Mixed flocks - How does it work?

By Lamaremybabies · Sep 20, 2017 · ·
  1. Lamaremybabies

    Whether you're just starting out with your first flock of chickens, ducks, geese etc. or have been raising poultry for a long time, you may be wondering… does a mixed flock really work?

    I'm here to tell those of you who are pondering this very question, absolutely!

    But first, lets touch on what is considered a mixed flock?

    Usually a mixed flock refers to a group of different species of birds who live in the same quarters, typically as one flock. But sometimes, a mixed flock refers to different species living together but as different flocks. On much rarer occasion though, people will refer to a mixed flock as a flock of one species of different breeds.

    Now, as wonderful as that sounds, there are some things to consider before you go out to get those cute little chicks, or ducklings at the feed store.

    Some of which include;

    -Does your town allow the types of poultry you want to add?

    Just because you can have chickens doesn't mean ducks are allowed. Look into your towns zoning regulations if you haven't already. Just because someone down the street has them doesn't mean they are allowed.

    -Do you have the space to accommodate these different species, along with your current birds?

    Different types of fowl have different space requirements. Just because you have enough property for six chickens doesn't mean you have the room for six geese, especially six chickens and six geese.

    I like to make sure I have enough room to accommodate all my birds. Now, I think it's maybe a little unrealistic to go by the recommended amount of space for your largest species. Of course if you have the ability to do so, then go for it! The more room the better.

    For instance If you want six chickens, three ducks, and two geese and you try to make sure your house and run are large enough for 11 geese. That way you largest type of fowl has enough room and your smaller fowl have plenty of room. That means you'd need a coop with 110 square feet and a run with 330 square feet!

    But for those of us who don't have the space or money for something so large, I think going by an average works just fine.

    I have 1 goose, 5 ducks, and 15 chickens so I like to go by the recommended amount of space for my ducks, and apply it to each bird. Ducks are recommended to have 4 square feet of space in the coop and 10 square feet in the run per bird. My coop is 96 square feet and the run is roughly 400-450 square feet. Obviously my run is much larger than I need it to be but I have the land to have it like that.

    -Can different types of poultry sleep in the same coop?

    Of course, this again, is a situation where you just need to have enough room for everyone. Typically even birds who don't care for each other will still sleep in the same coop as long as there's room and they can stay away from each other.

    (Don't force birds who fight with each other to live together, though.)

    -How do I feed all these different species?

    Believe it or not, this is quite easy. You can get a flock feed that way you avoid giving males the extra calcium in layer feed. Just make sure you have oyster shells available on the side, and don't worry if you see you males eating them from time to time. Grit is another important supplement to offer your flock.

    -Can I still feed them scraps?

    Yes, just make sure that you don't offer anything that's bad for any of them.

    -Can males of different species live in the flock?

    Yes, it's important to make sure you have enough females for each male of their species. This is important, that way you can avoid any interspecies mating, which could potentially be dangerous.

    -What if my birds just aren't getting along?

    You may need to consider re-homing the birds causing a problem. Another solution is to have a different house and run for birds that don't fair well in your mixed flock.

    There are also some wonderful recipes online for different meat dishes.

    -Do people have a mixed flock as well as a flock of one species?

    Yes, this isn't that uncommon. Sometimes people want to breed certain birds and not others, so they have a specific flock for this. Others like to have a flock for just meat birds, or just egg birds, and yes the flock of those extra special pets.

    Don't be discouraged if something doesn't go well or work well for you, even if someone else said it's great for them. A big thing I don't think can be stress enough is that every person, flock, and bird is different and requires slightly different things.

    Start small! Even though a mixed flock sounds like something you want to have, doesn't mean it will work for you. Whether it's too much work, the birds just aren't getting along, or you just don't like it. It's a lot easier to re-home, separate, or process 10 birds than it is say 15, 20, or 30 birds.

