Chickens and ducks get along well with each other, and there is no reason to keep them apart. Hens will raise ducklings as if they are chicks, and ducklings will follow the hen mother without question. A few things must be kept in mind when raising ducklings with chickens, but mostly the process is the same as raising chicks. It is best to have a brooding hen hatch the duck eggs. That way, she will bond to them immediately as her babies, and the ducklings will see her as the mother.
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Place fertile duck eggs beneath a brooding hen. A hen is brooding when she becomes very determined to sit on her eggs. Slip the eggs beneath her at night while she is sleeping. She will not know you are there, and that will prevent her from attacking you. A brooding hen does not like anyone getting too close to her eggs. Do not give her too many eggs, two or three is recommended, if she is already sitting on eggs. Separate the eggs out to several brooding hens, if possible.
Feed the new ducklings chick starter for the first 3 weeks. Place the food in a shallow dish that all babies will be able to reach. Mother hen will eat the starter, too, so give her plenty of chicken feed and crack corn to lure her away from the starter. During the last week, slowly incorporate pelleted feed and crack corn into the starter. The babies will learn to eat the larger food.
Allow the ducklings to follow the mother hen around an open area. She will teach them to scratch at the dirt for bugs and worms, like a good mother hen. Even though they are ducklings, the babies will learn to forage for greens by following the mother hen's example.
Separate the ducklings from the chickens at random times during their growth. Let them play in dishes of water when they are small and downy. As they grow, give them larger pools of water. Ducks have a natural instinct to swim, dive and get muddy. Giving them this play time away from the chickens will help the babies act more like ducks. Chickens may become ill if they live in the dirty conditions that ducks love.
Provide separate coops for adult ducks and chickens that open up into a large area. The area can be a fenced in pen or let them roam free range. By separating them into coops, they can be given their own food that they will not fight over it. Ducks can be as messy as they want in their own coop without making the chickens sick. Together, the ducks and chickens will roam in the open area. Since they were raised together, the ducks and chickens should not fight.
Tips and warnings
- Chickens and ducks can be kept in one coop, if necessary. Make sure to provide the chickens will high roosts that the ducks will not reach. Use waterers instead of open dishes so that the ducks do not make a mess.
- It is not recommended to raise chicks and ducklings together in a small pen or incubator. Ducklings like to get wet and chicks will die if they get wet and sick. Ducklings grow faster than chicks and will often attack the small chicks and kill them. Separate the ducklings and chicks by a small wire wall. They will see each other and still bond.
- Do not raise chicks with adult ducks. Mother ducks will try to teach the babies how to swim. The chicks will drown. They will also become ill from the dirty conditions that ducks love.
- Do not give ducklings medicated chicken feed. The medications can harm the ducklings.
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