How to keep different poultry types living together in one coop

Here I will explain, in detail, the three basic requirements in order to have all these types of poultry living together happily under the same roof.
  1. The Chickeneer

    For a lot of us here at BYC, having just chickens just isn't enough. Most of us start off with chickens.....but chickens are like a gateway drug, because after having chickens for a while, you start getting into other, bigger, types of poultry. We may have other things like ducks, geese, guinea fowl, turkeys, and others as well. Here I will explain, in detail, the three basic requirements in order to have all these kinds of birds living together happily under the same roof.

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    I have chickens, ducks, and guinea fowl who all live together and get along great. They also get along with my peacocks, and when I used to keep rabbits and chicks together, they did fine as well. I am going to share some of my personal experiences with different ways of keeping them together, as well as things I have learned here on BYC.

    The three main things you need to know

    1.Coop Cleanliness

    2.Living Space
    3.Management techniques that work for all your poultry





    Coop Cleanliness

    There are a lot of things out there saying that keeping certain types of poultry together, may result in the spread of disease. Although this can be true, keeping your birds healthy and providing them with a clean home will ensure that they will not get each other sick. If you buy new poultry, you must quarantine before mixing them in with your flock.

    I have heard a lot that chickens can spread certain sicknesses to peacocks, such as blackhead (hasn't happened so I must be doing something right). Diseases are more easily spread in warmer climates, we live in the central valley of California, and the summers are scorching and the winters are mild, nevertheless, nobody is sick. My peafowl don't exactly live in the same coop as the chickens, but when the birds are out free ranging, the chickens always go into the peacock pen because they are small enough to fit through the bars. Two of my pullets like to spend most of the day with the peacocks, and other chickens just come in to eat the peacock's food. Even with this, they get along, and if the male peacock doesn't want chickens inside with them, he will chase them out on occasion.

    A tip to keeping the coop clean, is dryness. If things are dry, they don't smell, and there won't be as much mess. If you keep the litter dry, It will keep the poop dry, and dry poop is a large step in the right direction. Dry, non sticky, non smelly poop is every chickens owners dream, and good absorbent floor litter will help make that happen. Because they live in clean, dry conditions, they are healthy, and aren't spreading diseases to each other.

    Make sure to change soiled litter regularly. If you have waterfowl, you should mix up and aerate the litter every couple of days because their webbed feet tend to flatten the litter and compress it down, and then all the poop and water will not soak in correctly. If there are enough chickens in the coop, they will scratch up the litter for you, and you wont have to worry about it.




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    Living Space

    Having all kinds of birds is one thing, but keeping them content is another. You need good space if want things running smoothly. If they don't have room, they will get bored and peck at each other, they will fight, and it will be harder to keep the area clean. A good amount of space makes the pecking order less intense, they are happier with room to roam, and can run away if pecked at by a fellow bird. It's easier to clean if they have more space, and they wont be in your way while your doing it.

    For a couple weeks, i had to coop train everybody, so they would all sleep in the coop at night, this meant confining them to just their coop for a period of about 2 weeks, and it wasn't fun. We had to buy more feed, since they couldn't free range, the ducks always knocked over the water since they were bored, the coop was always so loud, there was poop on everything, feathers everywhere since they were pecking each other, the chickens and guineas were always chasing each other, and they were always in my way when I was cleaning. When I let them out after the 2 weeks, all of these problems vanished. I swear it was like magic.

    The ducks would go splash around in their tiny little pit of a pond. The chickens weren't pecking each other. The guineas were so much quieter....it was great.

    A confined poopy space with lots of stressed out birds is a breeding ground for several diseases, and stressed birds are more prone. They also will fight and peck a lot. Good space will solve all those problems. So if you are planning on a new coop, even if your birds are free range and the coop is just to sleep in, make sure there is enough room for them for whenever you have to coop train them, and for rainy days.

    If ever you must confine them into a smaller space with each other, do make sure there is plenty of food, they tend to be less anxious and aggressive when they are well fed. A smaller space tends to get dirty really fast, so make sure to clean the coop as needed. Usually when penned up, chickens will spend most of their day on the roosts, so have enough space on the roost so they are not shoulder to shoulder and pecking each other. A great way to relieve boredom when all the birds are penned up, is to throw scratch on the floor. I have straw bedding, so the chickens,ducks and guineas spend hours on end searching for seed in the straw and scratching it all around. This helps stir up the bedding, as well as feed them, and give them something to do.

