I lost three of my 25 hatchery chicks in the first three days I had them - found one each morning. First a Buff Orpington, a Black Australorp, then a Delaware. It left me with three BOs, three BAs, three Delawares, four Barred Rocks, and nine Easter eggers. Two of the EEs have turned out to be a different breed (dark cornish?) due to a mix-up with the person I did a group hatchery order with, so I will be trading these two for my two wayward EEs in the near future. In the first week one of the EEs stopped using her right leg, so I brought her into the house (brooder was in heated, insulated garage with brooder lamp). Within a week the chick was walking and peeping like crazy. Mom named her Sissy. She was so adorable when we had her in the house - I'd take her out onto the rug, rub my fingers together, and she would come running, flapping her wings. She was the only chick that talked while eating. When I reintroduced her back with her broodmates (now in the coop in an area divided from the main area; said chick area is 7'x7') it took about ten minutes before they all accepted her (she would approach them, usually running and flapping her wings, and they would walk away). Within a week I could no longer tell which one she was, even when I rubbed my fingers together. Sometimes I would realize who she is because she would decide to come up to me and snuggle. Two days ago Sissy did that very thing - came up to me and snuggled, when it was near bedtime for them. I decided to take her outside for a few minutes (it was nice out, and the chicks haven't really been outside yet, but Sissy has been for a few short spurts because she is co-operative). My mom and my brother's fiancee sat in the grass with Sissy and I, and the chick went to Mom and snuggled her, and tried to get underneath her - typical Sissy . It was then I noticed that Sissy had a dark toenail on her left foot and all the rest looked light on both feet. For the most part Sissy just stood on the grass looking around, and soon enough I brought her back in with her fellow chicks and they all settled down for the night. Yesterday I ripped some grass from the ground under some trees and tore them up to bite-size pieces for the chicks. They went nuts for it! I had done this a few times before in the past few weeks to try and expose them, little by little, to make sure that their immune systems were as ready as possible when I would finally let them outside to free range. Today I walked into the coop to do the usual - make sure the chicks have fresh feed and water - but, after taking note that the three adults were in the coop and scratching the straw, I finally got in and my eyes were immediately drawn to a devastating sight. One of the Easter eggers was lying, belly-down, dead on the floor. I carefully picked up the chick, noting it was one of the girls (one or two of the EEs are boys), and saw a dark toenail on the left foot. My insides dropped with the weight of a bowling ball. I looked at her right foot, and I saw a few more dark toenails, and the one on the left foot looked to be on the wrong toe. I regained my composure, and thought maybe it was one of the other girls, but nonetheless I was devastated that I lost a chick. It wasn't Crooked-Toe/Krooketoe (her crooked toes became apparent far too late to be corrected, but she gets around fine), it wasn't any of the boys, so either it was Sissy or one of the three other girls. I removed the body and started looking at the three other girls. Clear toenails, clear toenails, clear toenails. I can't be sure because they look so much alike so I may have been picking up the same one each time. I'm hoping for my mother's sake that the deceased isn't Sissy, because Sissy was the first chicken Mom ever truly liked (and loved). Now I am left to wonder how the poor girl died. She did not feel emaciated, the crop felt fine, nothing felt broken, and the damage to the tail area looks post-mortem (feathers ripped out, some blood). I'm thinking it may have been a genetic condition, but I don't really know. Thoughts?