This may be more of a chicken question than a duck question, but I bet plenty here have experience with both. :)
I've been raising chickens for eggs for about six years. I'm not allowed to have a rooster in my town, so I've never had any experience with actually hatching eggs before, and now I've been thrown into a complex case.
My 4th grade daughter's teacher owns a small incubator she uses as a science demonstration every year. But she doesn't raise the resulting chicks herself, she gives them away. This year my wife was helping out in the classroom, so she volunteered to get the eggs. I happen to know a guy who has fertile duck eggs, and I've been thinking about trying ducks, so I volunteered to get some. (He has Peking and Rowan ducks, so I'll get some mix of those I suppose.)
A few weeks earlier, one of my Cuckoo Maran chickens went very determinedly broody. Since the incubator only holds 3 eggs, and we were afraid some of the duck eggs might not develop, we put some backup eggs underneath the broody chicken.
It's been about two weeks, and all the eggs seem to be doing well. The 3 in the incubator seem to be developing, as well as 4 under the chicken. So I have some questions:
1. Since the chicken became broody a few weeks before I got the duck eggs, and ducks take longer to hatch, I'm a little worried the chicken will give up. So far she seems more determined than ever.
2. My understanding is that, assuming they all successfully hatch around the same time, after the incubator eggs hatch in the classroom I can just slip the new ducklings under the chicken that night and she will accept them. Correct?
3. Currently the broody chicken is in with 3 other hens. I have another coop, but it's already fairly full, so I'm not sure I want to stick 3 more in there. But I also don't think the other coop would be good for ducklings. Do I need to isolate the ducklings from the rest of the flock? (I can also send a few chickens off to live with my mom if necessary.)
4. Currently the chicken nest is about 2 feet off the ground. I don't imagine ducklings can get up and down that. Do I just move them down to the dirt after they hatch? Should I make a box? A pile of straw?
Any other suggestions, concerns?