Sudden death in chickens

Has one of your chickens ever just died? Like, there was nothing wrong earlier, she didn't seem sick and she didn't get hurt but there she is suddenly just...dead? It happens more often than you would think. Today I want to talk about the unexplained reasons why a hen or rooster might just drop dead. Sudden death in chickens is very upsetting because not only have you lost your pet chicken, but now you're worried about the rest of the flock. So let's try to figure out what happened.

Sudden death in chickens causes

You open up the coop in the morning and there's one chicken laying on the floor instead of perched on the roost. How did you not see this coming? You see, chickens are pretty low on the food chain. Because of this they get pretty good at hiding their illnesses. You often can't tell they're sick until it's too late. 

Today I want to go over a postmortem assessment of sorts to try and determine what actually happened. We are not going to cut into the chicken for a necropsy (I'll save that for another post) but this is how I would asses a birds appearance to determine her cause of death.

Identify and treat heat stress in chickens

Obviously in summer the temperatures get hot and we all get uncomfortably warm, especially outside animals like chickens. There is a big difference between hot and too hot though. Chickens can suffer heat stress just like people can, but unfortunately they can't come in from the heat and chill in the AC like we can! So it's super important to watch for signs of heat stress in your chickens, plus take preventative measures to keep them cool enough to avoid overheating in the first place!

chickens with heat stress

What is heat stress in chickens? Just like in people, heat stress is the condition when your body cannot cool itself enough to maintain a healthy temperature. Heat stress is caused by high temperatures coupled with low air speed. Usually it's a ridiculously hot, still day but it can be caused by them being stuck in a direct sun location for an extended period of time on a warm day. 

I'm going to touch really briefly on preventing heat stress, since I've already talked about the 14 ways I help my chickens to stay cool in summer. Then lets get straight into identifying and treating heat stress in chickens!

How to keep Bears out of the chicken coop

As far as chicken predators go, bears are the worst of all! Not only will bears break a chicken coop to pieces looking for the feed, but they will also eat any chickens or eggs that they find inside. They are huge in size, much stronger than us and can effectively destroy almost any coop we have built. Because of that, this post isn't about keeping bears out of the chicken coop, it's about deterring them from even knowing there's something good inside!

bears eat chickens, here's how to keep them away

I know people like to say that bears don't eat meat but I promise you that is not true. I saw it myself. Two years ago in April the bear in the picture above ate my silkie rooster. I saw the bear in the woods behind the coop and after he left I went to where he had been to see what he had been eating. All that was left was feathers and a head. Poor Rusty Roo. Though I don't doubt that cocky little guy ran right up to the bear like 'hey, get away from my girls' like he did to everybody and everything else. The point is, bears will eat chickens.

MYO first aid salve for chickens

Lets recap what ya'll know about me real quick: I love chickens and I do everything as frugally as possible! Here's something you probably don't know though...I'm pretty deep into herbalism. In started in about 1993 and I have a whole other blog where I talk about that, but my easiest herbal healing salve is both cheap and can be used on chickens, other pets or people. Plus it's super easy to make. So today I want to give you my recipe for a wound 'salve' that can be used on chickens and talk you through making your own!

MYO herbal first aid salve for chickens

This is the easiest and cheapest herbal wound treatment you can make. It can be used on cuts, scrapes, bug bites, plucked feathers and other minor skin irritations. It will relieve mild pain, itch and stings and it may help prevent infection.

Plus I picked an herb that literally grows everywhere so you definitely have access to it. In fact, you're probably familiar with it as a weed! The truth is that there are several herbs that can help to heal a wound. If you have some of the others, then add them in! I actually grow several herbs that are great for this purpose and I'll list other beneficial herbs down below plus a more complex recipe. 

Today though I wanted to go super simple with 2 ingredients, both chosen because you probably already have them.

Which chicken books are you reading?

What better way to spend the lazy days of summer than reading up on chicken keeping? I have several chicken keeping books on my reading list and today I want to share them with you. I'm really big on learning new things and there are so many amazing chicken books out there written by fellow bloggers and other authors. It also helps that some of these are free...cause you know how much I love free stuff...especially when it comes to chickens! 

best chicken keeping books

All of these books are available on Kindle but for those of you that prefer books, many can be ordered in paperback also! For us older folks who grew up with a paperback in hand, vacation reading just needs a 'real' book! Of course you might want to take a peek in your local retail or discount bookstore for secondhand books, cause why pay more? 

Even though I've been raising chickens for 10 years, I still learn from reading about chickens. I'm currently learning more about genetics and how certain disorders can run in family lines. My experience with Wry Neck in Chicks and wry tail in ducks is what started that interest. Not gonna lie, it's kinda boring. lol I promise you none of these chicken keeping books will be boring though!