If you’re new here, you wouldn’t know that we just recently added chicks & ducklings to start our homestead.
These last five weeks have been such an amazing learning experience for my family & I. This is our first time ever raising chickens and ducks so we did a ton of research before going into this.
I figured I’d share with you guys the knowledge I’ve picked up along the way and let you in on what we used to care for them up to six weeks old.
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Choosing Which Breeds & Quantity •
Choosing breeds for chickens and ducks can be potentially overwhelming when you start to actively search for them. I decided not to get stuck too much on deciding and just bought two of each breed hoping to pick up on their characteristics and laying habits as I gain more experience with them. We bought 10 chickens, all hens & two ducklings. (their sex is unidentified as of now, I will update in the future)
Obviously there are many reasons you would want to do research into the breeds you buy. Depending on what you’re raising your chickens for whether that be for the sole purpose of eggs or if you plan to later down the line butcher them. You’d want to know which breeds are best for each scenario. We chose good laying breeds as we have our hens for their eggs.
We did not bring a Rooster into our group, no. Hens will lay eggs without a rooster, they just will not become fertilized.
Now, the post is about Chicks & Ducks, how is that going to work? Hear me out, I’ve been told that you can raise chickens and ducks together but male ducks may have to be separated to protect our hens. (We are waiting it out to see if we have a male duck & I am leaning to believe we do) If this were to become a problem, we’d separate the ducks from the chickens hands down.
We chose the amount we did because we wanted to have extra eggs to be able to produce in our farmers markets. The rule of thumb is one chicken egg a day per chicken, some days not producing one. It takes 26 hours for a chicken to produce an egg. I have 10 chickens, I’d assume to average about 7-8 eggs a day. I could get 4 dozen eggs in a week. I’d sell them as half dozens.. but you get my point here. Figure out what you plan to do with the eggs and then you’ll know how many chickens you'll need!
What You Need:
Trough / Pond Liner / Kiddy Pool / Plastic Container / WHATEVER WORKS!
2 Bowls (Water & Food)
Chicken Starter Feed
Chicks are the most humble little birds, I swear. They are by far my favorite to take care of. SHH, don't tell my cranky ducklings. No, but with all seriousness, chicks are very easy to care for. With a quiet hush tone and gentle movements and touches they'll soon recognize your face and learn to love you. My girls know exactly when I'm near.
I've started at week two because this is the week we brought them home. They were just adorable little babies, I look back at the photos and I honestly did not realize how small they were. They change so much in such a short amount of time. At this point, we kept the ducklings and the chickens apart because their temperature needs are different within the first few weeks.
The chicks stayed in the trough with pine shredding in the bottom with a mounted heating lamp over the top.
At week two, the chickens need to be in a temperature of 85 to 90 degrees. The chicks will huddle under their heat source and not move around if it is too cold, and if it is too warm you will find them as far away from the light as possible. Thermometers help if you want to get extremely precise, but I just checked on them periodically as I wanted to ensure we had a good relationship from the start. I would sit and watch them, talk to them and just sit in awe.
I did find it helpful to introduce the chicks to the water bowl, I just lightly dipped a few of the chicks beaks into the water and the others followed in suit.
We did experience some pasty butt on two of my chicks and it broke my heart, but I was able to get it under control by running luke warm water under their bum and then wiping downward with a Q tip to get the remainder off their bum. After that, it was never to be seen again.
This week was a fun one. The chicks started showing a ton of their feathers, they were becoming very friendly with me. They were still a bit skittish so we really just let them focus on their environment, I'd still sit and talk with them everyday and brush their backs but nothing more than that. The temperature was at 80 to 85 degrees this week. Eating nothing but chicken starter feed at this point.
My girls became extremely active this week. We have one gal that is very brave, she perched on top of their container & hopped on out of there. We had a chick on the loose for a bit. My kids got a kick out of it as they were chasing this poor little chick around the main floor of our house. At this point I knew they wanted to venture and explore so on the few nice days Michigan provided us with, I allowed them to go outside and explore a bit. They absolutely loved it. It was also at this point that I started giving them grit in their food as well to help digest whatever leaves they ate outside too. I made sure to only let them out during peak sun hours because their temperature still needed to be between 75 & 80 degrees.
