TO BROOD OR NOT TO BROOD: Baby ducks and chicks together

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by blondiebee181, Feb 26, 2013.

  1. blondiebee181

    blondiebee181 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Soooo, I've come across this question multiple times in various threads so here goes: the do's and dont's of raising chicks and ducks together.

    Since chicks and ducks are the most common fowl to be found at the feed store, many people find themselves thinking, "Well, gee I was planning to just come get my 3 or so pullets and leave." HOWEVER, they couldn't help noticing the irrisistable, bright, beady-eyed ducklings in the next brooder over. "Great, I used to pride myself in self-restraint." A smile breaks over them and before you know it, it's all over and you are riding home with a baby duck or two, and (if you're like me) more chicks than you planned for too.

    Others, still in the planning stages, perhaps stumbled over a column on duck raising somewhere in their chicken readings and couldn't help but read on until finally they are wondering "Well can I just brood ducks with my chicks?" So begins my opinion on the matter.

    In short, yes. You can brood ducks with chicks, but there are many set-up and cleaning issues that need to be addressed first. In all seriousness....be completely honest with yourself now...how many birds are you planning to get? If you get there and you fall prisoner to chicken math, you're not in trouble, but let's just set a number to be safe. A ball-park, if you will. I raised 4 baby chicks last spring with 1 pekin duckling (who turned out drake) and the breed of duck you get will have something to do with spacing. I would allow 1-2 large breed ducks for every 4 chicks. 2-3 smaller breed ducks for every 4 chicks. My Indian Runner chicks were a lot smaller than the Pekin. I would also allot a baby duck more square inches of room than a chick. To give you an idea, I used a 2'X 3' cardboard box as a brooder and after 2 weeks, I added another one of the same size on. Ducks are already slightly larger than chicks and will grow faster, so do not underestimate the space you will need. Overcrowding and competition for spots at the water, food and light will not end well.
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    Lighting and heat for ducklings is essentially the same, but ducks grow more fat and down than chicks so they may over heat faster. Make sure there is plenty of room away from the lamp for ducklings to go. Chicks enjoy cuddling with fuzzy ducklings, by the way.
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    The water phenomenon. Ducks drink water. Ducks dabble and drip water. Ducks swim in water. Ducks poop water. The biggest key (and challenge) to brooding ducks and chicks together is keeping the space dry. I recommend to everyone I talk to who is brooding ducks to axe the pine shavings and newspaper and go buy yourself a bag of horse-stall type wood pellets (NOT stove burning) . This will save you a couple headaches. My ducklings liked to chew wood shavings, which in all honesty probably didn't hurt them and mostly chew is all they did, they didn't eat that much of them. They are like babies gumming new things, but they wouldn't eat wood pellets.Wood pellets are more absorbent so you don't have to change them as much and they smell nicer longer. They are also great on the compost heap. Make sure whatever you buy does not contain cedar as it is toxic to all birds.

    Secondly, waterers must be elevated and/or set inside another larger dish so that water that gets dabbled spills into the dish and not into the bedding. Also make certain that the ducks cannot get into the drinking water dish. A duckling may go for swims as early as a few days, but only in warm water under close supervision, and only for a few minutes at a time to avoid water-logging. Ducklings that have no adult plumage must be toweled off after and put under the lamp. Did I mention the waterers will have to be filled twice as often when there are ducks? [​IMG]
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    FOOOOD. This is the easy part. Ducks and chicks may both be fed an all-purpose, non-medicated feed crumble. Purina Flock-Raiser works great. In fact a ducks diet through most of it's life is basically the same as a chickens, even most of the treats are liked equally by both species. Be mindful that a duck possesses a crop-type digestive system just like a chicken and therefore will require grit to digest anything that is not it's crumble feed.
    [​IMG]

    Both chicks and ducks are about ready for the outdoors at the same time as well. At this point I do recommend seperate housing, although they may still share a run like mine do. Duck eggs are also really tasty! I love both species and have thouroughly enjoyed the experience I have had with both. The personalities are very different. If in doubt, try a couple and since owning poultry is such an addicting hobby as we all know, you can add more later.

    Happy hatching!
    [​IMG]
     
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  2. blondiebee181

    blondiebee181 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Anyone else feel free to add advice!
     
  3. Sally Sunshine

    Sally Sunshine Cattywampus Angel <straightens Halo> Premium Member Project Manager

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  4. Sally Sunshine

    Sally Sunshine Cattywampus Angel <straightens Halo> Premium Member Project Manager

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    Oh and DONT HATCH IN the winter unless you can keep them warm OUTSIDE OF THE HOUSE!! [​IMG] lesson learned quickly here! they are full size ducks in less than a month and half!
     
  5. blondiebee181

    blondiebee181 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So true....I would never brood in the cold months, simply because I don't heat my coop and I would certainly want my birds well adjusted to the cold.....and yeah *DISCLAIMER* this method of brooding together only really works with a couple ducks, MAYBE 3 small breeds like Calls or Runners or Mallards. [​IMG]Otherwise you'll be yanking your hair out with the mess they make, and I'm sure the chicks won't appreciate it either....I can just imagine them thinking: "And just who do those big, webby-footed dummies think they are?!" whilst huddling in a corner, lolol...
     
  6. stone_family3

    stone_family3 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This was awesome! Thanks so much. I have two giant pekin ducks who need to move out of my house at nearly 3 weeks old they've out grown their brooder box and now their brooder cage. I just got a large group of 4 week chickens and thought they'd do well together with a heat lamp.
     
  7. You should make this into an article
     
  8. jdywntr

    jdywntr Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Pretty good basic discussion. I'd add that ducklings require a higher level of niacin than can be found in chick starter. Niacin can be provided with the addition of brewer's yeast to feed or niacin capsules to water. Dosage is 100mg per gallon. Ducklings require water at all times when feed is present and they need the water to swallow the feed. Ducklings also need a waterer that is deep enough that they can rinse their eyes and nares in. Finally, ducklings do best when they are raised with other ducks even when brooded with chicks. Getting straight run ducklings can be a big issue as too many drakes can overbreed and kill ducks and not enough females may result in a drake trying to breed chickens. Ducks and chickens are not anatomically compatible and breeding can injure or kill a chicken.
     
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  9. Sally Sunshine

    Sally Sunshine Cattywampus Angel <straightens Halo> Premium Member Project Manager

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  10. Sally Sunshine

    Sally Sunshine Cattywampus Angel <straightens Halo> Premium Member Project Manager

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    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/duckling-care-brooder-ideas

    paste from my notes in the link above...



    WHEN USING UNMEDICATED CHICK STARTER/GROWER FEED:
    These feeds are formulated for chickens which have lower niacin requirements than ducks, therefore supplemental niacin should be given either in water or feed. 100 mg of niacin dissolved in a gallon of water from 0-8 weeks while being fed chick starter/grower. Niacin is available in tablet or powder from drugstores. HIGH levels of niacin CAN BE TOXIC so don’t exceed dosages. Brewer's yeast is a good safe source of niacin. 70mg diet recommended for starting and for growing/finishing ducks. Ducks and turkeys with a niacin deficiency show a severe bowing of the legs and an enlargement of the hock joint.

    Please refer Niacin Deficiency Information for more information and treatments.




    I have learned that BREWERS YEAST is the best as you cant OD on it

    AND Chickens can have it with no ill effects!
    So if your doing chicks and ducklins GET THE BREWERS YEAST.

     
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