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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Bird Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 28929
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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I opened the chicken coop this morning to let out the

Customer Question

I opened the chicken coop this morning to let out the chickens and our brown laced wiendot was dead on the floor in front of the door. She seemed healthy...was eating well, and layed an egg every day for the most part. Any ideas what may have happened? Thank you
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Bird Veterinary
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
My husband takes good care of them...cleans the coop often and they get fresh water weekly. Could what we feed them cause a heart attack? We lost 3 earlier in the summer...perfectly healthy when we put them to bed and go out in the morning and would find a dead hen.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner, Glenda. We don't have many avian-oriented vets on this site. To answer you directly, no, I can't imagine that their diet would cause peracute (sudden) deaths particularly with the newer improved commercial diets today. When you lose more than one chicken in a short time it's important to have a seriously ill bird sacrificed and necropsied or a newly dead bird refrigerated (not frozen) until it can be necropsied. This is the way you know not only what was the cause of death but also what you might do for the rest of your flock. Your county animal disease diagnostic laboratory is a good resource for you. It's best to make friends with an avian-oriented vet (please see here: and that laboratory when you have an appreciable number of birds.

There are three infectious diseases to mainly consider when peracute deaths are seen. The most likely is Marek's disease (herpesvirus) and fowl cholera (Pasteurellosis) and infectious laryngotracheitis (another herpesvirus) need to be considered as well in apparently normal birds who suddenly die. The latter two respiratory viruses are expected to cause symptoms in other birds, however. Trauma is always a consideration but unless a fox is getting into your coop, I would think 4 losses unlikely to be trauma-related.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.