My chickens are dying suddenly for no reason!!!

Jun 16, 2018
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Please help!!

This is my first time owning chickens. We had 15 chickens, but 3 have died in the past month. They are not even 1 year old. They have no symptoms and are showing no signs of distress, and they're laying just fine. I have a mixed flock, and the ones who have died were my Easter Egger, Barred Rock, and my Golden Wyandotte.

When the first one died (Easter egger), we just thought it was natural causes, but when the second one died, we knew something had to be wrong. I thought it was our galvanized waterer because it was starting to rust. Whenever I changed the water, I gave it a good cleaning and was able to clear out the loose rust, but my husband started taking care of their water, and I don't think he was cleaning it out at all. We obviously got rid of the galvanized can and started using the plastic. We change the water every day.

We went a couple weeks without another death, but then my 3rd one died after 2 weeks with the clean water container. Now I'm at a loss and thinking it has to be something else.

These are the things that had changed before they started dying:

1. We added black mulch to their pen. The woman I purchased my coop from used black mulch for her chickens. She said it was the best. I did a lot of research, and there wasn't a whole lot of info, but I trusted her, because she does this for a living. Now I'm worried it might be poisoning my flock somehow.

2. We got a dog. Seems unlikely, but could they be having heart attacks from stress??

3. I think the last one may have eaten an avocado and potatoes. I started reading about foods that are poisonous and didn't know these foods were. I'm wondering if the first two died from the toxic rust and the 3rd may have died from the avocado.

I don't know what to do!!! It KILLS me to think that these poor animals may be suffering, and I don't know how to stop it. We also stopped eating the eggs, because we don't know if they're any good at this point if we have unhealthy chickens.

I would appreciate any advice! Should I hire a vet to come? Should I have saved the birds to have an autopsy done? What can I do??

Thank you!!!!
 

sourland

Broody Magician
Premium Feather Member
May 3, 2009
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Welcome to BYC - sorry for the circumstances. Is there a period of illness prior to the deaths or is it sudden death ? I'm not certain about the mulch as most of it contains dyes, and I know certain types can make dogs ill if they ingest it. I would try to locate a local lab or ag school that conducts necropsies and take any subsequent sick/dead birds there. Good luck at defining and solving the problem.
 
Jun 16, 2018
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Welcome to BYC - sorry for the circumstances. Is there a period of illness prior to the deaths or is it sudden death ? I'm not certain about the mulch as most of it contains dyes, and I know certain types can make dogs ill if they ingest it. I would try to locate a local lab or ag school that conducts necropsies and take any subsequent sick/dead birds there. Good luck at defining and solving the problem.
Thank you for your response! There are no signs of illness. All 3 have died suddenly. We bought a mulch that had one of those stamps that showed it was NOT recycled wood waste and was from natural forests. The dyes were said to be safe for food and animals and made from iron-oxide dyes.
 

sourland

Broody Magician
Premium Feather Member
May 3, 2009
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Sudden death does happen with birds, but 3 deaths among 3 different breeds does seem unusual. I doubt that the new dog is a factor unless it is harassing the birds.
 

Eggcessive

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
Apr 3, 2011
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Very sorry for your loss. What do your feed your flock, and do they have access to poultry grit for digestion? I would recommend getting some combined droppings checked by a local vet just to rule out worms and coccidiosis. Then, if you have another death, refrigerate the body and ship or take it on ice packs to your state poultry vet or lab. Call for info at this link:
https://www.metzerfarms.com/PoultryLabs.cfm
 

Juleslogic

In the Brooder
Jul 30, 2020
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I understand how confused you are. The same thing just happened to us. We brought home 3 young chickens (2 hens and a young rooster). I am incredibly sad this evening. We’d gone out earlier in the day and they seemed fine. Tonight all are dead. It is a horrific feeling. I’m not certain what we did wrong. They were still young enough to that they were on chick feed. Could it have been the bedding? lack of grit in their diet (I didn’t think chick feed required grit, but we’d still given them some). I’m at a loss. We were keeping them in the garage until we had a more comfortable way of introducing them to the rest of the flock. In part this was to also separate for the recommended 30 days. They were just 3 months old.
I have to say if I didn’t have 7 healthy chickens I would believe I was a horrible person some how. If you find answers I’d love to know more.
 

Ruby Rogue

Crowing
Mar 31, 2020
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I understand how confused you are. The same thing just happened to us. We brought home 3 young chickens (2 hens and a young rooster). I am incredibly sad this evening. We’d gone out earlier in the day and they seemed fine. Tonight all are dead. It is a horrific feeling. I’m not certain what we did wrong. They were still young enough to that they were on chick feed. Could it have been the bedding? lack of grit in their diet (I didn’t think chick feed required grit, but we’d still given them some). I’m at a loss. We were keeping them in the garage until we had a more comfortable way of introducing them to the rest of the flock. In part this was to also separate for the recommended 30 days. They were just 3 months old.
I have to say if I didn’t have 7 healthy chickens I would believe I was a horrible person some how. If you find answers I’d love to know more.
I'm sorry about your chicks :(

This is an old thread and you will get better info if you make a new one including what your bedding, heat source, and feed you're using as well as the setup you had them in.
 

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