death in the chicken coop

dbstoner

Hatching
8 Years
Aug 2, 2011
2
0
7
I just removed my fourth dead bird in as many months. I have, now, seven hens. Large completely fenced and roofed area (about 15 'x 18') with a four by eight coop with lots of roosting space and five nesting boxes...overhead roosting area in the rafters. This area is completely fenced in so no predators can enter so the culprit is another hen. All of the birds who died had broken legs and could not move around and died fairly quickly. The birds are about a year old...this is their first full year. They are all laying and not eating eggs although some have peck marks on their backs. I figure that the bird with the best feathers is the aggressor but I have not witnessed anything. They have plenty of food, clean water and I let them out most days to wander around the garden. They are a mix of local barred rocks, aracaunas and three reds from McMurray. The birds who were killed were "fancier birds", a cuckoo Maran and a lovely black Langshan and an aracauna... Now that I have seven, maybe they will stop the murder. Would appreciate anyone's thoughts on this problem. As my friends keep saying, "They are just chickens" but I do find it distressing being quite fond of the birds. Thanks...
 

Den in Penn

Songster
8 Years
Dec 15, 2011
3,418
213
216
SE Pa.
Broken legs is not the usual injury in hen on hen struggles. I would think there is something else going on.
 

naillikwj82

Songster
8 Years
Oct 30, 2011
232
54
111
Olympic Peninsula, WA
Humans with brittle bones (low calcium) break easily. Are they getting enough calcium for both egg production and bone growth? How high is their roost? what is their feed breakdown? With the dead birds did you also try breaking a bone or do a necropsy? Or if the roost is real high another hen could have landed on top of another, that is the greatest force available for what you describe.
 

centrarchid

Crossing the Road
10 Years
Sep 19, 2009
25,278
15,450
766
Holts Summit, Missouri
Humans with brittle bones (low calcium) break easily. Are they getting enough calcium for both egg production and bone growth? How high is their roost? what is their feed breakdown? With the dead birds did you also try breaking a bone or do a necropsy? Or if the roost is real high another hen could have landed on top of another, that is the greatest force available for what you describe.
Vertical height alone is not problem. My free-ranging American Dominiques sometimes roost a good 30 feet up in trees with gamefowl and come down in one flight. I have yet to observe damage from such landings. With confined birds nutrition becomes a much bigger problem.
 

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