|Japanese Bantam hen with chicks|
Cruise through the area hatcheries and find chicks that you can order on short notice. Above is what Meyer Hatchery has available on short notice for this week. You will have to be flexible, since you will have to wait for your hen to go broody before you order your chicks. This late ordering will limit your choices. Be open and flexible to accept other breeds or a "hatchery assortment".
I suggest setting up a special cozy brooding box/nest for your hen prior to anybody going broody. Put it in a location somewhat away from the rest of the flock, like off in an unused corner. Place a few golf balls in there to encourage sitting and hopefully a hen will choose it as a safe place to raise her "brood".
|Broody Buff Orpington|
Next step. Wait. Yes, wait for one of your hens to go broody. This will happen anytime from April 1 to July 1, and many times later than that.
|Broody Easter Egger|
If you have never seen a broody hen, it will be obvious when it happens in your flock. One of your hens will start sitting in the nesting box all the time. When you approach her, she will start to snarl and growl and may peck at you, letting out what seems to be her inner dinosaur. You will swear this chicken is PMSing.... She'll be all puffed up and very clucky. She will refuse to leave the nest. If she does leave, (or you pull her out) her puffed up, clucky self runs back to the nest as quick as she can, screaming at you all the way. Once she has chosen a nesting site, she will not want to move it.
|Old English Game bantam|
|Silver Seabright hen|
Ok, your broody hen has been sitting on golf balls for 21 days. You have picked up your chicks from the hatchery and cuddled with them for a few hours. Late that evening, under the cover of darkness, take the fluffy balls of joy and gently place them them under your broody hen. You can fit up to 8 chicks under one hen.
Look for Part Two of expanding your flock with adult hens later this week.