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Both ducks and chickens can produce eggs for your table, and both species are good foragers, keeping weeds and bugs in check around your property if allowed to free-range. Ducks and chickens can peacefully coexist in your poultry yard, as long as you make arrangements to accommodate both species.
When you arrive home with your new chickens and ducklings, you can keep them in the same brooder environment during the first weeks of life until they are fully feathered. The temperature should initially be between 90 to 95 degrees; reduce it by 5 degrees each week until you reach 70 degrees during week 4, where it should remain until the birds are fully feathered. Make sure the brooder is draft-free, as both species can succumb to cold drafts.
Both ducks and chickens can eat chick starter during the first weeks of life while they are feathering out. Ducks will need plenty of water available next to their feed, as they will scoop up some food, then wet it in their mouth with water before swallowing. Feeding ducks without water can cause them to choke. Water should be deep enough that ducks can rinse their nostrils to moisten their mucous membranes but not so deep that chicks could drown.
Chicks and ducklings exposed to bright white light have a higher incidence of injury due to pecking. Use an infrared light to heat the brooder and allow natural lighting to develop a normal day-night cycle. Adult birds need access to areas where they can sun themselves, but need to be able to rest in shaded areas. Sunlight is crucial to egg production in both hens and ducks. Nontoxic bushes are ideal to provide areas to rest in the shade.
While hand-raised ducks who are not fully feathered can drown due to a lack of oils usually applied by the mother, fully feathered ducks enjoy splashing around in a body of water. Keep water shallow enough and easy to get out of so chickens do not drown, such as a pond with shallow areas near the edge or a child's wading pool with an interior ramp or towel-wrapped board. Chickens can swim but will tire quickly if an exit is not apparent.
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