Random Chicken Death. Cause?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Eggcellent8, Nov 1, 2014.

  1. Eggcellent8

    Eggcellent8 Out Of The Brooder

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    Ack! My hen died today and I'm trying to figure out why! [​IMG]

    So, I went to lock up my hens when I got home tonight. Coop door had been blown shut, so they were scattered and I had put them back into their coop. 6 hens were still missing after that. I found 3 of them (3 still missing! [​IMG]), but one was dead (3 y/o Black Australorp) and another one was extremely lethargic ( 2 y/o Easter Egger). (I know chickens don't wake up very well, but this was different. I put her on the roost and she fell off...)
    What could have caused this???

    Here's some possible clues:
    I've heard that tomato plants can be toxic to chickens, we have some growing in our compost, maybe they got into that?
    The weather dropped yesterday. But it's only in the 40s. Cold, but far from "freezing to death weather" right?
    Completely heathy before, at least no noticed symptoms.
    Was she egg bound? The hen that died was larger, I've heard that fat chickens can get egg bound more easily, but that would't explain the other hen is acting weird.
    They had food and water today like always (water hasn't been changed for a couple days, had some leaves in it, but didn't appear stagnant)
    Fed them some watermelon, tomato, and bell pepper scraps today, but that has never been a problem before.
    No signs of predator damage. Feathers and body intact. She was still warm when I found her. I guess she had just died..
    My flock free ranges on a few acres, maybe some of them ate a poisonous berry/plant?

    Any ideas what happened to that chicken?[​IMG]

    Really bummed... R.I.P Buttercup. [​IMG]Thoughts on how to help the other lethargic hen? Should I be concerned about the health of the rest of my flock?

    Thanks!
     
  2. chicknmania

    chicknmania Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    Yeah, you need to be concerned....so ALL of them are lethargic now? Have you ever dewormed them? I've found that worm infestations can cause sudden lethargy. Or it seems sudden to us, but actually, chickens are very good at concealing symptoms, until they are very ill... The hen that died, was she underweight? Could you feel her breastbone like a sharp ridge through the muscle?
     
  3. chicknmania

    chicknmania Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    Also, sorry for your loss. It sucks when they die and you can't even get a chance to do anything for them. Been there. [​IMG]
     
  4. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict Premium Member

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    How long had you been gone to work, and did they have food and water available outside of the coop while you were gone, and the door was closed? I hope you find your other chickens in the morning. It's always best to latch all doors and gates open or closed. When wind blows doors or other objects, they can easily kill a chicken.
     
  5. Toddrick

    Toddrick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    ^X2
     
  6. Eggcellent8

    Eggcellent8 Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 14, 2012
    The lethargic Easter Egger isn't doing any better this morning. We have a storage area in our coop, so I put her in a separate pen with food and water. As far as I can tell, the others still look okay. (I let them out early this morning to make sure they didn't pick on the sick chicken. They weren't as energetic about their breakfast, but maybe that was because they weren't hungry yet. I usually let them out later in the day.)

    Chicknmania, Thank you for your sympathy! I haven't dewormed before. Trying to raise my chickens as naturally as possible, but I'm uneducated in all the deworming stuff! If anything, Buttercup was overweight. She was my largest hen.

    Eggcessive, Their food and water is outside, so they should have had access to that. I got home an hour after sunset. Really do need a latch for that door, this isn't the first time this has happened...


    I found 2 of the 3 missing... dead. They were eaten by something (Guessing the neighborhood fox). What I don't know is if they were healthy, and eaten since they couldn't get inside the coop, or if they were sick like the other 2, were dying/dead, then something found them. Neither scenario makes me feel any better. [​IMG] One hen is still missing, but I don't have very high hopes for her...
     
  7. chicknmania

    chicknmania Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    Besides lethargy, what symptoms does she have? Try watching ALL your remaining birds to see how they act, without staring at them. Just hang out and watch them when they're not watching you. Any sneezing, discharge, swollen eyes, bloody droppings, diarhea, droppings stuck to the feathers? I can tell you from experience that deworming is absolutely necessary. I hate it, too. I hate giving them chemicals. But nothing else works to kill a worm infestation. You can use natural remedies, they may help as a preventative, but you still need to deworm twice a year and use your natural remedies in between. Are your birds molting? Have you checked for lice/ mites? It looks like your instincts are telling you all is not well with your remaining birds, even though they are not obviously ill. It could be one of many things, but if they were mine, I'd try deworming with a gentle broad spectrum dewormer. Rooster Booster is one. Safeguard is another. Many people deworm their birds individually with Safeguard paste for livestock, but we haven't done this, so not sure what the dose would be. You can buy Safeguard for poultry on line too but the other is more readily available.

