CannedMonster

Free Ranging
Nov 26, 2017
2,275
4,807
577
Southwest Idaho
My 8 1/2 month old Silkie cockerel died today.
I witnessed it and can only conclude it was Sudden Death Syndrome or something similar.
All my birds were foraging quietly in the backyard.
I was talking to DH in the side yard separated from the back by 4’ chain link fence.
I heard a sharp sqwauk and saw Silkie engaged in extreme wing flapping and as I ran over he had collapsed and passed within seconds.
There were no other birds near him.
No birds were running from anything (predators).
Silkie didn’t move while the short burst of wing flapping was going on.
He seemed unable to run.
I picked his body up immediately and there was no heartbeat.
He was gone...just like that. :hit

Has this happened to anyone else?
Could this be a heart attack?
I would like to hear about similar experiences others have had.

I will miss my little guy.
I will miss his adorable crows.
 

cavemanrich

Addict
7 Years
Apr 6, 2014
16,511
55,409
1,267
Melrose Park Illinois
:hugs Very sad,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, I once lost 3 chickens in a matter of 2 days. They were suffering from some kind of respiratory infection/disease. Similar flapping of the wings just before the end. I was able to see that they were sick prior to that.
 

CannedMonster

Free Ranging
Nov 26, 2017
2,275
4,807
577
Southwest Idaho
:hugs Very sad,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, I once lost 3 chickens in a matter of 2 days. They were suffering from some kind of respiratory infection/disease. Similar flapping of the wings just before the end. I was able to see that they were sick prior to that.
Wow that’s scary.
He didn’t exhibit any signs of sickness or feeling poorly.
He acted completely normal right up until it happened.
It happened in seconds.
He even had a piece of food in his mouth.
I thought he might’ve choked but when I picked him up his heart had stopped.
 

rebrascora

Free Ranging
5 Years
Feb 14, 2014
7,127
8,752
556
Consett Co.Durham. UK
I'm so sorry that you lost your little guy in such a traumatic way. I hope it is some small consolation that it was so quick and he didn't suffer.
Whilst heart attacks can happen they are not that common particularly in young birds, however tumours on the heart can cause sudden death. A common disease like Marek's can cause visceral tumours. Silkies are particularly prone to it and he was the right age to have an outbreak of it. Was he vaccinated for Marek's as a newly hatched chick?
Fatty Liver Haemorrhagic Syndrome can also kill suddenly. That can be related to a dietary imbalance. Knowing what you feed your flock (main feed and treats) might make that more or less likely. But a congenital heart defect cannot be ruled out.
The way to find out would be to refrigerate (not freeze) his body and send it off to your state diagnostics lab for a necropsy or if that is not an option, open him up yourself and have a look. It is surprising how often a cause can be identified, even by lay people with no medical training. If you go that route, take plenty of photos of all his organs so that we can perhaps help you come to a likely diagnosis. Of course, I appreciate that not everyone can cope with the idea of this and prefer not to look further and just bury the bird but it can be beneficial for the management of your remaining flock to know what the cause was.
 

CannedMonster

Free Ranging
Nov 26, 2017
2,275
4,807
577
Southwest Idaho
I'm so sorry that you lost your little guy in such a traumatic way. I hope it is some small consolation that it was so quick and he didn't suffer.
Whilst heart attacks can happen they are not that common particularly in young birds, however tumours on the heart can cause sudden death. A common disease like Marek's can cause visceral tumours. Silkies are particularly prone to it and he was the right age to have an outbreak of it. Was he vaccinated for Marek's as a newly hatched chick?
Fatty Liver Haemorrhagic Syndrome can also kill suddenly. That can be related to a dietary imbalance. Knowing what you feed your flock (main feed and treats) might make that more or less likely. But a congenital heart defect cannot be ruled out.
The way to find out would be to refrigerate (not freeze) his body and send it off to your state diagnostics lab for a necropsy or if that is not an option, open him up yourself and have a look. It is surprising how often a cause can be identified, even by lay people with no medical training. If you go that route, take plenty of photos of all his organs so that we can perhaps help you come to a likely diagnosis. Of course, I appreciate that not everyone can cope with the idea of this and prefer not to look further and just bury the bird but it can be beneficial for the management of your remaining flock to know what the cause was.
I hadn’t thought of Mareks. :oops:
He was the right age for it.
And I admit I probably feed them too much in terms of treats even though I know better.
Unfortunately, we buried him within an hour or two afterwards.
I have no problem doing my own necropsy as I am not sensitive to that and know the importance of discovering a cause.
If any more birds in my flock begin to show signs I will definitely approach it a different way.
He wasn’t vaccinated.
He was a Tractor Supply chick as are my 6 other bantams as well as my sex link and my 3 Naked Necks.
My new birds, the 4 month old “teenagers” were vaccinated as I ordered them from Meyer hatchery and paid for it.
 

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