Welsummer just died. Fine 5 hrs ago.


In the Brooder
9 Years
May 25, 2010
My daughters Welsummer (Sally) just died. It was very fast & horribly sad.

We were out playing with the chickens around noon-1pm & they were all fine. Then @ 330-4pm I went to take them some watermelon rind.

When we found her she was sitting sort of limpy in the corner of the run, the other 7 were inside the coop in the shade. (They were panting, but not as bad.) She was breathing heavy, with the opened mouth pant. She seemed to cough a few times. For info: Its Northern California and we've had a heat surge recently after an extended winter & pretty much no spring/springy nights only. Upon reaching for her she stood up and hobbled around. She seemed almost drunk. She hopped around oddly, flapped her wings a few times and it almost seemed like she was having a seizure.

I got a kitchen towel and wrapped her up and brought her inside to the bathroom. I put her in the tub, offered her water, food & treats. She refused food & treats but was drinking water like crazy. I had my oldest daughter bring me a spray bottle of cool water. I sprayed her down and she seemed to perk up and she actually seemed to play in the mist the next couple times. She pooped...but it was clear/white and runny.

She stayed stationary for quite a while. Then she hunkered down...almost squatting & seemed to close her eyes. She was sleeping. Any little sound and she'd open her eyes and almost seem irritated. I sprayed her down a bit more, she drank more water. She seemed to gargle and play a bit off and on. Then she pooped again...same, whitish clear runny. I kept rinsing it down the tub so she wouldn't lay down in it. She drank some more, made a few sounds and hunkered down again.

Then all the sudden I decided to close the shower curtain about 1/2 way. My oldest daughter walked in to pick something up for me and thats when it happened. She made a horrible noise and started flapping around...wings, body & all. She flopped from one end of the tub to another. I closed the curtain so my daughter couldn't see. She continued for another 1-2 minutes off and on and then stopped. I checked on her and she was gone. To make sure I sprayed her with a bit of water and there was nothing. My husband confirmed.

What the HECK can take down a chicken that fast?
Could it have only been heat?

We are so confused. No symptoms other than listed.
Sounds like the heat to me, also with the clear watery poo thats a sign of dehydration and with her drinking so much, I'd say she just got too hot. Sorry for your loss
Sounds like she had a heat stroke, drunk walk is bad sign. When she started "She made a horrible noise and started flapping around...wings, body & all", she was already gone. Most likely her heart gave out from the heat stroke. Her nerves were still firing which causes the flopping around, but she was already gone.

I'm concerned for my others in the sun & heat. They have plenty of fresh, cool water. They have plenty of shade & LOTS of ventilation.

Is it just because Welsummers aren't as heat tolerant as others? Why would she not have been drinking water? Why would she not have taken herself into the shade?

Heat stroke can kill that fast?

OMG, just trying to wrap our brains around this. We just went out and changed all water, added a few ice cubes, fresh food, re-cleaned the coop, fluffed the bedding etc. So scared now.
I went out to our run and found my POlish chick hunkered down with some sort of head tic going on. It was HOT - 90+ degrees, and she was having issues finding the food and water anyway b/c of her crest. I immediately brought her inside and force fed her electrolyte water and kept her inside overnight. She has recovered, but I think if I had left her much longer, she would have been gone. Some birds aren't well equipped to deal with heat - individuals, not just breeds. I agree, it sounds like yours just reached a point where she could not recover. YOu tried your hardest ...
My Wellies are heat tolerant as long they have access to water. If it was questionable of how much they would drink, to be safe, i would have put some diluted Gatorade or Pedialite in their water to boost their hydration levels.

Some birds just dont know when to drink, they would just sit around and tough it out, not listening to their body wanting water.

Not your fault but at least she didn't suffer much at the end. You did your best!
There are lots of tips for hot chickens, I think one is on the front page right now.

I have noticed that my wellsummers will be panting after the others have stopped. They do not seem to handle the heat as well as the others. Search for hot chicken tips, there are some really good ideas, shallow pans of water they can stand in, Frozen milk jugs of water around, frozen watermelon for treats, fans, shade and mist. Freeze their brooder water and put it out in the am. That is one I haven't tried and I think it is a good idea.

I'm so sorry for your loss. That must have been so awful, especially with your daughter's chicken. Take care, all of us chicken lovers are thinking of you.

ETA, Just wondering if there was anything the OP could have done once she brought the chicken inside besides what she did do? It is really heating up all over the country now. Once a chicken has heat stroke is there ANY way to bring it out of it???
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First let me say that I am very very sorry you lost your girl. It sounds like a heat stroke...the poo indicates dehydration. Short of finding her sooner, you did everything you could.

Some extra things you can do in this heat to help....

Add a fan...it may not cool it down drastically but it will create air flow which does help.

Fill gallon jugs or 2 Litre soda bottles with water and freeze them....then when frozen, put them in the coop or run in the shade...the girls will sit near them and soak up the cool air from them. You can put a couple in a tote and lay the tote on its side and point them fan at them...it will create a little air conditioner for them.

Add a small amount of electrolytes to their water in the intense heat

Offer cold watermelon and fruit as treats

Put a water mister line around the run so they have a nice mist of cool water to walk through and cool off in

Shallow pans of cold water for them to stand in

I actually use the mister nozzle on my garden hose and hose down my ducks and chickens when it is ubber hot and humid outside....they have a pool with water, and 6 various water containers around the yard plus their 3 waterers inside the coop... I also hose off the back patio which is shaded by the deck, and they love to sit down on the cool water and concrete.

The heat and temps above 80 are a major problem for the LF so give them as many extras as you can and watch them closely when you are home. Good luck with them and I am so sorry you lost her but you did everything possible to help her.
I think she did exactly what needed to be done, it was just too late. If she tried to cool the bird down faster, like with a full cool bath, it would ended the bird faster. With the birds system already in shock from the Heat Stroke it is extremely difficult to bring them back. You can do too much and put so much stress on the bird that it's heart just gives out immediately.

2 years ago I lost a hen to heat. I checked on them about mid-day and they were fine. Lots of water in the shade and food if they wanted it. I was walking by an hour later and a Silver Laced Wyandotte was laying in the run. Looked like she was walking and just fell forward. Once they show symptoms, Heat Stoke can take them very fast.


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