Dead Cockerel No Blood or Wounds

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Maeschak, Dec 8, 2016.

  1. Maeschak

    Maeschak Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 29, 2016
    Maryland, USA
    Hello All,

    Went out last night to close up a hoop-coop pen of ten 12.5 week old cockerels that were destined for the dinner table. (Excess roos from an earlier hatch). They have all seemed happy and healthy day after day although their lust for my fermented feed seems to have tapered off with half of the chickens opting for the dry feed now (same feed I use for fermenting).

    There has also been one cockerel that had been sleeping on the ground as opposed to the roosts but that has been going on for awhile and I didn't notice anything odd other than that. There are no bloody poops, although I have found a pile of poop under the roost where the poop is very loong and thicker than an earthworm, maybe an inch long (not a round splat but a good firm tube of poop).

    He was found right in front of the roost as if he had fallen off the roost. There is no blood and no obvious signs of trauma although there seem to be possibly some missing feathers around the neck but it really just looks more like the other chickens were pulling feathers off or that is just he way the feathers parted after death and froze last night or something.

    The only think I can think of is that possibly the cockerel got botulism or something else deadly from the compost area? It happened sometime during the day so I know the guy didn't freeze to death. I throw all of my compostable junk in the garden area and the hoop coop is in the garden.

    Any thoughts as to what may have happened? Are there any predators that would come out during the day, chase a chicken into a hoop-coop and kill it without noticeable damage to the carcass?
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I’m assuming they are dual purpose or something other than Broilers that need to be processed at a pretty young age?

    It’s possible the feathers could be because he was going through a juvenile molt. Chicks go through two full molts before they get their adult feathers. They outgrow their feathers and need to replace them. Molts start around the head and neck. It could have been the position his head was in too. It’s possible it could have been from feather picking but probably not. It’s just hard to say.

    It sounds like you looked over the body for puncture marks like from a hawk’s claws or other scratches and did not find anything. Many predators go for the head but generally don’t kill without leaving some marks. One exception to that I can think of is a dog. Sometimes a dog will kill a chicken just playing with it, more crushing it to death playing with it rather than puncturing the skin. That doesn’t really sound like a dog unless the cockerel was injured earlier and it took a while for it to die. It does not sound like a predator to me.

    Sometimes chickens die and you just don’t know why. They don’t act sick ahead of time. Maybe they were born with a birth defect like a weak heart and it just gives out on them. Maybe a stroke. Maybe he hit something flying down from the roost and broke his neck or somehow injured himself getting away from a pecking order type fight. They can panic if they are losing and are trapped, going berserk trying to get away. Since he did not show earlier symptoms it does eliminate a lot of things.

    It’s possible he ate some poison. Many of us keep compost heaps where they can get to them and don’t have those problems, but it’s possible. It could be something he found if he was allowed to forage. I don’t do fermented feed so I don’t have any experience with the details but some people on here I trust have said they lost chickens because of the fermented feed. If it’s not done right it can become poisonous. With yours voluntarily switching from fermented feed to the dry you might want to investigate that. That doesn’t sound normal. They normally prefer fermented feed.

    If it doesn’t happen again I’d write it off as when you are dealing with living animals you sometimes have to deal with dead animals. But if you are in the States I suggest you call your county extension agent and see what it takes to get a necropsy on a dead chicken. In some states that is pretty much free but some states charge. There are ways they want you to preserve the body too you may need to take it somewhere specific, often their office. If you have that information and another one dies you may want to get it checked out.
  3. Maeschak

    Maeschak Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 29, 2016
    Maryland, USA
    Thanks so much-

    Yes, yes, and Yes.

    They are DP Delawares so no CX problems, they free range on a large farm and could have gotten into just about anything as there are always dead things and what-not around it seems... but they are at the age they just don't go very far- maybe 50 feet to a bush and that is pretty much it so far. As for the missing neck feathers, they are going through their 12 week juvenile molt- just saw one guy shake off and 3 or 4 more feathers went flying.

    And yeah, I am sort of chalking it up to 'some times they just die and you don't know why' at this point.

    I have had plenty of predation here (about 15 chickens this summer alone) so I guess for me it is just shocking that one might have died without there being a full blown crime scene situation. I will keep my eye on the rest of the boys- they are all seeming odd to me now but I think it is my imagination and the drop in temperature so they are puffing for warmth more than usual.

    Thanks again- and if anyone else has any input I would greatly appreciate it!

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