View Full Version : Dead Chicken Assistance

Aug. 16, 2011, 11:35 PM
Okay, I went out to put my chickens away and my Wanda was dead. She was laying up against the fence, looking like she had just taken a dirt bath and fallen over. No signs of foul play (blood, etc.) and she seemed normal at breakfast time. The other two chickens seem totally fine.

Of course my husband is at a work dinner, so the disposal fell to me as it is getting dark and I didn't want a possum to get her. I put her in a plastic bag and in a box and she is sitting on the patio.

I'm a newbie when it comes to chickens. I got these three as chicks a little over two years ago.

When I told my husband, he said he noticed the feathers around her neck were a little dull and that her comb seemed droopy the past week or so. (I didn't notice this.) She was eating and acting normal as of this morning when I let the three out of the coop and gave them breakfast.

So, what should I do? Does it sound like she had a disease and should I be concerned that the other chickens have it? We've been eating their eggs!

Do I call animal control or dead animal pick up?

Do I just dispose of her in the trash - tomorrow is trash day? (I can't bury her on my property - I have two big dogs that will dig her up :0 )

Do I take her to a vet for an autopsy?

I live in the middle of the city and although chickens are legal per the city code, they are very uncommon and I don't exactly want to draw too much attention to my little flock.

So, information and suggestions are highly appreciated.

Aug. 16, 2011, 11:39 PM
ah, rest in peace little birdy :(

It's probably frowned upon to bury dead animals in the yard I am guessing a chicken would not be much of a problem. a big rock on top should keep the dogs out well enough.

but the experts in terms of chicken should be on soon.

Aug. 17, 2011, 12:09 AM
Something the size of a chicken? Except for the dogs I'd say dig a hole, no one will ever know. (Even with dogs, put rocks over it or at least don't make a shallow hole.) No one ever checked on whether or not people were burying dead pets in their yards where I grew up. What's one more hole in the garden? Otherwise wrap it in plastic and toss it in the trash.

I would worry about some kind of infection, but if you're in the city--do you know either an exotics vet or a farm vet who does chickens? You could ask, if you do, if they'd do a necropsy (they don't call them autopsies with animals) or at least look at the carcass for signs of parasites. Are there any signs of parasites on the other birds? What variety were they? (Some live longer than others.) Definitely keep an eye on the others. Are they egg-layers? Egg-binding is a possibility.

Aug. 17, 2011, 12:38 AM
Thanks for the replies. She was a Buff Orpington. My husband thinks she may have been ill for a few days, but because she was eating, drinking and pooping we didn't really pay too close attention. I'm used to my horse, who is such a drama queen I always know when something even very minor is happening health-wise with her. :)

I may have to drive a good distance to find a farm vet and I'm too squeamish to unwrap her and look for parasites, etc. so I think we'll just have to watch the others for a few days to make sure they aren't sick.

Now that I've calmed down I just want to make sure the other chickens are okay, so if anyone has any tips on what to look for that would be great.

Aug. 17, 2011, 12:43 AM
Ok...had to share...

typed in "chicken necropsy los angeles" to google and the first entry was for "Zankou Chicken," (a chain of Lebanese restaurants)
with the following description:
"Slices of Grilled Chicken Topped with Garlic Sauce and Tomatoes Wrapped in Pita ... What They Say: "No better chicken anywhere. Find out for yourself."

Hmmm....NOT helpful. I enjoy Zankou Chicken but maybe not so much anymore.

Aug. 17, 2011, 09:28 AM
Sorry for your chicken loss. No fowl play. Maybe the heat?

Aug. 17, 2011, 09:32 AM
west nile?

Aug. 17, 2011, 09:50 AM
I wouldn't worry too much about disease. If she was really sick, you would have noticed. She would have been ruffled all over and her tail would've been droopy, and the others would likely have picked on her. Parasites are a possibility, but again, she would have truly appeared ill, same with eggbinding. There are only a couple of illnesses that can kill that quickly, but if the others aren't ill, it's unlikely that's the culprit. My first inclination would be to assume she got pecked in the head too hard or the heat got to her.
If you're really concerned about parasites, you can worm the others with 1/4 cc of Eprinex by mouth. It's not labelled for chickens, but there's no meat or milk withdrawal time for cattle, so when I use it, I continue eating the eggs.
As for disposal, buried under a rock works. We have a metal trash can dedicated to the purpose if burning the dead. Of course, with so few that may not be feasible for you.

