My 2 yr old hen died tonight...any idea why?

by GayleD

Ms Finch in the foreground

Ms Finch in the foreground

Hi Jeanie,

I am so sad about my little hen. I have had the pair for almost 2 years, and they have been so lovely.

I bought them from a breeder who flawlessly kept track of their genetics, and they were a red headed normal back pair, he is a purple breast, she is a white.

They attempted to breed last year and I knew it was too soon, but she was laying eggs in the food dish before I could get a nest box fixed.

Nine in total! They were just too immature, the male was aggressive and wouldn't let her set on the eggs (I separated them) and she sat right up til hatch time and then finally abandoned them. Too young.

So this year as soon as they finished molting he started dancing and it was on. I just got the box back in place and she started laying.

Not as much aggression, he just sometimes blocked her from going into the nest box. The laying was slower, one egg, skipped a day, another egg, skipped a day, then two.

I was wondering if his blocking her would increase the possibility of egg binding? Today I set out extra crushed eggshells and hard boiled egg which she normally loves, but I didn't watch them...then about midday, I looked over and she was perched,fluffed with her head under her wing. I knew that was bad.

I caught her easily - unusual - and looked her over but she looked clear eyed and glossy feathered, vent seemed ok.

Being extremely gentle, I palpated the vent area, and massaged a couple drops of vegetable oil in (from another website, before I found yours, but could not feel the presence of an egg, or any discharge.

I separated her to a smaller cage, covered and warmed, with chopped egg. She pecked at it a little, then went back to fluffed and head tucked. After an hour or so, there was a flutter, I ran over and she was dead at the bottom of the cage.

Seeing I couldn't revive her, I looked at her more closely, and now there was a discharge at the vent. I felt again to see if there was an egg, but there was only more of a pale yellow, kind of pus-like substance.

There was no wasting at the breastbone or any other hints. Could she have had an egg burst and caused a peritonitis?

I believe I saw the male trying to mate with her yesterday. This happened so quickly.

Is there anything more I could have done? I so appreciate the kind and thoughtful answers you give others.

Thank you sincerely.

Hi Gayle,

It's very disappointing when we cannot save a bird, especially when that bird has a mate and is trying to breed.

I suppose it's possible that the male's blocking her form entering the nest box could have been part of the problem, but I doubt it.

Had she been able to lay the second egg on the second day, I'm pretty sure she would have gone ahead and layed it on the cage floor or again in a food dish.

Gouldian hens normally lay one egg very early in the morning daily, had she been egg bound, I think you would have noticed her suffering when you put the morning food in the cage.

Your hen didn't appear to be in trouble until later in the day. I can only guess that one of two things happened.

First, that there was something wrong inside the hen's body that prevented her from creating a normal shell for some of her eggs.

It sounds to me as if the trouble started when she was not able to lay an egg on the second day. You did exactly what I would have done had she been a bird of mine.

There was nothing else you could have done. Second, it is equally possible that the day two egg ruptured and as you suggested, an infection began.

Their normal metabolic rate is very high and that makes it possible for infections to take over very quickly.

I wish I could be of more help, but remember you gave her the best of care.



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