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Recent User Reviews

  1. wolfinator
    "Great advice in article..."
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Aug 14, 2018
    I have a mixed flock of bantam chickens, standard rooster (he chose to be in this pen) and khaki Campbell's ducks. My bantam hens have been surrogate hatching mommas to 6 ducks and 6 standard chickens plus 6 bought standard chickens over the last year. My bantam hens are 3 1/2 years old and don't lay as often, 2 go broody every few months so I let them sit on others eggs at times. I limit each hen on how many eggs they can try to hatch so I don't have too many babies at one time.
    Pictured below are my 2 bantam surrogate hens (white 1 is a Showgirl, grey 1 mix breed) with 2 of the ducklings they hatched and chicks I bought together in nursery coop. 2 more ducklings hatched a few days later.
    View attachment 1504914

    I have haven't had any problems with my mixed flock other than the ducks constantly muddy the water. I allow all my pens of chickens and ducks to mingle in a larger fenced area outside their 4 pens. There's a total of 69 between all of them of which there are 8 roosters (1 bantam), 49 hens and pullets, 2 drakes and 4 ducks. The 6 chicks (5 pullets, 1 cockerel - bought as pullet) are kept separate since they're under 9 weeks.
    View attachment 1504907
    Lamaremybabies likes this.
  2. magicdave
    "Raising a mixed flock"
    4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Aug 14, 2018
    It has been my experience that mixing ducklings in with adult chickens may not work but raising chicks and ducklings together works. It is a good idea to pay close attention as the ducks normally grow much faster than the chickens. Aggressive ducklings may damages chicks. I use a broody hen to hatch fertile duck eggs. The very first brood that my hen "Sally" hatched out was interesting. She seemed to know they weren't chickens. Now 2 years later she still knows that those 4 Ancona ducks are her "children" and they recognize her as "Mom." Sally was really upset when 4 of her "children" were lost to a weasel. I am rebuilding my flocks. My Ancona ducks will be hatched in an incubator. My Speckled Sussex chickens (new breed for me) will be "1 day old" from a hatchery. I do plan to keep a Sussex rooster and incubate more Speckled Sussex that will be imprinted on me. Then my ducks and chickens will be very well imprinted on me. I will then sell my original chickens from the hatchery. It's just my preference. I know people that want socialized chickens that are already laying eggs so selling the adults will be easy. I enjoy training them to come when I call. That makes it easy to put them in their roost. It also allows "mobility" in case becoming nomadic is necessary.
    My Ancona ducks come when I call. They are very tame to me but not other people. My chickens love all humans. They are shameless beggars but very friendly.
    It is my opinion that recommended space requirements are absolute minimums. My duck house is 240 sq.ft.(12'x20') It houses 20 ducks and 4 drakes. Adding more ducks would be crowding them. I do not believe in crowding them. My 30 hens and 3 roosters have a coop that is 148 sq.ft.(12'x14') They have less space but are actually not crowded. When it is well below zero and the wind is howling it doesn't really affect the ducks but the chickens aren't happy. They huddle together to stay warm. My pasture is not really bug enough for 57 birds but the fence is only 40" high so the chickens free range the "neighborhood" which consists of huge pastures where black angus graze and huge hay fields. They automatically go to their roost late in the day but not the ducks. I have to walk them to their house and sing them a James Taylor song. The ducks are confined to a pasture that is approximately 6000 sq.ft. and I wish it was bigger. Space is really important for keeping really healthy birds. I eat raw eggs and raw duck meat often so free ranging and bug eating is absolutely necessary for my birds. Eating bugs prevents Salmonella. That's my story and I'm sticking to it .
    PS "Sally Two Toes" is still laying an egg every day year round at 5 years old. She is a Golden Comet.
    Lamaremybabies likes this.
    1. Lamaremybabies
      Sounds like you’ve got a great set up! Best of luck in all future endeavored.
  3. Jen Powell
    "Good article"
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Aug 14, 2018
    We have chickens and ducks together - 3 female Pekin ducks and 18 mixed breed chickens, including one Russian Orloff rooster over the whole group of females. We had our ducks separated from the chickens when we had more ducks. We had 12 ducks and they were turning our yard into a huge mud puddle, so we sent some to freezer camp and then moved the remaining in with our chickens. They all get along really well - now the ducks don't have constant access to a pool in their run, so that helps the mud puddle issue.
    Lamaremybabies likes this.
    1. Lamaremybabies
      Yeah, ducks are masters at making everything muddy. I put their kiddie pool on a deck that I have set on top of a patio I made them.


