Hen died yesterday

jenndk

In the Brooder
6 Years
Mar 26, 2013
37
2
24
Oklahoma
A week ago my son and husband bought some hens at a local poultry auction. They are not the best looking bunch, most are missing some feathers from their backs(a couple of them are missing quite a bit, the others just a bit) they are skinny and just kind of dirty looking. They are doing pretty well here, or so it seems. We have a few other hens they had picked up a few weeks ago at a different auction and everyone is getting along pretty well with not too much fussing. We let the free range during the day and close them up at night. I could see after just the first day of getting outside that the new birds were looking brighter. Two of the new hens look like Barred Rocks. They are very calm and quiet, I have been able to pick them up pretty easily, they are pretty skinny. I keep laying pellets out all the time and we throw out some scratch in the late afternoon at the barn to sort of get everyone to some around. I also put out free choice oyster shell and grit. We give table scraps almost daily. I figured they will gain some weight after awhile. Those two also don't get up the roosts. There is a "step" that they get on about a foot off the ground. I figured they might not be strong enough to get up higher.
Yesterday when I took out some table scraps I noticed the one Barred Rock hen had yellow diarrhea, some was sticking to her feathers, she was eating though. Then after school my son and I went out to throw out some scratch and she was laying in the corner of the barn, like if she would be laying an egg but on the ground, her eyes were closed. I thought it was odd she was sleeping when everyone else was going after the scratch. So I touched her and she opened her eyes but was not interested in the feed. We both petted on her, then one of the other hens sort of attacked her, we got her away from her and she sat back down. I could tell she wasn't right, her comb was sort of purple. I brought water over right in front of her, but she wasn't interested. I went in to check nest boxes for eggs while my son watched her and suddenly he yelled that she was breathing funny. She had sort of rocked her head back and was almost kind of gasping, then she kicked over on her side and died. Any ideas why this would have happened? I know they are in poor shape, but I didn't think any were close to death. We don't have any idea how old they are either and I don't know if she had layed any eggs for us or not yet, but leaning towards not. I plan to dust everyone this weekend, we picked up some Chicken Dust at TSC. Is there something else I should do while I have my hands on them?
 

Judy

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Feb 5, 2009
34,024
576
448
South Georgia
I'm so sorry. I can't think of much you could to do while you dust, unless you also check for the mites / lice, because if there is a heavy load, you'll need to retreat, change the litter and treat the coop. Check their legs for scaly leg mites as well. Just quickly look them over for things like a hidden wound.

It sounds like you are taking good care of them!

Most scratch formulas are mostly corn. They love it, but it's not as nutritious or high in protein as regular feed, so I'd keep the quantity small. You might want to add some protein, especially animal protein. They will tolerate a little yogurt (plain, mixed with something.) Scrambled or hard boiled eggs are a great treat. So are mealworms. Any cooked meat is good; it doesn't have to be a great quantity. I buy a can of canned mackerel once in a while, and give it over 2 or 3 days (I have 9 chickens.) I use BOSS (black oil sunfower seeds) rather than scratch as the protein is higher, and they love them as well as scratch. Just a handful a day, at most. Costs a little more, but I only buy a few bags a year. Most any of your leftovers are fine, especially if they have a little meat -- a carcass is also fine. Mostly just avoid sugar and a large amount of salt.
 

jenndk

In the Brooder
6 Years
Mar 26, 2013
37
2
24
Oklahoma
Thanks, I am probably giving a little more scratch than I should right now, but we are trying to get them used to our voices and our calling for them, all are responding except two that are pretty stand offish, but I think they will come around eventually. I also call for them when I have the table scraps. Most of the scraps I give are fruits/veggies, although we did give some bacon grease smeared very thick on a couple pieces of bread(they went wild over that!) and some sour cream that was a couple days past date, and some out of date blue cheese crumbles...both of those were huge hits as well. My son gets such a kick out of them running to us when they hear us calling. We have given some of the BOSS too, but they don't really go for it???
I figured I would dust the coop and clean out the floor and put down new shavings as well. Just wondering if I should deworm or treat for anything else. I was thinking their scruffy appearance and missing feathers were possibly from being kept in coops and probably overcrowded? I decided to dust just in case they have mites or lice though. Everyone looks good this morning. I just hope nobody else keels over... My son is pretty soft-hearted, he is only 8, and he wants so badly for them to all get healthier. He cried when that hen died yesterday, even though we only had her a week.
 

