Yes, a chicken or you can say, a broody hen, can hatch duck eggs and raise them. But do it only if you don’t find any other option.
Because a hen and a duck are different, the mother-child relationship won’t be the same for chicken and ducklings as it will be between the duck and the ducklings.
So, you need to do it with patience and planning.
Why Would A Chicken Hatch Ducklings?
Some chickens hatch ducklings because some hens go broody in the summer and spring months, you can see fewer feathers on a hen’s breast, and her broody patch will be visible.
Hens shed these feathers to keep their eggs warm. When they feel broody and ready to sit on some eggs and hatch them, you will see it. Hens go broody due to prolactin release, which is caused by a pituitary gland which is located behind their eye.
You can think of it as a hormone change, and the hen is willing to sit on some eggs and hatch them. They want to feel like a mother.
You can take advantage of this opportunity and make them hatch some duck eggs.
How To Start?
As it was said earlier that hatching ducklings with a chicken need planning, it does.
- So, the first step is that you find a broody hen. It is important because the hen must be willing to sit on the eggs, and it should not be a mere mood swing. Sometimes, a hen goes broody for a few days, while sometimes, it lasts for 21 days or even more. So, check your hen and see if the hen is ready to be a mother.
- See how many eggs she can hatch. You can try placing fake eggs or golf balls and see how many would fit. Usually, hens can hatch 14-16 eggs, but the more eggs, the more chances are to break them. So, place a reasonable number of eggs.
- Get your hen a brooding hen house. A hen house is a brooder separate from the rest of the chickens. It should be well-ventilated, protected, placed in a shade, and in a peaceful area. A grass run attached will be a bonus.
- Keep the red mites away from her place. Duct the rest mite resistance powder before setting up her coop. Also, keep it away from direct sunlight.
- Hens are mature enough to see if an egg is fertile or not. If an egg goes bad, she will push it out of the nest. You can check if the egg is fertile or not by putting it against a light. It is called candling the egg. Pass light through an egg and see it from the opposite side in a dark room. If you can see veins or a dark spot, the egg is fertile and ready to hatch in due time. Repeat this process every 7-8 days.
- A chicken egg hatches in 21 days, while a duck’s eggs take 28 days. The hen will sit on the eggs until they hatch.
- After due time, you will see little ducklings coming out of the eggs. The first look at a hen, and they will start calling her mother.
Why Should You Use A Hen For Hatching Duck Eggs?
If you have a farm and ducks, you don’t need a chicken to hatch duck eggs, but if you raise chickens and try hatching ducks, it can be useful for you. How?
- First, you won’t have to set up an incubator and worry about temperature, lights, etc. A hen takes care of these factors while hatching.
- You won’t have to keep an eye on the eggs. Hens don’t leave the eggs for more than the necessary time. They even stop eating and drinking for a few days and stay with eggs for 24 hours.
- The hen is experienced; you are not. She will hatch more eggs than you will do with an incubator.
- She will do whatever is needed for the ducklings.
Why Is It A Bad Idea To Hatch Duck Eggs With A Chicken?
It is indeed a bad idea for ducklings to be raised by a hen. The reasons are:
- The communication between the hen and ducklings won’t be the same as it will be with their natural mother. They will follow her everywhere, even where it’s not safe.
- Ducklings will try to eat whatever their mother does, which is bad. Chickens and ducks eat different food.
- Ducklings will be naturally attracted to water. They will try to swim and splash, and it will cause the mother hen to worry too much. According to her, this is not how kids should behave.
- You will need a hen ready to sit until the eggs are hatched. In normal circumstances, broodiness ends in 21 days, which is when chickens hatch. But duck eggs take more time; the hen might abandon them after 21 days, which may be a problem.
Can A Duck Raise Baby Chickens?
No. The story of a hen raising ducklings is different. But a duck can’t do the same for chicks.
Because as soon as her kids are ready to follow her, she will take them out for a swim.
Naturally, chicks will not be able to swim like ducklings. It can cause them to catch a cold in the water, and at worst, they might die, which will be a total waste of time and energy both for you and the duck. And, of course, there will be a loss of life.
If you are in dire need of a hen to hatch duck eggs, go ahead. But just because you can do so doesn’t mean you should.
Cross-raising is not a problem, but it will pose challenges before you and the hen. Bring home a pair of ducks and let mother nature do her work if you wish to raise ducks.
Plan it acutely and execute it perfectly if you are hatching duck eggs with a hen. After hatching, keep a close eye on the babies. Good luck!