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  1. Thomas70
    I have 6 silkie chickens and 2 ducks. I have a 8 x 8 coup, and a run which is 50 x 30. They get along well because the ducks are docile like the chickens. The problem is the ducks are very messy. They dig in the dirt for worms and insects, get dirt all over their beaks and muddy the drinking water, and they poop in the drinking water if they can get into it. I say they eat dirt but my wife says they don't. We have a kiddie pool for them to swim in which they muddy up and another smaller container for the drinking water for the chickens and we put a board across it to keep the ducks from getting into it but they drink from it and muddy it up anyway. We were letting the ducks sleep in the coup and they nasty it up also. So we covered the run with chicken wire and netting with a PVC frame. So now the ducks sleep outside at night and the coup is much cleaner and therefore a small task to clean. We put the chicken water in the coup where the ducks can't get to it, and it stays clean now.
      Lamaremybabies likes this.
  2. Carrie Rocket
    Thanks. I have four ducks in a fairly large coop. The floor of the coop is straw and we have a small pond in the run. I want to get chickens and know I need to build something in the coop for the chickens to roost and a box for them to lay in. I’m wondering two things: 1. Will the chickens drown in the pond or will they stay clear of it and 2. Do I need to change the floor of the coop with a different material or is straw ok? I appreciate all the input and advice anyone has.
      Lamaremybabies likes this.
    1. Lamaremybabies
      I have a large kiddie pool for my ducks and geese to use when my seasonal brook is empty, and my chickens will drink out of it, but I’ve never had one drown. However, if you’re planning on adding them while they're still only a month or two I’d keep them away from the pond until they’re a bit larger. Accidents can happen. Straw is perfectly fine for ducks and chickens.
      DiamondSwan likes this.
    2. CuriousQueen
      Straw doesn’t dry out well from my very limited experience. It got stinky. I got the mini flake shavings. That stuff is so absorbent and dries easily once forked.
      Lamaremybabies likes this.
  3. Kluk-Kluk
    I tried having a mixed flock when my daughter put day-old ducklings under our broody hen. It worked for about two weeks, but as the ducks got bigger, they made a terrible mess of the water supply. Since we don't have a pond for the ducks, I felt it just didn't work for me. They all got along fine and slept in the same coop, but the ducks ate a LOT and made a muddy mess of the chicken yard, which is fairly large and fenced. They spilled water and made mud, and put mud into the water, though I'm not even sure how. In the end, I was truly joyful when we sold the six ducks at 8 weeks of age. I personally will stick to just chickens unless I move to a place that has more land and a pond.
      Lamaremybabies likes this.
  4. TurkeymanAu
    Lamaremybabies-Obviously this keeping of various breeds is working for you so far.You don't mention disease risks.It is just a lay down mesere that they will crop up in time,and cause you much grief and costs.Conditions that suit one species to prevent problems are a no no for others.Water birds need water to bathe and prevent wild eye,but for other species the only damp areas should be the drinking trough to prevent Coccidiosis,CRD,laryngo tracheitis,and a host of others,and of course blackhead,as damp is a perfect place for the caecal worm,which can live in the ground for up to 2 years.So blackhead preventative is imperative for any turkey,and a coccidiostat in all the feeds I would think.
    In general though-commercially-mixing of species,especially with ducks,is just not an option.
      Lamaremybabies likes this.
    1. Lamaremybabies