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    Management techniques that work for all your poultry
    When keeping different types of birds together, you will find that different systems of feeding, watering, cleaning, and litter methods will work better than others. It just depends on what birds you keep together.

    Also, you need to keep their environment as stress free as possible. A way to do this is by keeping a good ratio of males to females of whatever type of poultry you might have. For example, a good ratio for chickens would be like 7 hens for every 1 rooster; and with ducks it would be about 5 or 6 females for every 1 drake. You kind of always want to have more females than males, a bunch of males kept together can become very agressive and fight a lot, and will also be very mean to the females. More females allow the males to mate with them, and not focus all their attentions on just one. If you did not have enough female ducks with a group of male ducks for instance, during the mating season(and all year really) they would start to get a little feisty, and would go after chickens as well, because there are not enough female ducks, this could injure your chickens as well as stress them out. You want to keep a good ratio of males to females in order to avoid these problems. If in your circumstance you have many males but don't want to get rid of any, or don't want to get extra females, you can always just provide more room for your birds, and it should cut the behavioral issues down a lot.


    I have ducks, so i have learned a couple things about keeping waterfowl with chickens, guineas and other birds. The first thing is, never just have a plain dirt floor in the coop. You need to have a good absorbent litter, straw and pine shavings, even grass from lawn mowings will work. Anything is better than a plain dirt floor. I used to have a plain dirt floor, and let me tell ya...it was not the business.

    Waterfowl like wet conditions, but like I mentioned earlier..wet conditions aren't always clean. With just a dirt floor and ducks or geese, the dirt floor soon turns to one of mud. Water fowl poop tends to be wetter than a chickens, and with their webbed feet, they squish and flatten all their wet poop in with the mud, and the coop will smell, and the rest of the birds will have muddy feet. This wet and soiled environment is a breeding ground for several bacteria and germs. Waterfowl + Dirt Floor = A muddy messy coop

    Watering

    Also, with water fowl, make sure they have an auto waterer, so they can just drink from it, and not jump up and put their feet in it etc. If you don't have a waterer, and you just have a water bowl like i do, make sure it sits on top of a cinder block or a stack of bricks, so they wont be able to climb into it, and other birds wont be able to kick litter inside. What I have done recently and have found to work efficiently in keeping the area dry around the water bowl is, I have their water bowl sitting on top of a wire grid that is layed on top of a pan. Whenever the ducks spill or splash a bit of water, it falls through the wire and into the big pan underneath. This really helps keep the floor area around the water dry. And I empty out the pan about once a week.

    Never use nipple waterers with any kind of water fowl, it may be easier for you to manage, but they will have a hard time drinking out of it, and may chose not to drink at all (then they'll die). Make sure there is enough room for them to stick their bills in the water, that's why I think using a water bowl is best when dealing with adult waterfowl. If they are young ducklings, goslings etc. use an automatic waterer, so they wont be able to swim in it, but can still drink comfortably.

    Feeding

    The best way of feeding, Is having a large feeder, or maybe even two. A lot of the times, the guineas like to take over the feeder, and peck at any one who tries to come near. Two feeders allows the other birds a chance to eat, as well as those at the bottom of the pecking order. If you don't have two feeders, what I used to do, was throw feed on the ground as well as having a feeder, to give other birds a chance to eat. Throwing feed on the ground gets them to scratch and look around for it, it's a healthy behavior and it keeps them busy as well as reduces crowding around the feeders. After, I would let them out to free range, so they can forage for food as well. A flock well fed is always happier and get along easier.

    When dealing with a diverse flock in a coop, you might wonder what food to use. Meat chickens as well as turkeys, and even young guinea fowl require a bit more protein that chickens do, and some breeds of chicken require oyster shell as a calcium supplement in order for them to lay eggs. So is there a universal feed for all poultry? Well they should definitely make one.....I as well as others out there could use it. I do know a person however, that has pretty much every type of poultry and ornamental bird there is, and a lot of them. They live on a couple acres, and they order their feed in bulk. They have connections with this feed company, and their feed comes by the barrels, many barrels. It's a certain kind of feed that is high in protein and other nutrients. I'm not sure, but it's probably a custom made feed that they personally asked for. It comes in a pellet form and fits the dietary needs of all their birds.

    Unlike them however....I don't have that kind of money so I'm stuck to buying sacks at a feed store. What I put in their feeder is a mix of laying mash, scratch, and chick crumbles. I also have them free range, so they can forage for their own food as well. When ever they can not free range and they are locked up, I will grab some of my peacocks food (game bird feed) and throw it on the floor for them in place of scratch. It has more protein, as well as other vitamins and nutrients they would find out foraging. I also feed my birds a lot of kitchen scraps, old bread, cereal, leftovers from a to-go box etc. What I also do, you may think it's over the top....but I'll bring a bag or an empty bucket to a party and fill it up with leftovers to bring home to feed my chickens. Table scraps really does go a long way in feeding.

