Chicks & Ducklings Together - A Success Story!

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by OldGuy43, Aug 6, 2013.

  1. OldGuy43

    OldGuy43 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Last March I inquired about the advisability of raising a mixed flock of ducks and chickens at the same time. ( https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/758656/ducklings-chicks-raising-them-together ) OldGal and I are happy to report that our experience has been a resounding success!

    In mid-April we picked up 6 Red Sex-Links and 6 Khaki Campbell hens from Ideal. We felt that it was a good sign when Ideal gave them to us in the same box. We brought them home and put them in our make-shift brooder; a small children's wading pool (3 1/2' diameter) with a 2' high collar made of cardboard so they wouldn't be able to jump out. The floor was covered with puppy pads and a thin layer of pine shavings. For food we provided Game Bird Starter laced with extra Niacin. For water we used a smaller Miller waterer again with extra Niacin added. We also provided oyster shell that was screened using a tea strainer to get the big chunks out. We kept the temperature between 80 - 90 degrees for the first couple of weeks. After that we just let the temperature do whatever. (Keep in mind that April is pretty warm here in Texas and the brooder was in our house.) Ducks, being ducks, we had to change out the litter and puppy pads twice-a-day, but we had expected that.

    [​IMG]Within the first 2 weeks we lost one chick to wry neck (Hereditary we believe, since nothing we did helped her.) and one duckling to unknown causes. No sign of injury or distress. She just died. [​IMG]

    Undaunted by these setbacks, we persevered. After a few days we started taking the ducklings out for a swim in the bathtub. This seemed to cause the chicks some distress because of their missing flock mates. They were very vocal with their complaints, and would continue to announce their displeasure until we returned the ducks. After a short period of drying, eating and discussing the problem they would all settle down together for a nap. Yes, they almost always slept together, ignoring their obvious differences. [​IMG]

    By May they had outgrown their brooder and were well on their way to being feathered out so we moved them into the grow-out pen, a 9' x 14' area that we fenced off on our screened-in porch that is adjacent to the poultry run. From prior experience we believe that being able to hear their future flock mates is advantageous when it comes time for them to join the main group.

    The concrete floor we covered with pine shavings, pretty deep at first because of their delicate feet, less as time went on. We also provided them with a 3 gallon Miller waterer, an open food trough, a small bowl of oyster shell, an open plastic storage bin laying on its side and a shallow pool for the ducks. Later we decided that they might need a little more airflow and added a cheap box fan from WalMart outside the pen. For food we continued with the Game Bird Starter until we were almost out and than started adding in Layer and Scratch feed. We changed out the litter every couple of weeks.

    The pool was another 2 1/2' kiddie pool with a couple of bricks in the water to aid getting out and two 4 x 4's on the outside since, in the beginning the ducks had trouble getting in. We also added a small fountain pump from Harbor Freight. We did this mostly to keep mosquitoes from breeding in the pool. We did have to clean the filter on the pump daily and change out the pool every 3-4 days, but we thought it was worthwhile. Interestingly, we noted that both the ducks and chickens seemed to prefer drinking from the pool instead of their nice clean waterer. Kids, who knew?

    By the end of May we started considering how to integrate "the new kids" into the main flock. We decided, after much discussion to move 2-3 of the older girls (we only keep hens) into the grow-out pen for a few days until we had introduced all of them to each other. We started with one duck and one chicken and watched. To our delight, it went great. No problems! We continued like this, banding the older birds to keep track of who had been visiting until the whole flock had a chance to meet the newcomers. An unexpected plus to this method was it happened with very little lose in egg production. Some of the older girls even laid while in the grow-out pen. The only disaster (and it, a minor one) during this phase was one of the older girl's knocked the anti-predator radio off of its shelf necessitating a trip to Goodwill for a replacement, $5.00.

    End of July, and time for the kids to leave the nursery. We moved them one at a time, in no particular order, clipping the chickens wings at the same time just for safety. Again, no problems. [​IMG]

    The flock has now been together for about 2 weeks with not only no problems, but improved. All of the flock, both new and old are hanging together better than ever before. There has been an increase in egg production. Of course, they no longer sleep together, but during the day everyone gets along. No fights or problems.

    All in all we consider this experiment to be a resounding success. [​IMG]
     

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