Judy

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Feb 5, 2009
34,024
576
448
South Georgia
The scruffy appearance and missing feathers could be due to several causes, as you've guessed. Overcroding, feather picking, poor nutrition, lice / mites, and I'm sure more.

Mine wouldn't touch BOSS the first time I offered it. Now I know they would walk by scratch to get to BOSS. They really do love the stuff -- it's just that chickens are such CHICKENS about anything new!

Of course the bread and grease aren't the most nutritious thing, either -- but let's face it, I eat ice cream, too.... Mine love bread, too. Sometimes I throw the heels away (which I won't eat) and sometimes I break down and let them have the treat. Just be careful you aren't compromising nutrition by giving too many foods that are not as nutritious as their feed.

Worming might be a very good idea. You could take a bit of poop to your vet and see if they will do a fecal float for you. Many will, for not a lot of money. Or just guess they could use worming and get some Valbazen or fenbendazole. Search for dawg53's posts if you need to learn more about worming. If it is rather dry and sandy or desert like where you live, you're less likely to have a heavy worm load in your soil than we are, where it is low and moist. The first time I wormed, I saw weight gain pretty quickly. The worms obviously had been eating their food, inside of them! I'll give you a couple of worming links, just in case.

https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/...ll-seeing-live-worms-in-poo/0_20#post_9315842

http://healthybirds.umd.edu/Disease/Deworming Birds.pdf

Good luck! I bet they will thrive under your good care.
 

jenndk

In the Brooder
6 Years
Mar 26, 2013
37
2
24
Oklahoma
The scruffy appearance and missing feathers could be due to several causes, as you've guessed. Overcroding, feather picking, poor nutrition, lice / mites, and I'm sure more.

Mine wouldn't touch BOSS the first time I offered it. Now I know they would walk by scratch to get to BOSS. They really do love the stuff -- it's just that chickens are such CHICKENS about anything new!

Of course the bread and grease aren't the most nutritious thing, either -- but let's face it, I eat ice cream, too.... Mine love bread, too. Sometimes I throw the heels away (which I won't eat) and sometimes I break down and let them have the treat. Just be careful you aren't compromising nutrition by giving too many foods that are not as nutritious as their feed.

Worming might be a very good idea. You could take a bit of poop to your vet and see if they will do a fecal float for you. Many will, for not a lot of money. Or just guess they could use worming and get some Valbazen or fenbendazole. Search for dawg53's posts if you need to learn more about worming. If it is rather dry and sandy or desert like where you live, you're less likely to have a heavy worm load in your soil than we are, where it is low and moist. The first time I wormed, I saw weight gain pretty quickly. The worms obviously had been eating their food, inside of them! I'll give you a couple of worming links, just in case.

https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/...ll-seeing-live-worms-in-poo/0_20#post_9315842

http://healthybirds.umd.edu/Disease/Deworming Birds.pdf

Good luck! I bet they will thrive under your good care.

Thanks for the tips! I will be checking out those links. What about eggs when you use worm meds? can you still eat them or not?
 

AHoags

Chirping
Jul 8, 2017
31
12
59
I'm sorry to piggyback on your thread, but I can't find the correct place to start a new one.

I had a year and half old RIR hen die in my arms this evening and I'm hoping that someone can help me to figure out why. I came home from work and went out to feed them and give them some more water before closing them in for the night. She was out in the yard doing her normal activities, but when she ran over to me, she was gasping. I started to look her over and couldn't see much that was obviously wrong with her.

She has a bit of backstory in recent weeks; she had her first molt, and when she did, her legs got red. I checked her carefully for bumblefoot and bought VetRx to be safe for mites. I cleaned the coop, used diatomaceous earth, etc. During her molt, she actually went in the shed to sleep with the ducks, I assumed because she didn't want the other hens to bother her. She got her new feathers, looked great, and went back to her old roost.

So today, several weeks later, I found her gasping and noticed that her legs looked red. I feared that she had sepsis or another infection. I picked her up to check her thoroughly and she started gasping badly. I immediately checked her throat, to see if she had been choking; I couldn't see anything lodged. I also looked for residue in her mouth and didn't see anything suspicious. She didn't appear to have "snot" or some obvious respiratory issue. I checked her feet and legs, and no bumblefoot. I saw some droppings stuck to her feathers, which were new since yesterday, and they were kind of white. Could it have been coccidiosis? I also tried to see if she had any obvious issues with her vent, but didn't see any bleeding or anything. I decided to give her some VetRx to start. I had never given it internally before, so I read all of the instructions about how to administer it. I was giving it to her by hand, as I wasn't sure that she would drink it on her own. Immediately after I gave it to her, her breathing became very distressed, she was throwing her head back, could no longer make noise, and died in my arms. Could she have been choking the whole time and the liquid added to the problem? I have a video of her right before I picked her up initially, but I can get it to upload. The breathing got worse immediately when I picked her up. I also have a few post mortem photos. Upon examining her after her death, I thought that her comb looked kind of purple, but I'm wondering if that was from her lack of oxygen.