      You are absolutely right, I didn’t mention the disease risks. Partially because no matter how you raise your flock, be it a mixed flock or not. Disease is always a risk, and while I understand that certain species are prone to diseases that others aren’t but can still carry them. This article was written from personal experience. Now, maybe I’m just lucky but so far I haven’t had a single issue with anyone getting a disease, be it worms or anything else. This also was in no way intended to be a coveral about having a mixed flock. Simply how it generally works and my personal experience with having one. I wouldn’t think that anyone would simply read this article and call it a day.
      DiamondSwan likes this.
    2. DiamondSwan
      I also have a mixed flock of chickens, ducks, and guineas of various breeds and haven't had any problems with disease during the 4 years that I've had them. I let my ducks out to swim on the pond during the day and only put them up with the rest of the flock at night.
      Lamaremybabies likes this.
  5. BonnieC3
    One thing the article does not touch on and I wish it did is keeping chickens and turkeys together. I've always read and been told you cannot do this due to blackhead parasites that chickens are basically immune to and will kill turkeys. Is there a way to raise these birds together?
      Lamaremybabies likes this.
    1. Lamaremybabies
      I didn’t write about chickens and turkeys since I’ve never had turkeys (that may change). However, I’m sure there are articles about keeping turkeys and chickens. I also know that there are many people who keep their turkeys and chickens together and haven’t had a problem. It really all comes down to what you’re comfortable with.
      DiamondSwan likes this.
    2. Jack Speese
      If blackhead is endemic to your area, you can still raise turkeys and chickens on the same farm, just not TOGETHER. Unfortunately the organism can survive in dormant form in the soil for 2 years, so be sure not to let turkeys onto land that has had chickens within that period. The organism is transmitted through feces and spends part of its life cycle in the ground, I believe as a parasite of worms, snail, slugs, etc. Unfortunately the disease can affect turkeys at any age, but poults are most susceptible and adult birds gain some immunity. I did hear of someone who built a large raised coop and large raised run with a wire floor, thus breaking the soil contact necessary for the disease cycle, and successfully raised turkeys and chickens together in it.
      Lamaremybabies likes this.
  6. klilly20
    How can you raise chicken with turkeys together with the fear of the black head disease?
      Lamaremybabies likes this.
    1. Lamaremybabies
      I personally have never had turkey’s and I wrote this article from personal experience and knowledge. However, I do know that many people do indeed keep turkeys and chickens together and haven’t had a problem. Again, I think it’s just a matter of keeping everything clean and having plenty of space.
  7. BunnyTree
    I had ducks and chickens together for a while and it worked out really well...I would recommend having a drake (male duck) if you have roosters though, The roosters would try mating with the ducks but would never get farther than chasing them because of my trusty drake ;) I would recommend having a separate food and water because the ducks tend to get it all mucky. I had a smaller "duck coop" that the ducks would sleep in and every once in a while a chicken would decide to spend the night or vice versa but they all shared the run and it worked out quite nicely:)
      DiamondSwan and Lamaremybabies like this.
  8. meemmeem
    I'm just now getting into chickens. I have two "chickies" bout 2 months old. Taco Bell and KFC are Belgian Malines. I've had Muscovy ducks for 2 1/2 years. Mrs. duck gets along with the chickies... she waits for them to uproot a bug and then follows behind to eat it. The drake does not like the chickens at all. The chickens don't really mind the dog and one cat.

