Dead hen, what happened? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I found one of my hens dead over the weekend. I'm not sure what happened. I found her flattened against the floor by the water with her bottom pecked open. The wounds were somewhat deep but not what I think would have killed her. To have killed her I think there would have been alot of blood in the coop.

Could she have frozen and then got pecked afterward? When I got up that particular morning their heat lamp bulb had gone out in the night sometime. I wonder about the pecking though because I have had trouble with this group since they were chicks. I have another group in a different coop (same size) and never had a problem. All but 2 hens in the troublesome group have bare bottoms because I suspect the dominant girls are pulling their feathers out when they are on the roost.

I gave them some more blood meal in case it was the pecking that did it. Do you all have any ideas? Did she freeze or was she killed? Or was it something else all together? Thanks!

-- Denise (, January 22, 2001


Mine are in molt and one night when it was real coldI lost one just like yours,i would like to think they pecked her up after she died.It has been very cold here and she had hardly any feathers from the molt....teri

-- teri (, January 22, 2001.

Very probably prolaspe of the oviduct aka a "blow-out" Very common in heavy layers and new layers. The cannibolism could have happened before, during or after death. Sorry, I know it's hard, but just one of those unavoidable facts of having chickens. Kathie

-- Kathie in Western Washington (, January 22, 2001.

If the heat went out most likely she was a weaker hen and got squished. When you have a loud noise(ie bad thunder or low flying plane) or a lot of cold weather, you get a real pile up of chickens. Those that are under the pile get squished to death sometimes! In big chicken houses they sometimes put baffles (SP?) to prevent this from happening as badly. I know that lots of chicken farmers around here lost birds when the elec. went out. Put lots of straw and fluff it up regularly and that might help when it gets cold. That works for me most of the time. However, I lost a weaker one of mine the other day when we got close to below 0. They can also get parasites. Sorry! I used to bury each one and give them a funeral. I have gotten much better now, but still have a little ache when I lose one of my "girls"!

-- Nan (, January 22, 2001.

Is she a big layer? I have had the blow out with some of my heavy laying ladies. They can't take the stress on their bodies that heavy laying causes. I've had double layer's that this happened to. The other's will pick after she has died. My experience with picker's is that they mainly start in the head and back of the neck area.

-- Shau Marie (, January 22, 2001.

I get an egg per day from each girl. Would you consider that a heavy layer? If so then maybe the blow out theory is it. I don't think any of them are double layers though. By that do you mean that they lay two eggs per day?

I'm kind of leaning toward the pile up theory because she was really flat and in an odd position with her legs.

What happened in the old days when there weren't heat lamps to keep them warm? Did they just depend on collective body heat? It seems that the rest of the girls survived with just body heat. I'm sorry if that's a dumb question but just thought I would ask since I may not always have the luxury of a heat lamp for them.

-- Denise (, January 22, 2001.

My husband is a genius when it comes to animal nutrition. That is what he has done for the last 15 years or so. He would say that the picking is from over crowding or a protein problem. So many people don't feed their animals right because they don't know what to feed them. Most feed stores just sell feed and don't know a cotton picker about it. If mine start picking it is always in the backside. Sometimes one is older and weaker and they are little cannibals!!!! Chicken feathers are a source of protein. Well, I'm not the authority in the family, but my husband can answer questions for you if you have any others. Oh, the only time my chickens have had missing feathers on their heads was due to an overly zealous rooster.

-- Nan (, January 22, 2001.

I've had chickens all my life and this certainly does sound like a "pile-up" situation where your dead hen was under all the rest. The pecking is just something they do after one has died. Are any of your other girls missing feathers? Have you found an egg or two that are normal in every way except for haging a leathery, supple, not hard at all shell? If so, they probably need calcium ~ ground oyster- shell is what we always give them free-choice to stop both of these things from continuing. Good luck!

-- Wingnut (, January 22, 2001.

I have 2 different coops. The one group is fine as far as picking. The other group all have bare bottoms except the 2 I think are doing it.

The eggs are all fine. They get oyster shell that is included in their feed.

-- Denise (, January 22, 2001.

== What happened in the old days when there weren't heat lamps to keep them warm? ==

I don't use heat nor lights. I figured if the electric went out, the birds would freeze to death ~ which is what has happened to many folks. Critters grown hair/fur/feathers according to the light. The days get shorter, they grow more of a protective coat. My birds are heavily feathered. I would never know they were molting except for all the feathers around. The birds are still heavily feathered, never ragged or naked looking (except for the Turkens -LOL- ) And the gals lay all year 'round. I've always been told to just keep the wind off their backs. I think folks humanize critters and therefore believe the coops should be 'cozy.' Making them HUMAN cozy might be what does them in. My opinion! :-)

-- ~Rogo (, January 22, 2001.

Denise i meant double yokes. I should have proof read. If she was flat and in a strange postion, i would tend to agree with the pile up theory. When i have one die from over egg producing they just have their back ends out no other damage.

-- Shau Marie (, January 23, 2001.

I agree about the heat lamps. I never use them and it's been well below zero many nights. The only time I see any problem with the cold is when it's like 20-30 below, the combs can freeze and turn black. Even bleed. But mostly they are fine out there. I do put a light on if it's 30 below but that's not often luckily! But I still think they would be okay without it.

-- Evelyn B. in NY (peontoo@yahoo.come), January 27, 2001.

I wholeheartedly agree that I have done the wrong thing in trying to keep them comfortable. I have changed from a heat lamp bulb to just a 60 watt bulb to keep them from going into a sudden molt in the middle of winter. So far they have been fine.

Nan and her husband went over what they are eating with me and Rogo gave me some sound advice also. The conclusionI came to is that they are cramped for space and I am resolving that.

Next time around I am going to skip any bulb all together and let them do things naturally. Thanks everybody!

-- Denise (, January 28, 2001.

Glad to help any way we could. e-mail us anytime. You taught me something about the chickens per square foot. I had forgotten the measurements.

-- Nan (, January 28, 2001.

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