Spring will be here soon! It will be the perfect time to add some cute, fluffy ducklings or goslings to your collection of farm animals! Before you start, there are several big differences in adding waterfowl vs adding chickens to your flock.
As adults, chickens and ducks, or geese, can coexist happily in the same yard. With enough space, all birds can get out of each others’ ways while still having a peaceful existence.
This being said, all birds have a pecking order. Sometimes, as much as we would hope for everyone to get along, they just do not.
Chickens (especially roosters), can pick on growing waterfowl. I learned this the hard way with a rooster who just thought he was protecting his girls from strange white, webbed footed things. The poor ducks were bullied and one injured, by the time I was able to step in!
Full grown geese, even if raised around chickens, can give a nasty bite if one gets too close. I’ve seen a squabble where the goose won, walking away with a bill full of chicken feathers.
If at all possible, devote a separate place for your waterfowl. They need their own space and have different needs-see the next tip!
Water, water, water!
Waterfowl, as the name implies, need lots of clean water daily! Ducks and geese actually NEED water to swallow their food! They will grab a mouthful of feed, then take it directly to the water trough. They mix the water and feed together in their mouths before swallowing it. This can be quite messy, but is important if they aren’t to choke.
Waterfowl need access to water deep enough to dip their entire bills into everyday. In addition to this, they often decide to go “swimming” in their water. If you have a pond for your adult birds, that is wonderful. When they are young, you will be doing a lot of re-filling of water daily.
Be Prepared for Mess
This need for water, leads to the next tip. Be prepared for messy. Spilling water, then eating a very watery diet, can only lead to a very watery stool coming out the opposite end. Ducks, especially, have a reputation for projectile, watery poos. Adult geese, on the other hand, eat almost strictly grass, are a relatively cleaner. (Just remember they are much larger!)
Waterfowl grow incredibly fast!
You’ll be amazed how in one week, your little yellow floofs, have already doubled or tripled is size! They develop much quicker, and grow their adult feathers at an amazing rate! This can be a blessing, because you’ll soon be ready for them to move outdoors as their mess also grows with them!
Ducklings and goslings will tend to bond with their caregivers more so than chickens. Waterfowl babies seem to have more intelligent way they look at you. Unlike chicks, ducklings and goslings can become quite friendly and attached to their owners.
This can make for VERY adorable times as babies. The flip side, is that a frustrated adolescent duck or goose can sometimes act out aggressively.
With a little knowledge and preparation in the beginning, you’ll soon be on your way to having the mixed flock of your dreams!