Slowly losing chickens one by one

montana girl

12 Years
Aug 23, 2007
Kalispell, Montana
I have kept chickens for about 6 years now. Up until this spring I really haven't had any trouble that I couldn't identify. However this spring is presenting a mystery in my coop!

About a month ago I lost the first hen. She appeared normal, ate, drank, her droppings were normal in appearance and one morning I came out to find her dead in the run. She must not have gone in with the other chickens the night before. She was about 5 years old so I decided it had been older age and thought that was that.

Then about 3 weeks ago I went out to find my year old Blue Cochin dead on the coop floor. She had been acting normal prior to this, although I did notice that she was somewhat solitary, not feeding with the others (waiting until they were done etc.) and in general not being a part of the flock. She may have been slightly (and I mean really slightly) lethargic the day before I found her.

Today I went out and my 4 year old bantam auracana was dead in the coop near the chicken entrance from the run. She was on her back (the others were on their fronts as if they had just lay down.) For the last week or so, I thought she appeared slightly puffed up. But she was active, eating, drinking, her droppings were normal, there was no nasal discharge or sneezing etc.

Where should I begin to figure this out? This coming weekend is supposed to be good weather so I will empty the coop of all shavings and give it a thorough cleaning, but other than that, I am not sure where to start.

Thanks for any help,

bj taylor

8 Years
Oct 28, 2011
North Central Texas
perhaps it's combination of things. the first two - could either of them been egg bound? the behavior you're describing fits one of my hens. she was ultimately able to lay her egg, but it would have killed her if she hadn't.
the third sounds perhaps like a different issue.

how's the humidity in the coop. could you have a mold problem? is your feed old or moldy, or have rodents gotten in it & feces is in there?
how is the ventilation in the coop? the more the better.
if you're in Montana, is your heat source putting out toxic fumes?

cleaning things out isn't a bad idea, but I would tend to think it's the luck of the draw with two different issues and three birds involved. if you have a fourth - then all bets are off.
there's a guy on here, I forget his name. it's dawg something. he knows a great deal about illnesses. if you find his name, maybe pm him & get his input.

it's very upsetting to lose chickens. I personally would be cautious about treating without knowing what's wrong. if it's somehow environmental & you add the physical stress of medications, it may compound the problem. but that's from someone who knows little about treating disease.

I sure wish you all the best & you find what's happening in your flock.

montana girl

12 Years
Aug 23, 2007
Kalispell, Montana
Thank you so much for the reply.

Montana had a very mild winter this year, so no heat source was necessary except for a couple of the colder nights in January.

No mold in the coop, which my husband built to my specs so it is highly ventilated all the way around the top.

No real moisture inside the coop either. Feed is new and kept sealed in garbage can, and I haven't seen any rodents, although that one is always a possibility.

We haven't even had all that much rain so the run, which sometimes turns into a mucky mess during the worst of the spring thaw, never did this year. I have built it up with sand over the years and it has remained for the most part quite dry.

I hope it is as you say, and it was just a bad coincidence.

I haven't wormed them though, ever. All of my hens have, for the most part, been incredibly healthy and vital. I did have one sick hen a few years ago that lingered for a while and despite my best efforts passed away.

Oh and I did check for egg-bound, or crop issues but none were apparent.

One thing of interest was a few days before the last hen died, there was a pigeon in the run. No matter how I tried to chase him away, he would come back and act as if he were one of the flock, down to trying to roost with the girls at night. He could fly, so catching him was an impossibility. He stayed with my flock all day and then the next morning was gone.

It is upsetting, the two "older" hens were my best girls :) Even my grown kids got tears in their eyes when I told them. They will really be missed.

Thank you again,


Premium Feather Member
13 Years
Nov 27, 2008
Glen St Mary, Florida
Visually inspect your remaining birds for lice/mites, especially around the vent. I recommend that you worm them with valbazen cattle/sheep wormer or safeguard liquid goat wormer.

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