death. Her symptoms were the same as gapeworm/pneumonia or a food blockage in her gullet. Need help figuring out if she had something that can be transmitted to the rest of our chickens so we can take action quickly.

11) If you have a picture of the wound or condition, please post it. It may help.
posted a picture of her stomach, which was the only thing that looked abnormal to my inexperienced and untrained eye

12) Describe the housing/bedding in use
shaved pine in her chicken coop

we didn't see any gapeworms anywhere in her throat or trachea. Also don't both gapeworm and pneumonia take awhile for the chicken to die?
So sorry for your loss!! I had the same thing happen to me back in December. My 2 yr old buff orpington died within 2-3 hrs. She was healthy and was fine all day. Then when it came time to roost I was counting heads and she was not in the coop(usually first in). I found her under the coop all fluffed up and breathing heavy and gasping here and there. I brought her inside and tried to give her food and water. She didn't want to eat. Put her in the crate and checked on her every 30 minutes. After 2 hrs I took her out of the crate just to love on her because she loved to be held and she convulsed in my arms and died. I had a panic attack thinking what do I have here and is everyone going to get sick and die. I just watched everyone closely for symptoms. No one else got sick...that was 6 months ago. I think her heart just failed :( Don't panic it could just be an isolated incident and everyone else will be fine. Just watch the others closely.

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