Chicken dying - what could be the cause? (Video included)

hypnozze

Songster
Apr 11, 2018
54
71
102
Latvia, Europe
Hello!

Can You please help identifying the problem my bird has?

I noticed I was missing one hen after letting everyone out in the morning. I found my bird like this (please see video below) in the morning and set it out of on the ground for some fresh air. We have a big heat wave for some weeks now with no rain (very out of the norm for this part of the world).
This hen might be 1-3 years old, Speckled Sussex and is heavy (has not lost any weight). I did not notice any different in her behaviour previously - was running around with everyone yesterday.

I have added a video of her behaviour. I have had one hen possibly suddenly die in a similar way during the night (I found her dead in the morning) maybe 3-4 months prior. Others look fine. All have been free ranging since spring - a lot of bugs, grass, bushes, trees, pond, compost in a huge area. We do not use any artificial fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides or fungicides and grow our food naturally. I do not use chemical rodent killers either as I have cats and dogs also. I do feed my birds mainly sprouted wheat and chicken feed (sometimes chick starter feed), they have gravel and egg and oyster shells available. They have clean water available. Poop looks fine. All are running around. They live in a house with wood shavings and no new changes were implemented in the prior months. Their home is pretty clean and I use the deep litter method (for 4 years). No new birds were added.

Could it be some kind of disease?

If I there is hope I am willing to administer some kind of drugs (I have not used any medications with my birds previously though).
 

LaFleche

Meadow Devil
10 Years
Sep 22, 2012
8,677
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Germany
Did you check her and the coop for poultry mites already? It is the time of the year and they can literally suck the life out of a chicken in just one night.

Waiting for your video....
You would have to upload to youT*be or similar platform and post the link here. The direct video upload to BYC is not possible.
 

hypnozze

Songster
Apr 11, 2018
54
71
102
Latvia, Europe
Here is the link to the video -
And thank You LaFleche for the advice - I could not get the video on here at all :)

No i have not checked for mites, I will. But I do use some DE powder in the shavings regularly so was hoping it was not a problem..
 

LaFleche

Meadow Devil
10 Years
Sep 22, 2012
8,677
32,504
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Germany
While DE is nice to use in their dust baths, it will not help to fight poultry mites, that live in the crevices of the coop and only come out at night to feed on the roosting chickens.

You could wrap double-sided adhesive tape around the roost ends, just where they meet with the coop walls, to determine if there is an infestation in your coop.

Coming out of their hideouts at night, the mites will get stuck to the tape on their way to the chickens, and viceversa the mites that already fed on the chickens will get stuck to the tape on their way back to hide in the crevices.

To kill the poultry mites, you would have to take out all the coop interior including bedding, nests, roosts etc. and either flame-scarf everything (not recommendable during heat wave: fire hazard!) or use a chemical insecticide. Don't forget the ceiling.
Do not use straw as bedding, the mites love to live and spawn in the hollow stems.

Clicking on the provided link, your video is rated and I am unable to start it. :idunno
 

hypnozze

Songster
Apr 11, 2018
54
71
102
Latvia, Europe
While DE is nice to use in their dust baths, it will not help to fight poultry mites, that live in the crevices of the coop and only come out at night to feed on the roosting chickens.

You could wrap double-sided adhesive tape around the roost ends, just where they meet with the coop walls, to determine if there is an infestation in your coop.

Coming out of their hideouts at night, the mites will get stuck to the tape on their way to the chickens, and viceversa the mites that already fed on the chickens will get stuck to the tape on their way back to hide in the crevices.

To kill the poultry mites, you would have to take out all the coop interior including bedding, nests, roosts etc. and either flame-scarf everything (not recommendable during heat wave: fire hazard!) or use a chemical insecticide. Don't forget the ceiling.
Do not use straw as bedding, the mites love to live and spawn in the hollow stems.

Clicking on the provided link, your video is rated and I am unable to start it. :idunno
Thank You for the advice!

I dusted with DE everything repeatedly and will go and put some of that tape around roosts.

I have made some changes to the permissions of the video - can You see it now?
 

LaFleche

Meadow Devil
10 Years
Sep 22, 2012
8,677
32,504
1,012
Germany
This hen might be 1-3 years old, Speckled Sussex and is heavy (has not lost any weight).
When did she last lay an egg?

You describe her as heavy, which might indicate that she could have been overweight due to not laying and eating too much, or internal laying = the eggs stayed in her abdominal cavity instead of coming out, or accumulation of bodily fluids due to dysfunction of heart, liver or reproductive system.

Would you want to perform a home necropsy on her?
 

LaFleche

Meadow Devil
10 Years
Sep 22, 2012
8,677
32,504
1,012
Germany
I have made some changes to the permissions of the video - can You see it now?
Yes, now I can see it.

At first glance the movements appear similar to chickens taking dust baths, but what stands out is that she is very uncoordinated and in slow motion, her legs did not move at all.
To me this looks as if she was already in the process of dying when you took the video.
 

hypnozze

Songster
Apr 11, 2018
54
71
102
Latvia, Europe
When did she last lay an egg?

You describe her as heavy, which might indicate that she could have been overweight due to not laying and eating too much, or internal laying = the eggs stayed in her abdominal cavity instead of coming out, or accumulation of bodily fluids due to dysfunction of heart, liver or reproductive system.

Would you want to perform a home necropsy on her?
I won't be able to tell that because I have 10 Speckled Sussex hens in total and can't really see whose laid and whose not.. no big changes in egg quantities.

They all seem pretty heavy to me when I hold them so did not feel that she was abnormal weight wise but everything could be - I had one Speckled Sussex hen one or two years ago have a swollen, red abdomen and she passed away after a few months being like that. Looked like some kind of egg laying problem but did not cut her open afterward - just buried her.

I can try and do that (necropsy) - all of my birds might look a bit chubby when compared to others (my rooster looked very thin when I got him compared to now for example)..
 

hypnozze

Songster
Apr 11, 2018
54
71
102
Latvia, Europe
Yes, now I can see it.

At first glance the movements appear similar to chickens taking dust baths, but what stands out is that she is very uncoordinated and in slow motion, her legs did not move at all.
To me this looks as if she was already in the process of dying when you took the video.
That is true - I found her like this (this morning) and filmed her. Because there was nothing wrong with her yesterday or in the evening when i closed their house for the night.
 

LaFleche

Meadow Devil
10 Years
Sep 22, 2012
8,677
32,504
1,012
Germany
  • When did you last deworm your chickens?
  • What kind of chicken feed are you feeding? Percentage of protein, main components etc.
  • Did you check the feed for mould or grain mites etc.?
  • Did you check the milling date on the feed bags?
Sprouted wheat is nice, but I would rather sprout barley in summer to prevent them from getting too fat.
Dual purpose breeds like Sussex, Marans, Amrocks etc. tend to accumulate fat pads on their lower abdomen when fed too much carbohydrates like corn or wheat. Unbalanced feed (lack of protein) often leads to laying issues (fat hens lay small or no eggs or are even unable to get the eggs out as the fat pad obstructs the way constricting the oviduct) and sometimes they even die from fatty liver disease.

So I would open her up to see if that might have been the cause of her death. This might help to understand and perhaps make some changes to their feed if necessary.

But if you really want to know, it would be best to send her in to your state veterinarian laboratory for a professional necropsy.
 

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