Aug. 17, 2011, 10:11 AM

Chickens just drop dead. They are good at hiding that they are sick, or feeling unwell and off they go. If she'd had a communicable disease I'm sure you'd have noticed.

We do not compost our dead-stock because that would be against the rules around here.

I'm assuming you don't have a suitable composter anyway though - I believe you can put her in the garbage, it's not really any different from an eaten-chicken.

I've never had a problem with my dogs digging up anything we've burried.

If you go in the coop at night with a flashlight you should be able to see any external parasites on the birds, you can also worm with D.E.

Aug. 17, 2011, 10:12 AM
I've had several "sudden chicken death syndrome" cases over the years. SCDS is a mystery. You open the gate and only see 11 where there were 12--and the poor victim is just...well...dead. No violence, no obvious signs pointing you to a culprit. You do a scene investigation, look for clues, but your inner coroner simply must pronounce "death from unknown causes". The other hens are fine, of course, and they sure aren't talking!

In a city setting, I'd put the body in a bag/box and put her in the trash. You can bury, as long as you don't think a dog would dig her up.

I'm sorry to hear of your loss. Buffs are my favorite layers, such sweet, docile birds.

Aug. 17, 2011, 10:45 AM
I've had several "sudden chicken death syndrome" cases over the years. SCDS is a mystery. You open the gate and only see 11 where there were 12--and the poor victim is just...well...dead. No violence, no obvious signs pointing you to a culprit. You do a scene investigation, look for clues, but your inner coroner simply must pronounce "death from unknown causes". The other hens are fine, of course, and they sure aren't talking!

No Fowl Play:D

Aug. 17, 2011, 10:51 AM
It doesn't sound like egg-binding if she was eating, drinking, voiding, etc. (We lost a budgie to it once and she was visibly ill the day before.) I'd just keep an eye on the others and make sure they've got a balanced diet.

And yeah, it's often a pain to find ANY vet who'll treat any sort of bird. Though at Doc Pol's my parents saw a turkey in the waiting room once. (Doc Pol has an interesting waiting room. Other sightings include giant mastiffs, minis, goats...I guess if they fit in the car....)

Aug. 17, 2011, 12:01 PM
We have 4 dogs and we bury our pets in the yard - including a favorite rooster. Just dig deep...

Aug. 17, 2011, 12:05 PM
Thanks for everyone's replies. My husband and I feel like bad mother hens, but now we're just going to watch the other two closely for signs of illness. I think my husband is going to have to be the one in charge of the "parasite investigation" ha ha.

We'll never know what killed poor Wanda as she was has taken by the big green trash truck early this morning. To the person who mentioned West Nile - I didn't think of this and should have probably had her tested, but it is too late now.

D Taylor
Aug. 17, 2011, 02:14 PM
I asked the chicken expert. Actually I threatened to post his biz cell # if he continued to refuse to let me purchase a certain little horsie I have my eye on. I got the look of death!

But in response to your hen he said....

Her comb and feathers are signs of a molt. Since she was eating/drinking and not brooding or on feed restriction during a production molt she was for some reason not using the food she ate correctly. Molt signs begin about 5 days into feed restriction.

So yes your hubby is basically right and she had been sick for a few days. Parasites , infection, tumors, other disease ..the list goes on and on....without more info or posting her there is no way to tell. Coccidia can cause sudden death in chickens. But at her age she likely had already been exposed/gained immunity since she was a "back yard bird". She would likely be passing blood in her stool also.

Chickens are sentinals for WNV. So not an issue.

No the hubby is not a vet and sees expontential numbers of chickens daily. He is better than a vet when it comes to chickens. So check the droppings of the other birds for blood and yes other parasites in back yard birds could be the issue.

Sorry about your Wanda. Had a rooster when I was a kid named Ralph Nater. He talked too much.

Aug. 17, 2011, 02:34 PM
Godspeed, Wanda.

They pack a lot of personality into their little poultry bodies, don't they?

Try posting on BackyardChickens.com, they have a forum specifically for diseases/injuires/etc.
You will get the requisite OMG! replies (kinda like here ;)) but you will also get some good advice.