Brooding ducklings


In the Brooder
May 5, 2015
I am new to ducklings! I have two ducklings (welsh harlequin and blue Swedish) arriving this week. I have 12 chickens that were occupying the brooder, ten have moved outdoors full time and are doing fine. The issue is, my barred rock and ayam cemani chicks have been slower to develop and feather out than the others and are not ready to be moved out of the brooder yet. The ayam cemani in particular is still quite small and barely feathered at all (hatched July 2). Can ducklings and chicks be brooded together safely? I understand ducklings are quite messy, which I am prepared for, I just wasn't expecting there to be any crossover in the brooder- I was planning on all 12 chicks to be moved outdoors by now. Anyone with experience brooding both together, any advice or tips would be much appreciated! Thanks.


May 8, 2016
Alberta, Canada
Yes, they can, with freat success. Many people do this when they raise chicken/duck flocks so they get along better later on.
All you have to watch for is that the chicks and ducklings don't get each other wet- chicks aren't good with water. Just give them a small waterer that hopefully works well. I've never done this, but I've heard it a lot, so it must be common.

Duck Drover

6 Years
Apr 8, 2013
I always advise people to raise chicks and ducklings separately if you plan to keep a drake because a drake's anatomy will kill a chicken hen if he takes a love interest in her and raising them together can confuse them. It is better to wait to mix them together in a yard when they have bonded with their own kind.

Chicks and ducklings have different eating habbits and chicks are more prone to disease so we feed wet Flock Raiser crumble to ducklings (if you don't wet it for them they will have to wet it themselves and they will make a mess carrying food and water back and forth to wet their food enough to swallow it) and medicated chick starter to chicks. Ducklings need less heat than chicks too so they can overheat and die if the brooder is warm enough to keep chicks comfortable.

Chicks can be more aggressive and peck on other birds while ducklings are more social and will look out for each other. I see chicks fight over feeder space while ducklings step back and take turns grabbing a bite to eat. Ducklings will preen each other and sleep in a pile together while chicks will act more aggressive and territorial in order to establish their pecking order.

If you are only raising a single batch of ducklings in a brooder for a few weeks you can make alot of mistakes and learn from them but if you raise large numbers of babies you will want to give each type the best growing environment possible. Some people get lucky and the babies manage to survive being raised together but it is not the best option if you have the resources to separate them.

We use shelf liners for both chicks and ducklings but the chick brooders are harder to clean than the duckling brooders because we use plastic tubs that allow us to easily rinse the liquid duck poop out but the more solid chick poop takes more effort to dilute and scrub clean. The chicks tend to waste more feed too because of their scratching the dry feed out of the feeders while the ducks will generally scoop up any wet feed that ends up on the shelf liners.

I have heard of baby birds choking on absorbant materials plus the shavings stink when they get wet and pooped on so we just use the rubbery shelf liners that are easy to wash and reuse. With the chick tub liners we have to lift them out, dump the mess in the trash and soak them but the duck tub liners rinse off with water and hardly any scrubbing. I think adding chick poop to duck poop would just make cleaning more difficult and time consuming plus the chick dander makes everything dusty and harder to keep clean.

Chicks tend to have an easier time escaping enclosures since they grow their flight feathers first while ducklings get their flight feathers last. Chicks feather in top to bottom but ducklings feather in bottom to top. It is possible to have an open brooder with ducklings, although they can jump, but a chick brooder needs to be fully enclosed.

We give our ducklings swim time and they are great at drying off and fluffing up but I can't imagine trying to keep chicks dry in an environment with water loving ducklings since they won't do well if they get wet. Ducklings tend to keep themselves nice and clean if you give them access to water while chicks just poop everywhere and then try to dust bathe in whatever is on the brooder floor (usually feed they kick out of the feeder and poop on).

Anyway, these are my observations from hatching and raising hundreds of chicks and ducklings a year. People who are raising smaller numbers for a short time can get away with other methods that would not work longterm.

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