Sudden death of a pullet

oberhasli1August 28, 2010

I had one of my 5 month old pullets die suddenly today. I noticed she was acting rather strangely in the coop this morning, just standing there near the nest boxes. She is usually one of the first out in the morning and running around like a banshee. She finally came out and didn't go after any of the scratch and was walking the edges of the outdoor run looking dazed. I walked over and picked her up - which is unusual as she wasn't very tame. She seemed to have a stunned look. I took her inside and put her in a cage with some electrolytes in the water and some rice to eat. She wasn't interested in anything. She was panting, although it wasn't hot. I had to go in to work and when I returned she was dead. She was a Cookoo Maran and 5-6 months old. I didn't notice any droppings in the cage. I felt her to make sure she wasn't egg bound. She hadn't started laying yet. She seemed fine yesterday. I looked up her symptoms in "The Chicken Health Handbook", but I have a hard time with that book as all of the diseases seem to be rare or uncommon. It didn't sound like Marek's. But, I don't know. I am worried about the rest of my hens. They seem fine - but..

Has anyone had experience with a hen dying that fast?

Thanks in advance for any advice.


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oregonwoodsmoke(5 OR Sunset 1A)

Bonnie, sometimes chickens just die.

Really, that might be all it is. Is the rest of your flock feeling OK?

It's possible the dead bird picked up and ate something she shouldn't have, maybe a nice shiny little bit of sharp metal or a piece of glass.

Maybe she was born with some sort of birth defect.

Most chicken diseases are rare. They tend to be healthy birds, and especially when they are in a home flock and not crowded.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2010 at 12:31PM
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oregonwoodsmoke(5 OR Sunset 1A)

Are you new with chickens? I don't know if you need advice or not, but I am going to give it anyway.

Always carefully inspect any feed you give your chickens. When you open each bag, smell it for any hint of mold or spoilage. Run your hands through it and feel for heat, which is a clear indication of spoilage. Look at it closely for anything that doesn't look right.

Keep the feed well away from the water. If it gets wet, it will spoil.

Keep the water sparkling clean. Not easy to do with hens. I use self waters and suspend them so the chickens can reach the water, but most of the dirt they scratch doesn't get up that high. Then they still need to be cleaned a couple of times a day.

Heat will kill chickens. Make sure they always have good shade in the summer and that their hen house doesn't heat up in the sun.

I would not introduce new birds to my flock without keeping them in quarantine for at least a week to make sure they weren't sick.

And then.... even with excellent care, sometimes birds just die. I'm sorry you lost your baby and hope the rest of the flock is OK.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2010 at 12:40PM
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OWS, thank you for your replies. I have had chickens for 11 years, but I have never had a hen just fade that fast. The rest of my flock is fine. I keep their feed in my barn in a metal garbage can and their food never gets wet and always smells fresh when I get a new bag. They have access to three waterers.

These 4 relatively "new" hens I had were quarantined from the other birds for two weeks. I have had these new hens since they were about 2 months old and they are almost 6 months now.

I was just stymied that it was "here today - gone tomorrow", without anything obviously happening to it that I could see. They have plenty of shade and a couple of areas to hide out when we get hail in the spring.

Thank you again - I will continue to watch the rest of the flock closely.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2010 at 6:46PM
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