Mystery Death-picture- can more experienced owners tell what happened

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by mariel37, Oct 26, 2011.

  1. mariel37

    mariel37 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 11, 2011
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    If you more experienced chicken owners would be so kind as to provide a few scenarios that could have happened, this would be a learning experience for us. Thank you for your time.



    Facts:

    Chickens are all 6 -7 months old. We've had them since they were less than a week old.

    They have been laying now for a few weeks.

    Have one rooster and eight hens.

    The rooster treats his hens well from what we can see. He calls them to eat when there are treats, he watches out for them when we take them out of the run, and we do not let him "have his way" with the hens when we are present.

    I have picked him up and held him several times, and although he doesn't like it, he doesn't fight me.

    = = = = = = = = =

    This morning at 7:00, opened the doors to let chickens out into the run. Everybody was fine.

    At 9:30, I went out with their plate of treats, and found our Silver Wyandotte, Stella, dead. Her body was not warm and there were no bugs on her. There was no blood, feathers, nothing that looked like a fight.

    She hadn't been ill that we could see. She's been laying and acting as usual.

    I took a picture of her to post here to see if there was a way anybody could provide some scenarios as to what may have happened. This is a first for us, so we can learn if there was something we should be watching out for.

    I did not see any other chicken pecking at her body or anything, but then when I come out of the back door of the house they automatically come to the run door because they know they are getting a treat. So, if anybody was pecking at the body I didn't see it. It doesn't look like it.


    oh, after thought: I do know Stella and one other hen are my rooster's "favorites." I assume that from the ruffled downy feather on the lower back.
    Thank you.
    Beth


    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2011
  2. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

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    Sudden, unexplained deaths are not unusual in poultry. Unfortunately, the way a flock works makes it imperative for chickens to hide any weakness, illness or injury. They can be half dead and not show any overt signs of distress. If a chicken is voluntarily showing signs of distress then that bird is in a very bad way. Often times we are alerted to illness and injury by the involuntary signs- bubbling eyes, coughing, open wounds, etc.

    In the absence of any other signs of illness in the flock my guess would be she had either an undiagnosed heart problem or a sudden onset reproductive issue. Neither are uncommon. And reproductive issues are very common in new layers. I would keep watch on the remainder of the flock for several days to be certain that an illness is not at work.

    Another scenario to consider which happens often- could she have flown into something and snapped her neck or given herself a fatal head injury? Chickens are flighty and tend to startle easily. A good scare could have sent her careening into a hard surface at full velocity. This has resulted in the deaths of many birds.

    I had an inexplicable death this summer. The duck was sleeping with her head nestled in her feathers, in the same spot as always, and just never woke up. I had no explanation for why she passed. It was obviously a peaceful death as she was in a completely normal position, but I still have no clue why it happened.


    I am sorry for your loss.
     
  3. mariel37

    mariel37 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you CMV.

    I found her outside the pop door, so either she was coming out of the door, or was in the run going clockwise and died about 10 inches from the door, I can't tell which.

    I can understand about the illness and not showing it - horses (of which I have eight) are the same way. By the time we see outward manifestations, we could be in a bad way.

    Could you give a few more words about reproductive distress in a new layer, or provide a good link for info? She's been laying for probably about 5 - 6 weeks at least.


    She didn't look, from where she was laying, that she flew into anything or hit herself on anything, unless she moved/walked a bit afterwards.

    But, it is a mystery.

    Thanks, I appreciate it.

    Beth
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2011
  4. clairabean

    clairabean Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 7, 2010
    Kootenays of BC!
    I am sorry. She is a beautiful chicken. [​IMG]

    Could she have gotten stuck in your pop door? Is it automatic?
     
  5. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

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    Reproductive distress is usually pretty obvious to the observer, but it depends on what the issue was. If you are up for an at-home necropsy, you may be able to pinpoint exactly what the issue was. Have you ever opened up a bird before?
     
  6. mariel37

    mariel37 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    No automatic pop door (a luxury!) I have to go out and open it up and it has a hook to keep the door up.

    And thank you, Clairabean, she was a beautiful hen. She was the first chick I bought. And as I looked in the bins with all the little chicks running around, SHE was the one who looked up at me with such a wonderful cocky attitude like, "Yeah? Whaddya want?" That's why I chose her and that's why I named her STELLA. It just summed it all up. [​IMG]


    Don't know that I am up to a necropsy, but I wouldn't stop somebody else from doing it.

    I don't suspect the rooster doing anything to her (??) ... especially since he does not treat them aggressively. I had explained thoroughly the concept that I have read on this forum called "Freezer Camp" so I think he gets the message. [​IMG]


    I may have to chalk it up to "it just happens" and leave it at that. But I will be on the lookout for any strange behavior from the others.

    Beth
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2011
  7. Avalon1984

    Avalon1984 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 22, 2010
    Muskegon
    Sorry to hear about your loss Mariel. I can appreciate you wanting to learn as much as you can to avoid or be able to detect an illness sooner. I have found that sometimes no matter what you do, you cannot pinpoint it. I lost 4 out of 12 in my first year of chicken keeping and I was devastated. In my second year I lost 5 out of 100, 3 of which were young chicks (I expanded a bit). I attribute the fact of less deaths to nutrition, care and first and foremost an alert owner. If you have horses you likely check them every night in case something looks “wrong” . That is what I do with mine. The same thing goes for the chickens. Check on them, look for signs of weakness or strange behavior. I was able to detect 2 sour crops and one eggbound hen this way. I lost 2 of those 3 but at least I was able to save the last one and end the suffering for the other 2. People have different opinions about it but I deworm my chickens and treat them for pests regularly. Raised 80 some chicks from day olds like that with success. You will find the way that will fit you best as you go along. CMV might be right on with the heart condition though. If you have been to the meat section you may have informed yourself about the process of slaughtering a chicken. Believe me, I was mortified the first time and within 5 minutes I couldn’t believe how easy it was. It is really not that bad if you find a way to dispatch the chicken humanely. I find it to be essential knowledge even if somebody doesn’t plan to process their birds. More often than not I had to end a chickens suffering and was grateful for the knowledge of how to do so quickly. Long story short, if that happens again, just cut open your chickens and take a look at the organs, reproductive tracts, etc. Sometimes you can tell from the size of the heart if something was wrong. If not, take pictures and post them here and we’ll be happy to help investigate. Wishing you more luck in the future![​IMG]
     
  8. mariel37

    mariel37 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks Avalon -

    My son just let the chickens out of the run to "graze" - all seems fine.
     
  9. mrpekinduck

    mrpekinduck Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 29, 2011
    Ducky Land!
    I think tht she might have choked, had a heart attck, or had a stroke. Sorry about your hen she is a lovely bird! [​IMG]
     
  10. silkielover5

    silkielover5 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    heart attack or kidney failer. i have had one silkie suddenly die from kidney failure and one die from heart attack both happened within a hour
     

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