Baby chicks are packaged carefully with a gel heat pack, but it's a difficult trip. All of our little ones were alive upon arrival, but we lost one within 24 hours. It was disappointing but not unexpected. The plumage (really it's fluff) of little chicks doesn't necessarily reflect their mature colors, so it can be difficult to ascertain which breed is which. We think the one that died immediately was a Partridge Plymouth Rock.
The new chicks are now three weeks old. They live in their brooder box in the basement. A heat lamp keeps them nice and warm. We refill water and food regularly, and check for vent blockage to make sure all systems are operating properly. (That's a nice way of saying that we check for poopy butts.)
This particular flock has seemed more flighty than previous flocks. We suspect that our choice of breeds may be playing into this. We decided to try Light Brown Leghorn, Exchequer Leghorn, Buff Chantecler, Silver Cuckoo Marans and Ancona as new breeds. Some of these breeds have a reputation for nervousness and flightiness.
Late last night I removed their water and stepped to the sink to refill. The girls were scrambling around in their brooder box in their usual panicky manner. Suddenly I heard a loud squawk and returned to find one little chick laying on her side, evidently paralyzed. She died in a minute. It's a mystery to us. Did she have a heart attack or aneurysm? Can a flighty chick die of a panic attack? We think the victim was either the Exchequer Leghorn or the Ancona.
We always order extra chicks so our flock will be strong enough to survive winter. Perhaps we'll try the new breeds again next, or maybe we'll just stick with the hardy heritage breeds. Stay tuned.