One hen in a flock of 7 chickens died today... Why?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by KK4CWT, Aug 21, 2016.

  1. Yes. It was probably an illness and you need to know what it was to treat the rest of the flock.

    2 vote(s)
  2. No, It was probably something the other chickens won't have to worry about.

    1 vote(s)
  1. KK4CWT

    KK4CWT Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 16, 2015
    The following questions were copied from the sticky post at the begining of this forum. Thanks for the Start Here sticky posts!

    1) What type of bird , age and weight (does the chicken seem or feel lighter or thinner than the others.)
    Tornado Dreamer was an Amerucana mix. She was white with a brown tummy, yellow legs, and laid blue eggs. She was over a year old, the lady I bought her from was never specific about her age or the age of the other 2 hens I bought from her at the same time. The lady had named her Dreamer, but I renamed her Tornado because of her personality. There wasn't a fence she couldn't get over with clipped wings if she wanted to. She felt lighter, thinner and colder than the others when I handled her this morning.

    2) What is the behavior, exactly.
    7:30 am Dreamer was laying in front of the coop, her legs sticking stick straight out from her body and her neck twisted up and her head buried in the grass. I thought she was dead at first, I called her name and gently poked her with a stick and she fought to get up, but couldnt. Her neck seemed unusually limp, and she seemed to have tremors in her head and neck. She kept her eyes closed when she realized I wasnt touching her (she has always hated humans touching her but will tolerate me for short periods) She was very tired, and would NOT use her left wing when she was struggling to get up. I moved her out of the chicken yard and quarrentined her in the backyard. She protested being moved and managed to get loose from me. She flopped to the ground and tried to bury her head again. She didn't fight me nearly as vehemently as she normally does. I picked her up and put her where she was safe from my dogs and other animals.

    I set her down on her tummy and she rolled over. She stayed on her left side, kept her head as far back as she could, stuck her feet straight out, closed her eyes and seemed to concentrate on breathing. She had very shallow breathing, and I thought a few times she had died until she twitched her feet. A few times she would flap her right wing like she was fighting to get up, but would immediatley lay right back down. I never did see her use her left wing, and her left foot didn't twitch as much as her right. A few times she looked like she was having a seizure. I was afraid to put a waterer in with her for fear of her drowning in it. She just couldn't seem to hold her head up or function normally at all. She didn't feel warm, but I was struck by how much it looked like the bird had had a stroke. Is it possible for a bird to have a stroke? I made her as comfortable as I could, and went to pick up my little brother. I came straight back home to check on her at 12:30pm, and she had rolled over onto her tummy and passed away. I am absolutely stumped as to what could have been wrong with her. I don't think she was eggbound, and her vent wasn't prolapsed. No bumblefoot, her comb was red as always.

    3) How long has the bird been exhibiting symptoms?
    Friday evening when looking for 2 escaped bantams I noticed that she wasn't on her perch in the coop. I just thought that maybe she wasn't ready for bed yet, or maybe one of the other hens had just pushed her off the roost to get her spot and she just hadn't gotten back up yet. Now I wonder if maybe she COULDNT get up on the roost? I noticed her obviously ill this morning, and while typing all this I'm not sure when she last laid an egg.

    4) Are other birds exhibiting the same symptoms?
    NO, the others seem to be fine, just concerned for her. All are well coordinated, moving around normally, no coughing, sneezing or wheezing. They stayed near Dreamer this morning, and none of them has made a sound today. Not even the rooster at sunrise. The bantams, who are housed in a chicken tractor in another part of the yard, know something's wrong, they haven't been crowing either today. This morning was eerily quiet. Rose, one of Dreamer's best friends even gently pecked dirt off her head, then got spooked by my puppy and stepped on Dreamer's head. Dreamer sat up, flapped her right wing and protested before laying back down. That was when I decided to quarrentine her.

    5) Is there any bleeding, injury, broken bones or other sign of trauma.
    Missing feathers from the lice infection she had when I got her. She let me handle her for SHORT periods when she realized I made the itchyness go away. Otherwise, there is no obvious signs of injury, no bite marks, no blood, no broken bones, but no strenght at all either. She did have poo on her vent feathers, but no coughing or wheezing, no signs of any respitory illness.

