Rookie hatching questions

Advertisement Purina Flock Layer


10 Years
Apr 11, 2009
So, I've finally been 'allowed' to get an incubator.
I have a few, possibly stupid, questions:

Do chicks/ducklings imprint on you if you hatch them in an incubator? Will they be more friendly for it? My broody hatchlings were very aloof last year and hated being handled.

Could I hatch duck and chicken eggs at the same time if I set the duck eggs a week earlier to allow for the differing gestation periods? Or would bumbling ducklings injure the little chicks?

If I had ducklings and chicks at the same time do I need separate brooders?

At what age do you let your chicks go outside during the day? Last year we hatched with a broody and she too them outside within 2 days, but was obviously she was there to look after them. I was presuming 8 weeks before they could go into an enclosed outdoor run and sleep in a hen house - ? In which case how big does a brooder need to be for, say, a dozen chicks? What do people use??

Oh, a duck question (wrong place to post possibly). Is it ok to introduce 6-8 week old ducklings to mature ducks or will the ducks go for the babies like chickens would with chicks? Do they need to be the same size first?

I had some other questions, but they've completely gone from my mind, so will probably add more later!
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1. I've never hatched chicken and duck eggs together, but I do know several people on here who've done it, exactly like you described. Hopefully they'll chime in with their experience.

2. Some brood chicks and ducklings together, but I don't, and wouldn't. Ducks make a terrible mess with the waterer, soaking everything, and have really runny goopy poop. I wouldn't think it'd be a particularly good experience for the poor chicks to have to share quarters with ducklings.

3. Most people recommend waiting until chicks are fully feathered at 6 weeks or so to put them out. I wait as long as I can to put them out, but I usually don't make it to six weeks-- the mess and smell get to me! Mine go out in a small coop and run separate from the main coop, and they have heat, so they can get warm as they please. Right now, I have a dozen chicks in a rubbermaid tub, but it's going to be tight as they get bigger. The bigger the brooder the better, obviously, but we all do what we can! The brooder time does go by quick, and as long as you keep it clean, they're not harmed by being in tight quarters for a few weeks, as long as they're not picking and bullying each other.

4. For ducks, mine stay in their brooder until roughly about the same time, 4-6 weeks, depending on the temperature outside and how well they're feathered. I try to be more conservative with the ducks, because I have a small pond that I'll never be able to keep them out of, and they don't have heat. I've never had trouble introducing the young ducks to the flock, but mine free range, so they have a lot of room to get away from each other.

Good luck with your flock!
Some people have successfully hatched duck and chicken eggs together the way you describe, but because the two species really want different humidities, your best chances of success for either one of them will come from doing them separately, so you can get things just right for the particular species in question.

I think that incubator chicks are initially less scared of people than broody chicks, but I don't know how much is imprinting per se versus just familiarity.

Good luck, have fun,

Excellent - just what I needed to know.
What humidity do ducks need then?

Another question, if I buy eggs online to be delivered by USPS, are they normally delivered like normal parcels or will they deliver them to the nearest post office for pickup?
Or can I request they be delivered to a post office - what would they write on the label (sorry, I'm English and haven't lived over here very long so some aspects of the postal system are still a bit of a mystery to me)...


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