Hen lethargic, then weak with tremors, then dead.


8 Years
Feb 24, 2011
Central Maine
One of my barred rocks (1.5 ears old) was inside on the roost late yesterday afternoon before all the others (maybe she never went out?). She let my pat her without much fuss (in hindsight a little too docile). This morning my husband let them all out and told me, "One of the rocks is on the floor shaking." I went out and she was unable to stand and had weird palsy movements, not shaking tremors like cold or trauma, but weird jerky body movements. My guess is some sort of neurological impairment. I took her to the bucket and dipped her beak a couple times, but she didn't drink. I left her near the food and water and decided to see what would happen (vet bills for chickens are not an option my choices were to cull or give her time). I went out late morning and she was worse, not holding her head up at all. The other hens were leaving her alone and I figured that she would go quickly at this rate. I didn't have the heart to traumatize her more by taking her out back with an ax, so I tucked her into a nesting box with fresh hay where she could feel safe and quiet. Two hours later she was dead.

So, any ideas?

No new feed, she lived in an enclosed wooded pen (not free range), 17 other hens and a rooster (mixed breeds and healthy so far). We have been using water from a rain barrel since Irene went through and the water is a bit rust colored. There are 2 other barred rocks from the same clutch that are ok. A couple of my reds get intermittent super-watery diarrhea that worries me. All were treated for mites and prophylactically for worms last spring. Her crop was soft with food in it. Her vent was clean and soft. No nasal discharge. She really looked healthy.

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I've been doing web research and am not coming up with anything that acts so quickly. There are an awful lot of mushrooms around right now. I wonder if she was dumb enough to peck at a poisonous one?
Could it be siezures? Seems unusual that one would get sick in a pen with 17 other chickens. I couldn't begin to guess what killed her. Might have been neuro , or genetic. I don't know.
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