Sudden Death...

MichelleT

Songster
6 Years
Sep 20, 2014
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Denver, CO
Hello everyone. We became backyard chicken keepers one week ago when we welcomed 6 layers of unknown age into our backyard. One hen seemed older than the others (by a description found in our trusty book) and at first was picked on by another hen. She spent the first day hiding in the coop but by the second day was out and about with the rest.

This morning, she was hunkered down in the nesting box, not looking well. (Last night she seemed fine.) By 9am she was shaking slightly and closing her eyes off and on. Other hens appeared to be comforting her and she would change location from nesting box to nesting box but never left the coop. At about 11am she hopped down from the box and, according to my 12 year old daughter, started flapping her wings, and then just fell forward and died. It sounded almost like a heart attack.

Since I have very little information about her (age, etc.) other than all the chickens on the farm were vaccinated for Marek's, Newcastle and bronchitis.The other chickens all appear well and are laying about 1 egg/day. Thoughts and next steps?
 

TwoCrows

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Mar 21, 2011
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Hello there and welcome to BYC!
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I am so sorry about your hen.
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The fact that she was spending so much time in the boxes. going from one to the other, leads me to believe she was egg bound. A stuck egg. This will kill them in short order if you don't get it to move. However the only way to truly know what the bird died of is a necropsy done by a vet. You would have had to put her in a plastic bag and put her in a frig, (not freezer) and make an appointment with the vet for an after death exam.

So make sure your birds have plenty of oystershell on the side in case they need extra, keep them on layer feed. Keep the treats down to a dull roar and never let them run out of water. This can lead to egg binding.

Here is an nice article on egg binding and how to spot and treat it...https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/egg-binding-symptoms-treatment-and-prevention

Enjoy your flock and again, I am sorry you lost this hen.
 

MichelleT

Songster
6 Years
Sep 20, 2014
327
235
186
Denver, CO
Thanks so much for your reply. (My daughter is heartbroken... it was the first hen named and her favorite.
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She's a softie for anything living!)

I'm reading through the article, thank you so much. A friend of mine with an urban farm says that she crunches up egg shells and feeds them to the chickens instead of oyster shell. We've been doing the same. What are your thoughts on egg shells as a calcium source?
 

TwoCrows

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Eggshells are an excellent source as well! As long as they are on layer feed with calcium, eggshells are great for calcium!!

I have never fed them. But Mountain Peeps, who will be by shortly to welcome you here to BYC, feeds egg shells and knows all about them. :)
 

Mountain Peeps

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Apr 23, 2014
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Welcome to BYC! Please make yourself at home and we are here to help.

Yes you defiantly need to crush and rinse the eggshells. You have to do this because the hens may start eating their own eggs if they get a taste or even a look at raw eggs! So rinse them with warm water and then crush them.

Here is what I do.

Then I let them dry

Crush them

Then feed them.

You should put the eggshells in a separate dish from the other feed. Make sure it is always available so then hens can take as much as they need at a time.

Hens need calcium to produce strong and healthy eggshells aside from what they need for their bodies to function properly. Calcium also plays a big role in the contractions of the oviduct and uterus to produce an egg. Without enough calcium hens can become egg bound very easily. Additionally, lack of this nutrient can draw calcium out of her bones resulting in weak bones and sometimes bone breakage.

Best of luck!
 

Wyandottes7

Crowing
6 Years
Jul 24, 2013
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Welcome to BYC!
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We're glad to have you.

I'm sorry for the loss of your hen! You've received some good advice above from Two Crows and Mountain Peeps. I hope the others stay healthy!
 

BantamLover21

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Jul 24, 2013
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Glad you joined us!


I'm sorry about the loss of your hen.
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I would definitely suspect egg binding, though you will never know for sure without a necropsy. Egg binding may kill quickly, or take days to weaken the bird.
 

MichelleT

Songster
6 Years
Sep 20, 2014
327
235
186
Denver, CO
Okay --- now I'm gonna sound like a new mother. Please be patient with my worries!
We now have 5 hens. Before India died we were getting 5 eggs a day (for the 2 days preceeding her death). I assumed after the fact that she was the non-layer. Now we've gotten 4/day for the 2 days since she's died. So, of course, I'm worried about my remaining hens. What are the chances that (if it were egg-binding) it could happen to another hen so quickly? And how the heck would I know? Is 4/day about right for 5 hens?
... I know three of the hens that laid yesterday but not today.
 

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