    My animals free range... thank goodness to Sofe my LGD. The ducks have a nice cozy house and right now the chicks have their original cage (which I wanted them to know where it is and feel that is their safe place) and then they have access to the large house and several dog houses with hay.

    You know, I really had no clue but chickens don't seem to be very bright. Anyone else feel the same? Just wondering.
      DiamondSwan and Lamaremybabies like this.
    1. Lamaremybabies
      I feel that chickens for the most part are relatively intelligent. However, they definitely do have some major “blonde” moments.
      DiamondSwan and blackandtan like this.
    2. blackandtan
      I think they're smarten than people credit- if you understand that there are only three things in their world: food items, non food items and scary stuff. Want to see really dumb? Watch a group of turkeys chase a grasshopper!
  9. Jack Speese
    I've done this too. As you say, having enough space is the key, and everyone generally gets along fine. With waterfowl you need to make special arrangements with water, because they make a mess with it given the chance. One or two ducks will empty a typical gravity-fed waterer that will supply water to a flock of 15 to 25 chickens for a day within a couple of hours, and make a mess in the process. And you must design your coop so that your waterfowl can get in and out of it as well. Ducks won't climb ladders or ramps like chickens do. Before I mixed turkeys and chickens, I would check to make sure that blackhead isn't endemic to my area. Although I've never had a problem with regular geese and ducks and chickens together as long as everyone has plenty of space, you need to watch out for Chinese geese. I set some Chinese goose eggs under a broody Muscovy duck once, and once those goslings got bigger, they brutally (and fatally) attacked ducklings even though they were raised together with them and hatched by a foster mother duck. Chinese geese are the one breed of poultry that I really don't like.
      DiamondSwan and Lamaremybabies like this.
  10. Pharmagirl
    I had five to start- bought them at a small animal auction, all sold for meat, then a bear attack killed four. My oldest girl, Prisilla, survived. We electrified the coop and run. Looks like a maximum security poultry prison now but safe. I bought two orpingtons- boy and a girl. They got along great with Priss. The following week I bought two very young hens from a live poultry market (slaughterhouse) in Patterson NJ. Cash is king! They are so sweet! The one older pullet put her wing over the smaller one for a time. They integrated well. A week later I added two new 10 wk old pullets. We call them the twins and they are having the time of their lives they chase, play, jump over each other, chest bump and cuddle at night in a nest box (I know, you are not supposed to do that). They get chased by the older ones less and less each day and we have enough room for them to get away from the pecks. I made sure that I have three food bowls out all the time as they are chased away from the food. I have found that when you add nest-mates, they do better than a singleton. I plan on adding 4 battery hens in the coming weeks. I need more coop!!! OMG, I have a problem. I keep wanting to get more girls! My roo says, do what's in your heart and is fully supportive of my hobby.
    1. Lamaremybabies
      That’s awesome!
      DiamondSwan likes this.
    We have a mixed flock of 36 hens, two female ducks and 1 female turkey. We used to have more ducks (13) and turkeys, (6) but that was years ago and our flock has diminished with time. We have 3 pens that house them at night; on average each pen is between 65sf-100sf and they are free to choose which one they want to go in at night. Their yard is 30' x 80'. We have rarely had a problem with anyone not getting along. There has only been one major instance and that chicken ended up in the pot, so to speak.
      DiamondSwan and Lamaremybabies like this.
  12. blackandtan
    I couldn't agree more! My winter flock is 20 hens, 2 roosters, male and a female duck and male and female turkey; in the summer it also includes 10 meatballs (broilers) and 4 geese. Even though they're all together there are several separate flocks within...at least until treat time when they all come running! I should add that this is the first time the meaties were added to general population so early, and changed to layer feed, and they're so nice this year! Still huge, but they're CLEAN and HEALTHY and RUNNING AROUND!!! Like totally different birds. I also have a second flock of 30 pheasants and 10 young turkeys, they're doing very well together - the turks, always tame, have toned down the wildness of the pheasies, so they don't explode everywhere when i go in to feed them - no broken necks on the walls this year!
      DiamondSwan and Lamaremybabies like this.
    1. Lamaremybabies
      Sounds great!!
      DiamondSwan likes this.
    A very nice piece.
      DiamondSwan and Lamaremybabies like this.
    A very nice piece.
      Lamaremybabies likes this.
  15. Pollmadoll
    I have a real chick juggle challenge, I peahen chick of ten weeks.Alone at the moment. Two silkies hatched together nine weeks ago. They get on
    One silky serama a month old all hatched in an incubator and three,
    month old Wyandotte chicks hatched by aneighbour's broody hen . I am hoping the silky serama will get on with the Wyandotte chicks
      DiamondSwan and Lamaremybabies like this.
  16. DiamondSwan
    Great job on your articles Sophia! :clapI've been wanting to make a few, but just havn' t had the time.
      Lamaremybabies likes this.
    1. Lamaremybabies
      Yeah, I felt like writing a couple for a while but couldn’t figure out what I wanted to write about.
      DiamondSwan likes this.
  17. Arnettalynn67
    I have a mixed dock of different baby chicks to start our first flock of week old babies.. To be exact we over did it by starting with 20 then 20more..we have the room.. But when should I introduce my new chicks they are almost 3weeks old.. And the older flock are 6an7 week mix now..
      DiamondSwan likes this.
    1. Lamaremybabies
      Because both flocks are so young integration should be easier...
      I highly recommend you put them in an area where the only separation between each flock is chicken wire. After being next to each other like that for a week you can remove some of the divider so they can mingle with each other at will. They might peck and chase a little, but don't worry they're just trying to establish themselves among the new peeps. Make sure you have extra waters and feeders available to help reduce stress.
      DiamondSwan and Arnettalynn67 like this.
    2. Arnettalynn67
      Thank you
      Lamaremybabies likes this.

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