What is the most common thing old hens die from?

sphinxface

Songster
5 Years
Apr 7, 2015
515
40
141
Renton, Washington
As my hens get older (we keep them as pets so we don’t mind them not laying) I get increasingly nervous about them passing away, and why, and should I cull? Cause I won’t know what’s wrong or how bad it is...

I’m not sure if I’m comfortable yet doing an autopsy but maybe if I know the common reason old chickens pass away I could be more confident in what’s happening? Idk though... also just curious about what others think
 

ChickenCanoe

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Nov 23, 2010
32,950
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St. Louis, MO
In my experience, older hens can die of cancer, heart attacks, excessive fat/fatty liver, excess dietary calcium, among 100 other things.
You can't really prevent the first two, but you can prevent the next two.
While performing a necropsy at home is always a good idea, the only way to know for sure what kills a hen is a necropsy with complete lab workup at your state poultry lab. Aside from determining the primary cause of death, a secondary benefit of having a complete lab workup and cultures is that you'll learn about any other issues like parasites, notable bacteria and viruses the bird was harboring.

Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory
Bustad Hall, Rm 155-N
Pullman, Washington 99164-7034
Phone: 509-335-9696
Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory,
Avian Health and Food Safety Laboratory, Puyallup
2607 W Pioneer Puyallup, WA 98371-4919
Phone 253-445-453
 
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coach723

Free Ranging
6 Years
Feb 12, 2015
6,517
10,906
611
North Florida
Most of my losses have been reproductive problems (cancer, infection), a few fatty liver disease. I don't think you can ever really assume, since there are so many things that it could be. Every bird is different. And honestly, I think you will know if it's necessary to cull. You will see what the quality of life is, or is not, you will know if the bird is suffering.
 

sphinxface

Songster
5 Years
Apr 7, 2015
515
40
141
Renton, Washington
In my experience, older hens can die of cancer, heart attacks, excessive fat/fatty liver, excess dietary calcium, among 100 other things.
While performing a necropsy at home is always a good idea, the only way to know for sure what kills a hen is a necropsy with complete lab workup at your state poultry lab.

Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory
Bustad Hall, Rm 155-N
Pullman, Washington 99164-7034
Phone: 509-335-9696
Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory,
Avian Health and Food Safety Laboratory, Puyallup
2607 W Pioneer Puyallup, WA 98371-4919
Phone 253-445-453

you are a blessed human for straight up putting the info directly into your reply❤💜
 

sphinxface

Songster
5 Years
Apr 7, 2015
515
40
141
Renton, Washington
Most of my losses have been reproductive problems (cancer, infection), a few fatty liver disease. I don't think you can ever really assume, since there are so many things that it could be. Every bird is different. And honestly, I think you will know if it's necessary to cull. You will see what the quality of life is, or is not, you will know if the bird is suffering.
We’ve had birds that look bad but usually it was an egg stuck inside and they recovered. I think the biggest difference I noticed with this hen was her breathing really hard ;(
 

coach723

Free Ranging
6 Years
Feb 12, 2015
6,517
10,906
611
North Florida
Hens with reproductive problems may have a harder time breathing due to increased pressure in the abdomens which puts pressure on the air sacs. Heart failure can cause harder breathing as they are having trouble getting enough oxygen. But sick and failing birds from lots of things can have labored breathing. It's very hard to look at a single symptom and know for sure. Very often if the abdomen is bloated, either hard, or water balloon like, that is a pretty good indication that you are dealing with a reproductive problem, or organ failure.
 

Eggcessive

Addict
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Apr 3, 2011
59,216
50,808
1,302
southern Ohio
Most of my losses have been from reproductive diseases, such as internally laid masses from salpingitis, egg yolk peritonitis, ascites, cancer, and one who had fatty liver disease. Ascites can be from either heart or liver disease, and is common in EYP. I had an outbreak of infectious bronchitis in my second year, and that can cause both reproductive and kidney problems later in life.
 

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