Strange Sounds then died

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by DarinPD, Dec 30, 2014.

  1. DarinPD

    DarinPD New Egg

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    Dec 17, 2014
    Southern California
    Hello - I'm very new to backyard chickens (as of Sept 1, 2014 no eggs yet) but had my first issue. One of the four birds we have died suddenly. Christmas Eve I noticed that she was making a strange sound in the late afternoon while free-ranging in the yard with the other birds. Eating seemed to be fine.

    Christmas Morning went back out to let the girls out of their run (they have a coop inside a 20x10' area they are free to roam) and when I let the out of the enclosure Ruby didn't come out. I took a video as she was making the same sounds the next morning (I've attached it here)...about 1 hour later I checked on her and she was out with the other girls so it seemed all was well.

    Checked back about 3 hours later and she was back in the coop, dead. that fast.

    the other chickens have no similar sounds or issues - all eyes look good, waste on all of them had looked just fine, normal, eating normal mash, etc. Wonder what could have happened?

    Also, these birds are all about 8-months old have no idea when they will begin laying. they seem very happy (and spoiled).

    thanks for any insight (particularly on Ruby's death but also when might chickens start laying?) In southern California - usually very nice during day 70 but now weather is very cool at night around 40-50 F!)
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  2. enola

    enola Overrun With Chickens

    She is obviously struggling to breathe. But, I am sure you already figured that out. Did you examine her after she died?
     
  3. DarinPD

    DarinPD New Egg

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    Dec 17, 2014
    Southern California
    Yes that 's what I thought/think. No, I'm new to this and didn't feel very comfortable doing that. I should have though!! I'm hoping it was a fluke or something, but I'm keeping very close eye on the other three.
     
  4. enola

    enola Overrun With Chickens

    As a safety precaution, I would examine every chicken you own. Look for weightloss, bloated area around vents, any parasites on the hens, possible wounds. Have you wormed your hens? Routine worming with an effective wormer will go a long way to helping your hens to be healthy. Sorry for your loss. :(
     
  5. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 4, 2014
    Victoria, Australia.
    I'm thinking it might have been a respiratory infection.

    My girl was making a similar sound only 3 days ago, and while she seemed fine in all other respects (socialising, eating, and still laying eggs) I knew I had to act fast. I separated her immediately (to the opposite side of the property!), took her to the vet (on a Sunday at double $ per hour!) and got some antibiotics. In fact, I got enough antibiotics to do a blanket treatment for the whole flock should another bird start exhibiting symptoms. Three days later, she seems 100% better and everyone else is fine too.

    I know this doesn't help your girl, and I am so sorry for your loss. My point is simply that in very little time, respiratory illnesses can run rampant through your flock, and the faster you act the better the outcome may be. Obviously since it was Christmas there was not much that you could have done to help her, and that's sad. I would have been beside myself with worry. Is there any way you can get hold of some antibiotics to have on hand in case this should happen again? I was prescribed Oxytetracycline powder and it appears to have worked wonders for my girl. It was easy to administer as it was simply added to her drinking water.

    In the mean time, keep a very close eye on the rest of your flock. If any show even the slightest sign of breathing difficulties, sneezing, coughing, wheezing or runny noses and eyes I would remove them from the flock ASAP and seek treatment.

    I wish you all the very best, and once again I am very sorry for your loss.

    - Krista
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2014
  6. DarinPD

    DarinPD New Egg

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    Dec 17, 2014
    Southern California
    Thank you very very much! Your insight and advice is exactly what I needed. Chickens are very different than let's say, dogs, as pets. A dog sneezes and you wait a day to make sure he eats, etc. and if problem continues then we run him to the vet. Chickens it sounds (and obviously as proven unfortunately) seem to have issues that need immediate care/attention. I'll be sure to keep an eye on the other three. I also think after hearing your advice, that I need to get more hands-on with them (they aren't the easiest to hold as we got them at 4-5 months but they are coming around slowly but still don't care to be picked up). But I'll have to get them used to me holding them, inspecting them.

    Thanks again!
     
  7. krista74

    krista74 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 4, 2014
    Victoria, Australia.
    You are most welcome [​IMG] I haven only been in the chicken game myself for 10 months or so, but I have read a lot on them since starting out, and of course everyone here gleans knowledge from their own experiences, both good and bad, with their chickens.

    I have found that whilst some chickens seem to recover well from the most horrific of injuries, others are not so good with coping with illness. For example, I had one BO hen whom I discovered a terrible wound under one of her wings. It was obviously quite old, having gone dry and black around the edges, and I could see right through the thin layer of remaining skin into her breast cavity. I gave her a squirt of a wound spray we use on our cows and left her be and she made a wonderful recovery.

    On the other hand I had another hen who got sour crop and was dead within three days. I did everything I could for her too but in the end she had to be culled. I found a good vet to euthanase her in the end because I couldn't do it myself, but I didn't want her to suffer any longer.

    The thing with chickens is that they hide their illnesses from us and the other birds. It's a survival thing, as if the other birds notice a sick hen they will often peck and harass it to death. Nature's way! Even my girl with the respiratory illness 'hid' it once I got her to the vet. We ended up putting her in a dark cage facing the wall where she thought she wasn't being observed, and sure enough she started wheezing again. They are crafty little devils, and quite often by the time we notice they are sick or injured they are unfortunately fairly progressed.

    The best advice I can give you is to spend as much time as you can with them. I sit on a milk crate in their run every morning and every evening for half an hour, observing each bird. I listen for unusual noises, check for clear eyes and nostrils, observe eating, drinking and socialising patterns, and check their gait. Mine were not particularly keen on being picked up when I first got them, but whilst they don't enjoy it now they are not so hard to catch! I find I can herd them into the coop like I herd our cows, and once they are confined in there they are fairly easy to get hold of.

    I also pick them up when they have just laid their eggs. They are usually all lovely and filled with hormones after egg-laying, so I can usually pet them, lift their wings, check their vents and look for lice and mites while they are still in their egg-laying buzz! I dust them for lice and mites when they are roosting at night because they are all calm and dozey then, and I hand feed little treats like grapes and cucumber slices so that they come to know and trust me. They do not jump into my lap as some people's birds will, but they are pretty good. So the more time you spend with them, the better. Even if you just pick them up randomly for a pat it will all help them get used to you.

    - Krista
     
  8. DarinPD

    DarinPD New Egg

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    Dec 17, 2014
    Southern California
    Krista - great information. I love hearing everyone's stories, etc. It really does help in so many ways. Thanks again and Happy New Year!!
     

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