    In general, if you have a nice mix of poultry, all you have to do is fill their feeder with layer mash or chick mash, feed them table scraps, and allow them to free range. You should have no problems if you do those three things.

    Coop Tips

    Nesting boxes are another thing, for bigger birds like turkeys and water fowl, the nests must be on the ground, and should be twice as big as the bird that nests in it. Having them on the ground makes the nests an easy target for chickens to go in and scratch everything up, so that's why you should put them in a secluded corner, or under the chickens nest boxes, where they aren't out in the open. One of my ducks, actually likes to lay her eggs in the chicken nest boxes, the boxes are a little small for her, and about a foot off the ground. So ducks can lay eggs in slightly elevated smaller nest boxes, well at least this duck does. For most waterfowl though, floor nests are preferred. When guineas first start laying, you will find eggs everywhere and might step on a few, once they get into it, they'll start making nests. Some guineas will lay in nest boxes, most however, will not. For guineas, get a square of plywood or something similar, and lean in on the wall of the coop, it will make a little triangle space and they will tend to lay in there. Its fairly simple, you can use it for waterfowl as well, but some types may not be small enough to fit in there.

    Roosts should be high, because guineas and turkeys like to sleep up high, and chickens also prefer this to lower roosts. The roosts should be long as well, and if you don't have long roosts, then just have a lot of roosts. The reason for this is to give the birds space when they are settling in for the night. When they sit too close together, they tend to peck each other and kick each other off. Waterfowl, and fatter meat chickens don't roost, so don't make them. My Cornish Xs and my ducks usually sleep under the chickens nest boxes in a corner, so they don't get pooped on by the birds sleeping up high. It's always good to have some little shelf to act as a low roof in the corner of the coop for the non roosting birds.

    Some people think that if they have a pond, they can just get ducks and release them out there. Not all breeds of duck will be able to survive out there for long because they do not have the feral like instincts that wild ducks have, and will probably be eliminated by predation. Domestic waterfowl do need a coop or hut of some sort for shelter, as well as a fence around their area at the very least. Also, if you have bought ducklings from a feed store or hatchery, do not just put them out in your pond, they will drown. Although they can swim, they will soon get tired and the water will soak into their down and they'l drown. If your ducklings are hatched by a broody duck, then you have nothing to worry about. The reason for this is because when a broody duck hatches them, she will get oil from her oil gland (near the tail) and rub it on the ducklings so their feathers will repel water and they wont get soaked. Ducklings from the store never had a mother, so you will have to wait a couple weeks until they are old enough to swim and produce their owl oil.

    *edited to add more info



    If you can follow these three main things, keeping different types of birds together should be easy and fun and less of a pain. I hope this helped.
    Please PM me if you have any questions.

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Comments

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  1. PeacockMan
    You did not say anything about medications. Chickens are worm and germ factories that contaminate all other birds in a flock.
  2. Mountain Peeps
    EXCELLENT INFO
  3. poultry bro
    you are my idol I love the idea of mixing different types of poultry
  4. Ace918
    The one think about Ducks is the MUD the introduce into the water. the water must be deep enough for them to completely submerge their heads, this allows them the opportunity to clean out their bills and nostrils of the dirt and mud they have dug into. It is only dirt but after a few minutes the water is Black from the dirt on the bottom, so be prepared to clean the water at least 2 times a day. Ducks do not need a place to swim, they are perfectly happy not swimming, they just need water deep enough to submerge their whole head to clean their nostrils and bill.
  5. Ace918
    The one think about Ducks is the MUD the introduce into the water. the water must be deep enough for them to completely submerge their heads, this allows them the opportunity to cleaan out their bills and nostrils of the dirt and mud they have dug into. It is only dirt but after a few minutes the water is Black from the dirt on the bottom, so be prepared to clean the water at least 2 times a day. Ducks do not need a place to swim, they are perfectly happy not swimming, they just need water deep enough to submerge their whole head to clean their nostrils and bill.
  6. Ace918
    The one think about Ducks is the MUD the introduce into the water. the water must be deep enough for them to completely submerge their heads, this allows them the opportunity to cleaan out their bills and nostrils of the dirt and mud they have dug into. It is only dirt but after a few minutes the water is Black from the dirt on the bottom, so be prepared to clean the water at least 2 times a day. Ducks do not need a place to swim, they are perfectly happy not swimming, they just need water deep enough to submerge their whole head to clean their nostrils and bill.
  7. jak2002003
    Very good and interesting reading. I keep fancy pigeons with my Japanese Bantams with no problems... I clip the chickens wings and they sleep on the lower roosts which they get to by the ladder. Their nest boxes are on that level, and they can jump to them.

