Walnut just passed; do we need to be worried?

affacat

Songster
9 Years
May 21, 2011
86
28
121
Our lovely hen Walnut (Wallybird) just passed away. We have 5 other hens, and want to know if we need to be worried for them.

Description --

She seemed fine yesterday. For the past few weeks she's been sleeping in a nest box, but we assumed she was being broody. She had been active during the day, eating and drinking... even going for worms instead of feed in the early morning (which was unusual, but didn't seem wildly out of bounds).

She's also, along with others, been molting a bit.

Today, we awoke and she had propped herself up against an outside wall (our coop opens automatically). She was obviously in distress and weak.

I lifted her to check her out, and she was missing a ton of feathers under her vent... not sure how long this has been the case, we haven't been examining her every day or anything because she's seemed fine.

Anyway, I then decided to move her to a different area away from the other chickens. I hadn't gotten 20 feet when she spasm'd in my hands. I set her down and started petting her, and two spasms later she was gone.

So... basically she seemed normal yesterday, but was:
broody at night, missing feathers under her vent. i don't know if that's symptoms or coincidence.

Any ideas? Isolated illness? Contagious?

I assume we should clean out the coop thoroughly just to be sure?
 

cafarmgirl

Crowing
10 Years
Mar 24, 2009
5,521
610
327
California, central valley
While you can't know anything for sure without a necropsy being done, based on your description I wouldn't necessarily think it was anything contagious. Was the area with missing feathers red and/or swollen? The hens I've had who died of various egg laying/internal laying/peritonitis etc. complications often had feather loss, redness and puffiness or swelling of the lower abdomen below the vent.

There's a lot of things it could have been but at this point, even if it was something contagious, your other birds have already been exposed anyway. I would just keep an eye on them but I would suspect this was just something amiss with her that finally took her down.
 

scratch'n'peck

Crowing
Oct 31, 2008
5,925
673
401
West Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
I'm sorry about your dear Walnut. Chickens are pretty good at hiding illness which makes it difficult for their people to notice something wrong early. It is hard to say what was going. The missing feathers are not consistent with any contagious disease I don't think. The spasms sadly are common before death so that does not tell us much. I guess it is safest to do a good clean out for the coop just in case.

If you want more information on her cause of death, many states have low cost necropsies available. This link lists sources:
https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/40141/link-find-your-state-vet-for-a-necropsy
 

affacat

Songster
9 Years
May 21, 2011
86
28
121
Thanks for the responses and condolences... glad to know it doesn't sound like the result of something contagious. Her underside did not seem particularly swollen or red, just bare with new feather needles starting to come out.

Very sad, we loved her. I'm glad we went out when we did and got to see her, and be with her, as she passed. Our second chicken to pass away while I was right there, always heartbreaking (the first was years ago, unrelated).

She had a very happy life with her very happy friends.
 

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