Sudden Chicken Death - cause unsure

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by jennybunnyatx, Jun 23, 2017.

  1. jennybunnyatx

    jennybunnyatx In the Brooder

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    Apr 6, 2015
    So, I'm new to all of this (just passed the 1 year anniversary of getting my first batch of chicks) and today I lost one of girls. I'm hoping for help with diagnosing a cause because this seems out of nowhere. When I left for work this morning my light Brahma was fine but I came home to find her dead and stiff in the nest box. Not a mark on her (at least not that I saw), and I have no idea what happened. We had a raccoon attack a week or 2 back, and some of the others got scratched up a little so I've been keeping more of an eye on them to make sure they're ok and she was one of the least affected by that, so this is a big shock. Now I'm worried about my other 4 girls and want to make sure I do what I can to keep from loosing any more.

    Any ideas? (I have photos of the body if that might help?)
     
  2. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Crowing

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    Dead and stiff in the nest box. So was she in a laying position? Stretched out position?

    Any sign of egg binding? (They can really strain hard with a large egg which could cause heart failure if a weak heart.)

    I take it no signs of struggle or any disturbance? (ie feathers everywhere?)

    My first thought is the coon came back. I had a raccoon this winter hunt in broad daylight after I scared him off at night. It took me a week of his interference before we were able to trap him and stop his harassment of my hens.

    Yes, a photo might help.

    So sorry for your loss. I know how frustrating that is especially with no known cause.

    Sometimes they simply do drop dead, often of heart issues.

    LofMc
     
  3. jennybunnyatx

    jennybunnyatx In the Brooder

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    Apr 6, 2015
    No ruffled feathers, and she was in laying position. Honestly at first glance nothing even struck me as wrong but her head was lolling off to the side.

    Unless a poisonous snake bit her, I don't think it was a predator fatality because of how pristine she was. And I don't THINK there was egg binding, but I'm still not confident that I know how to diagnose it. Though one would think that if that were the case I'd have seen other signs. I do try and look out for that (pick em up and feel around every once in a while), and put apple cider vinegar in their water to help prevent it.

    I am in Texas though so maybe it was just the heat? She was my biggest bird, and I've heard that larger birds have trouble in heat... but i also feel like I would have had some sort of warning... but maybe as a first timer I just missed the signs focusing on the bigger more obvious stuff?
     
  4. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Crowing

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    Ah...Texas and heat....yup....didn't connect where you were.

    She was in a nesting box, probably warmed up too much and succumbed.

    I once had a RSL freeze to death in a laying position. The silly girl got bumped off the roosts above and camped down directly in front of the open coop door during an especially frigid and blustery night. I found her sitting pristine with her head off to the side as if she had fallen asleep never to awake.

    So yeah...if not poisonous snake...then it was probably the heat.

    Do keep a look out for that coon. They are crafty and if they've hassled them once, they'll be back. I'd set a trap for him.

    LofMc
     
  5. jennybunnyatx

    jennybunnyatx In the Brooder

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    Looking at the photo I got, I'm not sure how useful it will be, but here it is. It's after I took her out of the coop so she's on her side but when I found her she was feet down in the nest box

    20170622_230722.jpg
     
  6. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Crowing

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    Hard to tell from photo.

    My best guess is succumbed to heat if the nest box was in an enclosed coop. She looks like she succumbed rather than was mauled or ill.

    LofMc
     
  7. jennybunnyatx

    jennybunnyatx In the Brooder

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    Apr 6, 2015
    oops... I didn't see your reply before I posted the photo. sorry :/ Thanks for the advice though. I will look out for snakes and try to trap that raccoon too. It was a really close call actually. woke up at 4am to the girls screaming, and rushed outside scarring it off before i even got out there... but for like 5 minutes I couldn't for the life of me figure out how it got in.. till I realized it had fully ripped 2 pieces of siding off the coop and gone in near the roof line.... I'm learning a lot to say the least.
     
  8. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Crowing

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    Yup...mine ripped open the coop too...and the coop run. Took 3 of my best hens over the course of a week.

    I sadly was distracted with Christmas and got out late to lock the birds up...hungry raccoon seized the moment. I didn't even know I'd lost a hen until the next morning. And that's all it took to make him determined.

    Every night for a week that coon came back. Snarled in my face as I went to the coop. When we scared it off at night, it started coming mid afternoon. We finally got it trapped and disposed of it. (Check your local laws to see what you can do, but usually you can trap and euthanize on your property if they are attacking your livestock...it is illegal to release where we are).
     
  9. rebrascora

    rebrascora Free Ranging

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    Hi

    I'm sorry your hen died. The only thing that strikes me about the photo is that her skin appears quite dark on her side. I'm not familiar with Brahmas but didn't think they had dark skin, so it may be worth checking that out.... it could be she developed an infection as a result of a scratch from the racoon (so pleased we don't have those here in the UK) and the combination of that and the Texas heat overwhelmed her. Chickens will do their utmost to pretend they are not sick until it is too late, so it's not unusual that she appeared healthy yesterday.
    If you really want to know the cause of her demise, it is possible to send the carcass off to have a necropsy done.... it needs to be refrigerated and sent off quite quickly though.
    Good luck with your predator problem. I've been battling a fox for a few months now and it is not a happy situation.

    Regards

    Barbara
     

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