Yesterday morning about 9:30 our hen abandoned her remaining eggs and took her 6 chicks into the yard. We fixed up a small doghouse for her and the babies and put the food and water just outside. She had two peeping eggs, one externally pipped that she abandoned. I put her eggs in a box on a heating pad, wrapped loosely in a dish towel and brought them to work with us so I could keep an eye on them. I couldn't just let them die and we have no incubator. When I picked my daughter up from school at 2pm I brought the eggs with me as one of them was hatching, to see if she'd come back to the nest and sit on them. We got home and she was freaked out, hiding behind our great pyrenees. She had one baby left. 5 gone without a trace. We brought her back in the garage with her first hatched baby, the only one to survive. One of her abandoned eggs had hatched in the car on the way home. We gave her the eggs back and the new baby and she has immediately gone full on broody again. The other peeping egg hatched last night. So she is back to 3 babies and she hasn't pooped since yesterday so she's back at sitting on her eggs. We are going to let her have the babies for a few days then we are going to take them and raise them in the bathroom like we do with all our other chicks that didn't have a mama to raise them. Last night my husband slipped some pure silkie eggs underneath her so hopefully we can ensure they are laying fertile eggs. I honestly think we will end up putting her in a broody cage to break her from being broody. She's going on 4 weeks broody right now. I'm going to get an incubator because if the silkie eggs are fertile their hatch date will be December 1st. I don't want her broody that long. She had started pooping normally and leaving the nest more often the past couple of days. Since we put her back in the garage yesterday she hasn't pooped. She's letting her oldest chick go eat and drink by himself while she sits on the eggs and new babies. Poor mama hen. I feel awful about her chicks. We've had chicks as young as 2-3 weeks with no mama out in our backyard. If I had known she would lose them all I would have just refused to let her leave the garage.
Sounds like a very traumatic day for everyone. So sorry about your losses. I hope the new babies and mama are doing well today.
You may have already considered this, but is there a way you could put up a mini run around the dog house you set up for them so that they are confined to that area and safe from predators? Just a temporary set up until the babies are stronger like a couple weeks. JMHO but I think separating the babies from her would be very stressful for both mom and babies at this point. Although I understand you feel they would be safest indoors, I'm sure you would rather see your hen raise her babies as long as you can keep them in a safe area. My suggestion is if you can get a pen set up, get those silkie eggs in an incubator as soon as you can get one. with the 3 babies there for her to care for, it should snap her out of setting. Hope you get everything sorted out!