When to order chicks for future broody to raise?


13 Years
May 6, 2011
This is probably impossible, but thought I'd see what experienced folks think.

I'd like to get 3 chicks this spring, but want my hens to raise them as I REALLY don't want to have to meld them into my existing flock of 5. Not had a lot of luck woth that in the past and it was a huge ordeal.

So, of course I have no way of knowing when or if my hens will go broody. I have hatchery barred rocks and buff orpingtons. Now, I know you need to order crazy early to get chicks in the spring, so how could I go about this? I was wanting to order from hatchery to ensure I wouldn't be introducing disease instead of a local backyard keeper, biosecurity and all... Plus, I need to order hatchery as I need them sexed.

Suggestions? Completely impossible?
Don't mean to be negative, here, but how are you going to order months in advance for something that may not EVER happen? Do you have very broody breeds, even? Most of my birds have never gone broody. One SLW, and everything else was a silkie or silkie cross. And I never knew it was going to happen in advance. Only a day or two after the onset.
You still have an issue with integration even when your broody raises chicks. At about 5 weeks, the broody hen tells the chicks to get lost in no uncertain terms. At this point, you usually put the young 'uns in a separate grow out pen until they're nearly full grown. Then you integrate them into the rest of the flock as usual, with the typical sorting of pecking order to go through.

You don't have to worry about bringing diseases into your flock this way, but you still have pecking order/integration issues. Once the broody has finished raising her chicks, she doesn't treat those chickens any differently than she treats a stranger.

Even if you get a broody, not all broodies will accept young chicks slipped under her. Sometimes she'll kill them before you can rescue them.
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If this is their first year, no way would I presume to plan on having ANY broody hens. However I have one faithful Marans who has raised 2 small clutches, going broody in mid August each time. I MIGHT plan on getting her some eggs.

Unlike others mentioned, she has been a very persistent mother. She doesn't push away her chicks until 2-3 months. Up until then she defends them in the flock. I have had no integration problems with her chicks.
I also have buff orpingtons among other breeds and have found it compleatly impossible to get them to accept chicks that are not theirs. The only exception they have even made was when I had a very broody hatchery stock RIR...Gave her a dozen eggs and she proved to be a great incubator.....and a terrible mother. I gave her chicks to a super broody bantam cochin (I was trying to break her of her broodyness as I didn't have space for another broody and chicks) one night as she sat in a nest box and it went really well. She mothered them like they were her own.

I have tried a few times to give hatchery/incubator chicks to broody hens but it has never gone well except with that bantam cochin. Stopped doing it after a different bantam cochin scalped and beat up 3 incubator chicks that I tried to intergrade into her existing clutch....

Not saying it couldn't work but in my personal experience I don't think its likely. Your best bet is to get some fertile eggs and just make arrangements for the possible roosters before they even hatch....There are alot of people on CL for example who are happy to take/buy humanly raised roosters.
Sorry, but I disagree. I've had five clutches of chicks raised by broody hens, in the coop with the adult birds from day one. Zero intergration issues simply because they are in the coop from hatch. By the time Mama Hen is ready to kick them to the curb, they've already been accepted as part of the flock and Mama has protected them while they learned which adults to avoid - such as Ivy, my bossy chick hating hen - and which adults are okay with their presence.

Here's my late hen "Doe" with both sets of her chicks; her older ones and her day olds (the day olds were bought for her when the eggs she was setting failed to hatch):


I do agree that you have to wait for a broody before doing something about getting her chicks. When my broodies have had bad hatches, I purchased day old chicks for them at the feedstore but only after they were already broody and had been setting awhile. You also have to stand by and be sure that the broody is going to accept the chicks and be ready to raise them yourself if the broody doesn't want to.

Another option would be to wait for a broody and then order her fertilized eggs from the breed you desire.

There is absolutely no reason that I can think of that a broody hen shouldn't be allowed to raise her chicks in the flock. Hens have been doing it that way for centuries.

ETA: Doe's older chicks were more than 8 weeks old at the time that pic was taken and she still hadn't kicked them to the curb, despite having younger chicks to care for. They all slept in the same nest together at night; 3 big chicks, 5 little ones.
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I think I'll have to follow the hatching egg advice and hope hope hope for pullets. Ugh. I've rolled the dice once and was burned, but that's really the only way I can see it would work.
Yes, that is true. But the consequences of doing things that way is that sometimes chicks do get killed by other hens. And if you have multiple broodies with chicks at the same time (as I did), the hens can sometimes fight quite viciously with each other. I inadvertently let two broodies come into contact with each other, and one of them ended up with a bleeding comb and I got a nasty bruise on my arm from breaking up their fight.

I think a lot depends on the personalities of the chickens in your flock (laid back? fiesty?), and the chicken keeper's tolerance for risk and loss. I was only raising 15 chicks and I wanted to be sure each and every one survived. And they did!

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