Oh No! Lost a Buff Orpington!

Advertisement Purina Flock Layer


9 Years
Apr 2, 2010
Wilds of Montana
This morning, I found one of my young BOs dead and sandwiched between a crate and the fencing to their pen. I left the crate in to be a nest box that no one seems to use, but the BOs seem to like to hang out in it. The weather has gone completely Montana and is hitting about 28 to 32F at night. The BOs are young birds, I think about 4 1/2 months? They're ridiculously skinny even though they have a full feeder. They stay with the older EEs who are rather mild and leave the buffs alone for the most part.

My birds stay in an unheated barn that I close up at night to keep the drafts out. The buffs have been complaining about the cold, so a couple of days ago, I had plugged in the electric heat mat. The buffs, I think, didn't figure it out, as I found the dead buff crammed furthest from the heat mat. Today, I took out the crate and put the heat mat in its place. They still didn't "get it," so I picked them up and put them on the mat and threw some feed on it. They are now sitting on it with ruffled feathers.

I'm wondering if the dead buff is a victim of being piled on and smothered or having its neck broken. My other birds -- including 5 week old chicks -- are dealing with the temperature okay. (I have the 5 week old chicks in an enclosed crate next to the brooder and brooder lamp, but the heat isn't direct). The only sign I have of a problem -- other than the dead bird -- is that the larger BO who is doing the egg squat -- had some feathers pecked out on her back.
Again, it could be the pile.

I'm thinking of calling the state and having a necropsy performed at this point. I don't need a bunch of dead birds, but I wonder if this was just something stupid and I have to make sure that they don't do it again.
What do you think?
Sometimes things die. I think that I would chalk it up to misfortune, and not worry. Take a look around your coop, and it sounds like you did, and make sure there are not any traps that can cause a bird to get smothered, and go on. I think that you may have had a freak death, no real reason, that you know about. From your description, it does not sound like it was an illness. So I would not contact the state vet YET. However, if you lose another bird, right away, or start to see evidence of illness, then you need to reconsider.

But as for the temp, and heater, I would not be adding that this early in the season. BO are winter hardy. If they can get out of the wind, and are dry, and are fed enough, they really do not need any extra heat. Mine did quite well the last two years, and we got down well below 0, without extra heat. I do have a good coop, and I do put a lot of hay on the floor and up against the north wall, but in all they stay warm enough without additional heat other than body heat.

my 2 cents


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