Guess that's a good example of why we need advise. Sorry to hear of your unfortunate dissaperance
. These farm animals sure become a member of the family right quick!! But if we didn't care so much it wouldn't be as rewarding to us. Someone has to know the answer to our questions or know where to go to find the answers.
I'm not very seasoned but I can tell you what I did with my first successful broody. I have no other place for a hen to brood but in the coop. It is very much a predator proof coop - that means no snakes or other critters getting in at night to steal chicks or eggs.
I moved my broody, nest and all, to a very large dog kennel within the coop at night. After she was good and settled I started leaving the door of the kennel open and just checked once a day to make sure the other hens hadn't added any eggs to her clutch. I put food and a chick waterer in with her. A few days before she was due to hatch I locked the door to the kennel.
By the time the chicks she hatched were three days old Mama made it very clear to me that she was ready to bring her chicks out to meet the rest of the flock, so I let her. I left the door to the crate open during the day, but locked it at night after she and her babies had returned to the nest. After about a week or so I started leaving the door open full-time, night and day.
The chicks are now 6 weeks old, none sleep in the nest anymore. They have easily blended in with the flock. Mama doesn't mother them anymore, but my rooster keeps a close eye on them when they are out with the rest of the flock.
I have another broody in that coop, in a regular nestbox. She's on day 5. Sometime this coming week I will move her to the dog kennel and start the whole process over again.
This is usually done when a hen goes broody in a small coop/run where she may be bothered by other hens or confuse her nest with another hen's...
At night, have a covered nest prepared and take it inside the coop. It should be dark out so that you can't distinguish the hen's face (the darker the better). Set the nest you prepared next to the Hen's setting place. Next, gently lift her from the nest and nestle her inside the new nesting box. Then grab her eggs and try to put them under or beside her. Broody hens turn their eggs every 15 minutes around the clock, so when she sences them near her, she will tuck them under. Finally, carefully carry the nest box to the designated area you chose to put her.
I always choose a medium sized box to put my broodies in. Something like this should work:
Lotsa great info. Why did I think it was hard? Ya'll make it sound so easy. Sounds like with alittle help mother nature takes it's course. Does anyone use silkies as incubators or do you just use who ever is ready in your flock?
With my first broody, my OCD mind tried to make it as hard as possible. I had a meat bird go broody, but quit on day 16. I had two silkies go broody, but quit on day 15. The successful broody, a salmon faverolles, I pretty much left alone and she's done great.
Having a broody raise the chicks with the flock is the easiest thing in the world! IMO. No fuss with having to intergrate them into the flock, mama takes care of that and all the chicks needs besides.
If I could find a home for the two silkies I bought to use as broodies I would. So far, my SFs have them beat by a long shot.