Differences between chicks and ducks

Napping duckling and chick

As soon as we opened our box of
26 Cornish Cross chicks and 10 Ancona ducklings, I knew the two species
were entirely different birds.  They were all a bit stressed from
their journey through the postal system, but the ducklings were largely
silent while the chicks peeped loudly.  The ducklings were also
about twice as big as the chicks, despite being the same age, so their
larger body size probably made it easier for them to handle the long
ride.  (As a side note, the size difference also meant I had to put one of the Ecoglow brooders at the second notch from day one.)

Hungry chicks

My next observation came when I put in their waterers.  As
recommended by various sources, I let the ducklings drink their fill and
take a little nap before offering food, while I gave the
chicks access to both food and water at once.  But both went
straight to the water (an
Avian Aqua Miser Original for the chicks and
an open waterer for the ducklings).  The ducklings jumped right
into the waterer and made a huge mess, but didn’t seem to mind getting
wet, while chicks who got dribbled on from the watering frenzy at the
much drier nipple waterer ran off to get rid of moisture under the brooder
right away.  Obvious but true — ducks like to be wet and chicks
like to be dry.
  (You can read more about my solution to the duck watering dilemma in this post.)

First day outdoorsLess
obvious was the way the ducklings immediately started acting
like a flock, while the chicks each did their own thing.  For the
first day, I kept them in separate bins in the house, and the ducklings
were all doing the same thing every time I looked — either all napping
or all eating and drinking.  The chicks were generally spread out,
with some at each station at all times.  Later, when I let them
outside, the distinction was even more obvious since the ducks all came
tumbling out in one mass and explored their new world together. 
The chicks, in contrast, weren’t quite as ready to leave the brooder,
and many ended up just staying inside.

Duckling eating chickweedFor my next observation, I pulled a handful of chickweed out of the
garden and put a dollop in each bin.  One chick came over to take a
look, then wandered disinterestedly back to the feeding trough, but the ducks
immediately began gobbling down the greenery like it was just what
they’d been looking for.  Later, after I put both sets of
youngsters in the outdoor brooder and let them go outside, the ducks
still seemed to be better foragers, although the difference wasn’t as
extreme.  (Granted, this isn’t a very fair comparison since I see
large differences in foraging abilities of chickens by breed, and Cornish Cross
are supposed to be the worst in this department.)

Watching chicks and
ducklings is my favorite leisure-time activity at the moment, so stay
tuned for more observations in later posts!

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