Why are my hens dying?

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by SeaShell741, Dec 28, 2010.

  1. SeaShell741

    SeaShell741 Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 28, 2010
    Virginia
    I started out with 11 hens, 3 red stars, 3 buff orpingtons, and 5 buff/welsummer crosses. About 2 1/2 weeks ago I found a red star dead in the coop, her intestine was also hanging out. I figured it was prolapse and a fluke, but a week later, it happened to a 2nd red star. Later the same week, one of my crosses died, and now a second cross has died also. The second two that died did not have intestines outside of the body, but where the egg comes out was very bloody and kind of ripped open. I have lost 4 hens in 2 1/2 weeks! I'm not sure what is doing it. They seem perfectly fine otherwise, eating, drinking, laying. I have never seen them pick at each other. I feed them strictly layer pellets and they have access to oyster shells. They get 13 hours of light. I turned back the lamp thinking that maybe they were overlaying. I'm not sure what else to do, any ideas?!?
     
  2. HorseFeatherz NV

    HorseFeatherz NV Eggink Chickens

    [​IMG]

    I am sorry that misfortune is plaguing you. [​IMG]

    From what you describe, it does sound like a prolapse that has been picked by the other chicken. Or maybe a small predator who is getting into your coop.

    I would pick them each up, and give them a really good going over. Check their weight and keel bone, check around their vent, under wings and down legs looking for lice or evidence of mite bites. Look at each of their vents and palpate abdomens. (when looking at vent, check color and if moist or dry looking)

    To help figure this out, could you answer these questions please, as best you can, they are generic questions – sorry for the amount of them, but the more info – the more that someone might have gone thru the same thing.

    1) What type of bird , age and weight.
    2) What is the behavior, exactly.
    3) How long has the bird been exhibiting symptoms?
    4) Are other birds exhibiting the same symptoms?
    5) Is there any bleeding, injury, broken bones or other sign of trauma.
    6) What happened, if anything that you know of, that may have caused the situation.
    7) What has the bird been eating and drinking, if at all.
    8) How does the poop look? Normal? Bloody? Runny? etc.
    9) What has been the treatment you have administered so far?
    10 ) What is your intent as far as treatment? For example, do you want to treat completely yourself, or do you need help in stabilizing the bird til you can get to a vet?
    11) If you have a picture of the wound or condition, please post it. It may help.
    12) Describe the housing/bedding in use
     
  3. ranchhand

    ranchhand Rest in Peace 1956-2011

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    Very sorry you are having to deal with this nightmare, but it really triggered my memory. The MO is classic raccoon. I won't go into the details, but it really is. Check ALL your defenses. And then reinforce them to Ft. Knox level anyway.

    Welcome, sorry that it's in such a bad way. Hope things get better.
     
  4. SeaShell741

    SeaShell741 Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 28, 2010
    Virginia
    Quote:The birds that have died are red star and buff orpington/welsummer crosses. They are between 6-9 months old...all laying. They all seem perfectly fine, until one day I find that they have died. The poop all seems normal, sometimes a little runny, but rarely. I have no idea what might have caused this to happen. There are no broken bones or signs of injury except a bloody and gaping hole at the vent. All my chickens are kept in a coop, with a small house for shelter and nesting. If it were a predator, would the predator only kill one bird at a time, and would this cause the bloody vent?
     
  5. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble

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    I was thinking it was a predator as well, something that likes to attack the vent/rear end area. I think a coon or possum would be more destructive. I'm thinking perhaps maybe a rat, dont know for sure though. If you're able to, set a couple of rat traps out when your chickens are locked up at night and see what happens. Or, set a havaheart trap just in case it is a coon or possum.
     
  6. ranchhand

    ranchhand Rest in Peace 1956-2011

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    I was trying to avoid this part and I would LOVE to be wrong about this being the cause of your losses.

    My personal experience from 18 years ago, before I learned chicken wire isn't enough:
    I had 2 hens. Found one disemboweled, but otherwise intact, one morning. Talked to some of the old timers, they all said raccoon. I didn't believe it 100%. Went out late the next night to check the other hen, caught the raccoon in the act of disemboweling her. It was horrible and I didn't have a gun back then.

    Raccoons favorite way to kill. Their next favorite is to reach through any fence with big enough holes and snatch a head or neck, drag it through and eat it. That's why headless chickens still in the coop or run are frequently blamed on raccoons. They don't necessarily go on a killing spree, like a dog or an opossum will. They'll eat what they want for the night and keep coming back.

    I'm sorry if I sound harsh, I don't mean to be, but it's a topic I have awful memories of. I hate to think of anyone else going through it. [​IMG]

    You say you have a coop and a small house. Do you really mean a small coop (henhouse) and a run (pen)? If so, are they locked in the secure coop at night? What type of fencing does the run have?

    Please don't get mad at me, I really am trying to help!
     
  7. HorseFeatherz NV

    HorseFeatherz NV Eggink Chickens

    I was also thinking rat at first, but Ranchhand brings up an excellent point - the coon could be just killing/eating what it can reach.
     
  8. SeaShell741

    SeaShell741 Out Of The Brooder

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    I'm not at all mad or offended, don't worry [​IMG] The chickens are kept in a 8x8 run with a henhouse inside the run. The run is about 6 feet tall, i can walk inside of it. The back wall is completly plywood, and the rest of the run has plywood on the bottom 2 1/2 feet. I don't know how a racooon or other predator would get inside unless it went under the coop, which is possible. I don't think there would be enough room for them just to "reach" in and destroy it's entire hind end, but then again, I really have no idea. I think I may set a trap tonight and see what happens. I really appreciate everyone's help!
     
  9. mypicklebird

    mypicklebird Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 8, 2008
    Sonoma Co, CA
    You either have a predator (fortify, and wait and watch to catch it, or a video camera), or you have cannibal chickens. Cannibal chickens almost always peck out the vent of another bird. Usually happens when there is some combination of the following 1) not enough high quality food 2) not enough to do (bored birds) 3) not enough space. So I would ask- what do you feed, how much space per bird in square footage, and what do they have to do that is more interesting than pecking each other? Video camera would catch the cannibal if that is what you have, or a predator. Does it happen during the day or night? Your diet sounds fine from your first post, but 11 hens in an 8x8 coop is pretty tight if that is the only place they can be (commercial birds are kept with less square footage per bird, but they are debeaked to prevent cannibalism) . IF the problem is bored birds- you can probably solve the problem by letting them out to free range for several hours during the day, if this can be done safely. If you can't let them out, be sure to provide hiding spots, things to do like fresh hay to kick around, mealworms hidden in the hay ect.

    I would close off any gap under the coop if there is any way something could squeeze under- like a small raccoon, weasel ect..
     

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