If you are responsible for and are taking care of chickens, the death of a chicken can be a scary thing.
Even if you understand that death is a natural and unfortunate part of life, it is difficult to deal with, especially if it is your first time.
But there are certain precautionary measures you must take as soon as you discover the dead chicken in your coop so that you can keep others both safe and/or healthy.
Assessing the cause of death itself can be a difficult and seemingly impossible task to do if you do not know what to look for.
And based on your assessment, deciding on what further actions to take both in regards to the dead chicken, as well as the rest of its brethren, are all hard decisions to make.
But fear not, since we are here to make that task much more palatable so that the next time you are unfortunately put in this position, you are not caught unaware and are prepared and ready for action.
What To Do When You Find A Dead Chicken In Your Coop
Step 1: Remove The Body From The Coop As Soon As Possible With Due Care
The first and most important thing to do when you find a dead body in your coop is to remove it from there as soon as possible, to keep the rest of your flock healthy and happy.
Not only should you consider their safety and health, but yours as well. Make sure you take several precautionary measures when doing these first few steps.
Make sure to wear rubber gloves when handling the body, and have warm water and soap ready to wash your hands once you are done with the body’s removal and examination.
Step 2: Examine The Body And Determine The Cause Of Death
Examining the body for hints and clues to see what led to this unfortunate event is not just for closure, but also so that you can protect the rest of the coop from the same unfortunate fate by taking certain precautions.
The reasons can be anything, from predator attacks to diseases to just a freak accident. There are telltale signs that will help you determine which of these befell your chicken and it is important to know them.
The easiest way to tell if it is a predator at fault is to see if the head of the chicken is ripped apart or some sections of its body cavity gnawed open.
A lot of punctures in the skin or blood does not always mean that it is a predator though. Sometimes the coop itself will peck and prod at the dead body, which can look pretty similar to a predator attack.
A good way to confirm if it was foul play is to look for torn and ripped feathers scattered around the affected bird, and also any holes or other signs of break-in that could suggest a raccoon or fox.
If a predator is not the cause, then it might have been some disease that befell your bird.
Backyard chicken flocks are usually healthy birds and disease is not a sign of failure on your part at all.
The disease could have been a lethal one and in this case, disinfecting the coop is a crucial step.
Symptoms to look for in a flock to determine whether they are sick or not is to see if they are laying lesser eggs, losing a lot of weight, and generally being very listless.
If none of the above causes are to be attributed to the death, then a freak accident or a rarer case of organ failure is to blame.
The chicken might have flown into a window and stunned itself or otherwise generally have ended in some unforeseen unfortunate way.
In the case of organ failure, though it is very rare, it still happens and a good way to understand whether it was a disease or organ failure is to look at the rest of the flock.
With diseases that are communicable, other birds will start showing symptoms unlike with organ failure.
Step 3: Disposal Of The Body
Once you have brought some closure to yourself, it is time to say goodbye. Before you proceed with this step though, it is important to get some technical details right.
Make sure that your area allows you to bury birds in your backyard or that they allow you to dispose of bodies in the trash can.
Many municipal solid waste agencies reportedly allow for bodies to be disposed of if duly prepared in several bags, so call around and ask before making your decision.
If you opt for burying, make sure to do it several hundred feet away from your coop.
The hole must be a minimum of 2 – 3 feet deep, and the soil must be packed tightly over it so that the neighborhood dogs and raccoons don’t dig it back up.
If unable to bury or dispose of in the trash, then your veterinarian is your best bet.
They have sure and legal ways to either cremate or bury the body and can do the work for you. In these cases, there will most probably be a fee, so go in expecting that.
Finding a dead chicken you cared for is always a saddening part of taking care of them.
But by doing all of the above steps, you can ensure that you did all that you could for your bird, both when it was living and when it passed away. We hope we helped you out in dealing with this unfortunate fate.
Thank you for reading!
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