So, you have a hen that has gone broody and you decide that you want to raise a few chicks. I have done this countless times and I finally have a method to the madness of chick raising.
After I put a few fake eggs under the broody hen to keep her happy, I then decide which hens that I want chicks from. Some of my hens are friendlier or prettier than others and I usually pick these hens. I will gather up the hens that I want eggs from and confine them to a different chicken house and run for a few days.
I collect the eggs every day and I don’t use any of them that don’t look perfect. Any eggs that are an odd size or just don’t look right are not good candidates to put under your hen. I put the date that each egg was laid right on the egg. I collect 10 – 20 eggs depending on how many chicks I want and when I have as many as I need, I put them under the broody hen. I also release the other hens and keep all of them away from my broody hen so they don’t keep chasing her off the nest to lay more eggs.
I then feed and water my broody hen every day because sometimes they won’t leave the nest at all and they can starve to death. I keep a close eye on her and the eggs and I usually don’t candle them until they are around two weeks old. I remove any eggs that aren’t fertile and place the rest of them back under the broody hen.
All that is left to do is to count down to hatching day and watch for the chicks to begin to hatch. I always monitor them and make sure that none of them have any problems. Sometimes one or two will hatch late after mom has left the nest.
I will take them inside to incubate them. Once they hatch, I grab one of the hen’s chicks and when it starts to scream for her and she gets upset, I slip both the new chick and the old chick back in. Chances are good that she won’t even notice that she has an extra chick or two.