It was at this point that we introduced the chickens and ducks into the same shelter. My chickens trough was too short & they kept escaping so we tossed them in with ducks and hoped they would get along. My ducks were definitely thrown off by them at first but overall didn't show any aggression towards the chickens. They had more outside play this week & they were really starting to look like chickens at this point. Especially standing next to the ducks. They weren't as tiny as they once were. Bedding is changed everyday at this point. It's awful. But I partially blame the ducks for that. The chickens were eating a ton and growing like crazy. We turned the heat lamp off during the day [as they are in my spare bedroom and our heat is running at a steady 70] and turn the heat lamp on at night just to ensure they are cozy.
A month and a half of these babies, well, teenagers now.. It's time to wean them from the heat lamp and prepare the coop! How exciting! I'm currently at week six with my chicks and they are going outside more frequently during the day and staying in their pond liner with the ducks at night. We do feed them little scraps here and there but nothing major. Just always as a treat. [please make sure your chicks can have what you're trying to feed them because they can't eat everything, chickens will need to stay on starter feed for 8 weeks.] Once temperatures are above 65 degrees it's okay for chickens to go outside. I am patiently waiting for my soon to be husbands assistance on building our coop, but I am planning to let you guys in on the DIY Chicken Coop and I'll let you know as soon as it's up!
No one told me how skittish baby ducklings are. Or maybe it is just my ducklings but by golly I couldn't even look in their direction without them freaking out and throwing their bedding all over. I felt so awful. I let them be after getting them a big bowl of water [at least their beak depth because they need to be able to get their beaks moist] and we started them on non-medicated chicken starter feed. Their temperature needs to be around 86 degrees at the beginning of week two and steadily dropping by the end of week two.
It was week three that I realized how messy these little rascals are. & I'm SO serious. Their water bowl now has a baking dish underneath it to try and prevent splatter from soaking their bedding and they DO NOT CARE, they will poop in their fresh water. I've witnessed it. They were still very skittish around me, I learned that soft and slow movements was the key whenever reaching for their dishes. This week their temperature needed to start at 76 degrees and wean down about six degrees into week four. At this point it is needed to lower the ducks protein intake to prevent any wing deformity. The ducklings are scarfing down food at this point so adding a low protein oat like I did to their feed will help prevent from having to go out and buy separate feed at that point.
Swimming lessons, outdoor exploring, treats all got introduced this week. It was a big week for our ducklings. I think it was mainly a big week thanks to me hopes to create a relationship with these ducklings. Anyway, we filled up the tub with luke warm water and witnessed our ducks experience their first swim all on their own. That was absolutely magical. They also went outside with the chicks and explored our yard. They mostly followed me around which made me SO happy. & we also gave them some scraps this week too. Absolutely adorable to watch. Starting at 69 degrees and ending at 65 degrees we are going into the weaning stage of the heat lamp for our dear ducklings. Now that they are regularly eating oats and scraps they need grit in their diet as well to digest foods.
As stated above, this is the week we introduced the ducklings to the chickens. They were now about to share the same habitat for the reason of the chickens escaping their previous trough home. The ducks are phenomenal with the chickens and everything is great so far.
The heat lamp was off during the day on turned on during the night just to make sure they stayed warm enough, but it's pretty cute watching all the chicks cuddle up next to the ducks. It's a big snuggle pile. They're still getting outside exercise during the warm days, Michigan is totally playing with us. I'm sick of it.
Yay! I've made it a month and a half with ducklings. It's been amazing but boy am I ready for them to be out of my house. They will be completely weened from the heat lamp. They're starting to make quacking sounds and it's to the point where I can hear them during the night hours. SO that's fun. We need this coop up like yesterday!
Overall I am extremely excited to have chickens and ducks on our little homestead.
I believe they will have a ton to offer my family and we love having them around.
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I have a DIY garden trellis & a DIY chicken coop coming up soon.