Please help me figure out what killed this Pullet!

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by GreenGoddess, Jan 18, 2011.

  1. GreenGoddess

    GreenGoddess Songster

    Jun 6, 2009
    St Pauls, NC
    I came home from the store and as usual, I went into the coop to check for eggs... When I walked in, one of our golden comets was laying dead on the coop floor in front of the nest boxes.. Her body was still warm so she was not there very long.. I found a small bit of blood on the inside of her wing but absolutely NOTHING anywhere else.. It looked as if she had brushed her wing on something that was bleeding a little bit.. it wasn't a lot, just like a light brush stroke...

    Ok... I checked her all over, no obvious sign of injury at all... I checked her eyes, they were clear... Checked her vent and she had pooped when she died but it was completely normal... I decided since I am having a problem with one of my roos eyes, I wanted to do a necropsy for my own peace of mind...

    It was a very sloppy job but i was trying to be quick.. I have a 12 yr old son who has aspergers and I don't know how he would react to me cutting a chicken open and basically playing with it's insides... Sorry but that's basically what you are doing in the eyes of a child.. So, I got him in the bathtub and brought her into the house in a plastic grocery bag so he wouldn't see what I was doing...

    I took her into the other bathroom and laid her on her back in the sink.. I figured, this would be easiest to clean up and there is plenty of light in there.. Again, I was trying to be quick because I didn't want my son to get out of the tub and see what I was doing.. I opened up her crop since it was pretty large and figured that would be a good place to start... Nothing but feed from the day.. Everything looked normal and it was only about 1/4 - 1/2 cup total... Nothing out of the ordinary... ok.. so, that's not the problem...

    Then I cut straight down to open her abdomen.. There was a LOT more fat than I would have ever imagined... I'm not sure if this is normal or not.. I have them in a mix of layer crumbles, game feed and a small bit of wild bird seed just thrown in as a "treat" mixed in... They also get whatever scraps are in the fridge since if it's still in there after 3 days, we don't eat it!

    I checked all of her organs (again, doing this quickly so I couldn't tell you what some of them were) and her everything looked normal except for the fat deposits on almost everything and her lungs...

    Her lungs looked strange to me.. Picture a big pimple that looked like it was ready to burst but filled with blood.. I don't know how else to explain it!!! There were no other lesions on her lungs or any other organs.. No white bumps or anything.. (WHEW!! We are NOT talking about Marek's so that means my roo most likely just got pecked!!).. Other than that, she did have a handful of fully formed yolks in her reproductive tract and had a few tiny "cooked eggs" but not enough to even come CLOSE to killing her!!

    I have searched and searched and searched and I cannot find ANYTHING that shows what i saw! She did not have ANY other symptoms.. She is 8 months old, has been laying for about 3 months now and has been healthy until this!

    Do her lungs give a clue as to what killed her?? Does the amount of fat give any clues?? Or is it quite possible she just flew off the roost and ran head first into the nest box, either breaking her neck or killing her because she hit her head??

    This is driving me insane!!! Here are a few pictures I did manage to take.. If I had someone helping me, i would have had a more detailed image in the pictures but it was just me and I was not about to take pics in the middle of doing this... Click for a larger image

    This is the contents of her crop as well as several organs and yolks I took out of her...


    This is her gizzard... Is it supposed to be THAT fatty????


    Goddess [​IMG]

  2. MuranoFarms

    MuranoFarms Songster

    Nov 14, 2009
    Boyers, Pa
    I never did a necropsy, but I have turned many roos into stew and I have never seen fat around the gizzard like that. Granted mine were male and I do them around 6-7 months.....but I never saw fat on any of the organs. Your lung description bothers me doesn't sound right. Have you looked at pictures on the butchering threads? I hate to send you there, but they do have some pretty graphic pictures of what the innards should look like.

    Hopefully this will bump you till someone comes along.
    Sorry about your hen [​IMG]
  3. GreenGoddess

    GreenGoddess Songster

    Jun 6, 2009
    St Pauls, NC
    Quote:Thank you.. No need to be sorry for sending me to the butchering forum.. I've checked it out many times in the past.. I eventually want to process my own meaties someday.. Honestly, the necropsy itself didn't bother me.. I kept apologizing to the poor girl though.. Almost felt like I was disrespecting her but i know I was doing the right thing... I just didn't want my son to walk in.. Would have been much better during the day when hubby was home and son was not.. I will do some more looking and see if I see anything even close to what i saw..

