Postmortem photos; please look.

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by JessicaEm, Sep 23, 2012.

  1. JessicaEm

    JessicaEm In the Brooder

    Jun 11, 2012
    My chicken Camilla died this afternoon, and I am trying to figure out why. I took photos of her body immediately after she died; see this album:

    Camilla's postmortem photos.

    Let me tell you the WHOLE story just in case there are any clues there. I have had a terrible time with chickens; I only started raising chickens last June, and already I've had three mysterious and unexplained chick deaths, plus a possum attack that killed five pullets. Nobody had died in a long time, though, and I thought everything was going well.

    I bought Camilla and Honey, two pullets, from the same farmer on August 11 (along with two chicks, and they joined another pullet, Sister, who was my sole survivor of the possum attack). Camilla was a blue-laced red Wyandotte. Honey is a buff Orpington. Here they are in the car on the way home from the swap. Camilla is in the background.


    It was rainy that day, and both chickens were wet from having been chased around the farm by the farmer for the drive to the swap. I drove home with the AC off, even though it was hot, because I didn't want them to get cold. Still, as soon as I got home, I realized both were sneezing. I waited a few days and watched them. This is what I wrote to the farmer on August 15:

    Quote: This is what she wrote back:

    Quote: Here is Camilla the same day I emailed:


    Here is what I did: I gave them Wazine AND antibiotics AND DE. I also sprinkled the DE in their bedding and around the coop. It was very rainy around that time, and everything outside was damp, and I didn't know what to think was wrong, and I just wanted to cover all my bases. Also, my husband later said he was not sure he really saw worms. If he saw worms, they were incredibly small; it may have just been bubbles or something else. Whatever he saw, he never saw it again, and I never saw it, either. Incidentally, it was Camilla whose poop he thought had worms in it. He saw her poop, and then saw the "worms."

    I treated them for a few days, then I reread the directions on the Wazine and antibiotic and realized I was only supposed to treat them once, so I stopped. And they improved! The sneezing stopped, and the diarrhea lessened. I still saw diarrhea pretty regularly, but the farmer told me it could be normal for them to have diarrhea. Also, I live in Florida, and it's hot, and my husband read they can have diarrhea when they are hot. Also, there was still PLENTY of non-diarrhea poop in the coop. Plenty.

    So that all ended... at least a month ago.

    Now, in the month since all of that ended, I have wondered if Camilla was perfectly healthy. For one thing, as long as I have had her, she had some feathers on her back, between her wings, that were kind of matted and dirty. I didn't want to bathe her, having read that chickens clean themselves. I kept waiting for her to clean that stuff off, and she never did. I thought maybe she couldn't reach those feathers. They were in a really awkward spot.

    Then I noticed that Camilla always held her wings a little lower than Honey and Sister. You can kind of see it in that second picture. I wondered if that meant anything, but she didn't "act" sick, otherwise.

    Also, you can see in that picture how she has some stuff stuck to her beak. More than the others, she would end up with stuff stuck to her. When she had been sneezing, I wondered if she had snot or something, but then she stopped sneezing. It seemed like she probably just got her beak wet and then stuck it in the food. In other words, it seemed like nothing.

    Another thing: when she and Honey came home, they were about the same size, and both of them about the same size as Sister. I believed that Camilla and Honey were older than Sister, but then Sister had a big growth spurt and is my biggest chicken now. Honey also grew. I do not think Camilla ever grew. If she did, it wasn't much. She was the smallest of the three pullets.

    Yesterday, she was running around with the others like normal. They had food and fresh water when I went to bed. This morning, we opened the pop door, and the chickens came out into the run. I CAN. NOT. REMEMBER. if I saw Camilla then! I don't think I did... and then I think I must have. I feel like if she hadn't come out, I would have gone to open the big door and make sure she was ok. But I just don't know. I can see some of the others in my mind's eye; I just can't see her. What I DO remember from this morning is remarking to my husband that I dreamed last night that Camilla died. This is also why I think I must have seen her; otherwise, having had such a dream, wouldn't I go look for her if I didn't see her? I don't know. :(

    Anyway, I left this house this morning, got home, ate lunch. At 2:30, I went out to open the side door to let the chickens free range. That is when I found Camilla, lying down in the back of the coop. I thought she was dead at first; she seemed motionless. Then I realized she was breathing.

    I also noticed that the water bowl had been knocked over and was empty and dry. It must have been empty for a while as the bedding around the bowl did not appear wet. It was hot outside, though certainly not as hot as it has been other days this summer. I filled the bowl back up for the others, all of whom seemed normal, and then I brought Camilla inside.

    Though she was breathing, she was limp, and her eyes were closed. She had a large quantity of poop beside her vent, leading me to believe that she must have pooped while she was lying down, and it may have been hours before. I dribbled some water from a syringe onto her beak, and I could feel her swallowing. After a few minutes of that, she opened her eyes and lapped at some water with her tongue. Then she closed her eyes again and stopped drinking.

    At this point, I was thinking it could be heat stroke, just a guess. I put her down in a box and tried to Google a bit on my phone while I remained by her side. But then she opened her eyes, stretched out her legs, bent her head back, dribbled probably much of the water I had fed her back out, closed her eyes again, and died.

    I took some pictures, then, to try to figure out what went wrong with this one. The matted feathers; the drooping wings; the gooey beak; the diarrhea; the slow growth. All of those things individually didn't seem to mean anything because she acted just like the others. I don't KNOW what a sick chicken acts like. I feel like the black widow of chickens, like chickens come to my house to die.

    If you check out the photos, you'll see the matted feathers (there are now more than there were at the beginning, and they have kind of a white crust on them, but these feathers are not near her vent). Also, around her chin area is more white stuff. This is the first time I saw that. She doesn't appear to have lice or mites; at least not to my eyes. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

    I have not yet buried her. If there is something else I should look for on her body, please let me know.

  2. J-Sanders

    J-Sanders Songster

    Jul 28, 2012
    You sure have had some bad times with your chicken adventure! It is hard to tell from the post mortem pics but if you really want to know what caused the death I would suggest you call the county extension agent and get the number of the pathology lab closest to you and call them about doing a pathology on her.

    As far as buying chickens from a swap, well it really is gambling to be honest. How well do you know the lady you bought from? If she is good to go then she may replace them as long as she can be sure that they have up to standards living conditions. And I say that not knowing you or her, so do not be offended please.

    I don't think you are death to chickens or anything like it. Keep trying and you will get it.


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