Anyone have both chickens and ducks? Advice

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by hollyfred, Mar 20, 2017.

  1. hollyfred

    hollyfred New Egg

    Mar 20, 2017
    I know this question has been asked, but the answers are confusing because it really does seem to matter on your set up. I live on 2 1/2 acres, just east of Denver, Colorado (think plains..not mountains). We have been talking about getting chickens for over a year now, but ducks often come up in the conversation as well and I am just not sure which way to go.

    So the area I want to keep them in is near our front gate. on the north side of our house. We have a farm fence running on what would be the north side of the coop/pen area. On the other side of that fence lives my neighbor's beagles. They have an electric fence on their side as well as the farm fence so I don't think they would ever attempt getting out, but I am not sure how that might be an issue. We have a dog too, but our dog so easily trains with everything and is a people pleaser in general. I am not worried about teaching her to be a chicken/duck helper rather than an attacker. there's that.

    Next, the area is about 100X 20 feet at one end and sort of curves and tapers off to a point at the other. There are two large pine trees and lots of pine needles are in that space as well as a large pile of gravel that we moved out of some flower beds when we moved in here. It is probably 2 ft high x 4 ft wide x 15 ft long (I say this because I am thinking that this might work for a duck water area). It seems like I might be less likely to have a mess with either of them due to lots of pine needles and gravel, but I don't know. I do plan on free ranging as much as I can (we have coyotes, foxes, hawks, king snakes, and owls in the area well as deer and about plethora of rabbits and field mice). We have a grass lawn up near the house and then a field in the back plus I have a garden with tomatoes, vegetables, strawberries, and fruit trees and a 3 bin compost area on the south side of the house. I have a long strip on the east side of our house, right against the fence that is about 10 feet wide and 100 feet long that seems like a good area to let them run if total free ranging doesn't work well plus another sort of grassy island with 6 more large trees right in front of our house. It is an oval shape that is maybe 75 feet long and 30 feet at its widest point.

    Weather here can be very snowy in the winter at times, but it is rarely super cold. The average low temp for the coldest day of the year is 19 degrees. The average daily high during the coldest time of year is 51 degrees. I am looking at the data and it says it rarely gets over 94 here in the summer, which I believe, but I think because of the elevation, it feels crazy hot sometimes in the summer (and I grew up in Phoenix, AZ, which actually is crazy hot). I would say the biggest weather issue I have had to deal with here is the insane wind that happens sometimes. 70 mph winds are not uncommon. Originally I planned for a coop more out in the field, but I think that the coop needs better protection from the wind, so I thought this other space will work better.

    If we do ducks, I was leaning towards runners. If we do chickens, we were leaning towards a buff orphington and one other type. We want 3 birds altogether to start with.

    Knowing all this...suggestions? My kids are 7 and 10 assuming the kid issue is also a factor.

  2. hilltopchicks77

    hilltopchicks77 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 7, 2016
    We have both! I would probably do four birds total, 2 of each so they each have a friend if you can swing it.

    We have orphingtons, wyandottes and red mixes and with kids I would just get the orpgintons. They're the most fun, they kinda like cats you can carry them around etc. they also lay eggs very regular and mine haven't gone broody at all. If anything they're overly friendly and will occasionally get in the car if we leave the doors open!

    My Muscovy ducks (French white I don't know if it matters) were amazing with my daughter although both were taken by predator about a year apart. They can fly and are larger which makes them slightly more predator proof. They also don't require a pond just some water to play in.

    Either will eat your garden so make sure you have a good fence on it! My ducks got into my plants last year and are most of them.

    You have to clean the coop more with ducks due to larger poop but they can all live together just fine.
  3. hilltopchicks77

    hilltopchicks77 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 7, 2016
    You will have to keep them in separate broilers if you're doing chicks and just give them supervised play time until they get bigger. The ducks don't realize how much larger they are than chickens and they will squash them playing.

    Also get female ducks if possible then they won't mount the chickens
  4. Ducks4us

    Ducks4us Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 31, 2015
    North Idaho
    I would get ducks! But after trying chickens for a couple yeara and trying ducks two springs in a row....
    we now have only ducklings.
    We had a bad experience with buying sick chicks and are now completely chicken less. And i am happier.
    Here is why i chose ducks over chickens this year
    Ducks do better in winter
    Ducks do better in summer
    Ducks dont have they aggressive pecking order chickens have
    There is always one chicken pecking everyone else and being mean it seems... for me this happened with both flocks despite tons of space.
    Ducks dont 'usually'get the lice and mites like chickens when they have a good water source. They spend so much time bathing and swimming.
    Ducks lay eggs for longer into their life. Double the laying life of chickens.
    Ducks get far less respitory problems.
    I bought runners-- so they cant fly. They cant even get up on anything thats taller than they are.
    I have been told chickens are far worse on gardens than ducks. And harder on grass/lawns in general. Where they ate the grass in their run it is pure dirt and grass no longer grows.
    Duck poop disolves in the yard when water hits it. Chicken poop stays and for us The chicken poop was worse.
    Their coop/ housing is easier.

