Sudden death in Araucana


Oct 3, 2017
Hello all,
Our lovely Araucana Hen Solo died last night. She had been alert, healthy and pecking about until the day before yesterday when she suddenly seemed more subdued. Her egg laying had dropped off in the past 3 weeks but that wasn't a huge suprise. She is fed layers pellets with added dewormer and kitchen scraps. We are quick to clean up scraps mess to discourage rats. Their water is mains fed automatically but we also clean it out and add apple cider vinegar. They free range in a large area with gravel, grit, mud, heaps of worms and slugs, our veg beds (caged most of the year) and often are let into the main garden. I garden organically so no slug pellets or lawn feed etc.

I checked if she was egg bound. Her crop felt empty, and I syringe fed her sugar and water the last night but she seemed uninterested. she wasn't impacted but her wattle was pale in the last 24 hours. I fed her oil soaked bread the night before her last night when I first noticed she was a little quiet. she ate it but didn't seem to poo in the whole time I was with her. she had a remarkably clean tail feather area for a chicken on the verge of dying. She was standing almost to the end.

I can't work out which of the following it might have been, but would love other peoples thoughts as I'm now concerned about the rest of the flock.

- Badger? Shock?
We had a really nasty badger attack in April. She survived but we lost two other chickens. She had been top of the pecking order and after that started to follow us about and take less interest in the other chickens. She became almost a house chicken. She would escape the coop just to sleep at my feet. We bought two new chickens in May and she seemed to perk up when they arrived, asserting her position again and returning to laying. She had been 'escaping' less.

- building work/loud noises
The neighbours did a lot of work to replace fencing last week including using an angle grinder. Could the noise have been too much?

-too many treats?
My son tipped a box of meal worm treats over about 3 weeks ago. We didn't realise until she had eaten a lot. Could this have imbalanced things?

- bird flu
I heard there was an avian flu pandemic in the UK this winter. Could she have got this and displayed no real symptoms?

We normally use diotom when we clean out their hutch and forgot last time. When we went to bury her tonight she had some mites. Not many but I wondered if that could kill her so suddenly?

I would love any advice. I let the other girls free range in the main garden today. They all seemed perky and happy, scratching and enjoying the change. I'm concerned that one might go down hill very quickly.

update: tonight on locking up the other araucana has laid a fairy egg. She was the only other one laying regularly and new to of the pecking order. concerning?

The only other things of note are that we moved their house inside a potting shed to further protect it from the fox. It still has plenty of ventilation and they sometimes go in during heavy rain so it seems to work fine for them. But perhaps that has caused an issue?

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