Mysterious Deaths

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by kahara, Apr 8, 2009.

  1. kahara

    kahara In the Brooder

    May 21, 2008
    In the last two weeks, we have lost two very healthy two year old hens (Buff Orphington, Ameuricana) on separate days. Each of hens were walking around fine and normal in the morning, but by evening time they were very lethargic and visibly having trouble breathing, especially the first hen we lost (I didn't see the death of the second hen as it was in the middle of the night last night, but we aided in the death of the first to end her suffering. Her comb was turning purple and she was obviously suffocating). There wasn't any mucus or fluid from their eyes or beaks and no other outward symptoms other than not breathing well. The first hen did have some leakage of a yellowish colored fluid from her vent, but when we did a necropsy there wasn't a broken egg inside like I initially suspected; in fact, she didn't have any egg at all and wouldn't have laid that day anyway.

    The first hen we thought the neighbor's dog attacked her and collapsed a lung. The neighbor admitted that when his [adult] son lets his dog out and the chickens are around, it will run after them and bounce on top of them. (We all rent the same property, just different houses. Our chickens were here before their dogs were). But now with the second healthy hen having perished, I'm not so sure. Plus it coincides with the migration of other birds to our area, such as the wild Mallards to our creek (our pet Mallards aren't so happy about that, lol).

    Both hens were family pets, very healthy, great plumage, good appetites in the days before their death, fed scratch and layer crumbles, free-ranged on three acres of grass and locked in a coup at night for their safety. I've never had anything such as this happen in my twenty-one years of owning chickens, and I hesitate to replace them in my flock in case this is going to be an epidemic. Does this sound like some sort of bird flu? I was hoping that you more experienced and knowledgeable people might have an idea of what could be going on and what I should do about it. Is there someone I should contact to have them take the bird for testing? Animal Control in our area is pretty much worthless when it comes to taking and testing animals; they wanted to charge $150 for taking a skunk we killed that we thought might be rabid (it was super aggressive and not leaving our house).

    Anyway, any help is greatly appreciated!
  2. horsejody

    horsejody Squeaky Wheel

    Feb 11, 2008
    Waterloo, Nebraska
    The dog could still be the cause. The chickens may have been injured by the dog and not shown visible signs. They can be very stoic and mask their own symptoms. The birds may have even injured themselves by running into or flying into something while trying to escape. I suppose the shock and fear may have had a delayed reaction too.
  3. kahara

    kahara In the Brooder

    May 21, 2008
    Thank you for your help. You are right about chickens being able to hide their pain and suffering. I think you are also right about the dog being the culprit still with the recent chicken.

    Three weeks ago our Rhode Island Red was mauled in the horse pasture and we put her down; she was alert and okay, but with the amount of puncture wounds and no antibiotics her outcome was pretty bleak. We thought it was the other neighbor's dog, because he told us he had let his down out of its pen that day and it frequently travels to our house to say hi. Incidentally the horse pasture is located in front of the originally mentioned neighbor, the one that admitted their dog bounces on our chickens if they are in the yard when the dog is let outside. Their dogs are mainly in their yard, and not let outside of it which is why I initially suspect the OTHER neighbor's dog. I saw the dog bounce on the Buff two weeks ago, plus there were feathers everywhere and the neighbor was yelling at his dog to stop. A little hard to deny that one. [​IMG]

    I don't want to cause problems with the neighbors, but I also don't want my chickens systematically picked off, especially when they were here before the neighbors acquired their dogs and I can't really stop the chickens from jumping up and over the fence into the neighbor's yard. I suppose I could keep the chickens locked in their coup all the time but how fair is that to them? They've been allowed to roam since they were big enough to, and it's a better life. I don't know...I'm just frustrated and sad that we've lost three good hens (pets) in three weeks. [​IMG]

    Anyway, thank you for taking the time to reply to me. [​IMG]
  4. Renee

    Renee Songster

    May 7, 2008
    Sorry about your hens. It does sound like trauma from the dogs.

    You might try your State Vet for a free necropsy. See the sticky at the top. That should solve the mystery.

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