    6) What happened, if anything that you know of, that may have caused the situation.
    I have no idea. The only things out of routine was a change in bedding, and their water was put in a new location that is in full sun and promoting algae growth (will be fixed tonight.) I also ran out of crumble for them and had to wait a few days to get the money to get more, they had scratch and watermelon and bugs in the meantime.

    7) What has the bird been eating and drinking, if at all.
    Yard bugs like crickets, grasshoppers and such like, rabbit feed (they like to hang out under the hutches), grass seed, crumble, scratch, and watermelon. Oh and they all like to hang out around the compost pile.

    8) How does the poop look? Normal? Bloody? Runny? etc.
    I haven't been able to distinguish her droppings from the others. The coop has had a bad smell in it, I blamed it on my husband's use of tree trimming truck mulch/clippings for bedding. I didn't think that stuff absorbed well, so I made him clean out the coop and I put a layer of pine bedding down that was left over from brooding the bantam chicks earlier this year. It was still good, no mold or moisture in the bedding. That was tuesday or wednesday, I think.

    9) What has been the treatment you have administered so far?
    Quarrantine and observation. I didn't know what to do for her except to move her away from stuff she could thrash upon and get hurt. It seemed at that point to be more neurological than illness related. She passed away before I got home. If she had still been alive, I was going to take a syringe and see if I could get her to drink some water with Sav-A-Chick electrolytes in it.

    10 ) What is your intent as far as treatment? For example, do you want to treat completely yourself, or do you need help in stabilizing the bird til you can get to a vet?
    This question isn't applicable anymore, unfortunately.

    11) If you have a picture of the wound or condition, please post it. It may help.
    Sorry, I don't have a picture or a video of her, and I'm not sure a picture of her now would help at all.

    12) Describe the housing/bedding in use
    Last year I found a very heavy, very sturdy, insulated, well ventilated wood dog house (made for a full-grown Husky) that has made the perfect chicken coop. My husband was afraid there for awhile that I would either turn it into a clubhouse or put goats in it. It is perfect for any of these ideas. After I added a beam for a roost, all 7 of my Amerucana chickens could perch inside it, side by side, and still have room for 2 more birds. As stated earlier, I changed bedding to that compressed pine bedding earlier this week. oh, and I just remembered that this morning I noticed another hen pecking at the bedding.

    My questions:
    What happend to her and is it catching?
    Is it possible Dreamer ate the bedding and got some kind of toxic poisoning from it?
    Could she have had some sort of hereditary condition that would do this?
    Could it have been some kind of encephelitis illness?
    What do I do now?
    should I send the remains somewhere for a necropsy?
    is there something I can do to make sure the others don't get this, if it was, in fact, some sort of disease?

    Is there anything I should be checking the other chickens for?

    Sorry about the length of this post, yall now know everything I do about her last week. I have been wracking my brain trying to figure out what went wrong with my very stubborn and independent hen. Thank you in advance for your suggestions and help.

  2. Wyorp Rock

    Wyorp Rock Flock Master

    Sep 20, 2015
    Southern N.C. Mountains
    Hi Carol,
    I'm sorry for your loss.

    I would recommend that you send her for necropsy - this way you will have an answer to the cause of death.

    It's really hard to tell what happened to her, but some of the symptoms you describe sound like an illness/disease. It could possibly be Marek's.
    That said, mold, mildew, toxins, vitamin/ nutritional deficiencies and various other disorders can be viewed with similar symptoms.



  3. KK4CWT

    KK4CWT Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 16, 2015
    The chicken in the second video looks a lot like my Dreamer. The thing I noticed from both videos is that both birds were still upright with their legs sticking out. Dreamer never got upright, she stayed on her side.
  4. Wyorp Rock

    Wyorp Rock Flock Master

    Sep 20, 2015
    Southern N.C. Mountains
    I'm sorry.

    I do recommend a necropsy so you can find out what happened.

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