Lost another hen. :(


6 Years
Apr 5, 2013
I've had chickens before and was very successful with their health and laying. (Leghorns)
I was given 4 hens not quite a year ago and they were laying daily. Then they started molting and haven't laid at all for a while. I know that's natural. However, I lost a Buff Orington in death a few weeks ago. Probably 5 or 6 weeks. She was healthy and acting fine. Then found her dead in the coop. No apparently injuries. Today, all chickens were out and about when I left for work. When my mother came out a few hours later, my Rhode Island Red was dead in the coop. She was eating and fine early this a.m. Again, no apparent injuries. Both were just over 3 years old. What could it possibly be to kill them that quickly when they seem fine hours before? I clean and dust their coop and have wormed them although they've shown no signs of worms. Just precaution.
Anyone have any ideas? I got all 4 hens from a friend who had them for a year before giving them to me. I appreciate any help or ideas. I have 2 more from that brood and I have 6 Leghorns that are about 7 months old, laying daily and look and act fine. I don't want anything else to happen to any of them.
Thank you.
If there is no obvious wound it sure does not sound like an animal killed them. Practically anything will leave an obvious bloody wound. So you can pretty much rule any animal out, with one exception. Sometimes a dog will kill a chicken just playing with it, break a neck, and not leaving a wound. Spaced that far apart, it’s really unlikely.

Practically any disease will cause the hen to act strange for a while. I can’t think of any bacteria or virus-caused disease where they won’t act strange for a while, usually moping, lethargic, and just standing around. I’m sure there are some out there but I just don’t know what they are.

Have you checked them for mites and lice? Remember that roost mites only come out after dark so you need to check them after dark. It’s not likely that mites or lice will kill them directly but they can weaken them to make them susceptible to something else.

There are a few things that can cause a chicken to just drop dead. It’s possible that hen ate something poisonous. It’s not likely. Usually anything that will harm them tastes so bad they won’t eat enough to harm themselves, but it is a possibility I can’t totally rule out.

It’s possible that chicken just had a heart attack or stroke. They had something wrong with them and something stressed them enough to cause their heart to just stop. This is fairly high on my suspicions list.

It is also possible that the chicken injured herself, maybe breaking a neck flying into something coming down from a roost or running or flying into a fence trying to get away from another chicken. Maybe she was trying to get away from an amorous rooster or another hen in a pecking order dispute. Or maybe she panicked if a predator was right outside the run and it startled her. This happens often enough that it’s fairly high on my list too.

With them dying that far apart and not showing any symptoms, it really doesn’t sound like a disease. I think it is more likely just a bad coincidence. Still, you can call your county extension agent (in the phone book under county government if you’re an old dinosaur like me that actually has a phone book or go online and find the phone number if you are modern) and talk to the agent about getting your hen autopsied. In some states it’s really cheap but in some others it’s more expensive. Also find out how you need to handle the dead chicken to get it to them for the autopsy. That usually involves refrigerating it, not freezing it, and getting it there as soon as possible. It’s probably too late for your current hen but at least that way you would know your options and cost if another one dies. Then you will at least know what you are dealing with.

Sometimes chickens just die and you can’t figure out why. If you deal with living animals you will at some point have to deal with dead animals, but I rest a lot easier if I can at least figure out a possible reason.

Good luck! These things are not always easy to figure out.
Thank you so much for your evaluations and ideas. I don't have any roosters so that one I ruled out. I don't have any animals other than my chickens in the area to cause them harm accidently or otherwise. She was fine when my mother and I saw her but there was a couple hours gone by when my mother found her. She could have acted ill within that short time and we didn't see it but it would have had to be a very short time. Maybe it was as you said that she broke her neck or something as she was on the bottom of the coop or maybe she went in there when she felt ill. I know animals die but I was just concerned that maybe there was a virus or something going on among the flock and I didn't want to lose any more. I've dusted them for mites as well as the coop etc. It's probably time to do it again. As I mentioned, she and the other one I lost were in the middle of their molt so I thought maybe something else may have happened. I have 2 other molting at this time. I'll just keep an eye on the rest of them. I appreciate your time. Anita

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom