DEAD CHICKEN! Help!

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by therockacrossthepond, Jan 7, 2010.

  1. therockacrossthepond

    therockacrossthepond New Egg

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    Jan 7, 2010
    Victoria
    So I went out to open the coop this morning, and found my 9-month old buff-orpington (Gertrude) dead in the nest box. She had obviously died early last evening, as she was quite stiff when I retrieved her.

    She has appeared to be healthy until her death; I know she was out and about two days ago, and yesterday when I opened the coop and checked for eggs, she greeted me affectionately from the nest box (where she has taken to roosting to as of late, along with our Australorp). I was not home again until after dark, so I am not sure if she left the coop yesterday or not.

    She is one of five, so I want to make sure I don't lose another - I will be examining her when I get home today. Obviously, I will look for signs of a predator - but what else to look for?

    Thoughts I have for consideration - as of late, with our inclement weather, their run has been wet, despite having a covered run. It has straw down on it, so it has helped keep it from getting muddy, but they are certainly in a damp environment out in the run. That being said, they have a nice, 4'x5' well-ventilated coop they retreat to if it gets too wet/cold/windy, also with chopped straw down. They are on True Earth 17% layer pellets, have free access to grit, oyster shell, and clean water in the run and the coop. Their feed is supplemented (at this time) with fresh veggie scraps of lettuce, celery, carrot/beet/yam peels, and the occassional scrap of slightly stale bread. I remove any scraps after one day, to avoid having decomposing food in their trough. Although I used to put in potato peelings, they left them untouched, so have left them out for a week or so at this point. They have artificial lighting in the coop, so their total hours of light are 5:30am - 9:30pm; I open the coop up around 6:00 - 6:30 in the morning, and close it up around 9:30 in the evening (sometimes earlier if the wind is cold and strong from the north, the side their hutch door is on).

    Any ideas/suggestions of what to look for when I examine the chicken?

    Thanks!

    Mark

    Victoria, BC
     
  2. Terri O

    Terri O Chillin' With My Peeps

    I would feel if she might have an egg trapped inside. (although you would think it would take more than a day to kill her)...but maybe if she didnt eat or drink in that time? That is about all I can think of. Was she an old bird--dont remember if you said or not...TErri O
     
  3. Terri O

    Terri O Chillin' With My Peeps

    OOPs--9 months. Sorry--not old age then! Check you other birds for mites/lice too. Along with a molt a heavy infestation could kill her. Terri O
     
  4. therockacrossthepond

    therockacrossthepond New Egg

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    Jan 7, 2010
    Victoria
    She wasn't molting (artificial lighting), but I haven't checked for mites/lice as of late, although I have been watching their legs for scaling, especially as the damp run has left them without adequate dust bath material...
     
  5. theFox

    theFox Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 21, 2009
    Standish, Maine
    "Although I used to put in potato peelings, they left them untouched, so have left them out for a week or so at this point."

    Potato peels can sometimes contain a high level of solanine which causes problems for chickens in several ways.

    If any are green or the potato was sprouting it is likely the levels are high.

    I'm not saying this is the cause just that is could add to any other issues your BO might have had.

    We have four and are kind of partial to one we call Buffy Brown Tail, she always greets us in the door of the coop and really jumps up high for treats.

    I wish you the best with the others in your flock and regret that you lost Gertrude.
     
  6. therockacrossthepond

    therockacrossthepond New Egg

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    Jan 7, 2010
    Victoria
    Ok, quick update...did my inspection of Gertrude just now...and was reminded of a few details. About a month ago, she had some poop caked onto her tail feathers, under her vent. I used warm water and carefully cleaned the area; since then, I have been watching the coop/run for signs of diarrhea, but have not seen any, and her rear stayed clean and clear.

    When I inspected today, I can't say I really knew what to look for; there were no signs of rat bites (the only predator I can imagine getting into the coop, with all the doors raccoon proofed) - however, her rear/underside were caked with a lot of feces - being that she had been clean in the few days before, it had just accumulated, so I think she probably spent the whole day in the nest box yesterday, and her vent was a bit distended and bloody. To be honest, I didn't know where to go from there, so she is now well bagged and in the freezer awaiting disposal (garbage day is a ways away, and being in the city I can't bury her).

    Any ideas?
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2010
  7. therockacrossthepond

    therockacrossthepond New Egg

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    Jan 7, 2010
    Victoria
    To theFox - I know solanine can present a problem, but solanine levels need to be quite high before causing issues; aside from that, they hadn't had the peels for at least a week, in addition to which they never touched them...the peels were always left or scratched out of the trough onto the soil...
     
  8. telehillco

    telehillco Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 15, 2009
    Front Range, CO
    Our 9 month Buff Orpington up and died suddenly just after Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, we were away so weren't able to do much inspection (our neighbors took care of things), but she seemed just fine in the days prior. I wish we would have had them take a closer look at her vent, but that seems a lot to ask of neighbors. Our other two Rhode Island Reds have been fine since.

    Sorry for your loss. Please post if you find out anything else.
     
  9. theFox

    theFox Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 21, 2009
    Standish, Maine
    "her vent was a bit distended and bloody"

    Possible case of prolapse and some pecking that hit the intestines, which if opened would likely lead to infection and subsequent death.
     
  10. therockacrossthepond

    therockacrossthepond New Egg

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    Jan 7, 2010
    Victoria
    I didn't see evidence of pecking...however, I suppose prolapse is possible. But how long would it have to be distended for infection to set in? If I recall my week right, I got a good look at them on Monday, and all seemed ok...
     

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