Two Chickens Just Drop Dead, and the Death Cackle

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Salve&Fluffer, Jul 1, 2011.

  1. Salve&Fluffer

    Salve&Fluffer Songster

    Jul 22, 2008
    Last year, we bought some day-old chicks. The ones not eaten by our neighbor's dog included: Silverwings, a Silver laced Wyandotte, Cypher, a Black Australorp, and Buttercup, a Buff Orpington. Earlier this year we found Cypher's dead body lying outside the nest boxes, inside the chicken coop. She was the first of our chickens to die of a disease, and we have had over 30. Some of them had lived up to four years before being eaten by a predator. Our earlier chickens had died young because of predators, but now our chicken coop is more predator-proof, and we have not recently lost a chicken to a predator (other than that dog). I thought that Cypher might have been egg-bound, so I did not worry very much about it being a disease that the other chickens could catch. But just this morning, Buttercup was lying dead inside the coop, in almost the exact same spot as Cypher had been. Could this be caused by their food? We let all our adult chickens free-range on our twelve-acre yard, plus we feed them store-bought chicken food. Also, yesterday I noticed that Buttercup was acting strange. She was always tolerant of being carried around, but yesterday she seemed very uncomfortable in my arms and wanted to get down. She felt strange when I was holding her; I do not know how, she just felt different. Do you think we should worry about Silverwings dying too? We have three pullets that we got this year that have been together with the adults for a few weeks (we put them in a few months after Cypher died). Should they be separated from Silverwings, in case it is a disease? Silverwings hates the baby chickens, but she always seems so sad and lonely when she is outside by herself.

    I have another question that does not have to do with a disease, but that does have to do with chickens dying. When Cypher died, Buttercup stood on the railing on the deck and started cackling. It was not the cackle that hens do when they lay an egg; it was a different pitch and sounded a bit sad. I would have thought that this was unrelated to Cypher's death, because none of our chickens had ever done it when one of them died before. But all the other times that a chicken had died it had been because of a predator. Today, after Silverwings knew that Buttercup was dead, she walked out of the chicken coop and made a very similar cackle. Have any of your chickens, or chickens that you know about, done this "death cackle" when one of their flock died?
  2. WooingWyandotte

    WooingWyandotte Crowing

    Apr 25, 2011
    Nor cal
    I have no idea [​IMG] Sorry.
  3. if the younger pullets have been with them for a few months, and no deaths/illness within a month of their introduction then I wouldn't suspect a disease brought in by the newer pullets. So I wouldn't worry about seperating them or anything.

    Are you sure the last hen's death wasn't from the heat? If there was no sign of rattling breathing, nasal discharge or crust, or funny behaviors then I wouldn't first be inclined to believe its illness.

    My first thought since they free range and this has happened a bit of time apart is there is something poisonous they are getting ahold of. - wether something man-made or plants or something thats poisonous to them. Just a thought [​IMG]
  4. Salve&Fluffer

    Salve&Fluffer Songster

    Jul 22, 2008
    I really doubt that Buttercup died from the heat, because there were four other chickens with her in the same coop (including the three pullets) and none of them were too hot or died.
  5. Theapplechicks

    Theapplechicks Songster

    Apr 13, 2011
    not sure what could have caused it but we have lost a few in the last few years either to preditor or scare and one to heat. We have had at least one or 2 chickens or the roo that have always alerted us to their death. Frantically if it was a preditor but there has always been at least one to "cry" as we call it.

    Thought we lost one today. We have 2 hens left from our original crew we got about 4yr ago. They are inseperable. Heard Peckers little cries (yes my daughter named her that) and went out to check to find Chrystal missing. Pecker was wandering the yard softly crying. We put the rest of them up and thought she was a gonner. Figured a hawk got her since there was absolutely nothing anywhere. About 2hr later I look out and there was Chrystal pacing the ground outside the pen trying to get in. Boy was Pecker happy to see her. They are "snuggling" on the roost as we speak.
  6. tiki244

    tiki244 Flock Mistress

    Jan 1, 2008
    I am sorry to hear about Buttercup. [​IMG] It sounds like your "girls" were very close too mourn them like that. That is so sad to hear a chicken do that. They are a lot smarter than we think.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by