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Sudden Death in Young Hen

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by WanderingStead, Jun 2, 2016.

  1. WanderingStead

    WanderingStead New Egg

    Jun 2, 2016
    We purchased a few pullets from a local feed store two weeks ago (Sugar, the oldest and largest (estimated 18 weeks) Rhode Island Red Bantam; Cinnamon (16 weeks, estimated), Rhode Island Red; Honey, the smallest, Australorp). 5 days ago we introduced two new pullets from a local, organic farm. Aside from what we have identified as a leg injury (being treated effectively) in our Australorp, the original three were healthy. The two newest birds are also quite healthy (Ginger, 14 week Golden Comet and Sweet Pea, 16 week Jersey White).

    We have slowly integrated the two "flocks" together, originally, Sugar and Cinnamon were picking on Sweet Pea and Ginger. We use a chicken tractor with a moveable fence run and are able to close the door to the coop to separate.

    This morning, the fifth day of the integration of the two groups, I was going through my regular pre-leaving-for-work routine when I noticed Cinnamon looking unusual. She had a dizzy look about her and slowly began to twist her neck to the right. She continued twisting until she was on her side on the ground. Breathing seemed to become difficult for her. I lifted her gently and held her. Eventually, she calmed a bit to where she untwisted her neck. I gave her drops of water. After about a half an hour, I set her down. She stood and appeared strong, alert and much better. At this point, she walked over to where Honey was lying and, perhaps 5 minutes from when I set her down, once again twisted her neck and fell in the same fashion.

    I ran to find some information. I saw a few articles on wry neck, so I thought I would attempt to give her Vitamin E and selenium. When I returned to the coop, she was twitching on the ground in seemingly much more discomfort. I lifted her out of the coop and sat down with her. She flapped her wings wildly and died.

    All of this happened within a two hour time frame.

    None of the other birds exhibit any other distressing behavior or concerning appearance (Honey's leg condition has caused her to lay down most of the time, but she eats and drinks very well with support, and as she has been steadily improving, walks more each day and is able to make it to the feeding bowls on her own much more often).

    I read about Sudden Death Syndrome in Broiler chickens, but am not certain as to whether this could be the situation.

    We decided to bury her immediately, so there will be no necropsy.

    If anyone has any insight into what might have caused this, I would be grateful for the input. This is the first flock we have ever raised ourselves from pullets. We work very hard to keep our birds happy, healthy and safe (tractor moves every 48 hours; premium organic feed; fresh water daily; clean food and water bowls every 48 hours; clean roost out once per week).

    Thanks all
  2. StevieBottom

    StevieBottom Just Hatched

    Jun 2, 2016
    Seems like something else is going on here besides wry neck. Wry neck is usually apparent much earlier in life, and at 16 weeks, feeding the grain you have been should have cleared that up. Although, you are feeding an organic blend, I would check the levels of vitamin E and selenium on the tag of the feed you're giving. If there's some labeled there either in the ingredients list, or by percentage, then I would rule out the possibility of wry neck.

    This could also be something to do with the inner ear of the chicken, as this controls the balance for many different animals. Could have been an ear infection, but usually lethargy would have been apparent with an infection like that.

    If the feed you are giving doesn't have either vitamin E or selenium listed on the tag, then the deficiency may have been causing damage over a period of time.

    Sorry that your baby didn't make it. Best wishes with the rest of your flock!

  3. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    Without a necropsy, it is a guess.
    Good guess on the wry neck though. I've only seen it once but in this case the bird lived for several days in spite of the E/selenium.
    Sudden death syndrome is a possibility.
    Listeriosis, and toxoplasmosis are also possibilities. Without laboratory identification of the bacteria of the former or the protozoa of the latter, there is no way to know. If either of those, others are at risk.
    What state are you in so you can be ready to submit a carcass in case another succumbs?
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2016
  4. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    good idea to check the feed label.
    Furthermore, check the manufacture date.
    There is a feed store near me that carries organic feed but I won't buy it. It is over 2 years old.

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