Unexplained death of hen

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Little Fuzzy, Oct 19, 2016.

  1. Little Fuzzy

    Little Fuzzy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 16, 2016
    Lost a member of the family today! My Light Brahma hen, a family favorite, was just found dead for unexplained reasons. She went into the pen last night perfectly fine, ate her snack of scratch as usual. This morning I went out about 9:00am to let the chickens out of the run, she was under a stool in the run, just sitting there not wanting to come out into the yard. She looked fine, mouth open just a little bit, and her tail was down. I thought she may be trying to lay an egg there because all of the other nesting boxes were full of hens. When I came back from lunch I saw white under the stool still, and went up to check on her, she was obviously dead. I checked her vent and abdomen for egg impaction and did not feel anything abnormal. Her croup was fairly empty. No evidence of injury. She had not shown signs of sickness, no parasites, nothing to explain this. Except-- Three days ago I cleaned out the coop and I was tired of scrubbing splatter off the wall so I changed the roost around. The roost had been two 2x4's stuck together, flat side up, because my girls all like to jockey for position on the roost. I pulled off one of the 2x4's closets to the wall to create extra space between the butts and the wall. I'm wondering if she may have fallen off the new skinny roost. The roost is only about four feet off the ground, but she was a big bird and had trouble jumping up there. Sometimes it took her more than one try. Now I'm thinking I better put the other 2x4 back up. Another possibility, while cleaning out the coop I had ants running along the floorboards to a nesting box that had a broken egg in it. I cleaned everything,, then stupidly reached for the Hot Shot, which I use indoors and does not supposed to hurt animals. I spayed the floor boards and the shelf near the nest box, not inside the box though, before I started to think it might make them sick. I wiped it off the best I could on the shelf and covered the area with shavings. That was three days ago. Yesterday, I came home and my nephew was up in the chicken coop with a friend who owns chickens. I'm well aware of Biosecurity but it was too late. But thats awful quick to transfer any illness and there were no symptoms on any of the other chickens. The dead hen, Sylvester ( my 10yr old named her) was a great bird, and a joy to watch running in the yard. Any opinions would be highly considered as I am not sending her out for necropsy.
  2. Teila

    Teila Bambrook Bantams Premium Member

    Hi Little Fuzzy

    I am sorry for your loss [​IMG]

    I have experienced chicken sudden death on two occasions and without a necropsy, pin pointing exactly what it was is guess work at best.

    Some of reasons that come to mind are:

    A bite of some description; snake or spider etc.
    I note you said “no parasites”, had she been wormed?
    Something she ate that she should not have.

    If a chicken has fatty liver, a knock to the chest can cause this to haemorrhage and she sadly bleeds internally and dies. May be you gal knocked her chest when trying to jump onto the roost.

    Temperature related; too hot or cold.

    Heart failure.

    Stress or a fright causing her to go into shock.

    Egg Yolk Peritonitis.

    Did you notice her poops at all? Did they look OK up until the time she passed? Poops are sometimes a good indicator of health issues.

    Chickens are experts at hiding illness or discomfort so, sometimes, when we see them showing symptoms, things can already be at the dire stage and at other times, they are able to hide the symptoms right up until the end.
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2016
  3. Little Fuzzy

    Little Fuzzy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 16, 2016
    I am in sunny San Diego CA so weather sure is not a factor. I also really look at poop when I clean up and haven't seen any signs of worms. She was just a little over a year and I had not wormed her since I haven't seen any worms. She was actually a great mouser. She would catch full grown mice and swallow them whole, I hope she did not get a big mouse stuck in her throat, but I would think she really would have been gaging when I first saw her this morning. I'm sorry you to have experienced these sad events. I know I'm going to be frustrated over this but I just decided not to do the necropsy. All my other hens look fine, so I'll just keep a close lookout for any symptoms of illness.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by