Chicks ducks Extras raising happy, healthy chickens

Raising Chicks and Ducklings Together

After having chickens for any length of time, it’s only natural to progress to another domestic bird. Moreover, it’s also reasonable to have questions about raising chicks and ducklings together. Unfortunately most websites discourage you from attempting it, saying there are too many differences. However raising both together isn’t impossible. And the two have more in common than not.

Most sites even claim you cannot incubate, hatch, and brood chicks and ducklings together. Although that is simply not true. It can be done, as others have done so. What’s more, I’ve also incubated, hatched and raised ducklings and chicks together a few times.

But it is a lot of work. Likewise you don’t have to raise them together. Unless you find yourself incubating some chicken eggs and end up getting some ducklings. In that case, you might want to read this.

Brooder Basics Between Ducklings and Chicks

Below you’ll find some key points when raising both ducklings and chicks together.

  • Feed is the same for both
red and white bag of medicated chick feed

First, you can feed either medicated or non-medicated chick starter to both birds, EXCEPT only give ducklings chick starter for 2-3 weeks. After that, switch to grower, unless your chick starter is only ~ 18% protein.

Yes, there used to be a time, long ago, when ducklings couldn’t have medicated feed. However that is no longer true. Read this article by the National Library of Medicine regarding the lack of adverse effects of medicated feed and ducks. Plus, it’s what I feed my ducklings, and they’ve never had a problem.

In addition to chick starter, you need to add niacin, because ducklings require 10mg of it to thrive and grow. And you can find it in brewer’s yeast. Just sprinkle ~ 1 TBSP per cup of feed. Further, it’s perfectly safe for chicks and chickens.

  • Feeders and fountains
yellow and white chick fountain in chick brooder with black chicks in background

Given the duck’s bill, provide chick starter in a shallow dish. Having water in a regular chick fountain works just fine. And Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine even found that nipple waterers worked ok.

  • Brooder temperature is similar for both

Managing the brooder temperature till both kinds of poultry are feathered out is comparable. Even though the beginning temperature for each is a 5° difference, it’s important to not lose sight of monitoring how the birds react to the temperature. If they huddle, they’re cold. But if they’re moving as far away from the heat source as possible, then they’re hot. It’s really quite simple to just watch them.

  • Clean brooder & change bedding daily
hardware cloth and wood brooder with chicks and fountain

In order to prevent choking, ducklings (and ducks) drink water as they eat. And it’s this combo that creates a daily mess in the brooder. A big, wet, stinky mess, sometimes several times a day, that, unless cleaned up on a regular basis, could compromise the health of the chicks. And it’s this that I consider the biggest hurdle to raising ducklings and chicks together.

  • Bullying
digital art of brown chick makes fun of yellow duckling on black background
Digital Art, Courtesy of Sarah Smith

Harassment by ducklings is another often mentioned reason not to raise chicks and ducklings together. Though, in my experience, chicks are just as likely to bully ducklings.

We have successfully brooded and thus, raised a few generations of chicks and ducklings together. And this is what seems to work for us. First, understand that the type of bird you raise more of usually has the advantage. So if you raise more chicks, they might dominate the ducklings, for a time. But if you raise more ducklings, then they might be the antagonizers.

Tips for Brooding Chicks and Ducklings Together

duckling on screen of brooder
This is a picture of one of the ducklings we’ve raised with our chicks this year; they’re all juveniles now.

When we got our first ducklings, we started small: we only got 3. And since ducks are naturally bigger, we’ve kept our duckling and duck numbers small. Plus, we’ve incubated and hatched most of our own ducklings with our chicks. Also, given that ducklings take an extra week to incubate, the chicks have a week to get bigger and sturdier.

However, before jumping into raising babies together, decide first if you can commit the course. Especially due to the fourth item on the list: cleaning up the mess.

Then, if you are, resolve to

  • check your brooder
empty gray plastic box
This empty Rubbermaid box is the first brooder we use when raising chicks, ducks, or a combination. However, as they grow, we move them to something much larger.

Ducklings need almost 179% more space than chicks. Though both their space requirements will double in a month. So make sure the brooder box will house them both comfortably, along with their feed and water.

