I have a small flock of backyard chickens. Four old hens, one old rooster, and eleven pullets I got in the spring and who are just starting to lay. The two groups have been together for a couple of months now and no major problems to report. The young girls have been coming into their own in the last three weeks or so. We are up to 3 -4 "baby" eggs per day from the girls. Everyone is healthy and happy. One of the girls, a Speckled Sussex with lots of white on her head, has been nicknamed "Granny" for a while. She was developing just like everyone else until a month to six weeks ago. We noticed that as the other girls developed their combs and wattles, Granny did not. She had a very, very small comb which was a pale pink -- not a nice bright red like the other girls. However, she seemed healthy and happy, eager to eat treats, so we assumed she was just a little slower to mature. A couple of weeks ago, we noticed that her chest seemed swollen and lopsided. After some investigation, I figured it was just a really full crop. Some of the other girls look a bit like this sometimes, although Granny's breast seemed very soft and floppy all the time. I still didn't worry too much after looking at pictures of chickens with distended crops. Last week or so, Granny started to seem off. She seemed to be shrinking as the others were growing. Even though she was eating, she was skinny except for her big floppy breast. Still no wattles and just the tiny comb. Last two days, she was still interested in eating, but staying away from the other chickens -- picking for bugs under the coop rather than coming out for scratch, etc. Today, she looked much worse and the other girls were starting to peck at her head and draw blood. My husband decided that he had to put her down. When he picked her up and turned her upside down, a viscous brownish or tea-colored fluid poured out of her mouth. He decapitated her and the brown fluid continued to pour out of her. He noted that there was very little blood (much less than usual) and said the brown fluid continued to drain out of her for several moments as he held her up. So, Granny is gone. Now I am concerned about trying to figure out what happened. Everyone else still seems healthy and happy (although my husband has the blues because he had to put one of the girls down). I've read through my Chicken Health Handbook and nothing seems to fit what I am seeing. Moreover, the book talks about lab tests and autopsies, but my husband and niece already buried Granny and covered her grave with a nice stone. Any help would be most appreciated!