Spontaneous chicken death

alexmize

Hatching
Dec 11, 2018
3
4
4
I went to put my chickens up just a little bit ago and found one of my hens dead on her side in the run. There were quite a few down feathers around her and she had blood coming out of her mouth. She has always been a very docile bird so I dont think she was fighting and I really dont think it was a predator (there's snow down and the only tracks are chicken) this is the only issue I have noticed with my flock. My immediate thought is that she found rat poison but I dont know where she could have gotten it from. Do you guys have any thoughts?
 

alexmize

Hatching
Dec 11, 2018
3
4
4
Maybe you can describe a little bit more where and how you found her. Was she outside in a run with no top? I would suspect Cooper's hawk. Was she inside an enclosed run? I would suspect weasel. It definitely sounds from the loss of feather and blood that there was some violence happening.
Yes she was in a run with a top. I have been suspecting a weasel due to a lack of eggs the last couple weeks but I never knew they'd kill chickens.
 

rebrascora

Free Ranging
5 Years
Feb 14, 2014
7,127
8,752
556
Consett Co.Durham. UK
How old are your hens? Lack of eggs is totally normal at this time of year if they are over a year old, so may not be down to a "thief". The blood and feathers may be as a result of a predator or may be from her flock mates pecking her whilst she was dying or a haemorrhage, perhaps due to rat poison but if you don't use it on your property it is unlikely, or illness.
Would you be open to performing an informal necropsy on her? It is surprising how often a cause of death can be pin pointed even without veterinary training or testing. Quite a few of us here on BYC are becoming more experienced at it and share photos and discuss possible causes, so if you go that route, take as many photos as possible.
Can you post photos of her so that we can see the damage and where the blood has come from. A weasel or stoat is certainly a possibility but it may also be as a result of an illness.
What breed was she?
What do you feed your flock?
Fatty Liver Haemorrhagic Syndrome can cause sudden death. It is more common in larger birds like Orpingtons or Sussex and can be associated with a dietary imbalance caused by too many treats like scratch/corn/bread etc or grain mix feeds fed adlib. You would expect the bird's abdominal cavity to contain fluid or congealed blood and the liver to be fragile and ruptured if this was the case.
There will be other possible causes but this is a common one for sudden death particularly in these modern days where our chickens are pets and there is a strong temptation to give them more treats than is healthy for them. It is not obvious when a chicken is obese due to all those feathers!
 

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