Hello all. I just returned from a horrible surprise at the henhouse. My black silkie hen (and mum, she has two two week old chicks) is dead! A little background: I have (had) 6 silkies in all. Three are a year and a half old: 2 hens (including the one that died) and 1 roo, and the other three are 7-8 month old hens. I also have 4 d'uccles (banty sized)--3 hens and a young roo, all 6 months old. The d'uccles don't sleep in the henhouse, they roost in a tree above it. The silkies all sleep in the henhouse, and from what I see they usually just pile up together on the floor with the rooster sitting above on top of the nesting boxes. I use pine shavings as litter in the hen house. (don't know if this info will help at all but the sticky said to give background) My black silkie was absolutely FINE yesterday. The day before that she and her chicks were out in the yard for most of the day (she's been bringing them out lately to forage in the yard). The last time I saw her alive was yesterday late afternoon. She was in the house with her chicks. This afternoon I went to the henhouse to check on her and the babies (one of my white silkies has also gone broody and is always in the house as well) and saw that she was laying by the door. The chicks were hovering around the other broody hen. My black hen was stiff. She had no trauma that I could detect--no blood, nor missing feathers. She was in a sitting/crouching position with her head down, neck stretched out. (almost reminded me of the position she would assume when protecting her babies). I put on gloves and looked her over. Couldn't find any wounds, and of course, the other chickens are all fine. What could have killed her? Could it have been a disease? The other chickens all seem fine--no symptoms that I can tell. Then again I am fairly new to chickens, and very new to silkies, so perhaps I wouldn't be able to tell(?) One more question: What should I do with the chicks? Should I bring them inside, or do you think there is a possibility that the other white silkie hen might take over the mothering? I am pretty upset, as this hen was the sweetest out of all of my silkies, and such a good mum.