Our lessons this year!
This year we tried chicks for the first time. A friend of ours had given us a brood of bantams whose mother had been killed b a hawk but they were about a month old. All but one ended up being roo's so they are gone. We got 12 pullets from TSC and had them in a giant tote brooder until they outgrew it, then they went into a big dog cage. When they were a little over a week old, we got two ducklings at a 4H auction that were about 24-48 hours old. They all grew up sleeping together and at first I felt sorry for the ducks, the chicks trampled them but they loved sleeping under the chicks. It was quite amusing!! Then the ducks outgrew the chicks and the chicks fought over who got to sleep under the ducks. When they began messing the dog cage, I put it in the garage and took some portable plastic fencing and made them a large play area that opened from the cage. No water or food in the cage only bedding. I put a LOT of straw down outside the cage with their tote pool, food, and water. I had to change drinking water daily, thier pool every couple days and straw in the play area weekly. What was amusing was watching the ducks play in the water, run into the bedding area, shake off, then run back out to the pool. The pullets were hot! I take it they do not like getting showers while sleeping!!! Madder than a wet hen jokes prevailed!
When they were all feathered we decided to move the ducks to the coop/run first. I thought with them being a different species the adult chickens would leave them alone. That was a disaster! They all attacked the ducks pretty savagely. Even the adolescent bantams mentioned above. I broke it up real quick and got the ducks out of there. Since the 12 and 2 ducks were the replacements for the others, we decided to harvest them all then put the whole new brood into the empty coop/run. That did work great! The ducks and chicks call to each other, play with each other, etc. I do think both Pekings are female, they are quite quacky and loud! The funny part is they still slept together. They'd huddle up in the middle of the run, cuddle up, then go to sleep. Ignoring the coop. We'd catch and put them all in and shut the door. Next day, they'd leave when the door was opened yet still try to sleep outside. I read a article to lock them in the coop for a few days and they will associate it with home and begin sleeping in there. We did that, the chicks now sleep just inside the door. The ducks however have not figured out how to walk up the ramp. They walk under it but won;t walk up it. They pace quacking, looking anxious. It really sucks watching them but they need to learn how to go up the ramp. They have a house in the run, they lay in it during the day, but the chicks are with them. So, that is where we are, chicks sleeping just inside the door, ducks frantically pacing outside, and us scratching our heads on how to get them to walk up the ramp.....
My lesson learned is if we do this again we will brood them separately but where they can see each other. Also, later in the spring/summer so they can be outside vice in the garage or house. Smell, moisture, etc. Cleanup outside is much easier but here in RI the early spring was really off and on.
Has anyone else dealt with duck/chick anxiety? How long do they do this until it goes away? How do you teach 2 ducks to walk up a ramp?? I'm also going to post this in the raising babies section. This is our first with chicks and ducks, we love it!!