Once you experience new hatchlings it is very easy to want to raise different types. Ducklings, goslings, chicks, poults, and keets are all adorable but do have different needs as they grow. Although it may be tempting to brood multiple species together, we strongly advise against it for the health and safety of the birds. It's also important to not brood poultry from different hatcheries or sources together due to different hatcheries having varying levels of immunities and different parents. It's okay to mix flocks after the brooding phase.
Different breeds and sizes of chicks can be brooded together, with the exceptions of Cornish Cross Broilers. If hatched at different facilities or if they are more than two weeks apart, you will want to brood them separately due to a size difference and to allow the younger ones to build up their immune systems. Chicks hatch with a tiny immune system that is largely inherited from their parents. When immediately exposed to each other, immune systems that are immature are immediately asked to try to deal with different microflora of germs that inherently come from your brooder's environment and any other environments that each set of chicks has been in. That's not to say that either or both chick sources are necessarily bad or unhealthy, just different. Chicks should be fed 18-20% Chick Starter Feed, which is different than other poultry types.
Waterfowl Ducklings and Goslings
Ducklings and goslings both create a very wet environment in their brooder. A wet or soggy environment can cause bacteria and coccidiosis which poses a danger to chicks and poults and can lead to death. Waterfowl also grow larger faster and can easily injure other species when brooded together. Ducklings and Goslings also require unmedicated, higher protein feed. They start off on a 20-22% protein and often require other additives such as niacin and brewers yeast. A waterer large enough for them to get their bills into at all times is also necessary. Waterers such as this when brooding with other poultry types can lead to drowning.
Turkey poults tend to be much more fragile than other poultry types for the first few weeks. Poults move much more slowly than chicks and ducklings which makes them easy to be trampled on when brooding with other species. Poults also require a higher protein than other species. For optimum health and growth, they need to be started on a 27% or higher gamebird or turkey starter. Turkeys can also be carriers of Blackhead Disease. This disease can affect many different poultry species including chickens and gamebirds so it is strongly recommended that you brood and house all poultry species separately.
Gamebird chicks require a gamebird-specific feed. Gamebirds are also highly susceptible to worms and diseases other species can carry, so it is imperative that they are housed separately. Many gamebirds are very aggressive and territorial and will kill other species if kept together. Multiple males, even of the same species, kept together, can also kill each other due to their aggressive nature.
Creating separate brooding spaces may be more work, but in the end, it will help maintain safe and healthy flocks. Visit our blog for more information on Why Not To Mix Species In A Brooder.
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