I would like to share with you how I got my hen to adopt some store-bought chicks. You can raise baby chicks on your own, but it’s a lot easier to let an adoptive mom do it for you! To do this, you must first get your chicken to go broody so she will accept the babies as her own. You can’t force a hen to go broody, but you can create circumstances which lend themselves to broodiness.
First, I went in with a friend to purchase three chicks online, this allowed us to split the shipping charge and meet the minimum order requirements. I ordered from http://www.mypetchicken.com I’ve ordered from them before, and have been happy with the company. Then, I marked my hatch/ship date on the calendar. Five weeks out, I didn’t collect eggs from the coop for a few days until I saved up seven eggs. I used a sharpie to mark each egg with an “X” so I would know which eggs to leave in the nest. Then, I just let them sit there. Every day I removed any egg not marked with an “X”.
It took a full week for one of my hens to take the bait–one of my Australorps, Raven, went broody! You know your hen is broody when she continually sits on the nest, appears to be in a ‘trance’, and only gets up once a day to eat, drink, and poop.
Raven was broody for a total of 28 days! Normally the eggs would hatch after 21 days, so I guess she really wanted to be a mom! After the babies arrived in the mail, I kept them inside until nightfall with a heat lamp and food and water. After dark, hubby and I snuck out to the coop and replaced the eggs with the chicks. Raven didn’t seem to mind, and the babies knew exactly how to cuddle with “mom”!
The next morning, Raven woke up with babies! It took a full three days for her to “wake up” from her broodiness, but now she is showing them the yard and teaching them all about scratching and what bugs are good to eat. And I don’t have to!