mysterious deaths

Fairchild Farm

In the Brooder
7 Years
Oct 18, 2012
I had two New Hampshire hens found dead in their nesting boxes. The two deaths didn't occur together but, rather two months apart. There seemed to be no marks, bites, wounds, or any visible symptoms.

Can any one add any clues so I can solve these deaths.
That’s’ hard. At two months apart it’s not likely a disease. But that brings up a question. Were they acting different before they died; lethargic, moping, not eating, or just standing around? Or were they acting normal?

Your profile doesn’t say where you are. How has your weather been lately? Extremely hot? I have had a hen die on the nest while laying an egg when the temperatures were over 110 degrees Fahrenheit. She had not been acting right for a couple of days so I think she had something wrong with her to start with and the heat and stress of laying kicked her over the edge.

Have you checked them for mites and lice? Roost mites only attack at night so you need to check for them after dark. They can really drain a hen. That brings up another question too. Were they broody? I had a professor that teaches poultry science at the university say that roost mites kill more broody hens than anything else.

Sometimes chickens just die and you can’t figure out why. Maybe they hit something and break their neck when flying down form a roost. Or maybe they panicked for some reason and flew into a fence or something. That doesn’t sound likely in your case.

Maybe they have a weak heart and it just quits on them. It’s strange that would happen to two of yours while laying but you can’t rule it out. Maybe that extra stress of laying an egg, especially in heat, was all it took.

I wish you luck. These things are often hard to figure out.
We too had a mystery death yesterday with one of our Sexlinks...NO signs of injury or struggle. My daughter found her in the coop when she came home from school. My wife last saw her at dawn hunkered down in the coop while the other 2 (one Sexlink, one Silkie) were up and about. She just thought the chicken was preparing to lay.
Now the rest of the mysterious story...
On Friday the 13th (maybe THAT'S it!!), I came home from work early and one of our two Silkies was missing. Just feathers around, no sign of an animal break-in, the other 3 chickens didn't seem traumatized and continued to lay. All we could figure was someone came into the pen and stole her. Everything seemed normal on Saturday, but Sunday morning I went out to check on them and one of the Sexlinks was laying on her side on the ground in the small run under their coop. It got down in the mid-40's that night. She was very lethargic and her legs were stiff and cold. My wife took her in the house, warmed her with a heating, and feed her some mango chunks and the syrup they were in. While nursing her we noticed she had a bloody spot on one of her legs where the feathers meet the leg but no other signs of trauma. My wife said that chicken used to pair with the the missing one to sleep, so we assumed she tried to snuggle with the other two, got beat up, and tried to sleep in the cold. After an hour or so of nursing, she was back in the yard limping around, but otherwise fine.
All returned to normal (no drop-off in eggs, etc.) until yesterday's mystery. We are left to wonder if she got depressed with her bed-buddy missing.
This happened to me for several years, until I figured out it was acities and/or internal egg laying. Starts at 2-3 years of age. I did not know to check for messy bottoms and expanded rear area for this problem.
Thanks for the input Chickery Chick. I did check her vent before burying her and all seemed normal. Based on my wife's description of her and the fact they typically lay in the morning, i suspected a stuck egg, but didn't really want to perform an autopsy to find out. If we mysteriously lose another one, I will go that route. THANKS, again!

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