What happened?

Oct 26, 2017
52
62
97
Downingtown, PA
Yesterday started out like any other day. Early afternoon, I went out to check in on my girls with a handful of mealworms. Everyone seemed to be happy and was foraging in the forested area of their chicken yard. My older girls, who are much more friendly than my newer flock came running to get at the worms while the younger ones curiously watch from a distance.

Ruth, my most trusty hen was the first to come running. She hadn't been looking great over the last couple weeks. She lost a ton of feathers, which was concerning to me because it seemed late to be going through her molt, but was finally starting to look a little better. At 16 months old, it didn't seem totally out of the ordinary.

My friend and I went to lunch, and about 3 hours or so, I went back to check on the girls. I found Ruth, dead, about 15 feet from the run door. She was already in rigor mortis, with blood coming out of her beak. A few feathers scattered around the area indicated some sort of struggle, but other than that, she seemed to be in one piece with no noticeable injuries.

We have a larger fence surrounding the coop and run to give the girls a limited pasture and forested area. It's mostly to keep them in, as I know most predators could easily get in if they wanted. I found half of the other girls on the opposite side of this fence (which is new for all of them except one). And the rest of the girls that were still in the fence seemed very skittish and frightened.

Does anybody have any ideas of what it could have been?

My husband seems to think that maybe one of the younger pullets killed her. We mixed our new flock of pullets, now at 4 months old, at the beginning of the month. We had a VERY gradual process which the new flock and the old flock had different coops but shared the same pasture for about a month beforehand. There has been a little bit of fighting, mostly the older hens chasing the younger ones, but nothing that seemed overly vicious to me. And after a month of being mixed, has mostly dissipated. However, he said that he saw some of the pullets challenging each other pretty aggressively, yet we never saw them challenging the older hens.

I do know that Ruth seemed to challenge the young pullets the most out of all the chickens, but could that have created a murderer in my flock?
 
Oct 26, 2017
52
62
97
Downingtown, PA
:hugs If there was no blood other than out of the nose, i would not think the hen was killed by another hen, but by something else. Pictures would help us identify the problem.
I was so saddened by loosing one of my favorites from my first flock, that I didn't even think to take pictures. I have her wrapped up in a bag in the garage, because I hadn't decided what to do with her yet, but considering she's been dead for over 24 hours now, I should probably figure it out quick. The blood seemed to be coming out her her mouth, not her nose.
 
Oct 26, 2017
52
62
97
Downingtown, PA
Seperate the young ones from them
What would be your reasonings for separating them? Just to avoid possible conflict? I only have 2 older hens left from my older flock. The young ones are actually the same size or bigger than my hens, so would I be doing this to protect the older hens? I do have a second smaller coop, but its not in great shape and not very predator safe, especially for winter.
 

twilightgecko

Songster
May 25, 2016
507
789
211
Upstate N.Y.
also, if the other birds were acting skiddish, as you stated.. SOMETHING scared them.. something had to have gotten to your girl.. my girls get very scared after close calls.. they stay skiddish for a while AND they also let me know WHERE they are scared of.. watch the others.. are they looking UP? air predator.. looking towards a certain spot? investigate the spot..
again
sorry
 

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