Water couldn't be the issue as they started dropping way before I saw them start drinking. Regardless, I have raised a few hundred chicks of different breeds with no issues at all.
I have had a total of three batches of chicks with issues - two came from Greenfire Farms (Niederrheiners and Twentse), one from Brinkhaven Acres (Niederrheiners). All were shipped with GroGel. I had another batch of chicks shipped in (Barbezieux) from Gold Feather Farms and had ZERO issues with them.
Originally, after getting the second batch of Niederrheiners, and seeing how dang small the chicks were (compared with any other breed), I am if the thinking they are just a fragile bird. Maybe my experiences are unique, but we won't be making a go at them because of this. The Barbezieux, on the other hand, have done very well. Really looking forward to seeing them as they continue to feather out.
The new batch of Twentse, man, they were in such rough shape by the time I picked them up. Here's a pic of the box:
I'm down to four Twentse chicks now.
I would really like to hear from anyone else that has had chicks shipped from Greenfire. Am I the only person to have these problems? What can I do to avoid them in the future? Overall, my experience with using USPS to ship chicks or eggs has been overwhelmingly bad. I don't see myself ever shipping anything in again. I plan on making the trip, in person, to wherever I need to go. It's the only way to ensure proper handling in transit.