So, can ducks coexist with chickens? Yes! Ducks can coexist with chickens peacefully. As an experienced poultry farmer, I understand the needs of each bird. This has contributed so much to raising different types of poultry successfully. In this regard, keeping a mixed flock is a reality and anyone can do it.
If you have been planning to raise ducks and chickens in your backyard, this is the time. But you will need a separate coop for ducks and chickens. In the morning you will set them free to free-range during the day.
However, you may decide to have your mixed flock in one coop as well. There are some considerations to make if you decide to house your chickens and ducks together. Otherwise, you may end up with endless nights of conflicts between these two different types of flocks.
Most people say that chickens are indeed the gateway domestic animals to more farming activities. How true is this statement?
When you’re ready to expand your farm, the most likely thing to do is to add different types of poultry. As you may know, the common backyard poultry comprises geese, turkey, and ducks. Normally, turkeys are relatively large, and guineas and geese are quite noisy, making it difficult for mixed poultry keeping. This leaves us with one option which is the ducks.
Ducks are a great addition to your backyard chickens. They lay regularly and their eggs are a little bit larger than the chickens’. Interestingly, their eggs are a great choice for baking. Another reason why we prefer ducks is that they don’t require more space, don’t make a lot of noise and can fit right with your chicken setup.
Despite all these positive attributes about ducks, one thing remains certain; they’re not chickens. This means they have different requirements from those of chickens. What can you do to make them coexist with chickens? Let’s find out.
Provide Enough Clean, Fresh Water
- Water is one of the basic needs for all animals including humans. It is essential that you provide your mixed flock with enough water daily. Ironically, the biggest hurdle most people face when raising ducks and chickens is how to supply them with water.
- Chickens do well with water fonts or nipple waterers because they can easily access them and quench their thirst. On the other hand, ducks require water that’s deep enough to dip their heads in. Better still, ducks require more water not only to drink but to clean themselves and make their nostrils moist. They also need a lot of water to mix their food for better digestion. This creates a big difference in the way ducks and chickens use water.
- Ducks are not able to use the traditional water fonts for chickens. This is because their bills are too large to fit in the tiny font openings. However, they can comfortably use the nipple water systems although they will require bowls of fresh water to clean themselves.
- Ducks love splashing water and swimming to keep their bodies cool. In the process, they make water dirty and unfit for chickens to drink. Besides, they make mud almost anywhere they go. This behavior does not go down well with chickens.
- Still on water, you need to be aware that ducks like swimming a lot. Even though they don’t need a large pool to swim around, you can provide them with a deep water dish. Regardless, they will be extremely happy if they get a little pool to splash water as they play.
- The presence of a small pool for your ducks should not worry you about your chickens. Most of the time they will keep away or drink from it occasionally.
- Mature chickens don’t enjoy swimming but can spend some time floating in the ducks’ small pool. This is important especially during summertime. The only worry you should have is the safety of your chicks because they can drown in the pool.
Give Your Mixed Flock Enough Food
- Food is another basic commodity that your mixed flock needs to grow healthy and stay happy. Unlike providing water to chickens and ducks, feeding these two groups of poultry is easier than you ever thought.
- Both can eat the same type of feed without any issues. The only difference comes in when feeding their young ones. For instance, the young duckling will require access to some niacin, unlike chicks.
- In this case, you should mix a few grams of brewer’s yeast with the regular feed before giving them to eat. This combination will help your ducklings to achieve their dietary needs without draining your pockets.
- Likewise, you can hang chicken feeder inside the coop for your feathered friends to use them during the night. Keep the main feed in the open bowl for your chickens and ducks to eat whenever they feel hungry.
- The only setback here will be on your ducks’ side. They will have some difficulties when trying to fit their bills in most of the chickens’ feeder troughs. To overcome this problem, make sure that their feed is in open bowls.
- When it comes to treats, the situation remains the same. Both chickens and ducks like similar treats. As a matter of fact, they will scramble for mealworms as well as table scraps such as bread and veggies. With time you will realize that your ducks are a little bit choosy about their diet.
House Your Mixed Flock
- The most interesting part about ducks coexisting with chickens is that both can share the same coop. But you can separate them for obvious reasons. Chickens roost during the night and will need special structures to perch.
- This is not the case with ducks. In fact, ducks prefer nesting at night as opposed to perching. For that reason, they will require some space at ground-level to spend the night.
- When constructing a coop for mixed flocks, ensure that there is a place for your ducks to nest. The designated place should not be underneath your chickens’ roosts to keep them clean and away from chickens’ poop.
- The ramp leading to the coop should be gentle enough to allow your birds to access their coop safely. Chickens are capable of negotiating a steep ramp but ducks cannot. Make sure that the ramp is safe and convenient enough for the ducks to get into the coop.
- Ducks prefer spending their night in the open air. So you should provide a small opening for them to find their way to a safe run at night. Ensure that the small run for your ducks is predator-proof to keep them safe. Consider using a wire to provide a lining to the entire run including the floor.
- Alternatively, you can construct separate coops for chickens and ducks but let them share the same run. The coop for your chickens should remain closed during the night while that for your ducks stay open throughout. This is important for your ducks, especially during summertime.
Consider Flock Dynamics
- One thing that should not worry you when raising mixed flocks is their movement and interaction. Your chickens and ducks will just ignore each other while free-ranging. In some cases, the two groups of birds might integrate more when sharing the same free-ranging zone.
- Generally, chickens will prefer their own kind and ducks will choose to hang out with other ducks. There is no harm in doing so as long as they are coexisting. After all, no flock between these two is more dominant than the other. But there are exceptions.
- A group of mixed female chickens and ducks will get along well without even noticing the difference. But when a rooster or a drake joins the group, the dynamics change dramatically. They (either the drake or rooster) can become more territorial and aggressive to protect their own kind. Keep an eye on your mixed flock to ensure that they are all comfortable when interacting with each other.
How do you prevent ducks from messing your chicken’s water containers? You should prevent your ducks from making a mess of your chickens’ water by hanging the container a little bit higher from the ground. Place the perching bars close to the container to allow your chickens to access their water. This will stop the ducks from accessing the containers.
How do you ensure that your ducks get enough water to drink and swim? You may construct a small tub to provide your ducks with water. The tub is only enough for a small number of ducts to climb in and take a bath. If you have a large flock, you should build more tubs to accommodate all ducks.
Can ducks coexist with chickens? Of course, yes. The two groups of domestic birds can live side by side peacefully. As a chicken keeper, you can easily raise chickens and ducks in one coop. What you need is to understand the needs of each group and how to handle them throughout. For the ducks, ensure that they have access to safe nesting spots, get good ventilation, eat a well-balanced diet and drink clean water. The same should apply to your chickens only that they will need spots to roost rather than nesting boxes. If you achieve this feat, you will enjoy collecting your chicken eggs and duck eggs from your mixed flock.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Chicken Board!!