Turkey died right in front of me?

Discussion in 'Turkeys' started by Olsenboyz, Aug 13, 2010.

  1. Olsenboyz

    Olsenboyz Hatching

    Aug 13, 2010
    I had this White Holland for almost 2 months. He/she (didn't know yet) was as healthy as could be. I went down to the coop today to let all of the chickens and the turkey free range for the afternoon and found him eating at the feeder. He had a slight cough, almost like a hiccup, but figured he may have inhaled a bit of the crumble. I kept watching him for a minute or so and noticed he was having trouble shaking the small cough. He took a normal looking bowl movement, and took some water from the bucket (fresh water) and soon after coughed more and appeared to throw the water up (no feed in the vomit, just water). He shook his head and more water came out. His breathing sounded raspy, as if he has fluid in there. I picked him up, only to have him try to expel more water. I set him down and noticed he was having trouble getting oxygen. His breathing was labored as he stumbled fighting for air, more water coming out. Seconds later he collapsed and took his last few breaths and died right there. This all took less than 3 minutes. One minute he was walking into the coop to eat, then drink, and the next he was dead right at my feet. There was no reviving this poor thing. I know the anatomy of a turkey, and giving his chest compressions would have broken all of his ribs. I looked down his esophagus, nothing. The air holes beneath his tongue looked clear, and nothing abnormal in his gizzard. Nothing brought him back. I know a choking victim when I see one. I once brought a dog back from the dead when I found him dead in a garage from choking on an old rib roast he found in the garbage. When I picked the poor bird up by the legs, more fluid ran out of this mouth, this time a tint or red (blood) was noticed in the fluid. I've had birds (chickens) who have gotten sick over days and died, but not in a few minutes. I've been a hunter for years, so opening poor Tucker up wasn't fun, but I wanted to see what may have caused him to die so suddenly. A trip to the vet for a necropsy is not in the budget. His crop was full of feed and grass seed, so he had been healthy enough to eat. His esophagus was clear, no obstructions all the way down past his heart to the branch point.

    Does anyone out there have an idea what may have caused his death? I read that fast growing breeds like White Hollands can have Sudden Death Syndrome, causing hemorrhaging of the aorta or kidneys. I accidentally nicked a vein or artery when I cut him open, so that part is unknown as to the hemorrhaging. I sure liked having him. He was our first turkey, and hopefully not out last.

    Thank for anyone's help......

  2. Shaun

    Shaun Songster

    Sep 24, 2008
    SW Central Michigan
    Sounds almost like he had a massive heart attack - when that happens the lungs fill with fluid, they gasp for breath and succumb. Sorry for your loss, turkeys are so engaging that it's sad to lose one like this.
  3. Did you check the lungs when you opened him up?

    White Hollands are not a fast growing variety they are a heritage type.

  4. uhuh555

    uhuh555 Songster

    Oct 18, 2009
    I have seen this happen once. When I realized what was going on I grabbed him up hanging him upside down (by the feet) and slightly shook him to get him to flap his wings. While the wings were beating I delivered a sharp (open handed) slap on the back between the wings. Out popped a glob of moist feed (about the size of a dime) that was aspirated into the airway some how. He lived.

    Poultry lack the cough reflex that mammals have. The lungs of birds operate differently than mammals and the smallest particle inhaled can cause major problems. With a mammal anything entering the ‘windpipe’ will trigger violent coughing that usually dislodges the foreign object(s). In poultry sometimes a small object the size of a grain of sand can find its way into the lungs and cause an infection which in turn causes the lungs to fill with fluid which usually leads to death as you described.

    Sorry this has happened.
  5. chickenzoo

    chickenzoo Emu Hugger

    Almost sounds like he/she aspirated somehow?

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