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Keeping ducks with my chickens at night?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by DorothyH, Jan 7, 2014.

  1. DorothyH

    DorothyH Out Of The Brooder

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    I have a large coop (apx 8x12) for my 9 chickens. It was a metal and plastic greenhouse that we re-purposed. The hens have tons of room up on their surround perches with trays underneath them filled with zeolite that I clean like a cat litter box. The floor I put cement pavers down that I can easily sweep and powerwash. In Texas the problem isn't winter - it's summer heat - so now the hens just have tarps hanging to block wind and in spring we take those up down so it's really just a roof with fort knox-like protection from night time predators from hardware cloth. The hens are out in the yard all day. They come out usually between 8 and 9 am. There's lots of bushes for them to have cover and although there are hawks around they seem to take very good care of themselves.

    I'm expecting my new incubator to arrive this week and will then hopefully win an auction next week on ebay for some indian runner duck hatching eggs. It will be my first time hatching and it's very exciting. I will raise the babies in a shower we're not using for easy clean up and we have a tiny tractor for visits outside when weather permits but when they eventually go to live outside I was planning on making a wooden box kind of thing for them to sleep in below the chickens in the penthouse. This way the ducks can benefit from the same night time protection that the chickens have. I'm hoping eventually to have somewhere between 4 - 8 hens (depending on how many I get too attached to) and a drake.

    Is there something I'm missing here? Is it ok for chickens and ducks to live together like this? Any microbes or personality problems that I'm not thinking about.

    Thanks in advance for any insights you might have.
     
  2. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

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    As long as you have enough hen(ducks) to keep the drake happy, it should be ok. I've heard that a drake will kill chickens if he does not have his own species to breed with.
     
  3. Going Quackers

    Going Quackers Overrun With Chickens

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    You could, i prefer to keep mine all separate, my chickens do free range with my ducks so obviously get around where they eat/sleep but i find ducks are pretty messy compared to chickens and chickens peck.. which honestly worries me about eyes lol

    Anyways, main thing would be keep feed/water out of it.. otherwise your chickens will be exposed to a lot of mess that is wet, which they are not particularly found of.

    The other comment about drakes mating hens is a good caution, it does happen.. even if a drake has ducks of his own there simply are no guarantees and it can in worse case scenario cause death to a hen. I do have drakes but they don't touch my hens, that said i always keep an eye regardless, you just don't know.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2014
  4. DorothyH

    DorothyH Out Of The Brooder

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    Great things to think about. Thank you.

    I was planning on having at least 4 hens to the drake. I've heard that 5 - 6 is ideal all the way up to 8. I don't really need that many hens or eggs though. 4 would be sufficient... I think. I've read so many differing opinions on how many duck hens a drake needs to keep everybody happy.

    How many ducks to drake do you think is best?

    We went through so much to build this overly big super secure coop that we would really like to be able to use the lower tier for the ducks if possible. Building more seems like too much work after the coop. [​IMG]

    I was thinking that the coop might get too messy with the floor, but if that's the only consideration I'd like to give it a try first if it's safe to do it. I think I'd rather use the hose every day rather than build another secure structure. At least that's what I think now. ha.

    We don't feed or water in the coop. It's just for sleeping and early morning waiting for us to let them out which might be a little later when the ducks are added because I've read that ducks need to stay enclosed into the morning so that all the eggs will be in the coop. They won't go back into the coop like the chickens do all day to lay. Ducks I read lay overnight and in the morning only. Is that true?

    Thanks again.
     
  5. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

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    If you tried it and found that the ducks and chickens did not play well together, perhaps you could put a little partition for the ducks. If you're not concerned about predators, it sounds like the coop would pretty much be for sleeping only. I'm in a heavy predator area, so free range time can be cut off at any time, I must have a secure run. If that's not your case, a little enclosure in the coop would be ideal to house the ducks safely at night, while still maintaining some separation.
     
  6. malndobe

    malndobe Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I house ducks and chickens together and haven't had a problem. One group is 5 drakes in with my layer flock. Have never had a problem with them trying to breed the hens, but they tend to stick to themselves and move away from the chickens, not towards them. The other group is 2 drakes and 8 hens, also no issues with the chickens in that pen. I don't know if it makes a difference but the ducks were raised with ducks and only introduced to the chickens at around 3 or 4 months old, so there is no identity issues here, IE they didn't imprint on chickens as babies. I have 4 ducklings in a brooder right now with chicks, we'll see if that changes things.

    The ducks have a small pond (kiddy pool in one pen, pre-formed pond liner in the other) in each pen, which isn't near the food. I found if they are close together there is a huge amount of food waste as each bite the ducks take they want to run to the pool to wet down when they eat it. Which means a wet beak going into the food, lots of food stuck to the outside of the beak, then into the water it goes. Near the food is a nipple waterer, which the ducks will use to drink from and keeps the mess and waste down. It also ensures a clean supply of drinking water since the pool gets filthy pretty fast.

    The ducks don't go to bed at dusk like the chickens, actually I hear mine after dark taking advantage of being the only ones awake in the pen to eat, play in the pond, etc. My entire pen is predator proof so I don't lock them into the coop at night, but they are easy to get in there if they need to be locked in.
     
