What happened to my hen?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by Fanny's Mom, Sep 24, 2011.

  1. Fanny's Mom

    Fanny's Mom Out Of The Brooder

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    I'm just really having bad luck with my birds lately. I had 11 pullets, raising them from 3 weeks old. Within the first week I lost 2 to coccidosis. Thereafter I lost one to a snake, and in the course of two separate nights in their 17th week lost the remaining 8 and a young rooster to what everyone tells me was a raccoon! Since then I have secured the coop to the extent of Fort Knox: Hardware cloth on the windows, eaves and soffitts, stuffed into two holes in the floor (for snakes), leave a light on 24 hrs a day (for possums), padlock the door and laying box lid (for people), lock the chicken door with hook and eye and barricade it with a stick running the width of the coop, the fence is sunk 6" into the ground to prevent digging, and I've nailed carpet tacking around all four walls of the coop, above and below the windows. I've also got motion detector spotlights and a baby monitor.

    On September 12 I purchased 12 barred rock 20-week-old pullets and 2 days later, I got a 6-month barred rock rooster. Since then, all's been going well, they've been giving me on average 5 eggs a day, and they seem to be very happy. I've had 2 instances of the rooster starting to crow around 2 am and I've run out to check. One time the spotlights were on; another time they were not. Neither time did I see any evidence of anything trying to get at them, but the birds were really worked up.

    It's been raining cats and dogs today, and in this area that means lakes on the property, almost to the top of my boots, so needless to say, I didn't let them into the run. I just now (3:30 pm) got out to check for eggs and found a hen dead in the laying box. It looks like she was pushed down onto her side since she was laying on her left side on top of a broken egg. I can find no sign of injury on her whatsoever. What could have caused this? Theories will be appreciated.[​IMG]
     
  2. Fanny's Mom

    Fanny's Mom Out Of The Brooder

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    Another one down this morning! I don't understand this. They were all perky yesterday when I fed/watered them. This one was not in a laying box, but just out there in the coop. We were having downpours yesterday, so they spent most of their time in the coop rather than the run. Again, no marks on her. What could the problem be?
     
  3. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble

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    Nov 27, 2008
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    Fanny's Mom :

    Another one down this morning! I don't understand this. They were all perky yesterday when I fed/watered them. This one was not in a laying box, but just out there in the coop. We were having downpours yesterday, so they spent most of their time in the coop rather than the run. Again, no marks on her. What could the problem be?

    You ARE having a time of it! Inspect your chickens closely for lice/mites. Have you checked their poop for abnormalities; off color poop, blood, worms...things of this nature? Is overcrowding an issue? Is their feed moldy? Any suspected diseases running through your flock? Have you introduced any "new" birds lately without quarantining? (You get the picture)​
     
  4. Fanny's Mom

    Fanny's Mom Out Of The Brooder

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    dawg53, thanks for the response. I'm sooo at a loss! No lice, that's for sure. I've been spraying their coop every 2 weeks and I've seen no scratching. Also, when I read your note, I went out and inspected one of the girls very closely as well as the dead one I picked up this morning. Nothing. Not even the darn mosquitos that are driving us nuts! Course, the mosquitos don't seem to bother the chickens; the chickens just eat 'em![​IMG]

    There were 12, now 10, in a 4X7 coop and 9X50 run, so I don't think it's overcrowding. They seem to get along together very well, with very few dustups. As a matter of fact, they seem to like to share the rightmost laying box. Many times I've seen two in there at a time. No suspected diseases and no new birds. When the first one died a couple of weeks ago I put Corid in their water for 5 days just in case. The food is fine; I really worry about mold here because we are so damp so I watch for that all the time.

    So far as poops, the only worry I have is that not all poops have that little spot of white on top. I don't know if that's a bad thing. They can be a little runny at times too, but I see no blood.

    I find it interesting that in both instances they were confined to the coop because of heavy downpours. I leave the windows open about 3" at the bottom, but close them to that point because I'm afraid it'll rain in and get the girls and litter all wet. The window are across from each other and provide good cross-ventilation. And the soffits are open as well.

    Any thoughts will be appreciated.
     
  5. GoldDogsMom

    GoldDogsMom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    so sorry for your losses, your coop at 4x7 might be the issue causing overcrowding...especially if they didn't have access to the run area. Not trying to be hard on you, just offering my opinion...
     
  6. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble

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    I dont think a 4x7 coop that had housed 12-13 birds would be a cause for them to just drop dead IMO. There would be signs of feather loss, possible blood from picking/pecking, loud squawking, fights etc...Dont get me wrong, the overcrowding thought crossed my mind too....but I just dont see it in this instance being the cause of death. Since they are now 21 weeks old, it's possible your last hen that died couldve laid the broken egg, but died because she mightve had another inside her and couldnt pass it along to be laid...possible internal layer...not sure though.
     
  7. reveriereptile

    reveriereptile Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Do you know of anyone with a deer camera that you might be able to put inside the coop to spy on them?

    That is hard to tell what might be causing it. The white spot on the poop is bird urine that mixes with the poop when they both come out of the vent.

    Do you have any highly venomous spiders around that could be biteing the birds? Got me wondering since you said it has been raining that the insects might be moving into the coop. Could a venomous snake get into the run and possibly bite them?
     
  8. GoldDogsMom

    GoldDogsMom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:After I posted that I was thinking the same thing...no sign of fighting so what someone "sat" on them and smothered them? so disregard my post!
     
  9. Fanny's Mom

    Fanny's Mom Out Of The Brooder

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    I was told by several people that a hen needs 2 sq ft when they're cooped for the night and that my coop was plenty big for 12 hens. Like you said, they don't fight and there are no injuries. I've checked them when I pick them up and pet them, look for mites, check their eyes, crops, etc., and have never seen any signs of pecking or feather pulling. Another person I spoke with is suspecting Marek's. I have to read up on it, because I know nothing about it. They advised me it's a brain tumor from wich they die very suddenly, but they also said that you could see it in the change of the coloring of their eyes. All my birds have very crisply clear eyes, both pupil and iris.

    We have lots of critters around but no spiders that would bother to hang out in the coop or run. We have venomous snakes, but I would see the bite marks.

    I don't have a deer camera, but I do have the baby monitor in there and I haven't heard any fighting coming from the coop.

    I have a call out to the lady who sold me the hens. I want to see if she's had reports from any other people who may have bought birds from the same flock. She had 68 to sell. I also want to find out who sold the biddies to her (she told me but I didn't write it down). And I believe she told me they were not vaccinated and I want to verify that.

    In the meantime, I've cleaned the coop and put in new litter, cleaned both feeders and waterers and as I usually do, put some vinegar in the water. My most trusted chicken keeping friend told me to also put a garlic clove in each waterer and to sprinkle lime around the coop and run.

    Tried to feed them some yogurt with probiotic this morning as recommended in Hollywood Chickens' Flow Chart, but believe it or not, they were lukewarm about it; didn't finish it!

    By the way, they've given me 9 eggs today and they're all sassy and happy. I just don't know what to think!
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2011

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