I am by no means an authority, but we have 9 assorted hens protected by a bad-ass rooster in addition to 9 Muscovy duck hens and 2 drakes. They all get along rather well, and the ducks follow the rooster and respond to his alerts (which are often, as we're in the sticks with fox and coyote around).
If you're starting out and on a budget, I'd advise getting a dozen-plus of unsexed chicks and seeing what/who develops. Definitely keep a rooster (a couple if you can free range), as hens are happier / healthier with a man about. Extra males = meat birds. Honestly, I believe it is important to go all out with birds. Axing some males and processing is hard work, but I think it is important to get a real sense of where food comes from. Plus, the chickens you grow will taste better than any you've ever had from the store!
Lots of good suggestions on this post as far as scraps, non-GMO foodstuffs, composting, coops, etc.
Depending somewhat upon where you live, loss is a real and inescapable part of having birds. Whether it's a bold fox (One carried off one of my duck hens 3 days ago. Grrr... *weep*) in the woods or a raccoon/opossum in the neighborhood, you WILL lose somebody from your flock. (Our dogs played with a bird or 2 "to death" when we first got them, but they ignore them now.) So grab a couple more birds than you may feel you need.
I do want to plug Muscovies really fast. They are great ducks if you can find a source nearby. They are tree ducks and do not migrate, and they are non-mallard... being more closely related to geese (and much larger than runner ducks, etc.). They are quiet: they hiss and do not quack, so they are good for survivalists fearing detection by roaming zombies. The females are fantastic mothers: we have two duck hens and a chicken hen sharing one nest right now with over twenty eggs! The broody females are good surrogate mothers for other birds. 5 male birds processed = 30 lbs of delicious, fine dining quality meat! And duck eggs are the absolute frickin' BOMB! Richer than chicken eggs, thicker protein matrix in the whites, so better for baking. (Very trendy now, too, so you can sell them for over a buck an egg to the right people.)
What would the Founders do?
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