Two of Our Chickens Died

How it happened and how we’re handling it

Brynn Mahnke
9 min readOct 7, 2021


Photo by Jan Kopřiva on Unsplash

When we got chicks I expected they might not all survive. They are livestock, they live outdoors, they’re birds. They are susceptible to illness, predators, even (in terrible circumstances) bullying by members of their own flock — bullying which can even lead to death.

But there’s something quite different about knowing it’s a possibility and going through it in person.

The First Signs of Sickness

As a new chicken owner, I admit I certainly don’t know everything there is to know about chickens. I’m not even in the ballpark of being an expert. Despite having read copious blogs and a few books I know that, much like everything in life, there’s always more to learn.

I noticed some changes in one of our bird’s droppings but wasn’t sure how to figure out exactly who the droppings belonged to. They were green and watery-looking; definitely unusual compared to how they normally appeared. Everyone was acting normal, though, and it wasn’t easy to figure out until I saw it happen with my own eyes.

I finally realized which bird it was coming from: Angel, the calmest and easiest to handle of the Orpingtons.

She seemed fine otherwise, though, so I didn’t give it much thought. Birds can have runny poo, especially when it’s hot out, as they drink a lot of water to keep cool.

I grew concerned when I found her separated from the other girls, tucked in the nook of a pine tree all alone while the rest were foraging in some bushes. It’s not like my girls to be alone; usually, they’re all in pretty close proximity together. She let me pick her up and didn’t even try to run away; that’s when I was pretty sure something was wrong. I moved her close to the other girls so she could be part of the family, and went inside to start researching.

Findings: Inconclusive

There are a LOT of things that can go wrong with chickens. There are viruses, sicknesses, worms, genetic disorders, foods they can eat which are poisonous to them. It seemed that a huge variety of things could be causing the sickness, but one thing was sure: we needed to isolate her from the flock to avoid spreading of…



Brynn Mahnke

Freelance writer, distance runner, lifelong learner. Let’s chat!