Help! My four babies died!


In the Brooder
Sep 11, 2019
Hello all,

Long time reader, first time poster.

I am seeking some serious assistance. I currently have (had!! :( :( ) a total of 2 ducks, 2 roosters, four babies and 8 adult hens.

My rooster (the father of all the babies) is a pure bred Polish Rooster and is currently somewhere around 1-1.5 years old. The mothers were 2 Australorps (or they both could have come from one of the Australorps) and 1 Rhode Island Red and they are all around the same age (maybe a few months younger for the RIR).

About 5 to 6 months ago, I decided to let some eggs from the rooster/hen combos hatch (because one of my australorps was really broody anyways) and I hatched four chicks. There were two RIR/Polish combos and two Australorp/Polish combos. They were adorable with little puffs on their heads from my rooster and the coloring of the females.

I kept all of the babies indoors until they were about 3 months old or so and put them outside, just like I did when I raised my other chickens from chicks. They were doing great outside (I live in AZ so the weather is very hot this time of year, but we have little pools for the ducks & the chicks liked to play on the edge of the water too and we have mister sets and a bunch of iced double insulated waterers around).

The chicks were doing great; they were growing as scheduled and were probably on the cusp of laying their first eggs (or thereabouts). One of the chicks was crowing a bit so it appeared that I likely was going to have 3 hens and 1 rooster. The only thing that was weird about them is their combs were all a little droopy all the time. Other than that, they all appeared super healthy.

I came home from work today to find four dead baby chickens in my yard. Two were on my stone porch up against the exit gate to the backyard and two were probably about 10-15 feet away from them in the yard. They were all laying very straight (with their legs pointed straight out) and all of the RIR/polish mixes had very white legs (the other two have black legs). I looked each of them over and none had any markings of a predator/no scratchings, clawings, bite marks, etc. I checked the food and water sources; all had plenty of stuff left in it. It appears the babies may have been eating layer food (which shouldn't be a problem at their age, right??)

I asked my partner who was home and he said that he had just checked on them two hours ago and they were running around the yard.

I have no idea what killed my babies but I'm very worried that I might have a disease in my flock! It's really weird to me that the only chickens that have died were all of my hatched babies (all of the other chickens that I have did start out as chicks but were not related in any way; they all came from the feed store).

What did I do wrong? Should I be worried???!!

Any ideas there, only thing I could think of is maybe a scorpion or snake as not familiar with dessert. My suggestion would be to double bag at least one of them and keep cool asnd call your stat vet to find out where to send them for a necropsy so your sure what killed them be in a predator, poison or disease. Sorry for your losses, I know thats a shock to the system
There was definitely a concern about snakes (there are a lot of them out here!) but I don't have any scorpions on my lot (they are very territorial so you either have them or you don't! Thankfully...) My three dogs were all outside so I would think that lessens the possibility of a snake (but it certainly doesn't preclude it). Does anyone know about how much a necropsy is? And how long do you have to complete it?
Is there any chance someone put poison out? Having them all die at once sounds pretty strange. You didn't have any rat poison out that they could have found? I think you can call the state vet's office to find out how much the necropsy would cost. People on here say it is not very expensive, but "expensive" is a relative term.
I hope you find what the cause is. Welcome to the forum; what a terrible reason to start posting.
Goodness, I certainly hope no one put poison out... In a nefarious way. We do not use rat poison in my home or outside due to the animals (and dogs; they get into everything). We actually don't have any poison or traps (other than bug traps that are all inside and hanging fly traps outside). My partner smokes loose leaf tobacco; is there any way that if some of that dropped onto the ground and they pecked it up that it could cause death? I wouldn't think that much would get out, though... So probably not.

And I am on a very fixed budget right now so I may not be able to get it completed if it is too expensive. I have been reading online and the most common response is coccidiosis (especially at their age). But I would think that it would happen one at a time, not all four within two hours?

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