Are you thinking about raising chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys together? This can be a great way to have a diverse and interesting flock, but you need to know how to make it work. Here are six tips to help you raise mixed species of poultry successfully.
1. Coop size
The best practice for raising multiple species is to house each in their own coop. For example, chickens like to perch at night and need at least 20 centimetres (eight inches) of roosting space, while turkeys need a roost that’s at least one metre (three feet) off the ground. Ducks and geese prefer to sleep on the ground and appreciate soft bedding materials.
2. Grazing needs
While each species should have its own coop, all birds can be allowed to free-range together in the same yard. This allows them to socialize and interact with each other while still having their own separate living spaces. Providing ample outdoor space is important for all poultry species, as they require plenty of room to graze and forage to stay healthy and happy.
3. Water requirements
You must ensure you’re meeting the water needs of each bird. Chickens can drink from nipple waterers or water fonts, while turkeys only need a shallow water dish. However, ducks and geese need access to water that’s deep enough for them to dip their head in. They also appreciate a small pond or kiddy pool to splash, play and bathe in.
4. Feed type
Feed is an essential factor to consider for a mixed flock. A mixed flock can have many different dietary needs, depending on their age and lifestyle factors. For example, chickens, turkeys and geese can generally all eat the same type of feed, but ducks need a feed that contains niacin and is lower in protein to prevent wing deformities. Additionally, geese need more protein during the breeding season and laying hens need extra calcium.
5. Male to female ratio
Maintaining a proper male-to-female ratio prevents overbreeding and crossbreeding. For example, having too many males in the flock can lead to fighting and territorial behaviour. It’s recommended to have one rooster per six to seven hens and one drake per four to five ducks. Turkeys should be kept in pairs or small groups of three to four birds to prevent fighting, and geese should have a ratio of one gander to two or three geese.
6. Disease management
Fresh air circulation is important for all birds, but turkeys are especially susceptible to blackhead disease. It’s important to monitor your flock for signs of illness and to avoid introducing new birds that could be carriers of disease. Geese are also prone to respiratory infections, so it’s important to keep their living area clean and well-ventilated.
By following these tips, you can create a peaceful living environment for multiple birds while maximizing space and resources and addressing the unique needs of each bird.
Benefits of raising different poultry together
Raising different poultry together offers numerous benefits for farmers and homesteaders, including:
Enhanced pest control. Chickens, ducks and geese have distinct foraging behaviours that target various insects and pests. Chickens scratch at the ground, while ducks are excellent at consuming water insects and geese graze on grass. This creates a comprehensive approach to pest management.
Improved ecosystem. Raising diverse poultry can contribute to a healthier ecosystem. Ducks are natural foragers and can help keep water bodies clean, while chickens contribute to soil aeration through their scratching and pecking.
Increased productivity. You can maximize your land use by utilizing different aspects of your property. For example, chickens can be kept close to the house for easy egg collection, while ducks can be raised near a pond or water source. This can lead to increased productivity and efficiency in your overall operation.
Better flock dynamic. A mixed flock dynamic can result in a more resilient and adaptable poultry community, ultimately leading to healthier and happier birds. For example, ducks and geese are known for their calm demeanour, and their presence can have a calming influence on skittish chickens.
Farm supplies in Ontario
If you’re looking for high-quality poultry products, Ontario Wholesale Farm Direct has what you need. We offer a wide range of products, including crates and chicken wire. We proudly serve farms of all sizes in southern Ontario. For more information about our products, contact us today. Our team would be happy to give you advice on how to improve your farming practices to raise happy, healthy birds.