I am in North Central Florida. This is my first year with a backyard flock. I started with 5 Dominiques last summer. They have been wonderful and healthy and laying pretty consistently through the winter, even. On November 1, I found Penelope deceased first thing in the morning. She had no obvious signs of trauma and had appeared without illness the day before; she seemed fine at 8pm bedtime check but was gone by 8am. Concerned for the health of the rest of the flock, I took her to the State Dept of Ag Lab in Kissimmee for a necropsy exam. The final results determined Visceral Gout with no certain cause. The other girls were fine until this week. Thursday morning Amelia was sitting in the coop on the floor (sand) and it was clear from her behavior that she was not well. She was very weak, not trying to stand, not responsive to the presentation of scratch or water. I am extremely fortunate to be only 30 minutes from the University of Florida Veterinary teaching hospital. I took her there immediately and was seen by the Zoological Department. Bloodwork revealed extremely high levels of uric acid in her blood and high levels of potassium. She was given subcutaneous fluids in an effort to help her kidney function, but it was clear from the outset that the issue appeared to be chronic in nature and not an exposure to toxins which might be flushed out. Her crop was enlarged. Radiology revealed lesions on her air sacs and other abnormalities. She passed by midnight; a similar time period to my first girl who went from appearing fine to death in under 12 hours. Gross necropsy results so far indicate uric acid in her joints and throughout her tissues. Final results including pathology will take several weeks, as usual. The specialist noted that she was in excellent external condition: no mites or lice, beautiful plumage, etc. My girls have a coop that is roughly 4x7 for the four of them (nesting boxes protrude from this footprint), with an attached protected run that is roughly 9x20'. Both the run and coop are sand, with hay in the nesting boxes. They have water available both in the coop and the run--I wash these containers every time I refill them and include a little ACV in the water. I clean the coop of poop daily. The girls are all from the same flock--a local breeder--and approximately 9 months of age presently. They lay most days. I am feeding Nutrena Naturewise Layer Crumble which is 16% protein. I have had some free choice oyster shell in the run. I provide a cup or so of mixed scratch and BOSS most evenings, along with some produce scraps when I have them. I have been raising some mealworms which they also get on occasion, but far from daily. The girls also free range in my yard most days for at least a few hours--some days not at all and some days all day long. The area is mostly wooded with lots of leaves and they tend to cover about a 1/4 acre of it. We have bees on this property too. The only recommendations provided by the specialists so far are related to environmental issues; namely nutrition. They said so far the only thing they can recommend is that the girls may have been getting excess protein and calcium. I've taken up their oyster shell and am discontinuing the BOSS treats. I also buy a big bag of the feed which is lasting several months, so I will switch to smaller bags to keep it fresher, although with the cold of winter I do not see any signs of spoilage. I am thinking it is possible that the mealworms, which are living in wheat bran could be introducing mycotoxins from possible spoilage in that substrate material...? I will be taking my other three girls for blood work next week to see if they are suffering the same buildup of uric acid in case there is anything I can do for them. I am extremely fortunate to have the university so nearby and the resources to fully explore all diagnostic avenues. I know most deaths do not receive the analysis I am able to acquire, so we don't always know the real causes behind bird losses. I am trying to figure out what I may have done wrong and what I can do to stop this trend. Genetics may play a role...? I am having a hard time understanding how they could be getting an excess of protein or calcium from what I have been providing them...I know the matter of excess protein is one that creates lots of controversy here. I have read the threads and I know there are different opinions. I am not looking to restart the same conversation. What other causes may result in the same symptoms? Are Dominiques uniquely sensitive to protein or calcium or other environmental conditions? Please share your experiences. I love my girls. Gertrude, Maggie, and Louisa are counting on me. Thank you in advance for all your input.