    My pigeons fly and roost on the upper roosts and there nest boxes are up there out of reach from the chickens (who would otherwise eat their squabs).

    They all get on great on the floor.. where they share food and water. They never fight or peck at each other.

    I keep my birds of a mix of dirt and river sand. This is totally dry.. there is no smell and the birds scratch about in it and mix all the dry poop up in the sand.

    I also keep a pair of golden pheasants and 3 ducks in there. They all free range in the daytime and only go into the coop to sleep.. lay eggs, and hatch chicks. I think this is the key to happy co existence... space, and private nest boxes for each species.
  8. CHICKEN CRAZY1
    Thank you for posting! I have been wanting to get Call ducks for a while. They are irresistibly cute! Everyone says they can't live with chickens. Now I have proof they can live together! Great!
  9. Searsmom
    And when you said "...driving me crazy XD. Their hardly noticable..." You misspelled "They're".
    :D
  10. GentFarmer
    The timing of this article couldn't be better. I just placed an order for 10 ducks to share my hobby farm with my 7 chickens. You answered a lot of my questions and affirmed several of my choices. Thank you for the clarity!
  11. sophiesmith
    Now I want ducks
  12. abrameit
    p.s To the person who typed CDO. I have a daughter who is OCD and she tells people she is CDO because when you are really obsessive you put the letters in alphabetical order. Perhaps you are that way as well:)
  13. abrameit
    boy, this was timely advice and very well thought out. We have 6 geese we inherited when we bought our farm, a male and female sweedish blue duck and 26 chickens, 1 rooster, and a rabbit and elderly turkey. The chickens and turkey and rabbit live together and free range during the day. The geese and ducks used to live together until teen girl duck started laying and male duck got very ugly to the geese and would not let them on our pond. Now they are separate at night. My question is: female duck made her nest in the ground in a fenced area and periodically sits on it but not all the time. Food and water are nearby but so is the pond. We don't have snakes yet or racoons but I am concerned something will get the eggs in the next three weeks. Should I move all the eggs inside in a large dog kennel with hay or just let nature take its course? Thanks, Ann
  14. Our Roost
    I have a male and female Pekin duck that shares the coop and run with our chickens. The gander is a good watch dog and is always alert to bullying amongst the flock. For the most part, the 2 ducks get along very well and they all have plenty of space when cooped up due to weather conditions. Unfortunately, a male duck can injure or kill a hen by trying to mate with it. I have lost 1 hen already and it concerns us greatly. This is something you may want to consider when mixing different foul together.
  15. ChampionAlex
  16. The Chickeneer
    I totally agree....I didn't really want to go into a lot of detail with diseases though, there are already many articles on that, that people can go to for reference. I just wanted to provide an overview of everything it takes to keeps these poultry together, and keep things positive. Although I have heard of the problems with drakes and hens, bad cases aren't to common. My ducks are naturally a bit agressive toward the hens, but they seem to get along just fine, and I have not had any problems. The environment you provide them as well as the way they are managed does influence their behavior. And also, like you said, if the drake to hen ratio is not right, then it can very much be a deadly combination. People do need to understand that so I will try to put that into the article as well as the bit about the pond. Thank You. And for everyone else, I'm glad this article helped you guys! I really tried to put a bit of everything in there, so thanks.
  17. jdywntr
    Your article covered some good things. I do think that some of the problems that come up should be discussed. Like, another poster said, blackhead could be a problem. Just because you are lucky enough not to have it doesn't mean it isn't a going to happen for another. I, unfortunately, am unable to get turkeys because there has been blackhead on the property that we rent. The easiest way to find out if it is a problem is to contact your local extension office and find out if it is in your area.
    Also, many people will pick up ducklings at the feed store. Most likely they will be straight run. Drakes and chickens can be a deadly combination. If a drake does not have enough ducks (sometimes even if he does) he will try to mate with the chickens. This is dangerous or deadly for the hen as the 2 species are not anatomically compatible.
    Also, many people think that you can get ducks if you have a pond and just throw them out there and they'll be fine. They will survive in that case, until a predator arrives.
    Ultimately, a good article.
  18. armdchicken
    This is CBL's sister
