If you take time to peruse the internet, you’ll find many posts on raising chickens, several about ducklings and a few on other backyard poultry types. Helpful hints on raising two types of poultry together are hard to come by! For this reason, I’m happy to offer you my 7 tips on raising ducklings with heritage turkeys.
Why ducks and heritage turkeys specifically? Because that happens to be what we raise. Truth is, I prefer these poultry types over cackling hens and crowing roosters.
Here are your 7 tips for success. If you have something to add or an experience to share, feel free to leave a comment below!
Tip 1: Choose a Feed Type Suited to Both Birds
Make certain the feed you offer is safe for both ducklings and turkey poults. While turkeys can eat medicated chick starter, sources state that some medicated feed brands are not safe for ducklings to consume. Double check with your local feed store before purchasing medicated chick crumble. When in doubt, go with a non-medicated option.
Tip 2: Choose a Duck-Proof Watering System
Turkeys poults are tidy birds. When thirsty, they delicately scoop up water in their tiny beaks, tilt their little heads up and swallow it back. Ducks, on the other hand, do not. The more their water splashes about, the happier they are!
When choosing a watering system for both ducks and turkeys, make certain the water bowl is narrow enough to keep your duckling’s heads out. Otherwise, they will constantly soak the brooder’s litter by flinging water everywhere. No one likes changing bedding every single day!
Tip 3: Keep Food and Water Supplied At All Times
Keep food and water supplied at all times. Duckling grow faster than turkey poults and are bossier! Ducklings also have tremendous appetites. If your birds run out of food or water, your baby waterfowl may trample the turkey poults in their eagerness to fill their bellies!
Tip 4: Know That Ducklings Grow Faster Than Poults
There’s nothing so cute as a mix of ducklings and turkey poults snuggled together under a heat lamp! While ducklings are slightly larger in the beginning, they seem…compatible.
However, most ducklings grow much faster than turkey poults! In two weeks, most of your web-footed babies will be twice the size of your poults!
Most often ducklings are mild-mannered and friendly toward other birds. However, if they decide to pick on the slower growing babies, the results can be disastrous.
Tip 5: Give Them Plenty of Space
To avoid ‘bullying,’ make certain your birds have enough space. Just because your brooder worked for chickens, ducklings or turkey poults doesn’t mean it affords enough space for both ducks and poults together.
If your ducklings are nibbling at or picking on your poults, they need more room! Remember that as birds grow, their space requirements will change. As soon as possible, move both ducks and turkeys outside where they have the ability to nibble at and forage grasses.
Tip 6: Use a Moveable Brooder
One of the reasons we’ve been able to successfully raise these two bird types together is because of our outdoor brooder. My man specifically designed and built this small moveable ‘bird tractor’ for our featherless babies.
In the box, our turkey poults and ducklings have access to feed, water and a heat lamp.
During the daytime, they roam outside where they can forage and bask in the sun. When things begin to cool in the evening, they move inside and we slip the door into place. This acts as a protection against cats, skunks and other predators.
Every morning the door is lifted and they are allow to roam again.
Tip 7: Watch Your Birds
The last tip I have for you is this: take time to observe your birds. Every seasoned animal keeper knows the importance of this simple task. By watching and getting to know their ‘normal,’ you’ll be that much quicker to pick up on the ‘abnormal,’ should it occur.
Raising ducklings and turkeys together is possible! So long as you offer a proper environment, they can usually be raised side by side, sharing food, water and a heat lamp until feathers develop and they are released into their ‘adult’ pen!