Chicken screaming

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by redkan, Dec 3, 2009.

  1. redkan

    redkan Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 15, 2008
    Central Maine
    Tonight when I went to feed my horses and close up the chickens I found one of my hens laying on the stall floor with her head flopped to the side and her beak buried in the shavings. For all the world she looked dead. I tried to roll her to make sure she was dead and she jumped straight up, pointed her beak at the ceiling and with it wide open started making a noise I can only describe as screaming, not even close to any chicken sound I've ever heard. It went on for approximately 30 second then she stopped. I picked her up and examined her but the only sign of injury that I could find was about 1/3 of her wing feathers are missing from her left wing although she does seem mildly sore. I checked all her bones and ran my fingers through her feathers to see if I could find a hidden wound.

    I'm thinking that something tried to get her during the day (they're all free-range), scared her half to death, literally, and that she went into shock. Has anyone else ever run into this screaming sound and this seeming in-shock behavior? By the way, I put her on a low perch and she was able to jump up to the higher one with the other chickens with no problem.
     
  2. emys

    emys Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 19, 2008
    Idaho
    WEIRD. You are probably right about what happened, but I haven't experienced it before.
     
  3. redkan

    redkan Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 15, 2008
    Central Maine
    Oddly enough, this chicken is completely fine this morning. Maybe she just fell asleep in the shavings and woke up to a bad dream??? [​IMG]
     
  4. Chicken Chat

    Chicken Chat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 19, 2009
    Southern Illinois
    wow, that had to be scarry for you. I'm glad she is doing ok today.
     
  5. emys

    emys Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 19, 2008
    Idaho
    Glad to hear she is OK! Keep an eye out for whatever took her feathers off...its still out there.
     
  6. ivan3

    ivan3 spurredon Premium Member

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    Jan 27, 2007
    BOCOMO
    Redkan wrote: I picked her up and examined her but the only sign of injury that I could find was about 1/3 of her wing feathers are missing from her left wing although she does seem mildly sore.

    I'd guess she'd `gone shocky' in reflex/response to a predator attack. If avoidance (running and/or hiding) doesn't work and a chook is grabbed up, they tend to go limp, `playing dead' (toxic immobility), the final survivalist tactic universal to vertebrates (snakes belly up, opossums-of course, humans in fetal position, etc.). In chooks the range between `limp' and `long gone' seems very limited.

    We had a Gold Sex Link pullet grabbed up by a fox (feet hanging from one side of mouth, head swinging, on limp neck, extending from the other). I was standing about 10yds away when this happened. Picked up rifle and took off after them. Fox got snarled up in vines and dropped the girl. The pullet fell limp to the ground; fox skedaddled, then the girl jumped to her feet and ran `screaming' past me up the hill, she then collapsed again and went limp again. I dealt with the fox and turned around expecting to see the pullet dead in the clover but, no, she had disappeared!

    Found her, about ten minutes later, ranging with the rest of the flock. She'd lost some feathers and required four stitches on her left flank, but lived for another year-and-a-half before expiring from the complications resulting from internal laying.

    It is possible your hen hadn't `cleared' the excess of stress hormones/endorphins when you found her. You picked her up and she mistook you for whatever it was that got the feathers.

    From what I've seen even low levels of stress can throw off layers (neighbor's dog walking along the run fencing/spying a high flying hawk on a windy fall day and then `alerting' to any and all leaves skirring/plummeting into the run, etc.).
    As the trip from toxic immobility to sudden death by cardiac arrest can be brief, isolating a `shocked' chook in a quiet, dark place for a few hours might help (particularly if actually wounded). Also, adding electrolytes to the water wouldn't hurt.

    We've only heard `screaming' on two other occasions. The first after the death of another GSL pullet, grabbed up while dust bathing, by a fox, right under the window of the room in which I'm typing this (no more `light' colored hens for us, in these woods, no free ranging without an armed human on patrol). The GSL's `best buddy', a Black Sex Link pullet, returned to the dust bathing spot when let out the following day. She whined, and then started running and screaming around the house (looked under the decks, back to run, in coop, etc.). This behavior continued for about ten minutes. She remained under the deck for the remainder of the evening and the roo and Cass had to herd her back to the coop at sundown. I wouldn't want to anthropomorphize, but I'd say, maybe, a chook analogue of `distraught'.

    The second occasion is described in this thread: https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=214721

    The
    following thread is pretty much focused on `pre-terror' vocalizations: https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=11691&p=1

    Set
    a trap and see if the putative `wing waster' can't be prevented from any further `stress testing' of both yourself and the hens.

    ed:sp/clarity​
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2009

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