My Red Star hens are dying suddenly. . . . what is this?

Peppercorngal

Crowing
Feb 5, 2018
2,647
6,110
391
Feather Falls, CA
I'm not sure what is going on. I had one of my red stars suddenly die a couple of weeks ago, when I released them in the morning she seemed just fine, just after noon I found her dead next to the water bowl. I didn't do a necropsy on her, I just wasn't in the mood. Her name was bluebird. Today another hen died. I noticed that she wasn't her normal self yesterday, she had her neck pulled in and wasn't as active as normal. But when I tossed out some grain snacks she ran right over to get some. Today I found her dead in a nesting box. This time I did a necropsy and I do not understand what I found. She had poop coming out that looked and smelled like human poop. No urates at all. When I cut her open liquid that looked and smelled just like urine poured out of her. What happened here? I've never seen or heard of this before in a chicken. I didn't get photos, after the "urine" ran out of her onto the ground there was nothing to photograph. The rest of her organs looked normal to me. She (and the other hen) are/were 3 years old. Any thoughts?
 

Eggcessive

Addict
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Apr 3, 2011
62,431
55,429
1,322
southern Ohio
How old were the hens that you lost? Were they laying eggs? Did you take any pictures of the organs in the necropsy? The yellow fluid that came out was ascites fluid, a sign of liver disease usually related to egg yolk peritonitis, cancer, or heart disease. Usually, in ascites the lower belly between the legs becomes full and enlarged in later stages. Sorry for your loss.
 

Shezadandy

Crowing
6 Years
Sep 26, 2015
2,508
3,327
407
Portland OR
I would check all of your hens one by one. Feel for prominent breast bones and fluid low in the abdomen. Birds like this will frequently gasp, open mouthed, for breath when you pick them up because the pressure of being picked up takes what little bit of room their lungs had available with the fluid pressing in on them away. Ascities can be drained to improve the hen's quality of life. Generally whatever the ailment as outlined by Eggcessive above isn't solved by draining fluid, nor is it likely that they'll resume laying. But you can improve their quality of life.
 

Peppercorngal

Crowing
Feb 5, 2018
2,647
6,110
391
Feather Falls, CA
How old were the hens that you lost? Were they laying eggs? Did you take any pictures of the organs in the necropsy? The yellow fluid that came out was ascites fluid, a sign of liver disease usually related to egg yolk peritonitis, cancer, or heart disease. Usually, in ascites the lower belly between the legs becomes full and enlarged in later stages. Sorry for your loss.
The hens I lost were 3 years old, almost to the day. This last one did not have a distended belly or walk like a pregnant penguin or anything. I didn't see any obvious sign of ascites at all. They both died so suddenly. No, I took no photos of the organs. It was raining and I had a time finding a place to do anything at all! Most of my hens are 3 years old and laying pretty well. (it is winter and egg numbers have slowed, but that is normal). Thanks for your response.
 

Peppercorngal

Crowing
Feb 5, 2018
2,647
6,110
391
Feather Falls, CA
I would check all of your hens one by one. Feel for prominent breast bones and fluid low in the abdomen. Birds like this will frequently gasp, open mouthed, for breath when you pick them up because the pressure of being picked up takes what little bit of room their lungs had available with the fluid pressing in on them away. Ascities can be drained to improve the hen's quality of life. Generally whatever the ailment as outlined by Eggcessive above isn't solved by draining fluid, nor is it likely that they'll resume laying. But you can improve their quality of life.
I don't think I am able to check them all. I have 41 hens and I'm having cancer surgery next week. So far I do spend time (when it's not raining) with the girls and they jump on my lap and all hang around and the rest are acting normally. I give them vitamins and electrolytes every few months and yogurt sometimes too. I will be unable to even feed them for 6 weeks after surgery. My pre-op is tomorrow. I do what I can to care for them but this is a bad time for all of this! :idunno
 

Eggcessive

Addict
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Apr 3, 2011
62,431
55,429
1,322
southern Ohio
I usually do a necropsy on hens that I lose. Mine are all 7-9 years old. Several that I opened have had ascites fluid, even though they were not distended. I found cancer of the oviduct and salpingitis on one old girl, and she had ascites, though she was extremely thin. Not every case will cause a full belly. Most of the time I lose a hen, I never know what was going on until a necropsy after death. My last hen lost was a bantam weighing about 1 1/2 pounds, and her abdomen became very distended the last 3 weeks of her life. I drained yellow fluid from her twice, and she had more upon the necropsy.
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom