Unexpected chicken death

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by ellent, Oct 12, 2011.

  1. ellent

    ellent Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 2, 2010
    Columbia, MO
    My 1 1/2 year old Buff Orpington, Heidi, died today. I let her out this morning, and nothing seemed amiss. She has been laying well, and there were no apparent problems. There were no obvious injuries, etc. She was just lying in a little dust bath, flopped over. I have several questions about this situation.

    First, I'm sure chickens die all the time for no clear reason, but do I need to be worried about infectious disease? My little flock of 4 urban hens has a run which is covered with chicken wire, so they are exposed to wild birds.

    Next, this leaves 3 hens, one of whom has seemed a little poorly recently. She is coming out of her moult, during which she was traumatized, but not obviously injured, by being carried around the backyard by my large dog, and has not ever gotten quite back to herself. Here's the worry: whether or not she makes it, my little flock is depleted, and I'm worried that they will have more trouble staying warm this winter. I have read about all the difficulties of introducing new hens into the flock, and I don't know if this is a good time of year to do that. I am allowed a maximum of 6 hens, and have had plenty of eggs with the four, so I was thinking of adding two. If I do, should I do it now, and how old should they be? Similar in age to the present flock, or can they be this year's pullets?

    Any advice as to what the best thing to do is at this point?
  2. cwlongshot

    cwlongshot Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 11, 2011
    Sorry to read this...


  3. ThePamperedPullet

    ThePamperedPullet Chillin' With My Peeps

    You say that you found her flopped over. Was she on her back? If so then she probably died of flip over syndrome which is caused by heart failure. This is very common in fast growing birds such as what are raised in commercial broiler houses. But it does happen on occasion in home flocks. We have had three that have died this way in 4 years but we also have about 200 chickens. It is not contagious, it is just one of those things that happens.
    As for the second question, you can transition new birds into the flock at any time. It is best to transition in as many as possible and then weed out the extras later. By using a second pen inside or beside your main pen, have the birds seperated by just a layer of chicken wire. This way they can interact with each other but not do physical harm. Once the initial newness wears off and they pretty much ignore each other then you can introduce them directly to each other. This is best done shortly before they go to roost as it limits their time together. Place the new girls on the roost and let them all wake up together in the morning. There may still be some general pecking order stuff but not the problems you would have if you just put new girls directly in with the old.
    Age shouldn't matter much as long as they are about the same size.
  4. ellent

    ellent Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 2, 2010
    Columbia, MO
    Hmmm. She wasn't on her back--just looked like she was taking a nap in a dust bath and her head had flopped over to one side. Thanks for the other thoughts.
  5. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Flock Master Premium Member

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    I wouldn't worry about wild birds. I live on a farm, my birds have always freeranged and there has never been a problem with anything from wild birds. Sometimes chickens just die. If there were no obvious signs of illness, I would think your other chickens will be OK.

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