Would you believe that my first love in the feathered friends world were ducklings? I mean, around these parts, I’m known for my love of chickens but most people wouldn’t know that I actually started with ducks.
I’ll never forget the day that the kids and I were in our local farm supply store. We loved going to look at all the cute baby chicks. But, the ones I just couldn’t leave the store without were the ducklings! We brought those sweet ducklings home that day and didn’t look back. That same year, someone gave our son a gosling for his 10th birthday! Ha! Yes, they did ask permission before they showed up with “Goldie”.
By the end of that year, we had almost 30 chickens, a “guard goose”, and 3 ducks. Throw 5 goats in the mix and you have a snapshot of what our backyard looked like. There was never a dull moment. I know many people who have successfully housed multiple different feathered friends. My love for chickens has definitely expanded (clearly), and I no longer have ducks or geese. However, if it’s something you’d like to try, I say go for it!
But, here’s you a couple tips to get you started…
Expanding your backyard flock can be one of the most exciting and rewarding times. With that said, it’s important to do it safely. Adding to your flock can be a stressful time for everyone. I always have Flock Fixer on hand for times such as these. Flocks of birds maintain a strict pecking order. It’s not just a phrase we throw around. They mean business!
When you introduce new birds, such as chickens, geese, or ducks, you should keep this in mind for the health and safety of all your birds. However, if you’re raising chicks and ducklings together, they do really well growing up together. Ducks bring a whole new level of mess with their love of water. However, duck eggs are great, so it seemed worth it to us at the time.
With any type of bird, patience is absolutely necessary. If you’re introducing young birds, make sure they are old enough to be integrated with your established flock. I like to make sure they’re fully feathered and a decent size before I start the integration process. A good rule of thumb is 6 to 8 weeks of age. However, you will need to use your judgment in comparing the size of your existing birds to the new ones. And, this is especially important if you’re mixing your flock with chickens and ducks.
It’s important to note that while our birds all free ranged together, they stuck with their own when it came for roosting for the night. Geese are a whole different breed. Because they are so much larger, they can be a little more tricky. It’s definitely possible, but just may need a little more attention while integrating. We found that “Goldie” the goose was our flocks’ protector. He went out of his way to make sure the flock was safe and actually lost his life that way.
Chickens and ducks need a similar amount of coop and run space per bird (4 sq.ft. in the coop and 10 sq.ft. in the run). Geese need about double that. Here’s a tip: always build bigger than you think! Unless you live inside city limits where it’s spelled out for you, go big! That was a mistake we learned the hard way. These feathered pets have a way of making us think we need more!
If you lock your coop up for the night, you may have to round up your ducks. Chickens can’t see in the dark, so they know when it’s time to head into bed for the night. Ducks, on the other hand, can see in the dark and don’t always follow the chickens. However, ducks are smart and can be trained to head in for the night. We spent a few nights outside chasing the ducks at dusk. It’s fun the first time. After that? Not so much. Ha!
We enjoyed having a mixed flock for those couple of years. There was never a dull moment like i said and we certainly learned a lot. Looking back, I wish we would have educated ourselves a bit better before we dove in. However, the bumps in the road helped us learn along the way. Experience is an excellent teacher!
Until next time,
–The Wing Lady