chicken deaths & straw eating?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by ckfard, Mar 31, 2009.

  1. ckfard

    ckfard Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 3, 2008
    Kirkwood, Missouri
    I have had two hens die in the last couple of weeks who seemed perfectly fine before they went to bed or after they got up. When I went to check on them in the morning and the other in the evening, they were dead. I was not able to bring myself to cutting the first one open to see if it had straw in it's throat or further down. I know they can sometimes eat it and die. Last week I saw them pecking at the straw for something. The second hen died some time last night. Either I will cut her open or the neighbor will so I can see if this is the problem. Has anyone else had problems like this? Does it happen often? If I don't find a lot of straw inside her, I will assume she died of some thing else. Any ideas?
     
  2. B. Saffles Farms

    B. Saffles Farms Mr. Yappy Chickenizer

    Nov 23, 2008
    Madisonville, TN
    Ive heard of it happening, but Ive never had it happen. We use hay to bed the run from time to time, and use hay for the nest boxes. We use hay instead of straw because we have plenty hay on hand.
     
  3. mypicklebird

    mypicklebird Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 8, 2008
    Sonoma Co, CA
    Unlikely due to straw. If you had a hen with an impacted crop from eating straw- they don't suddenly die overnight- they go downhill for weeks. If you have sudden deaths, and there is no evidence of something actually killing them (predator), then the state lab might be of help to you.

    Also inspect bodies carefully for wounds, lots of lice, ect. Vent area in particular.

    Check feed and water for spoilage.

    Any new birds to your flock in the last 3 weeks, or did you move your flock to a new area?

    How old, and what breed?
     
  4. ckfard

    ckfard Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 3, 2008
    Kirkwood, Missouri
    They are Buff Orpingtons and are 11 months old. All healthy. The water is fresh every day or two at the most. Any time they contaminate the water, it is changed again. The food is kept dry in a large plastic waste can and I'm on a different bag than the one when the first hen died. The food is fresh and in a clean container inside the hen house. They have a heater when it is cold and I keep an outside light on so I can keep an eye on them. The first one had no injuries and the vent was clean. I didn't have time to check the one who died last night yet. They have several areas they dust bathe in. The perch is cleaned of poo daily. None have ever shown signs of lice, but I will check. They all seem perfectly healthy and energetic. They have food and water available at all times. They are in a fenced in area that is 17X30. There were seven hens until one died a few weeks ago and now another has died. The first one was off balance and sick when I got home around 4 p.m. I set up a sick area in the kitchen for her and she died 10 minutes after I took her in the house. The one last night was fine, but dead this morning. She was in a nesting area with her head tucked into the straw. I count daily so when she didn't come out I checked and found her. These girls are my pets and I take good care of them. If some one has any other ideas I would really like to hear them. Thanks.
     
  5. ckfard

    ckfard Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 3, 2008
    Kirkwood, Missouri
    Additional: They have been in the same area since they were 3 months old. No new hens. Same food for the last six months. There have been no predator attacks that I'm aware of. I do have a couple of red tail hawks who check them out and an owl, but I've never seen them actually go after them. I will check closely, but I've never seen blood on them. I am about to move them to another area of the yard, only 15-30 feet away. I have to finish moving the compost first and then build a new fence. I will be putting landscaping fabric over the top that is close to the tree where the hawks watch them. On the other side of the coop I will have pvc pipes going over the top and have an arch and will grow beans of some kind to provide additional protection and shade when the summer gets hot. I plan to get additional chicks to get the flock up to 9, but will not do so until the coop is moved and I know they are not being poisoned. What state lab did you refer to? Should I contact the local farmers bureau or conservation extionsion or ? I live in St. Louis, Mo. Thanks.
     
  6. nessili

    nessili Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 4, 2014
    King George, VA
    We've had issues with this too. One of our Speckled Sussexes died from an impacted crop. From the time she stopped eating/started acting sick to the time she died was only 3 days, not several weeks. When we opened her up for emergency surgery, the main culprit was wads of straw tangled up inside the crop. I immediately removed the straw from the run/coop areas because all of our chickens love eating the straw. Now with winter coming on full blast, we're looking for something warmer than pine shavings, but I'm scared of going back to the straw.
     

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