Quarantined Hen Died


6 Years
Jun 6, 2013
Three weeks ago, I acquired 3 Golden Sex-Linked hens, all three-year-olds. I placed them in a quarantine tractor. One of the birds has been lethargic and eating less this past week plus, she had a pasty butt. This morning, that bird was dead. This is my first loss, so I am not sure if I should extend the quarantine for the other two. My hunch is yes, I should but for how long? When will I know if they are okay to put with the other flock?

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
13 Years
Nov 12, 2009
western South Dakota
well, I think I would wait a while, maybe even a couple more weeks. I would watch them carefully. If they seem active and healthy, they probably are.

The first one might easily died from a physical problem such as age, or her heart, or some other non contagious disease... but then again.

If you have a true quarantine set up, where as the animals are truly separated by a great deal of space, and do not share airspace or food or water... then I would at least wait another week.

Mrs K


9 Years
Feb 10, 2013
yo momma
I'm so sorry for your loss
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Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Nov 27, 2012
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
You absolutely should extend the quarantine.
If another bird dies, refrigerate(don't freeze) it's body to have a necrospy done,
so you know what disease you are dealing with and how to treat or proceed.

How they are housed and what you are feeding should be reviewed.

ETA: If you don't have an absolute quarantine setup,
no contact between the two flocks with equipment of even your clothes and shoes,
they may have succumbed to something that your existing birds are carrying without symptoms
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Crossing the Road
13 Years
Feb 2, 2009
Southeast Louisiana
MrsFrugal, if you are in the US, I suggest you call your county extension agent and see how to get a necropsy done. Find out about costs, how you should handle the bird if one dies, and where to take it. In some states it’s free, in some there is a charge. As Aart said if it happens again at least you would know what you are dealing with. This is good knowledge for any chicken keeper to have, let alone somebody trying to integrate new chickens. A necropsy is where an expert cuts the bird open to determine what killed it.

The reason you quarantine is to see if one of the new birds is sick before you expose your birds to them. You had a chicken die in quarantine. I’d be extremely nervous about allowing those new chickens anywhere near my flock.

Quarantine is not perfect. Some flocks develop flock immunities. They can be carriers of a disease but never show any symptoms no matter how long they are quarantined. When you put a bird that does not have immunity with them, the bird without immunity can get sick. What quarantine is mainly checking is if the new birds have been exposed to other birds recently and picked up a disease. If you got your new chickens from a chicken swap or some place where they are exposed to new chickens, quarantine is very valuable. As Aart said, it’s possible your flock is the one with flock immunity to something and infected the new chicken.

One of the very common flock immunities is coccidiosis. There are different strains of the bug that causes coccidiosis and immunity to one strain does not give immunity to all strains. Not all strains of coccidiosis cause blood in the poop but they all cause lethargy. It would be extremely easy for you to carry coccidiosis from one place to another on your shoes or a bucket that may be set on the ground. Coccidiosis thrives in wet conditions. If the area where you are keeping them has wet or they had dirty water, I’d be suspicious of Coccidiosis. Of course they may have brought it with them and it may not have come from your flock. And there could be many other explanations, another disease or maybe she ate a screw or small nail and it punctured her gizzard when the gizzard was grinding. Or many other things that are not a threat to your chickens at all.

What I suggest is that you pick a potentially sacrificial member of your current flock and put that chicken with the new birds. Then start quarantine over. Wait a month before they are let out to mingle. Base your decisions on what happens. Your quarantine may or may not have identified a serious problem but it has certainly raised a red flag. Good luck!


6 Years
Jun 6, 2013
Thank you for your thoughtful reply. Although they are fully separate with their own food and water and distance, I did not think to change gloves and shoes. I was treating my original flock for worms with Wazine 17 because their droppings didn't look like coccidiosis, but I may have been wrong. I should have been more careful, but I am learning from this. I shouldn't have self-diagnosed.


10 Years
Mar 24, 2009
California, central valley
Ditto what Ridgerunner said about coccidiosis, that would be my first suspicion given her symptoms. It's always a big risk when moving chickens to new property and integrating new birds. If any of the other new birds start acting lethargic I'd treat with Corid and see if they perk up. The new birds can also bring a new strain in to your other flock as well so you will have to be vigilant. As far as self diagnosing? Don't beat yourself up over that. Many chicken owners simply do not have access to an avian vet, or any vet who will see a chicken. It also often costs a big wad to try to diagnose a chicken and not everyone can do that. So sometimes all we can do is start by ruling out the most common and likely things first and work our way out from there. I've saved many a chicken by doing just that.

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