Should I be concered about the rest of the flock?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by dodgewoman, May 18, 2012.

  1. dodgewoman

    dodgewoman Songster

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    Mar 30, 2012
    Today my son opened up the coop door and bam there was a dead chicken :( There are no signs of a fight or illness! Yesterday they all seemed fine today one is dead. I don't get it! I had one die on me when they were very little babies(around 2 weeks old they are now around 9-10 weeks) and since then they all have been healthy and growing just fine. I feel like such a horrible chicken mom. I have had some many other animals and have never had them die on me like this:( Does this happen a lot or is it "normal" to loose them randomly? I have a few friends that got a bunch of chickens and never lost a single one. We started out with 15, lost one and found out one is a rooster. Now we are down to 12 chickens and one roo. I'm just worried that this will keep happening.
     
  2. Totally normal to have the occasional chicken drop dead on you without warning. You are not a bad chicken mom.

    I've had many chickens over the years, and quite a few have just expired for no reason (many of mine are old, but I have lost my share of chicks, pullets, and growing cockerels as well).

    If you are worried about a disease outbreak, I would say just keep an eye on your flock. usually, birds with an illness look sick - lethargic, eyes half-closed or unfocused, not interested in food or water, standing around with droopy wings, not looking alert or running around like usual. If the rest of your birds are acting fine, you should not be worried, just be watchful.

    Also, I advocate monthly health checks for backyard chickens. Once a month, pick up each chicken and examine her:
    Eyes - should be bright and clear, no foam or swelling
    Nostrils - should be open, not gummy or sticky or stinky
    Crop - should not be rock-hard (should be able to gently squeeze contents), not very swollen and liquidy (like it's full of a big can of soup)
    Abdomen - should be firm, not feel swollen full of liquid or rock-hard
    Breast muscle & "drumsticks" - should feel a little meaty, not withered or skinny
    Vent - should have no tears or injuries, not be too soiled with poop
    Feathers - should not be crawling with lice, or mites, or sporting louse eggs
    Feet - the bottoms of the feet should be free of cuts and the black scab of bumblefoot (you may need to wash them to see)
    Also, listen to her breathing. You are listening for raspiness, rattling, or gurgling sounds
    Also, when you set her down, watch her walk away, so you can see any limp or other changes in her gait

    If you do this to your chickens once per month, you should be able to catch trouble before it's too late. Keeping parasites down will not only improve egg production, but will also be one less thing for their immune system to have to deal with. This health check is designed to catch: worms, lice, mites, Coryza, CRD, pneumonia, egg peritonitis, egg binding, vent gleet/gut flora imbalance, impacted crop, sour crop, prolapse, Marek's, and general injuries. It's also a good way to get the family involved in chicken care, and the chickens used to being handled by people. This way, if your chicken should -god forbid - get mauled by a predator, and you need to examine her, both your proximity and the motions/positions she will be in will be familiar to her. Much harder to examine the extent of an injury on a chicken that can't stand to be near you. Hope this helps.
     
  3. dodgewoman

    dodgewoman Songster

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    Mar 30, 2012
    That was very helpful thank you! Great advice and I love the check list. My kids love to help me catch them so this will actually be fun for them:)

    Watching them tonight and from what my husband has told me about the past two nights(he usually shuts them in the coop for the night) they tightly huddle together at the end of the coop where I found the dead one. She was on the smaller side so I'm starting to wonder if she got squished some how during the night:( We looked her over and there were no mark or signs of illness at all but her neck was a bit twisted. So she may have falled off the roost or gotten squished. Very sad though.
     

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