  • either incubate or purchase chicks before any ducklings
3 newly hatched chicks huddling near a chick fountain

Considering that ducklings are bigger than chicks, plan on having the chicks for ~ 5-7 days before the ducklings. This will help them gain a little weight and not be so wobbly before the newbies arrive.

  • have at least three times as many chicks as ducklings
person holding 2 ducklings

By having more chicks than ducklings, this could make the chicks the aggressors. Although the ducklings will be able to handle it, because they’re bigger. Also, depending on the breed you pick out, will likely determine if the chicks will be aggressive. But this is true for ducklings as well. We have mostly Ameraucana chickens, while we have Pekin and Mallard ducks. And they’re all pretty laid back. Plus, once both hit the juvenile or teenage years, the roles reverse.

Additionally, never get a lone chick, chicken, duck, duckling, or any type of backyard bird. It will get bullied and most likely have a miserable life. Therefore, at least get 2 ducklings and 8 chicks, if you want to start small.

It certainly is easier to raise them separately. But it’s not impossible to do both together, especially if you follow these tips. And don’t forget to clean the brooder and change the bedding daily.

Juvenile Ducks and Chickens

mixed flock of juvenile ducks and chickens hiding in bushes outside
You can’t see them all, but you should be able to see some chickens and ducks in this photo.

When raising ducklings with chicks, once they’re teenagers, they become a flock. They stay together, and feed and water together. I wouldn’t say that they’re buddies. But they consider themselves a unit of some sort.

At this stage, you continue to keep their grower feed the same, whatever you get. And continue supplying brewer’s yeast, as well as how you supply the feed and water.

Tips for Peaceful Integration

Before moving your juvenile ducks and chickens in with your existing flock, there are some things you’ll need to take care of, such as

  • make sure you have space
enclosed space with chicken wire and wooden beams
We were maxed out on space, so my husband is adding on to our coop.

Despite the fact ducks can be housed in the same coop as chickens, they need twice as much space as the latter. So just be certain you have enough of it, but you don’t need to make or get anything extra for them. However, if your chickens use a ramp to get in at night, make sure it’s not too steep for the ducks.

In addition, ducks can’t roost. And they prefer sleeping out in the open. Therefore, it might be ideal for the ducks to nest in the run, away from roosting chickens.

  • have coop well ventilated

According to Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, ducks ingest and eliminate more h2o than chickens. And their poo is over 90% moisture. For that reason, the coop needs adequate ventilation. Again, nothing fancy: a couple of predator-proof windows and air exhaust vents on the roof.

  • slowly integrate ducks and chickens with the flock
Juvenile ducks and chickens outside interacting

Either when the juvenile birds are feathered out, or the ducks are 3-4 weeks old, it’s time to introduce the newbies to your existing flock. The ducks will nearly be adult size by then, but the juvenile chickens will still be small-ish. Though that’s ok, once again, depending on your breed(s) of chickens. Mine don’t bother the young ones until they look like adults. **If you live somewhere cold, just make sure the temperature is ~ 75°, since the ducks won’t be fully feathered at 3 weeks.

So put the newbies in a pen where the existing birds can observe them, as they please, for a few days. Then watch for any aggressive behavior as they mingle with limit. Usually there are some curious chickens or some looking for food. Otherwise they’re not too interested after the initial inspection.

  • Supply extra water

While the newbies are being gawked at by the establishment, have a source of water available for the ducks. But it can be as simple as a pan of water, depending on the number of ducks you have. However the important thing is that they can get in to clean and maintain their feathers. When everyone is finally incorporated together, you can get a kiddie pool.

In Summary

If you really want to raise chicks and ducklings together, it’s totally doable, since they can eat the same food, and eat and drink out of the same containers. You just have to add brewer’s yeast to their diet. Plus, they can be brooded similarly.

But the mess is real, and you have to be diligent to clean it daily. And there are definitely some breeds of ducks that are bullies. Therefore, if you’re still unsure, I recommend doing some more research, by clicking on any of the links highlighted in this post.

Do you have ducks, or do you want ducks? If you have them, what’s the easiest part of raising them? Your comments are appreciated.

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Chicks raising happy, healthy chickens

How to Revive a Baby Chick

We often trade nice spring temperatures for severe spring storms. And for broody hens and their chicks outside, it can be a dangerous time. Because, if a chick gets wet, it can suffer hypothermia. Therefore, you need to know how to revive a baby chick.