    But like i said i personally after trying both prefer ducks over chickens for many reasons. Some prefer chickens.
    The only part about ducks thats more time consuming would be the water. Which is okay with me since thats the only con.
    If i could only have 3 - i would spend the xtra money to order sexed female ducklings .
    Becaue the feed stores only sell unsexed ducklings. And your chances of all boys or the majority boys is real high.
    I ordered 10 female runner ducklings from metzer farms a month or so ago. They arrived two weeks ago. And i love them!!
    They are so cute, and sweet. They all pile up on my lap when i sit on the ground with them.
    Duck bills are much softer than a chicken peck :)
    And yes if you decide to both they would have to be brooded separately because the ducks make such a mess of the brooder. Although i am brooding mine in the coop with tons of space and its soo much easier than trying to keep them in a rubbermade or something.

    The two books i read and that helped me decide on ducks were
    Duck eggs daily and
    Fresh eggs daily
    2 people like this.
  5. hollyfred

    hollyfred New Egg

    Mar 20, 2017
    Thank you for such detailed info and opinions. This is really helpful. I will keep checking back for more, but this is great.
    1 person likes this.
  6. TLWR

    TLWR Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 10, 2010
    southern AL
    I have both.
    I currently have 4 ducks and 3 chickens.
    My ducks are runners and a welsh harlequin.
    My chickens are a buff orpington, black sex link and a barred rock.

    They free range our property. We have 6 acres, but only 4 is fenced. They stick to the close acre or so. We do at times have predator issues and when that happens, they get penned up together. in a 25x25 pen.
    I raised ducks then more ducks, then chickens, then more chickens. I did not raise any groups together, so don't have experience with brooding both together. But, we did a hatch at school and the little chicks were nasty to the ducklings. For them, we had to separate. So if you do them together, just have a plan B to separate them if needed.

    Basically, whatever set up you have for one, would work for the other. With high winds, you'll want to be sure you can keep their house draft free.
    Maybe try one this year and then if you are still interested in the other, try the other next year.

    My husband prefers our chickens. He thinks they are easier (they put themselves to bed always - the ducks sometimes need a reminder of where they should be at night). I think they both have their high points and not sure I'd say I prefer one over the other. Egg wise, I personally don't like egg yolks, but can tolerate chicken egg yolk, but do NOT like duck egg yolk for eating eggs. I'll bake with anything egg wise.
  7. lomine

    lomine Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 7, 2015
    Peyton, CO
    Hello from Colorado Springs!

    I have both. I currently have 3 ducks, 5 adult chickens, and 5 chicks. My ducks are all Welsh Harlequin. Adult chickens are 3 Blue Ameraucanas, 1 SLR Wyandotte and 1 EE. Chicks are 2 EEs, 2 Buff Orpingtons, and 1 Delaware. They all share a run (chicks are separated by chicken wire right now) but the adult chickens sleep in the coop while my ducks sleep in the run. It's very secure. They free range in my backyard all day. There are aspects I like and dislike about each type.

    For the ducks, keeping their water clean can be a pain especially in the winter when the faucet freezes. Luckily there aren't too many days in the year when that is a problem. But you'll definitely want a plan for that beforehand. Mine are not lap sitters or anything but they are friendly and have no problems eating from my hand. They also like to talk to me while I'm out in the yard which is pretty cute. I plan to get more ducks in the future when I move to a place with more land. Also, I love baking with the eggs. Any kind of custard type of dessert is way better when made with duck eggs.

    My adult chickens aren't friendly but they aren't flighty either. They will sometimes eat from my hand but I don't like to feed them that way because they can peck hard and sometimes pinch my skin while trying to get the treat. They are pushy with the ducks but there haven't been any actual fights. They do pull feathers sometimes. (I plan to house them separately when I move.) My main reason for getting chickens was that I wanted colored eggs. They have been much messier in the yard and much harder on my plants. I think if you get chickens Buff Orpingtons would be a great choice to have around kids. My chicks are only about 5 or 6 weeks but they are so friendly. When I sit with them they run all around me, jump in my lap, and perch on my arms. They have been that way since I got them at around 1.5 or 2 weeks old. The Delaware is also very friendly.

    I like having both and plan to keep having both. But if I could only have one I would pick ducks.
    2 people like this.
  8. TinyBirds

    TinyBirds Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 9, 2009
    I have both but dont recommend it. I would just get chickens and try a winter first. Ducks are more hardy but i constantly carry new water to them. In winter all the hoses and fittings freeze and break, so carry water out from the house twice or more a day. Chickens only need water once a day or less.
    Ducks grow about 8 times as fast as chickens so you cant get day olds at the same time. The ducks are too messy to keep with young chickens also. If free range its fine to have both together but predators usually kill free range animals.
  9. hollyfred

    hollyfred New Egg

    Mar 20, 2017
    Well, I am thinking I would start with one and graduate to the other next year. The issue with plants is one to consider. I am an obsessive gardener. In fact I garden for myself and also grow plants that I sell to my neighbors. I take a lot of pride in my flowers and gardens. I was out in the field today preparing an area to plant with poppies and lupine and I was thinking how nice it would be to have a chicken penned in the area for the day to scratch it all to Hell so I could prepare the ground a bit easier....ha! Being destructive could have its benefits at times I suppose. I am feeling pretty set on the runners if I go with ducks. A lot to think about. In the meantime, I am building the pen.
  10. hollyfred

    hollyfred New Egg

    Mar 20, 2017
    As far as the water in winter...don't people just put a heat source in the tub? I keep a bird bath all winter and I refill it daily (clean bird poop out and refill with very warm water). It is heated though so it does not freeze. But I can see if we go out of town that getting someone to keep the tub clean and filled might be more difficult.

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