One of my hens died very suddenly yesterday... any thoughts on this?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Princessferf, Jun 24, 2008.

  1. Princessferf

    Princessferf In the Brooder

    Nov 30, 2007
    I have 11 RIRs. They are 13 months old and started laying last October. They have all been in good health and other than some of the hens pecking feathers off some of the other's heads, they get along well.

    They have a good-sized coop and an enclosed chicken run outside. They are on regular "layer mash" and receive treats (weeds/grass I pull from the gardens - no pesticides ever used and sometimes loaves of bread with seeds in it).

    On Saturday the girls were out and all seemed as normal... dust baths in the dirt outside, pecking through the dirt and gravel, etc. On Sunday my husband checked on the chickens and he didn't notice anything out of the usual.

    Yesterday (Monday) I took some treats out to the girls in the run and noticed that some of them were in the coop (which isn't unusual). I sometimes shoo them all outside, so some of them don't miss out on the treats... which they really enjoy. As I was doing a headcount, I noticed one of them were missing, but I didn't see her in the coop.... until I stepped inside.

    I found one hen dead on the floor of the coop, about a foot away from the raised feeder. She wasn't in rigor (stiff), but a portion of her head had been pecked/eaten away. There was no blood to be found, though... which I thought was a little strange. None even in the straw around her. I did notice what looked like a tear in the skin underneath one of the wings (as if it were in the armpit)... but again, no blood.

    Our coop is secure (but we have had some rats get in on occasion, which we are addressing... via cats and shoring up the coop more) so I know it wasn't a raccoon or other predator like that.

    One note about the girl that died. She was "different" from the other hens. When all of the hens matured last fall, their combs grew to their "adult" size and got a dark red when they started laying. Most of them are "trim" in the traditional sense (not round birds). The one who died; however, was different in that her comb never grew at all. It looked like it did when they were chicks. The tiny amount of comb she did have never turned the dark red color... it remained a lighter shade. Her comb wasn't small from pecking at it... in fact, she was never picked on by the other hens at all. In addition she was a "rounder" bird than the others. Her personality was a little different in that she was always a bit more stand-offish towards people than the other birds.

    I don't know if her comb/body style had anything to do with her sudden death... but I can't think of any other reason why she died. They all are healthy eaters/drinkers and I don't seem to have any issues with parasites that I can tell.

    I checked on the girls this morning and they all seem to be the same as always... they hopped out of the coop and into the run with the same excitement and vigor as always.

    So I'm throwing this out to everyone... any thoughts or ideas about the cause of her death?

    Note: I did not do any inspection of depth post-mortem and she was burned by funeral pyre last night (I didn't want my outdoor cats or other critters to mess with the body... just in case she was sick) so I'm not able to do any inspections anymore.
  2. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude

    Could be that she had some heart abnormality. Hard to say. Sorry for your loss.
  3. Buff Hooligans

    Buff Hooligans Scrambled

    Jun 11, 2007
    Quote:That's too weird. You just described my girl that passed away in the same manner (suddenly, no sickness) a few months ago. Smallest, palest comb of the five, fine with other hens, standoffish with me. Never had a clue why she died...

    I hope you feel better soon.
  4. Princessferf

    Princessferf In the Brooder

    Nov 30, 2007
    Thanks for the responses. This may remain as a mystery. /shrug
  5. chickenannie

    chickenannie Songster

    Nov 19, 2007
    Sorry to hear that she died.
    I've heard that you can observe the comb to tell the health of the chicken. You hen probably just had a small comb, which was not the problem, but generally speaking a nice bright-red, standing-up comb indicates good health. When a hen is not feeling well her comb can become pale or purplish, fall over (unless it's a fallen-over comb breed of course), and generally shrink up and that is a sign that something is wrong. When my hens go broody, their combs get pale and shrink up too.
  6. seminolewind

    seminolewind Flock Mistress

    Sep 6, 2007
    spring hill, florida
    I would think she died, went thru rigor, got flexible again, and then got pecked on. I think that's why she didn't bleed. There was nothing to pump the blood out.
    I kinda agree with Speck, she might have had a heart problem. Sorry
  7. I agree with Speckledhen...I bet it was a heart condition. Have you wormed your girls?
  8. Princessferf

    Princessferf In the Brooder

    Nov 30, 2007
    I have not wormed them. Would I see worms in their droppings?

    What do you recommend to use for de-worming?

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