I was given a breeding quad of Black Copper Marans. I was extremely excited to try my hand at incubating Marans, but I’ve hatched some chicks with a foot deformity and now I’m hesitant to hatch more. I was told the rooster and hens were sourced from two different lines (GFF hens and Davis/LP rooster). I’m trying to determine if this issue is genetic, a birth defect, or maybe nutrition related. The Marans free range every day, have a feeder with layer crumbles and a feeder with flock raiser (believe it or not my rooster only eats the flock raiser, never seen him eat the layer feed, thus the two feeders), have oyster shell and grit available, fresh water every day and one day a week I give water with vitamins. The birds will all be 2 years old this July. The defect is with the chick’s feet. The first hatch I set 9 eggs and had 2 hatch with what I can only describe as clubbed feet. It was as if the area where their toes connect to the shank was completely fused. There was no bend at all, and their toes were stuck curled into a ‘fist’. Imagine crawling on the floor on your hands and knees, using your fists instead of the palms of your hands (like a gorilla) and locking your wrists keeping them parallel with your arms. I tried boots, which temporarily straightened the toes, but as soon as they were removed the toes would curl right back up. The chicks could get around, they just looked like ballerinas. The next hatch I set a dozen eggs and no issues. The third hatch I set another dozen eggs and had 10 hatch, 3 of which had clubbed feet. To get to the root of the problem I decided to collect eggs from just two hens. One hen is one of the original 3 I was given, one is from the first hatch. I set a dozen eggs from each, my results are in the table below. # Eggs Set # Eggs Fertile # Chicks Hatched # Chicks w/defect Original Hen 12 9 9 2 First Hatch Hen 12 7 5 0 As you can see, two eggs of the Original Hen hatched chicks with clubbed feet but none of the First Hatch Hen’s eggs hatched with the deformity. I tried again with another Original Hen’s eggs and the same First Hatch Hen’s eggs. I set another dozen of each hen’s eggs and these were the results: # Eggs Set # Eggs Fertile # Chicks Hatched # Chicks w/defect Original Hen 12 10 9 2 First Hatch Hen 12 10 8 0 Again, no defects with the chicks from the First Hatch Hen, but 2 more from the other Original Hens eggs. Is there any way to narrow down what’s causing this? Thoughts on if it’s genetic, nutritional, or just a birth defect? I think it is genetic, but if so, what should I do? Obtain a new rooster and try again? It seems odd though, that it would be genetic and only occur in a couple of the hatched chicks. Obviously I’m at a loss, so any help/advice/thoughts/opinions on the matter are much appreciated!