I've had chickens for about two years, but I'm honestly still learning. I try to read a lot about diseases and issues, and take good care of them, but I feel helpless because I still feel new at this. We've had ducks for much longer, and chickens have so many more issues than ducks! We don't have a bird vet, so I'm on my own. I appreciate any comments you might have for me. Thank you.
 

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Eggcessive

Addict
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Apr 3, 2011
58,795
50,296
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southern Ohio
In the pictures about all I can notice is that her legs were probably red streaked due to hormones, but her one ankle showing looks swollen which can be a sign of mycoplasma synovitis (MS.) There also may have been some bumblefoot, but it cannot be seen on the footpad. Gasping can be a sign of a respiratory infection or disease, but it also may be seen in hens with ascites or watery belly, sometimes from heart failure or liver disease, usually caused by internal laying. It is always just a guess why one dies though. It is best to refrigerate a body, and ship them into the state vet or poultry lab to get a necropsy. If that is not possible, some do a self necropsy, and open the abdomen and take pictures of the organs that can be posted here for opinions. Sorry for your loss. Here is a good link with a list of state vets to contact:
http://www.metzerfarms.com/PoultryLabs.cfm
 

AHoags

Chirping
Jul 8, 2017
31
12
59
In the pictures about all I can notice is that her legs were probably red streaked due to hormones, but her one ankle showing looks swollen which can be a sign of mycoplasma synovitis (MS.) There also may have been some bumblefoot, but it cannot be seen on the footpad. Gasping can be a sign of a respiratory infection or disease, but it also may be seen in hens with ascites or watery belly, sometimes from heart failure or liver disease, usually caused by internal laying. It is always just a guess why one dies though. It is best to refrigerate a body, and ship them into the state vet or poultry lab to get a necropsy. If that is not possible, some do a self necropsy, and open the abdomen and take pictures of the organs that can be posted here for opinions. Sorry for your loss. Here is a good link with a list of state vets to contact:
http://www.metzerfarms.com/PoultryLabs.cfm
Thank you so much for your reply. I keep trying to think over every scenario.

If she did have a respiratory illness, what can I do to best protect the rest of my flock? I assume that it could be contagious and they eat and drink from the same source.

When you mentioned the heart issue, I had thought about that, too, because she became upset when I picked her up (though I often do), and when she was stressed, the situation very quickly got worse.

With the egg laying, I can't tell how often she's been laying, since all of my chickens lay the same color eggs. The laying has slowed down with some of them molting, but maybe I was missing the warning signs.

I guess there isn't much can do now, except keep an eye on the rest of my flock and try to learn more about chicken issues. Thanks, again.
 

Eggcessive

Addict
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Apr 3, 2011
58,795
50,296
1,302
southern Ohio
Yes, just keep an eye on the others, and look for any that look lethargic, are not eating, separated themselves from the rest, and look for any abnormal droppings.
 

Cragg Klefor

Crowing
Apr 14, 2017
912
1,621
282
County Kilkenny, Ireland
Thank you so much for your reply. I keep trying to think over every scenario.

If she did have a respiratory illness, what can I do to best protect the rest of my flock? I assume that it could be contagious and they eat and drink from the same source.

When you mentioned the heart issue, I had thought about that, too, because she became upset when I picked her up (though I often do), and when she was stressed, the situation very quickly got worse.

With the egg laying, I can't tell how often she's been laying, since all of my chickens lay the same color eggs. The laying has slowed down with some of them molting, but maybe I was missing the warning signs.

I guess there isn't much can do now, except keep an eye on the rest of my flock and try to learn more about chicken issues. Thanks, again.
It's obvious how helpless you feel from your posts.
For what it's worth I just wanted to add there may not have been anything you could have done for her no matter how closely you were watching her or how many years experience you had - sometimes we are helpless! It's also obvious you care about your chickens and I guess I just wanted to offer my support and say try not feel too alone:hugs
 

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