    She spelt OCD CDO because the alphabet goes 'A b C D e f g h i j k l m n O'
    So its CDO, not OCD.
    lol
    And no she does not have OCD, but it DOES really bug her about stuff like that, she just about had a fit when my mom typed 'canada' instead of 'Canada'
    Lol
  19. blondiebee181
    Good info on owning different breeds together! I own chickens and ducks, and while I maintain that they do not sleep in the same coop, they do share the same run so I hear you on good cleaning practices...I use traction sand in my run and that works like a dream because it is like having a giant cat litter box. It also drains well so when the ducks lap water out of the bowl, it percolates down through the sand instead of creating muddy messes.
  20. Lhillstad
    thanks for adding more information into the article about feeding...that certainly helps.
  21. The Chickeneer
    Lol I think you mean OCD? Obsessive Compulsive Disorder......I thought it was funny that you are OCD about typos but you spelled OCD wrong....oh well lol. Anyways I read through it and I think I fixed all the typos, as well as added some info on feeding from the request of a previous comment. Im glad it helped some of you guys.
  22. CochinBrahmaLover
    You might want to add the cautions of keeping chickens and turkeys together. I'm half asleep, and I'm sure you did, but in bold, highlighting the diseases (like Black head) that are likely to show up. In Alaska we've NEVER (and other people haven't either) had black head problems, but I know that basically the warmer the state, the more likely certain diseases are likely to show up
    But overall this was a great article (And not trying to be mean, but your typos are driving me crazy XD. Their hardly noticable, but like you typed 'tel' instead of 'tell', lol, no big deal, and it looks fine, I'm just a bit CDO about that stuff), and has a lot of advice I never thought of, like when housing guineas with chickens (we've housed ducks and chickens before and chickens and turkeys, (this year it'll be chickens, turkeys, guineas, ducks and 2 geese) that guineas can be protective of the feed. It'll be helpful, and when newbies ask me questions I'll be showing them this article!! xD
    Loved it in the end! Very neat and pretty (Despite the typos... Which AGAIN, I'm CDO about that stuff so nooooooo big deal!! )
  23. sunnyvera
    Now I too want ducks. I have a pond in the back of the property - what could go wrong? ha, ha.
  24. Sally Sunshine
    Would love to hear more on the FEEDING issues, Great article Thanks!
  25. marvun22
    thanks for all the info ive started a couple of threads about this before but you've answered all my questions.
  26. Lhillstad
    How do you handle the different food types for turkeys and Cornish who need a higher protein and the layers who don't. I'm getting chicks in a month and wanted some rangersor the like but don't know how to handle the feed.
  27. cluckcluckluke
    Sorry for all the comments, but this is so good hopefully my ducks will get back into laying when i make that square thing you spoke of for them.
    Wonderful work.
  28. cluckcluckluke
    "I used to have a plain dirt floor, and let me tel ya...it was not the business."
    wow did i sure laugh my self sense less with this.lol. What a great line.
  29. cluckcluckluke
    WOW, this is great. Love that you used your own experiences and didn't put to much worrying stuff about horrible diseases in there, you stuck to the positives.
    Great work.
  30. OreoPlymothRock
    I have ducks, how do I keep the chickens and ducks together if they are from different flocks?
  31. Heiko27
    What kind of chicken is in the background with the ducks? Thanks for the info
  32. RuralMama
    My ducks and geese are food hogs, I have to feed them their daily rations versus use a auto feeder with them. I tried to see if they would get along with my chickens, but they downed almost all the food in no time... so the chicken get the coop with the autofeeder and the ducks and geese free range with access to the run, but can't get in the coop. Not sure what their deal is but they will eat anything and EVERYTHING!
  33. liz9910
    I want ducks, geese and guineas too, but I live in town :(
  34. Ali707
    Gateway drug!!!! lol It is so true..... I want ducks now. :)
  35. rollkeeg877
    im glad someone has finally said that its fine to keep different poultry together i myself have had all different birds together with no problems they will even play with each other like the chickens and pheasants enjoy each others company
  36. BYC Project Manager
    Congratulations! Your article is now featured on the homepage carousel! Thanks for submitting it to our BYC Article Writing Contest.
  37. willowbranchfarm
    Great Article.
  38. wickedlees
    Thanks! I am moving into phase 2 of my craziness this spring and adding some Turkeys. This is helpful to know about the nesting areas.
  39. Phyrst
    Good common-sense advice. I learned several tips. Thanks for posting.

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