Healthy Roo drops dead

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by OrpingtonDad, Feb 16, 2009.

  1. OrpingtonDad

    OrpingtonDad In the Brooder

    Jun 10, 2008
    Thursday I left for a few hours and retruned to find my largest six and a half month old Black Australorp Roo laying dead in the yard. They free range, so my first thought was "something got him" which was bound to happen eventually. However, I quickly realized a number of my other birds were wondering very nearby as if nothing happened. The remaining three hens were in the coop and one was in the nesting box.

    An examination of Thor, the roo, showed no signs of damage. No birds appear ill, no marks, signs, breathing or sneezing trouble at all. The bird appeared fine that morning. Now several days have passed, and although there was one day when they layed less than normal, today I got 9 eggs from 10 hens.

    I am left scratching my head as to what happened. I'm not too shook up as I had 3 roo's and need only one, however, I am puzzled. We did have big thaw shortly before that and my only thought is maybe he ate something that poisoned him. Any thoughts? [​IMG]

  2. Zahboo

    Zahboo Simply Stated

    Feb 3, 2009
    Hope Mills, NC
    :hugsMaybe a snake bite, just hard to find. Poison sounds likely. Or he could have been SEEMINGLY healthy. I am so sorry for you loss.
  3. OrpingtonDad

    OrpingtonDad In the Brooder

    Jun 10, 2008
    Any snake out at this time in Michigan would have to have fur, and we have only one poisonous snake indigenous to Michigan. I am confident it wasn't a snake, but thanks for the stab at it.

    You do have a good point though. He "seemed" healthy, and he was the biggest boy I had. I weighed him and he was nine pounds at time of death.

    Now that i think about it, he have a sneeze a few months ago that worried me a great deal for all my birds, but it was only him, and it only lasted a few days, and again, that was months ago. He sure seemed healthy. He was out foraging, and crowing and jumping on the girls every chance he got.
  4. Heart defect? I have read on the list before about people doing necropsies on their chickens who died unexpectedly and finding aneurysms and other heart defects...
  5. chickenannie

    chickenannie Songster

    Nov 19, 2007
    maybe the other roos attacked him?

    Also, do you have a dog? they will just let the bird lay since they often kill just for fun.

    What time of day was it... could it have been a fox or hawk?
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2009

  6. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    It is actually not unusual for a bird to just up and die. It's usually the girls around that 6 month time point or near point of lay who just up and die, usually due to maturation issues with the reproduction system. Maybe the guy just had a heart attack, which does happen in larger breeds. If everyone looks and acts fine, I wouldn't worry about it.

    Another possibility is that something did come in and grab him and he died of a heart attack. Even if the rest of the birds are acting normal, that might not be a strong indication that nothing was in with them. I've had birds killed in the coop by preds, and the rest acted like nothing was different. Even had someone's dog who got out of their leash come terrorize the birds once out in free range for an instant, and then 10 minutes later, squawking was aside and it was as if nothing happened.

    Sorry for your loss, just keep an eye on the rest and see how they do.
  7. OrpingtonDad

    OrpingtonDad In the Brooder

    Jun 10, 2008
    Well thanks for all the input. I suppose its possible that it could have been a predator, but I really don't believe it was. The only time my birds were ever exposed to a threat they all scattered and it took me hours to find them. He was warm when I found him right smack in the middle of the yard, and the others seemed completely unbothered.

    While I was settling into the idea that he ate something poisonous, the heart attack theory sounds good. I did a thorough examination on the body, but I didn't cut him open. Oddly, I have a strong biology background and normally would have done so, but we had just found out my wife has breast cancer, this after my son had lymphoma only two years ago (hence the chickens, as Dad's therapy and a way of knowing what kind of eggs we are eating). Now I wish had. I guess I'll just chalk it up to a small mystery and leave it at that as long as everyone else is healthy.

    Thank you all
  8. Quote:[​IMG] Geeze. Sending well-wishes and a hug for everthing your family is going through. It's sounds like a lot to deal with.
  9. maymiegirl

    maymiegirl Songster

    Jul 27, 2008
    This is interesting to me. It happened to one of my roos only I discovered he had two k-9 type teeth marks directly into the top of the skull. It would have easily been overlooked but I searched every inch of the bird. Low and behold there are two predators that use this practice to kill a chicken...One is a Raccoon and the other...a WEASEL.

    Yes, a weasel kills a chicken in this manner and if he has been startled by another animal entering the yard or loud noise--anything that makes him flee, he will drop the bird without doing what most weasels like to do and that is devour the head.

    A second time I had found a dead bird that I had just introduced into my flock which was given to me by a friend who owned a garage and just left the bird run free there. I decided to do a necropsy on the bird. I found that the crop was filled with an axle-grease type substance and screws. Needless-to-say I ventured to guess this was the cause.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2009

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