Ok BYC experts, I just need a little help figuring out what is going on here. This is my 3rd set of babies in the last 2 years and I have had only 2 deaths out of like 35 chicks (one squished by accident, and one died within 24 hours of arriving) so I have no experience with this! Background: Three weeks ago today, we got 12 babies from Ideal, all arrived healthy and chirping and happy. We put them under a broody hen, who accepted them immediatly, keeping them warm and showing them how to be a chicken! They have been eating Organic Starter (not medicated-- nor were they vaccinated, we only have a small flock of 8 bantam hens) and have been drinking, running around fine, free ranging and acting like normal baby chicks should, digging at dirt, eating small worms, flies, etc. Last week (they were 2 weeks old) we had one baby dead in the morning. It looked like he got out of the nest box area at night and couldn't find his way back in. Very sad, but understandable. Death #2 was a few days later, the chick was acting very funky--- hard time walking, all wobbly and breathing heavy, holding out wings, not keeping up. The butt was a *little* pasty (not blocked), so I cleaned it off, but he was gone the next morning. Death #3 was totally a surprise, baby was just dead in the nest box. Death #4 was the same as #2-- wobbly on feet, can't really walk, keep up, breathing hard all yesterday, bit of pasty but, and was dead this morning. OK, so something is going around. I start examining every baby really closely, thinking that this is now not 3 random things, I am seeing an illness. One baby looks like it is in the very early stages, but within a few hours (the others took like a day and a half), it was dead baby #5 (but no pasty butt). So now I am freaking out. I call our vet and ask if they can run some tests, they say NO, call the extension office to ship a dead body for testing, "but there really isn't anything you can do anyway. Whoever lives, lives." Well, we have dead baby #6 this evening, same symptoms (wobbly, can't walk, but no pasty butt)...... 3 today! I will be calling and shipping to the extension tomorrow (hopefully), but it seems that by the time we have any answers, we may not have any more babies. My 5 and 10 year old are devestated, and so am I. What could this be, and how do I (or can I?) protect the other babies from this? Will this spread to my big girls? I am so sick of burying babies and having to explain to my daughter why this keeps happening. We now have only 6 of 12 babies, and they all seemed perfectly fine a week ago. Thanks so much for your thoughts. I have been trying to look through old posts, but feel like I don't even know what this could be, so am unable to search for this illness or google it.