    Goddess [​IMG]
  4. GreenGoddess

    GreenGoddess Songster

    Jun 6, 2009
    St Pauls, NC
    Ok... I finally found something that looks similar to what I saw on her lungs... Pulmonary Embolism... Is that even possible and if so, what would cause it?? Her gizzard was extremely fatty but her liver and heart were not... She was also not a "fat chicken"..

    All the chickens have started gaining a little bit of weight (Their keel bone is not as prominent as it was a few weeks ago) but when i looked at her breast muscle, there was no fat attached to it and it looked like the weight they are gaining is indeed muscle from the higher protein in the game feed which is my whole intention..

    Goddess [​IMG]
  5. chickensbythesea

    chickensbythesea Chirping

    Jan 1, 2011
    Well, a pulmonary embolism is just a blood clot that's lodged in the lung, a lot of times, it's a fluke. Obesity can be a factor, stroke, trauma that might cause a clot, it's very hard to say when you can't ask any of her roommates about injuries and stroke symptoms.
    I lost a cat to a blood clot that the vet said was a complete chance event; I'd imagine it is equally possible that it's sometimes random with chickens, but that still doesn't explain the gizzard.

    Sorry for your loss.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2011
  6. missmidnight

    missmidnight Hatching

    Jan 18, 2011
    The university of Mississippi has a good poultry science dept. Maybe a call there could clear your mind? Very nice that you care so much about your bird.. All the best
  7. GreenGoddess

    GreenGoddess Songster

    Jun 6, 2009
    St Pauls, NC
    Missmidnight... Thank you so much for the site... I read over all the diseases and symtoms and honestly, the ONLY thing i could come up with is Fatty Liver disease... That was the only thing that was even remotely close to what I saw but, her liver itself was clean and looked great! I've seen much worse in the chicken livers at the store.. The one thing that didn't fit was i saw the blood clots in her lungs and not in her abdominal cavity, although again, it was a sloppy job so I may have missed something...

    Here's my theory..In October, I started giving them cracked corn... I have a gallon jug that I would fill about 1/3 of the way and give about 1/3 of that amount to my 4 chickens in one coop and then the other 2/3 to the other 13 chickens in the other coop... I would do this ONCE a day, usually in late afternoon.... Every once in a while I would just grab a small handful and throw it in as a distraction while I went into the coop but they would only get a few pieces at best... HOWEVER... I have two friends that are staying with us and I found out the husband was "feeding" the chickens the corn also.. I didn't realize he was doing this for the first two weeks they were here but when i found out, I told him to stop.. I explained to him that corn was not the best thing to do this with because it's a "treat" for them and that if he wanted to feed them, he was welcome to throw a handful of feed or even some grass in there but not the corn... He apologized and I have not seen him do it since...

    If you figure that on top of the fact that I cannot free range because of the excess of dogs in the neighborhood running loose, perhaps the amount of corn they were getting was enough to put the extra fat on their bodies.. I'm not 100% convinced that this is what caused her death though...

    It was pretty cold last night and I was home about 10-15 minutes before i found her.. Externally, her body was still warm so she was not there very long at all... I think what may have happened (because I've seen them do it before) was... When i pulled in the driveway, the ones in the coop were coming out to greet me like they always do... Either one of the others pushed her and spooked her, she lost her balance or perhaps she just misjudged but when she came off the roost, she landed smack into the nest boxes, instantly killing her..

    I sent my original post to a professor at MSU... Perhaps they can confirm what I think or give me another reason for her death... I'm hoping he emails me back...

    Goddess [​IMG]

  8. GreenGoddess

    GreenGoddess Songster

    Jun 6, 2009
    St Pauls, NC
    I got a reply from one of the professors at MSU... Although I was not able to get a definitive answer, I do feel more confident in my theory of her hitting the nestbox... Here is the reply I got...

    <b> I was forwarded your request for input from our Poultry Science
    Department here at Miss. State. I really appreciate your efforts to try
    and find out what killed your chicken, but from the images you sent as
    well as the description, I will not be able to offer any diagnosis. It is
    likely that the death occurred rapidly as there was some feed in the crop
    and the bird was still in lay at time of death. The amount of fat you
    noted in not unusual for backyard flocks. The only possible lesions may
    have been "blood clots" in the lungs, but this could have been the result
    of the sudden death. I'm sorry that I can not be any more definitive for
    you, but the fact is that there didn't appear to be any lesions to
    interpret. I hope the rest of your flock is doing well.</b>

    I guess I will just keep an eye on my flock a little closer than normal (didn't think that was possible!) and make sure everyone else is ok... As of right now, everyone is eating and drinking just fine and no signs of problems from any of them!

    Goddess [​IMG]

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