Ducks and chickens are becoming increasingly popular as pets or for people who wish to raise their own food (meat or eggs). They are fairly easy to care for and will eat weeds and insects, however ducks and chickens still require a proper diet and feeding schedule.
Chickens and ducks can be housed together but this is not the ideal, ducks need water to eat and must soak their food to eat it. Ducks also enjoy swimming but chickens will drown. As such it is generally a far better idea to house them separate, allowing ducks to have a pond, or pool, for swimming and a large container of water for soaking their food.
Additionally it must be noted that ducklings cannot eat medicated chick starter as it is toxic to them, so if you plan on raising either one you must keep them separate.
Where to Buy Chicken and Duck Food and What Food to Buy
If you are in the USA you are lucky because the Tractor Supply Company has a huge range of chicken and duck feed as well as all the supplies you will need to keep chickens or ducks.
For chicks look for a quality medicated starter feed such as Manna Pro Reg Medicated Chick Starter, this is a small crumble that is good for their first 8 weeks. Again you must be sure that ducks and ducklings do not eat this food, instead look for a non-medicated product such as DuMOR Chick Starter, which can be fed to ducklings up to 10 weeks.
After that the young birds need a Grower ration, such as DuMor Poultry Grower which will take the birds right up to market size, or laying stage (around 5 months for chickens 6 to 8 for ducks).
If you keep birds for laying you will need a laying ration. Tractor Supply Company sells several high quality brands of laying ration, offering some in pellet form and others in a crumble.
You also need grit to aid digestion in both ducks and chickens.
Chicken scratch can be given later in the day. If you give it early in the morning the birds will eat the chicken scratch and not their proper ration. Instead you can use the chicken scratch more like a treat to help keep the birds friendly. Scatter it near your feet and let them walk around you eating it.
Oystershell is also good for laying birds as it provides the calcium they require for laying.
Optional Dietary Products for Poultry
Tractor Supply Company also has a great product, Sav-A-Chick, which contains electrolytes and is good for chicks, ducklings, as well as adult birds. It can be added to their water at any time, particularly on hot days, or during other times of stress.
A great treat for your birds is Happy Hen Treats Mealworm Frenzy. This is a treat that chickens will enjoy and can be fed out of your hand or scattered on the ground. Tractor Supply Company sells this product in a 3.5 oz bag.
Purina Flock Block Sunfresh Recipe is a large block of corn, grains, oyster shell and grit. It is said to be helpful for reducing cannibalism in flocks as it gives them something to “peck” at rather than pecking at each other. This block is sold by Tractor Farm Supply Co for chickens older than 18 weeks.
You can also feed some leftovers to your chickens and/or ducks. Do not feed them onions or garlic and be sure to limit brocolli, but they love watermelon and strawberries.
Check Tractor Supply Company for current promotions and deals, they have a huge range of poultry supplies including the feeds already mentioned.