    Is there a vet that would do a fecal test for you? That is a relatively inexpensive way, and quick too, to find out what you're dealing with.

    It's crucial that your birds eat and drink. Especially the sick one. Tempt her with a little applesauce or yogurt mixed with her feed. Scrambled eggs are good too. Cooked and cooled, thinned Oatmeal. chopped Tomato. Banana. whatever she likes, that you can get her to eat. applesauce is good cause it has some liquid in it too and that will help. It takes a couple of days, but I've found that sick birds are attracted to fermented feed, and it's good for them. You can hurry the fermentation process up by adding a splash of organic apple cider vinegar to the feed mixture.

    And, of course it's possible that it's poison of some kind. There are some things that are toxic, like raw white potatoes and peels,. And Mold. Our birds have access to tomato plants in summer, but we've never experienced any problem from that. Another thing you can try to do, is get a necropsy on one of the dead birds. It has to be less than twenty four hours since death though for best results. I doubt that the cold would have any effect on them, we had the same weather here and our birds are fine, just startled by the sudden freezing weather. It does sound as if maybe a predator found your birds already dead., If there are no feather trails or scattered feathers, signs of a struggle, it's almost certain that a predator found them after they were already dead.

    And that's scary. If I were you, I'd be looking into the fecal test, and the necropsy, tomorrow morning. If it's still cold tonight, keep your sick hen warm. You might have to bring her inside.
     
  8. Eggcellent8

    Eggcellent8 Out Of The Brooder

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    2 more chickens died this morning. The sick one is holding on, I got her to eat some scrambled eggs and apple sauce. I went and bought some Wazine 17, it was the only wormer I could find in store. How should I use it? How long should I not eat the eggs? The bottle says not to give it to weak/sick chickens, so guessing I shouldn't give it to the sick one? The numbers are all for 800-1600 chickens, and I only have 10 left plus the sick one.

    The is completely horrible. It's the chicken plague! [​IMG]
     
  9. Eggcessive

    Eggcessive True BYC Addict Premium Member

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    Sorry for your loss. Most of the wormers in feed stores may be located in the horse, cattle, or goat section. Wazine will only kill roundworms, and if you can't find Valbazen SafeGuard Liquid Goat Wormer, or SafeGuard or Panacur Horse Paste, then use 1 ounce (30 ml) of the Wazine per gallon of water, and use it exactly 24 hours (or put it out at daylight and discard it at night.) If they are lethargic or sick still, I would rather give them electrolytes, vitamins and probiotics, and make sure they are eating before worming them, since they still may be traumatized from being out and being attacked. Scrambled egg and tuna can be given to boost protein.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2014
  10. chicknmania

    chicknmania Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    Please seriously look into getting a necropsy. Call your state agriculture department and ask them for help. Most charge, Ohio does anyway... but the price is reasonable. some do not. charge. If you can't find out how to get one that way, your veterinarian can refer you. I agree, maybe hold off on the deworming, but you can still get a fecal sample checked. I know just how you feel, it is horrible..especially when you have multiple ones die. You will gain knowledge though and can maybe protect the remaining ones, or any new ones that you get in the future. Please don't give up hope, and do keep on trying to save them. Sometimes they will surprise you. You can get vitamin/ electrolyte packs at most feed stores. The fermented feed is high in probiotics, or so I've read. All you do to make it is get some feed and put in a crock or like a gallon glass jar. Add water to cover about 2 inches. Throw a splash of organic Cider vinegar in, and cover. We keep ours in a cool dark place and stir every day, it will ferment in about two to three days. It smells good and the chickens think so too. We drain off the excess water (ours like it pretty dry) and feed, sometimes mixed with a little dry feed. They really like it, it's easier for them to digest, too.

    Are there no other symptoms? [​IMG]
     

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