  7. DorothyH

    DorothyH Out Of The Brooder

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    Lazy Gardener - that is a superb idea!

    I was planning a smaller area down below for the ducks to sleep in but still be able to access the rest of the coop - but the coop indeed is big enough that I could separate quite a large area (probably 6x3 or 4 or so) down below just for ducks and have them safe at night. The added plus of that is that if I have to keep the ducks in a little later then the chickens won't be forced to stay in too. They prefer to get out as soon as they can and they would be out at dawn except I have to feed the cat first or the chickens will attack the cat to get his food. My chickens don't seem to be afraid of anything! My poor tiny maltese is terrorized by them. Those ISA browns completely own most of the yard.

    My yard is actually pretty good in terms of predators as it's a suburban yard with 6 foot fencing all around. There's never been a coyote or fox but once in a long while only at night there can be a possum or a raccoon - but not a real problem. The hardware cloth coop makes the chickens secure at night from possible racoons and possum but is not necessary at all during the day. During the day it's the hawks that are the only predator to be worried about but the chickens take very good care of themselves. No dogs can get in and it's our feral cat's territory so no worry of cats. I bet the ducks will learn to hide when necessary too. There isn't a place for a hawk to hide and watch but lots of cover for the chickens to get under. I've actually had to get myself NOT to go out there when there's a hawk flying above to make sure they are ok because they all come running full speed at me when I go outside because they expect food and I might actually make them less safe. I was surprised how safe they seem to keep themselves without a rooster or guard animal. I've been quite surprised never to have lost a chicken to a predator. It makes me actually appreciate having such a small area instead of a big open farm space where the predators here are something awful to contend with.
     
  8. DorothyH

    DorothyH Out Of The Brooder

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    This is all great info! Thanks. We already have a chicken nipple watering system in place that my husband made for the chickens. It's wonderful! I keep a fishtank filled with reverse osmosis water with a little colloidal silver in it to keep it clear and this way the chickens always have fresh water that is cool in the summer (very important - I add ice) and warm in the winter (I put a fish tank heater in it). It has worked out so well for the chickens that I'm absolutely delighted to hear that the ducks can take advantage of that too!

    I've been wanting ducks for years so actually already have a fairly large metal trough with a release valve below for them setup that the chickens have been using in the summer. I put peatmoss in it and water it down and they love cooling off in it. I was afraid of taking it away from them as the ISA's seem to need it (the leghorns are ok even in the hundreds) but then my chickens figured out how to go under the chicken water and "shower" themselves - so I will be able to give the ducks the intended trough. I also thinking that the ducks are going to splash all over and make the ground cool and moist for the chickens and undoubtedly the trough will have to be emptied. How often do you have to change the water in the kiddy pool? How big for how many ducks?

    A woman at the farmer's market told me that she keeps a trough of water with large gauge wiring over it so that her ducks can dunk their heads but not jump in and poop in at least some water and this way they always have fresher water for their dunking and eating routine. I was thinking that this might be much easier to clean out more frequently than the large swimming trough. Is it dangerous for ducks to swim in the dirty water or is it just "not very nice"? Will the ducks automatically CHOOSE to dunk their beaks in the cleaner water if it is available?

    Thanks for all the help!
     
  9. DorothyH

    DorothyH Out Of The Brooder

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    I meant to say that we keep the fish tank inside and run a line outside a window to the chicken waterer so that the water can be kept more easily at the right temperature.
     
  10. Going Quackers

    Going Quackers Overrun With Chickens

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    Basic #'s 2-3 per but so many variables with that, sometimes even the breed can factor into that..

    I do understand building is a rather exhausting task at times lol if you keep feed/water out the coop you'll likely be fine. While ducks are messy, i find it's mainly the feed/water and water usage that is the biggest problem.

    No, i have not found that at all... ducks lay when they want and where they want in my experience ... most times, they do lay in the AM but there is nooo hard and fast rules, most(lol) of my girls do lay in the barn but i have just as often found eggs in my horses barn, in my barn cats sleeping box(yes he loved that!) and scattered in homemade nests underneath stuff...

    Then the majority here are scovies, which translates to broody crazy duck lol

    I keep... two 50GAL troughs and one smaller kiddy pool for 19 ducks, this is the main flock.. i clean often now in the heat of summer? real often!

    dangerous no? not unless were talking, disgusting never cleaned water.. that would be terrible for anything. No, i have not found they will go to so called "cleaner" water, they love, love, love mud... to be honest what maybe dirty to us is not the same to ducks.

    Here some young babes here to show you what i mean... to them this is a day at the park.. [​IMG]

    Ps; for another pool option, obviously the bottom of a kids sandbox.. my ducks are all to big for it but i keep and pull it out for young. On occasion i breed, or they breed it's unclear who is truly in charge of that?[​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    now an option to keep things cleaner for nare cleaning, livestock rubber bowls, easier to dump and refill so it will be cleaner and not so water wasting. I am fortunate we are on a well, so while i have to be mindful, i don't have a bill lol

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2014

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