What's a Normal Chicken Death Rate?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by stefan333, Feb 24, 2013.

  1. stefan333

    stefan333 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 5, 2012
    My question is about normal death rates for chickens. I'm not talking about predators or disease that wipes out lots of chickens or death from newly shipped chicks. I'm talking about a random chicken death here and there without any obvious symptoms of disease. Have you guys found any correlation between moving chickens from their cozy brooder to a big outdoor coop getting stressed out and dying? Have you noticed any specific age they seem to randomly die? Any breeds more death prone? Are some chickens just weaker than others? Any corrolation between where you buy chicks and death? Can certain breeding/management of parent stock make weaker chicks who seem to be healthy at hatch but are more prone to death as they age? What do you think is a normal expected death rate in a healthy flock and when should you worry? Just some ideas for discussion.
  2. jtbrown

    jtbrown Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 30, 2011
    Southeastern Ohio
    I don't know statistics of what the death rate is. I have had some losses due to predation, an occasional chick in a the brooder, etc. But I have also lost some random EEs in the last 2 years. And just last night, a production red died. Most looked like they keeled over off the roost. Lying flat, and dead.

    I actually just got on here this afternoon to say I am in the 3rd year of chicken keeping, and one of the first of my original girls died last night. She was acting funny 2 days ago, but she just was curled up dead last night when we got home and I went to check them to get eggs. She was a production red, and while they produce hot and heavy the first year, I know she had slowed down (I have two left of the original 6 and they had HUGE eggs) and they had just come through a molt this fall. I have also heard they are not the hardiest of birds, I lost the other 4 due to a fox attack (my one and only predator attack) last spring. I have one of my original productions left.

    I have what I consider a huge flock with between 70-80 large fowl, bantums, guineas, and ducks combined. I haven't had many random losses and fortunately NO diseases have swept through my flock either. The girl that I found dead last night wasn't sick, just really slowed down in last day.

    I have read that random deaths do occur, I have had 3 or so randoms in a not old but not young flock in 2+ years. The other three were EEs, and they were just, random. The one last night was maybe not so random, since she looked a little disturbed 24 hours prior, but I checked her out and wasn't anything specific with her. I think there are some breeds more prone to just checking out randomly. I thought I have read the production birds are more likely than others.

    I got on here to post that even though I have lots of birds, I was still sad to see one dead, she produced well for me, so I thanked her, and went about checking the others briefly to make sure they were ok, no sign of predator etc. Funny, I think of them as my little chicken workers, they have a job to do for me, and in return I try to make sure they can free range as much as possible, get plenty of good food, and have good living conditions.

    ps- love your little barred rock cockeral in your pic!
  3. Chickie64

    Chickie64 Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 23, 2013
    I've lost two chickens out of six in the last four years, but one was killed by a hawk. I don't think it's common without sickness or some sort of predator. My friend said that most people loose at least one in the first year but I think it's more predatorial than anything else. Chickens dying from just giving out isn't common, though it happened to one of mine.
  4. SunnySkies

    SunnySkies Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 13, 2012
    We got chickens in July of last year.

    We lost 3 chicks, one to an accident and two to unexplained death. We hatched them ourselves. Two were lost last fall, one a couple weeks ago. We have hatched lots of chicks since July, and I calculated our death rate at like 8%or something like that. Higher than I like, but we had several hatches with no dead chicks at all. They were backyard mixes.

    Lost 1 rooster to illness in early winter; I euthanized him after trying for 2 weeks to cure him, and it didn't work. (Silkie)

    Lost 1 hen to wryneck last fall. She had always been less robust than her flockmates, and apparently it got her in the end. (Silkie)

    Lost a hen the other day to a freak accident; she drowned in the ducks' bathtub. ( bantam Cochin)

    For us, it goes in waves. We won't have any losses for a few months, then we lose a few and then it's quiet again. I'm hoping the drowned hen isn't the first of a string.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2013
  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    In my experience (20+ years) once you get past the first week or so, death rate from non-predator or accident should be pretty low. I do have birds just die for no apparent reason once in a while and just accept it. I don't really keep track but I think in the last 5ish years I've lost maybe 3? birds to unknown causes. I have had 12-26 birds during that time.

    The first weeks usually weed out the weak birds. I had some hens up to 8 years old, didn't especially notice an increased drop dead rate with age. I've lost older hens, and year old hens. Oh and one older roo, so maybe 4 birds.
  6. stefan333

    stefan333 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 5, 2012
    Thanks everyone. This was a curiousity picking at my brain lately. I ended up losing 5 out of 8 in my first bunch, because I didn't know anything about Coccidiosis. Other than that it appears I have normal experiences with my chickens. I've only lost a couple random ones out of about 60.
  7. SunnySkies

    SunnySkies Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 13, 2012
    I just learned (again....I was reminded I was told this 10 years ago too) that most commercial raisers plan for a 5-15% loss in their chicks.

    NYREDS Overrun With Chickens

    Jan 14, 2008
    One per bird.[​IMG]
  9. macdoogle2

    macdoogle2 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 3, 2011
    San Diego
    I found this post very interesting as I recently lost 4 hens. 3 were in the 2-4 year range and 1 was a young pullet about 7 months old who's sisters just started laying. I figured hens just die sometimes for no apparent reason. Only one showed signs of being ill and the deaths happened in 3 different pens on opposite sides of my property. Before this, I had not lost a hen, other that to predators, ever. I figured 3-4 years of age is a common time for hens to die. I've only had chickens for about 4 years so I have limited experience.

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