If you have chickens for any number of years, you’ll see many things. And sometimes it can be all at once. Like broody hens, chicks, illnesses, near death, and even revival from death.

black hen with a baby Maran chick

For example, we have 4 broody hens with only 2 hatched chicks right now. And that’s not including the chicks we incubated and hatched recently. Well, the last set of thunderstorms we had flooded an area near the back of our coop. And for some reason, one broody hen and her chick stayed out in the rain. So, when we went to check on the birds, it was lifeless. Or it appeared that way.

Thus, I’m going to cover different methods to revive baby chicks, since you might find chicks at various stages of weakness.

How to Revive a Baby Chick:

three black baby chicks on pine shavings near a chick waterer

Weak and Dehydrated Chicks

The first time you might need to revive a baby chick is if you order chicks from a hatchery. That’s because the nature of shipping chicks includes lack of temperature control and long shipping times. And the lack of temperature control raises a chick’s body temperature, causing it to pant, thereby resulting in dehydration.

Signs of a Weak and Dehydrated Chick

  • Difficulty breathing, such as panting
  • Isolation
  • Sleepiness
  • And refusal to eat and drink

The first thing to do when you get mail order chicks is put them in the brooder that you prepared ahead of time. Next, provide lukewarm water, because they had a long trip. You don’t want to give them cold water, since it could shock their systems. And as they’re getting settled, do an assessment on them. Do they look healthy? Are any of them showing symptoms listed above?

Solution for Weak and Dehydrated Chicks

3 pack of chick electrolytes

In the event you have a weak and/or dehydrated chick, do the following:

  • Remove the chick from the brooder, and wrap it in a hand towel
  • Next, provide electrolytes; you can give this to all of the chicks
  • If the chick is too weak to drink on its own, assist it every ~ 10-15 minutes for an hour. (You’ll know a chick is drinking when it tips its head and smacks its beak. Don’t force anything down its beak; it can go into the lungs and cause more issues.) Then, steadily extend the time between assisted waterings. And keep it away from direct heat, since this could keep it dehydrated. However, keep it warm in a hand towel.
  • In addition, after ~ 2 days, you can give a chick some egg yolk
  • Chicks who were simply chilled should rebound within an hour

How to Revive a Baby Chick:

person holding brown chick during daytime
Photo by Pixabay on

Wet and Hypothermic Chicks

If you incubate and raise your own chicks, it’s possible you won’t ever have to revive a wet and hypothermic chick. Although, if you have chickens that tend to go broody, that’s another story. Especially with spring weather and the threat of flooding.

But spring weather isn’t the only cause for concern. Sprinkler systems and chicks falling into waterers can also cause baby chicks to quickly fall prey to hypothermia.

Signs of Wet and Hypothermic Chicks

Your first sign you have a wet and hypothermic chick is that the chick is wet; it’s pretty obvious. And the other sign is that it might look dead. It may even flop lifelessly, when you pick it up, but all is not lost, if you’re quick. And you don’t give up.

Solution for Wet and Hypothermic Chicks

  • First, bring the chick inside
  • Next, gently dry it with a towel to get rid of the extra moisture
  • Then, blow dry the chick on the lowest setting; but holding it, making sure the air isn’t too hot to burn the chick

Some sites recommend putting the chick straight under a heat lamp after this. However, I think it should depend upon the severity of the symptoms. If your chick was conscious when you found it, then after it’s dry, put it under a heat lamp. But, if your chick was unresponsive, then it will take you a while to get it to waken. It will be weak and tired, although persevere, so it doesn’t die.

2 black hens with their baby chicks
This is the day after the storm. And you can see the small one is just fine.

When we rescued the chick, the momma hen was so distraught; it was storming, and we took her baby away. So after we revived her chick, and it was in the clear, we brought the momma hen inside. (We didn’t want to risk putting the baby back out in the wet and cold. And we didn’t want the momma hen to needlessly suffer.) Then, after getting it situated and set-up, we put both of them in a dog crate. Just looking at the chick the next day, you couldn’t tell it had almost died.

Have you ever had to revive a baby chick? Or did a baby chick ever get caught in the rain or waterer?

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