Ebony and her sister Char, my black Jersey giant hens went everywhere together. Eb was fairly timid while Char was bold. Both were intelligent and sweet birds. On thursday we decided the two had gone broody (as opposed to just hanging out in nest boxes, which both did frequently), and stopped stealing their eggs. At first all was well and my giants both acted just like my 2 other broodies. But then yesterday, one stopped acting so fierce. She wouldn't budge, even when prodded, but no hissing or other threats. I assumed it was just because she wasn't worried we would take her eggs. We try not to bug the broodies, but with one due to hatch any day now, we check on them 2-10 times a day. In the morning, they were fine. In the afternoon they were fine. In the evening, one of my girls was sprawled out on the run floor dead. She is the 3rd we have lost in the 4 months we have lived here, the 4th since we got them about 1 1/2 years ago (only counting natural causes, not predators). The others we had warning for. The first had an impacted crop (we found out too late to save her) the second seemed haggard and droopy for a week or more (but we couldn't find any problems) and the last gradually lost his voice over about a week and, though he seemed healthy up till the end, died overnight. We didn't know what else to do so we took the orphan eggs and put them under their aunt whom we hope can care for them in addition to her own (they total 10 now). They started setting the same day, so we hope it works out. But now I am horrified something is making my chickens sick. The only other chickens they have even second-hand contact with are my 12 hatchery peeps who moved outside this week. They share a fence with the big birds and are all healthy-so far. The deaths have been spread out by a month or more and have totally different warning signs, so am I wrong to think it is not a disease? Could they be eating something poisonous? Could it just be coincidence? My roomie thinks our Giant just got heat stroke/dehydration. We have water about 15 feet away from their boxes and the others take breaks (in this heat, one hen stands above her eggs as often as she sits on them, it seems) We have a 3 x 5' hardware cloth door on the coop for ventilation, but it is hot in there. I just don't know what to do. I am worried about the others, and distraught that I don't even know which of the two is the survivor. I could only ever tell them apart by their behavior, and with one broody and the other dead, how can I know?