Orpington Hen Dies Suddenly


In the Brooder
6 Years
Apr 26, 2013
One of our 1 year old Orpington hens suddenly took ill yesterday afternoon. She appeared just fine, scratching, foraging and dust bathing with the other two. Then suddenly she sat down and started panting and when she tried to move about 20 minutes later, she fell down leaning to one side. Her eyes looked droopy and her panting continued. There was no discharge from her mouth or anus and she did not feel hot to me or feverish in anyway. Within the hour she had one big convulsion and died. Does anyone have any guesses on what might have happened? My wife and I wonder if she found something poisonous and ate it, but all three hens spend LOTS of time in our back yard and I have no rat poison, insecticides etc. around. Haven't used that stuff since we've had chickens. It's early spring here, so no mushrooms or other plants growing much yet. Regardless, it's the same flora we generally have here along the front range of Colorado. I just tried to think what might have been different yesterday from the rest of the time. I was trimming a Choke Cherry shrub, but I did not see them eating any of the sawdust or 'chips' from the chainsaw. There was a very small spot of chainsaw gasoline/oil on the grass that must have leaked from the machine. Could that have been the culprit? It's a mystery to me since I figure if one chicken finds something and tries to eat it, generally they all flock over and try to eat it too, but the others are just fine. I'd sure like to make sure the others don't fall prey to the same issue...if possible. Thanks for any and all input.
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Like in Spauld's post, We just found our 1 year and 1 month old Buff Orpington sitting in a small hole of dirt outside...it was dark and all the other hens had gone inside. ALL our hens are quite large, organically fed and on alkaline water, fresh greens, etc etc. All appear normal and quite healthy...we didn't notice anything wrong with ANY of them (10 hens) late this afternoon..this hen, as I was stroking her, started thrashing around and then died. It breaks my heart to see this...what could have happened? She has no marks on her as if she was attacked; no fever; no hint that anything was wrong. Does ANYBODY have any ideas? We have been raising / spoiling hens for over 4 years now and have only lost one, who clearly broke her neck. They have absolutely clean nest boxes, coop, etc. NEVER sick. Please help!

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