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.
Recent User Reviews
"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.
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.
"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.
- 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.