A little background - I got 12 old laying hens (supposedly 2 years old) in July with the intent of letting them lay through the summer and butchering them when they quit laying in the fall. As of today, 6 of them have died over the past few months. They just seem to drop dead. I also had a flock of 1 rooster (a year old) and 4 hens that were eventually allowed to free range with these girls after a couple of months. They were kept in separate coops during that time (No, I did not completely and "properly" quarantine, and that is not my question) Today I found my rooster dead in the coop he roosted in with my original 4 hens. I found him after work when I went out to collect eggs. Looks like he just fell right off the roost during the night. Also, when I was picking eggs, I found one of my recently purchased hens just sitting on the roost. She didn't appear to be struggling to breathe, but she didn't try to get away when I checked her over either. I just left her there. Went back a couple of hours later and she was dead. No marks on her, no external parasites, good weight on her and my rooster so I'm not suspecting worms. When I picked her up off the floor to examine her more closely, fluid drained out of her mouth and nose. Probably a tablespoon or more. Could this be part of whatever the disease process was, or does fluid collect in their beak (and throat, I would suspect) when they die? She was pretty fresh when I found her. Still warm and floppy. I also had a hen disappear a week or so ago, found her in the front yard (probably dragged up by the dog) with part of her innards eaten. I thought something had killed her, but maybe she just dropped dead and then was eaten on? I'm not going to panic. I'll just have to see what happens with the rest of the flock, I guess. The ones that died earlier were far enough apart (weeks) that I didn't worry too much about it. I just figured they were older than I was told. (I only paid $2 each, so I'm not out much. With the price of eggs and that they free range most of the time, I figure I've already gotten my money out of them) Has anyone out there had this type of experience? They appear healthy one day and drop dead the next.