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ACK! Two of my chickens just kinda croaked!!

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  • ACK! Two of my chickens just kinda croaked!!

    I *had* 9 chickens until recently. Several escaped and became snacks to the local predators, leaving me with 5. I'm not happy, but hey, I guess it happens.

    Then this week on two different days, I found 2 dead in thier stall. (they have a stall in the barn) Yuck, and the 'other' girls took it upon themselves to peck pretty darn hard at the bodies too. I'm down to 3 know and I wonder for just how long!

    I'm a little freeked out. These are NOT old birds, they are about 1.5 years old. They look healthy to me (feathers shiney, active, no snotty noses/eyes), they have food and water, and it's cold but not *that* cold. Heck, they even laid a few eggs last week. I just dont understand!!

    I think it *is* remotely possible a local member of the predator patrol could be getting in and then can't figure out how to get it's snack out. But I would imagine that said creature would just go ahead and make a snack out of all of them and THEN leave.

    Any thoughts??

  • #2
    Are they cold? We had one almost succumb to hypothermia. We finally ended up putting a heat lamp in their house, and bringing them into our family room for the night if it went below 10 degrees!


    • #3
      i had a rooster who just died one day. then, i had a hen who had a heart attack (apparently and died). I think it just happens sometimes...ive got some bantam roosters you can have! I have too many!


      • #4
        Chickens are also "not very nice people" sometimes. If one gets a bit under the weather from cold, exteme heat or whatever - the others WILL kill and consume it!! UGH!!
        Breeders of Painted Thoroughbreds and Uniquely Painted Irish Sport Horses in Northeast Oklahoma


        • #5
          I was curious so I looked in one of my chicken books under "sudden death".

          Lordy the list of possible causes in a page long.

          The suggestion was to take the carcasses to the state lab if you wanted a necropsy. Otherwise, take notes on the rest of the flock and watch for possible symptoms.

          They might have gotten into something, it might be Mareks (do you vaccinate against Mareks?), worms, poison, etc.

          One of my cockerels killed a pullet. He was a homicidal maniac. I don't take delight in killing things but when butchering time came around - he went first.

          They're bloodthirsty little critters sometimes.

          Hope the rest of your flock is ok.
          Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
          Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
          -Rudyard Kipling


          • #6
            Originally posted by AKB View Post
            Are they cold? We had one almost succumb to hypothermia. We finally ended up putting a heat lamp in their house, and bringing them into our family room for the night if it went below 10 degrees!
            oh joy, Im not the only nut who brings thier chickens into the house on occasion


            • Original Poster

              I can't say for sure, but I'm leaning towards predators now. I lost another one during the day today. I tell ya, there's not a thing out of place on them. They look like a million bucks until I find a half eaten corpse. And they all get along well enough. The 'black' adults beat on the 'red' pullets a bit before they get big, but I never thought any were in danger from the others.

              But I do think that the door looked a bit 'moved' today. I can see a smallish creature going in for a snack and then not being able to take it to go. I did my best to make the door closed as tightly as possible and crossed my fingers till morning.

              I don't think it's the cold. We had them virtually outside last year with a very minimal wind break and they did just fine. They had small perches that only fit two birds at a time, so it's not like they all tucked in together as a big group. They are now in a 'calf stall' at the end of the barn and while it's hardly warm, they are out of the wind. That and it's NJ, not Minnesota. It doesn't actually get all that cold relatively speaking. Thier water does freeze some nights, but still, it's not any colder than last year. I get around the frozen waterer by having 2 and swapping the defrosted one out in the AM.

              No chickens in the house, thanks. I had the pullets in here until it was warm enough and that was soo yucky. I have 3 cats and a large dog too, it would be just as tough to keep them alive in here! The 'brooder box' is just an old steamer trunk and is NOT big enough for two adult birds, so no go on that either. The pullets hated it and there were only 3 of them.

              I'm down to 2 and I'm pissed. Most of the good layers gone and my three pullets too. The pullets 'ran away' and got eaten, and now I think that the "locals" think this is some kind of cafeteria. Nice tasty grain fed chickens neatly caged. Must be like shooting fish in a barrel.

              OH, and I'm 99% sure they got the Mereks vaccine when they were hatchlings. Do they need it boostered?? Oooooh, or maybe the old white wash on the walls has something toxic in it? That's not a nice thought, there's Whitewash in the horse stalls too. Wait, no, that may be a stretch as they lived in Beamer's stall for months before it was Beamer's stall.


              • #8
                Last winter I found FIVE birds dead in the henhouse, no apparent injuries, I thought it was the sudden cold snap, until the next day two more were dead...the third day I found a banty hen missing her head...Okay, not the cold!

                I set a live trap using the banty as bait, and caught myself a WEASEL!

                Took him/her for a one-way drive the next morning, and that was the end of chicken deaths (for the time being)


                • #9
                  It really could be any number of things. Our chickens have a coop in the barn with a heat lamp for these brutal weather snaps. The ducks have pens for the night with deep hay beds.

                  Water can be a big problem, chickens drink constantly and being without water can just do a number on some chickens and others not at all.

