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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Today's been lousy. A couple weeks ago I introduced 5 pullets to my laying hens. I was expecting problems, especially since my girls have the bad habit of plucking each other whenever they stay in the coop on rainy days. To my surprise the introductions went well. The little ones were chased around a bit but there was no feather plucking or anything too big to worry about. I've been feeding them extra in the hopes they wouldn't have anything to fight about and all's been well.

Until I found my favorite sprawled out in the run, still warm, but dead as a doornail. The other hens had started to pull off some skin on her head but I think that was postmortem. She's four months old so she wasn't egg bound. I felt her up to see if maybe she was thin, thinking maybe the other hens were keeping her away from the food but she's the same weight as the other chicks.

There's only two things I can think of. The first is it appears someone briefly tried to dig their way into the run from outside. Whatever it was wasn't around for long and I didn't hear anything ut seeing as her body was right there at the hole makes me think maybe something scared her? But then again her eyes were closed and she seemed in a somewhat peaceful position. Ooor she could have something wrong with her. I mean she was super docile which is weird considering her mother is an insane Cornish and her father was a slightly ornery Dark Brahma. Maybe that docility that made her our favorite wasn't all that natural. I just don't know... both parents were from hatchery stock and this is the second unexplained death. I can handle death but I hate not knowing why. I will say though I won't be buying from a large hatchery ever again - just small breeders from here on out...
 

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A Round American Woman
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Do you have hawks? I have lost several to hawks where they were killed, but too big to be carried off.

And yes, a chicken can be scared to death. Shock can take them down, fast. I had a bear killing chickens in the middle of the day one year and I lost one hen who was catatonic and drooling when I got home from work. I found the dead duck peeps and their mama had been made into lunch. This hen was standing inside the coop with the eaten hen only a few feet away in a frozen state. She died the next day.

I also had a hen who eventually recovered. My puppy (then) was learning chicken manners and she was eating some scratch at my feet. Jake was sitting beside me when he put a paw on her back and held her down while he put his nose up her backside for a really good sniff. She immediately fell over and when I picked her up she was drooling and swaying when I put her down. I didn't know what to do, he didn't hurt her, just sniffed. I put her in the chicken run by herself and gave her electrolytes in her water etc. She was wonky for a good week, but she eventually went back to normal.

Also, if they are in an enclosure it's possible that she was spooked and flew up against wire and broke her own neck or so. They are delicate creatures!
 

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I can handle death but I hate not knowing why. I will say though I won't be buying from a large hatchery ever again - just small breeders from here on out...
I'm sorry but the pullet was 4 months old ... how do you blame the large hatchery for that ???

You said yourself you did not know why ... It could have been any number of things. (As posted by Roslyn)

And just so you know ... not all small breeders are on the up and up. I know one that gets chicks "on sale" at the feed store then will try and pass them off as "farm raised chicks" (point ~ do your homework and research on any and all "small breeders" A good place to start would be your local feed store.

Best of luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Oh no, don't get me wrong Sundancers, I have been a breeder of various critters for years. I have never trusted "big business" and the genetic integrity of their stock. They're there for making as many babies as possible not the best quality or healthiest babies, which makes sense. After they're in someone else's hands they're no longer their problem. ... and yes, I have met breeders of all types.... good ones, bad ones, mediocre ones, little ones, big ones, and everything in between.... I like doing my research, that's all. Initially I chose hatchery stock knowing all this - I just didn't know what breed I would prefer and it was easier to get an assortment from a large hatchery. I sort of figured that would just be my jumping off point and nothing more.

And to answer an earlier question no, it wasn't hawks - they have a roof on their run for that reason, we have a lot! If anything it was the stray dog that keeps coming by... but it didn't get in. It just dug a little bit and left. That's what had me so confused. I found her while she was still warm so she had to have just died, suddenly... for no apparent reason. It's weird.
 
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