Hello folks - what a crappy way to end the year. I went to the coop this morning and my 5 birds were quiet, huddled around my favorite hen, Patti, laying dead in the straw. To refresh your memory, I'm the city girl who had 8 chickens dumped on her last May. My husband and I tried our best to make a go of it, only to find 6 were broilers/Cornish Cross and not supposed to live long. We got rid of one rooster, and then, one hen, that had been sick from the start, died July 4th. We have had the rest ever since and made it through the hottest summer in 80 yrs here in Mass. I am heartbroken. Patti was eating and drinking yesterday. They haven't left the coop in days because of the cold but they are active in the coop. I feel horrible because I awoke 5am - and decided to go back to bed for another hour. When I found her in the coop, she had one foot under her, another stretched straight out, as though she were walking and fell. Her head was turned to the side, eyes were closed and body was still warm when we found her. Her vent appears distended and has a bit of blood - is that from dying? I watch them carefully to see if any appear eggbound. They all stopped laying with the onset of winter -except for one - who lays once a week. I feed them layer feed with calcium. Do you think it was a heart attack? They are all meatbirds so we didn't expect them to live this long - still, I am hoping she didn't suffer. Here are more details - she was my sneezy hen - never a runny nose or eyes, but sneezed when I put hay in the coop and when she was eating (she would gobble the crumbles, put her whole face in them and sneeze). A month ago, I noticed her comb getting grayish. We started giving all of them VetX in their water and I put some vaseline on her comb. Still, I never had any chickens with a runny nose or eyes. They ate very well - lots of fresh greens. She never acted sick, her tail was always up. I am heartbroken - hoping it was a heart attack and quick.