                  Escaping predators is really important. You might want to place some branches or run some wire up high for them. They can outrun predators better if they have places to go. Not so much if on the ground.

                  How about grit? Do they have access to bear ground for hunting and pecking or is everything snow convered? If snow covered, get them some grit.

                  We have 8 Plymouth Rocks, 14 Araucanas, 11 Silkies and 13 ducks. I just lost one roo because he had a momentary lapse of reason and decided to run him self into a corner, got stuck and broke his neck. And I've lost a hen for no apparent reason...never lost any others.
                  I Loff My Quarter Horse & I love Fenway Bartholomule cliques

                  Just somebody with a positive outlook on life...go ahead...hate me for that.


                  • #10
                    Are you SURE you don't want some bantam roosters? I only have...gulp....13 or so


                    • #11
                      I recently lost 5 hens all in one night too. There did not appear to be any trauma to them, no feathers all over and the other 6 are just fine.
                      Things Take Time


                      • #12
                        It's a conspiracy!

                        Seriously, though, sorry about your chickens. maybe you should put them in a predator-proof cage at night?
                        "Uh, if you're going to try that, shouldn't you unplug it first?"


                        • #13
                          Actually, I've had chickens on and off for years. Believe it or not, they really don't live all that long, depending on how they're kept. Cooped chickens live longer, free-range chickens tend to live shorter lives. It's not unusual for chickens to live around 2 years. I've had some live longer, depending on breed, feed, housing, etc. That being said, they do get parasites and infections that don't present much in the way of symptoms and can practically kill them overnight.

                          I swear that I've had some keel over and die from fright, too. Not the smartest animal in the barnyard, if you know what I mean.


                          • #14
                            My kiddos had a few chickens one year as pets. Found one dead and it looked gross - head and shoulders were wet looking. We found a snake coming into the cage - he would kill one and was unable to swallow it, would release them and then leave via the small opening it came through. I know this is gross - but that is how we lost ours. Sadly they were all gone before we saw the snake.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by equusvilla View Post
                              My kiddos had a few chickens one year as pets. Found one dead and it looked gross - head and shoulders were wet looking. We found a snake coming into the cage - he would kill one and was unable to swallow it, would release them and then leave via the small opening it came through. I know this is gross - but that is how we lost ours. Sadly they were all gone before we saw the snake.

                              Kill, Corgi, kill!


                              • #16
                                If you are finding "half eaten corpses", they didn't "just kinda croak". I have found to successfully keep chickens requires a .410 shotgun and a really good light.


                                • #17
                                  Awww sorry about your chickens... I still have some oldies from my first batch pushing 5 to 6 years old now! I have some younger flocks too, and occasionally will lose one here and there...

                                  Make sure you have plenty of fresh water and access to grit with their feed if they don't have access to gravel dirt outside. they can get croup bound real fast otherwise. In winter I ditch the chicken fountains and use shallow rubber tubs I can beat the ice out of...

                                  Hens can get egg bound

                                  watch for aggressive pickers.. all it takes is a small bloody spot for all the others to gang up on the injured chicken and then yeah they'll strip feathers and eat former friend... speaking of eating feathers if you notice a lot of that, they need more protein in their diet.. don't let food run out with larger groups they'll start eyeing each other

                                  predators.. weasel.. (you will find the chicken dead with hole eaten from anus and gutted open from there) rats will bite their legs.. opossum and raccoons will prey on them as well as large snakes and fox... hawks during the day and owls at night... neighborhood dogs.. and though I find this rarer even a cat (I usually lose peeps to the darn cats)

                                  I use lots of chicken wire and lock them in at night watching for any attempts to tunnel in.. pay attention to even small holes! (rats will wound them and then the other chickens, attracted to "red" will pick)

                                  you can also get a electrified chicken netting or run a wire along the outside of your pen.

                                  Good Luck!
                                  "Sport N Curls"
                                  Sport Horse type Curlies and Sport Ponies with the mind, looks and athletic ability to compete in a variety of disciplines.


                                  • #18
                                    Sorry about your chickens. We have 2 as pets and they are locked in the coop over night that has 3 locks and etc... One of them survived the raccoon attack, when raccoon put his paw in-between the chain links and tiered out small bit peaces of chickens until they were dead.


                                    • #19
                                      Ditto the weasel post—I lost 40 show-quality Silkies in one night when a weasel got into their coop and slaughtered all of them on their perches. Didn't appear to have eaten anything—just killed them all and left. I was heartbroken.
                                      "Dogs give and give and give. Cats are the gift that keeps on grifting." –Bradley Trevor Greive


                                      • #20
                                        Oh - I though they had just dropped dead. Didn't realize they were gnawed on before death.

                                        Agree with the others - a predator. A good way to figure out who is visiting your coop is to sprinkle flour, baby powder or other talc like substance around the coop. Whatever is coming to the buffet will leave pawprints.

                                        Once you identify the predator, you'll have more information and can use it to catch the little bugger.

                                        (the flour idea came from someone on this BB a while back who was having similar trouble)
                                        Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                                        Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                                        -Rudyard Kipling