EE pullet suddenly died - why? - RIP Liona


14 Years
Mar 24, 2008
Salt Lake City / Sugarhood
I found my EE pullet dead today. It looked like she had fallen off the roost - she was face down in the roost area. One leg is curled up, one wing slightly outstretched. I found her while she was still slightly warm (just above freezing here today) but rigor mortis already setting in. She did have some fairly large pieces of pine shaving jammed in her beak (why? seizure, maybe?) She did not have a broken neck. No signs of injury, I don't have any idea why she died. She was 37 weeks old and apparently healthy.

Any clues as to why she died?

In hindsight, I think she was feeling unwell the past couple days, but not in a way so that it was obvious.

Over the past couple days her eggs went from medium verging on large to medium-small. She also seemed to skip a day that she normally wouldn't have skipped. My last egg from her, one of her smaller eggs ever, was laid yesterday morning.

She was a bit sluggish. When the girls were outside on Sunday, a warm/sunny day, I called them in with treats. She took quite a while to come inside, compared to the other chickens.

This chicken was isolated last week, because she was pecking another chicken quite a bit. She was in solitary in a dog crate for about 3 days. I hope she did not get sick while alone - it was pretty cold one night. I thought her eggs were smaller because I turned off their supplemental light (on at 4 am, old time) to hopefully alleviate the pecking.

I did not notice anything unusual with her poops.

Her vent has a bit of pinky puffyness to it, I don't know if this is a little bit of prolapse? I have never seen a dead chicken's vent before.

I found her today at about 2 pm. I was in a hurry this AM when I fed the girls and checked for eggs, so I don't know if I saw her then. I don't remember seeing her this AM. I feel bad now that I didn't check on all the chickens (I only had 4, now 3, so it is not that hard to do a check.

I know that chickens do spontaneously die sometimes. I want to make sure there wasn't something I missed, that I could have done, and to make sure that my other chickens are OK. I looked at them all, and they all seem OK.

Any ideas, please let me know.

Rest in peace, Liona. You were a good chicken, and I loved the color of your eggs.



Last edited:
What a pretty bird. So sorry she died.
In my case I lost a lot of birds this past year. In some cases they would act a little differently than usual, maybe isolate themselves, not be as perky, or I'd notice that they were a little lighter then I remember and then they just died. Some I could tell that something was wrong and they took several weeks before they died. None of my birds showed the classic sympton of lameness in the leg or wing. I had necropsies done on many of them and each one died of Marek's. Most of my flock was vaccinated against Marek's, some came from a hatchery, some from a local woman (we vaccinated the chicks together), some I hatched and vaccinated. Apparently there are different strains of Marek's and although the vaccine generally protects the birds, there is no guarantee.
The only way to be sure what caused your birds death, is to have a necropsy done.
By the way, don't beat yourself up about it. These things happen and they can happen quickly. It is sad, because we care about our critters, but there was probably not much you could have done.
Sorry for your loss. Pullets and hens often die for "no reason" because of internal issues you can't see and they are great at hiding. If the rest of the flock looks good and nothing changes, don't worry too much about it. It happens and not much you can do about it.
I had a similar experience on Sunday Am. Just found her dead on the floor of the coop. It happens, but somehow that doesn't make it feel right. Very frustrating trying to figure out what happened. I look outside and I miss seeing her. She was the only light buff bird in our small flock. Sorry you had this happen too.
Thanks for insights. I am sorry to hear of all the Mareks in your flock FarmerDenise. I don't think I will do a necropsy unless someone else gets sick or dies. If you have a strain of Marek's that is not covered by the vaccine, does that mean all the chickens in the flock are likely to get sick, even if vaccinated?

Although I worry a bit that isolating her to prevent her pecking might have made her sick... it is also possible that she might have been sick, which might have caused her to start pecking. She was always very mild mannered up until a couple weeks ago.

Well, having chickens, I knew this day would come sooner or later. I had hoped that each of them would live 2-3 years before I would need to start figuring out the eventual replacement process. I think I will now hold at 3. But when the next one goes, I will use that opportunity to bring 2 chicken into the flock.
Last edited:
I'm sorry about your lovely chicken, vermontgal - I know you get even more attached to them when you have just a few birds, and you know them each so well. She sure was pretty! And she could ride a bike, which can't be that common!
I was curious about FarmerDenise' necropsies: how much does it typically cost to have it done, and how do they determine that Marek's was the cause? An antibody titer would be positive if they'd been vaccinated, so are there tissue changes or? Sorry, maybe you didn't get into that but if you did, I would really like to know.
I'm a human medical person, (frustrated veterinarian wanna-be, few women admitted to vet school back when, default to human medicine
) so this is not specific to Marek's, but often a vaccine against one strain of a disease will at least give partial immunity against another, because they at least appear familiar if not identical to the immune system, so an immune response is launched a little quicker. I hope that will be the case for you if, indeed, this is what it was.
Last edited:
A friend of mine who raises chickens said she has lost some from rock salt on the front steps. That is a possible (although not probable) factor in Liona's death. I mostly use ashes and sand, but over the past few days I know that I did scatter some of the mix with both sand + pet friendly ice melter - I can't remember if I only put it in the front yard, or if I put some on the driveway where the chickens were roaming over the weekend. If I did spread this in the backyard then I won't let the other chickens out again until it is washed away in the rain.
Thanks for your reply post about Big Yellow. I followed the link in your signature and saw your post about Liona. I'm so sorry for your loss.

She looked like a very nice chicken in your photos. She actually looks very much like my EE, Easter, but Liona had more gold on her head feathers. Maybe they're hanging out in some kind of chicken heaven somewhere together! My best to you and your other three gals.

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom