More Deaths in the Flock

It is with a heavy heart that I write this post. Over the past week, I have lost two of my young chickens. It's funny, with my first flock of 19, I didn't lose any chicks and really didn't have any issues. But, this time around, has definitely been more challenging.

The first loss was of my lighter-colored New Hampshire. Just like most of the country, we experienced a highly uncomfortable heat wave. She did not seem to be handling the heat well and kept lagging behind everyone. I made sure everyone had lots of fresh water. I made sure they stayed out all day in the shady spots in my yard. I put the flock into the coop at night only after the sun went down. Despite my efforts to keep the chickens cool and comfortable, one morning, I went out to the juvenile coop and there she was, my beautiful New Hampshire was dead on the floor with no obvious wounds. I thought her death was heat related and tried to put on a good face when I told my kids. I also added more roosting poles to the coop so everyone had plenty of room to spread out.

My New Hampshire enjoying the sun.

Then on Saturday morning, I went out to the coop and ironically happened to wonder why it's always me that finds the dead chickens (we haven't had that many until now) and not my husband. I said "hi" to my Buff Orpington as she greeted me and then looked down to find my fabulous Light Brahma dead with no obvious wounds. My Light Brahma was my splurge chicken. I had heard so many great things about this breed and really wanted to have one. She did not disappoint. She has been the subject of so many of my blog posts. She was the first to perch on my hand and was extremely friendly. She was turning out beautifully and loved to sunbathe in the yard. Her death has hit me hard. 

What a beautiful Light sweet!

At this point, I was desperate for an answer and figured our coop was cursed. So, I decided we had reached "high noon" and it was time to combine the flocks so the juveniles could spread out in the comfort of our large coop.

My husband and I waited until nightfall, added more perches to the big coop, and put the newbies in with our old timers. It was then that it hit me why my two chickens had died. This new flock has the strange habit of huddling together in a tight mass when they are scared. And as we added them to the large coop, they were scared. They huddled together and shoved one of the Ameracaunas against the wall. We had to pull them off each other so she had room to breathe.

So, now I know what happened to both chickens. I don't know what scared them when the New Hampshire died, but I do know we had a horrible overnight thunderstorm when the Light Brahma died. In both instances, I think they got scared, huddled and accidentally killed their flockmates. 

I'm hoping they won't do this again, but I don't know how to break them of this behavior. Maybe the big chickens can help with this. I don't know, but it doesn't seem likely as they're not too fond of their new roommates.
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