I got 21 chickens and 4 ducks coming as a Christmas present but I'm new to ducks. Can they stay with chickens? What to feed? It is winter here with snow and ice, do they need open water? What kind of a ramp can they handle? Bedding? Can they drink from chicken waterer? Nest boxes? They are about a year old Pekins I believe. Sorry for all the questions, but I just don't know. Thanks in advance for any help.
I have one white peking. He was raised from near birth amongst chickens, including chickens which where several weeks older than her. She hangs out with the geese though. She seems to mostly eat slugs and subterranean goodies (worms and roots?). As a duckling I fed her myceliated rye grain and currently during the depths of winter she is getting cracked corn. She has been laying an egg a day since 12/18. Pekings grow quick and get pretty bulky, they are a meat breed. They will get fat if you let them. Boxes aren't necessary. Bedding isn't either but would probably be appreciated. No experience with ramps but I would expect anything over 30 degrees to be pretty off putting. They like having water for bathing but its not strictly necessary - Mine will often go a week or more before I do a full fill on the (approximately) 40 gallon pool which they bath in. All my birds share water.
Ducks (even a few) will tend to make chickens miserable. They will get along fine, but chickens like to be dry and ducks like to be wet. Ducks will turn all the bedding into a soggy, poop-covered mess in less than a day. While the chickens will stay inside in bad weather, the ducks will go outside to enjoy it and then bring all the mud and water inside every time they return. They will scoop up big mouthfuls of mud and spit it out into any container of water.
They need a waterer deep enough to fit their entire bill into or they can't clear their nasal passages. Many chicken waterers make this impossible because they are engineered to keep the birds out of them. Ducks pretty much need an open container and the water in that container will be filthy in about 30 seconds.
They don't need water to swim in, but they really like it.
I'm in zone 5 I give my 3 ducks 4 cups of organic crumbles every morning mixed with warm water. They eat it as soon as I pour it in a wide dish that is only 2 inches deep. I also pour warm water in a dish near the food. Then I open the gate to allow access to the small pond. I keep a pump going all winter so the water doesn't freeze solid. If the ice dams up I break a hole for them. At dusk I chase them back in the pen and give them more wet crumbles and a small bowl of water. They have a shelter in their pen.
I read online that poultry crumbles were made for chickens and ducks could get bumble feet from walking on their waste in the winter when it doesn't melt into the ground and sometimes it is so cold that I don't get their shelter cleaned out as often. They said to add nutritional yeast to the crumbles so I do that now, although mine have never had any foot infections in the past.
One duck is still laying so I also add crushed eggshell since the oyster shell I have in their pen is frozen in a sold piece. I have also read that they should get wheat berries in the winter so I will add some wheat germ to their food occasionally.
I don't know if I'm doing everything right but they seem to be healthy and happy for the last 3 years.
posted 4 years ago
As with most things, it is not as scary when you just do it. 15 hens, 3 roosters, and 6 ducks arrived 2 days ago. For now, they are all in a 10'x12' pen in the barn to get them acclimated to their new home. I read on one forum to keep them inside for a whole week for best results. Any thoughts on this? They will be free range when I let them out.
I am getting no eggs, but I expected that, any thoughts when that might resume? I gave them 6 nest boxes 13dx15wx13h. The chickens sleep on the roost I gave them, and the ducks stay on the ground, but seem happy. Do they need ground level nest box?
All in all they all seem happy, the ducks play with the bucket of water I gave them in one corner, but still try to drink from chicken waterer some times, which is really funny. Can't wait to see them roaming the farm, and then playing in the ponds when they thaw. Thanks for all the thoughts.
Location: Western Washington
posted 4 years ago
My birds have been outside they're entire live since they were baby chicks in april. But that said having new birds come in in the dead of winter it probably COULDN'T hurt to keep them inside for a week or two while they adjust if that's the situation they're in now anyway. Especially if the water is frozen.
Edit: My Peking is still giving me just about an egg a day and has been since a few days after I started feeding her cracked corn which she eats quicker than my geese. These ducks are feed machines. I think I could have had a decent sized meat bird out of her by the time she was 7 weeks old.
Edited for spelling and to emphasize original intent
Freakin' hippies and Squares, since 1986
Location: Indianapolis, Indiana
posted 4 years ago
I got my ducks as hatchlings so I had to keep them inside until they feathered except for a couple warm days I let them dig in the soil for a few hours. It was warm out by the time they were feathered.
I gave my adult ducks nest boxes (on the floor) and they wouldn't use them. That might be because they were incubated and not raised by a mother at all. They do make nests in the duck house in the straw and out of mulch and leaves in the garden. I have to search for nests when they don't lay in the house. To make them feel it's safe to lay I have a couple fake eggs. The three of them will lay in one or 2 nests. When they decide to incubate, one duck will guard the nest during the day while the others run around and the guard gets out for a while in the evening. That is when I take the real eggs out. I have a privacy fence so for a while I just had a duck house and no pen so they could go in and out on their own. I had a problem with them laying the eggs in the pond. I read that I shouldn't let them out of a pen until after 8 AM. in a book. It worked. I rarely find an egg in the pond now.
I have read recently that you shouldn't give them straw for nesting material because aspergillus can grow in it. They have not had any respiratory problems but I will chang it to wood shavings inside the house after this bale is used.
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