Can chickens and ducks be raised and/or kept together?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Blackberry18, Aug 25, 2016.

  1. Blackberry18

    Blackberry18 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 25, 2015
    Next year I'm thinking about getting ducks for the first time. My friends have raised them before and I've been studying poultry for year, so I have more than done my research on them. I've read and seen varied opinions about keeping ducks and chickens together. It seems to have few complications; one of my friends even keeps one duck with her chickens because he seems to think he's a chicken. I know that ducks need to have a deep dish of water to swim in and flush out their eyes, but do they need different kinds of food? Would it be all right if I kept only three ducks with my flock of 15+ chickens? Would drakes and roosters be aggressive? Intermating? I want to get medium-sized ducks, like Khaki Campbells, so I don't think size would be an issue.

    Also, can ducklings and chicks be raised together? They have the same heat requirements, but what about food or water? I want to get some bantam Salmon Faverolles or maybe some Black Australorps or Buff Orpingtons next year as well, and it would seem to be easier if I raised them together to avoid the hassle of having to different pens, and introducing them to the flock together would increase the number of new birds I'm bringing in. So is it possible to raise them together? Is there a time when I can introduce them as young birds before putting them with the flock? Thanks in advance.
  2. QueenMisha

    QueenMisha Queen of the Coop

    I currently run my ducks and chickens together. I would not at all recommend it. It's a big old hassle.

    First of all, ducks are messy. Truly disgusting. They make a mess of water and drink water all day and leave big watery droppings everywhere. This results in constantly muddy water and slick, muddy areas in the run. Not ideal for chickens. It also results in wet nasty bedding.

    Secondly, some drakes will attempt to mount chicken hens. This is very bad as ducks possess penises, something roosters of course do not have. As a result they can severely damage and even kill hens.

    Third, they can't go on a basic layer feed. They require an all flock ration, 18-20% protein. The hens will need to be supplemented with oyster shell for calcium. (Note that really any flock which contains a rooster should be on an all flock feed anyways).

    Fourth, they really should have a pond. It's not 100% necessary but it's ideal and they won't really be happy without it. A pond can consist of something as simple as a baby pool or animal trough, however when ducks are kept with chickens there is concern of the chickens falling in and drowning. I have seen hens fall in and drown in something as shallow as a baby pool.

    Ducklings and chicks can be raised together, but issue one applies the same. They will turn your brooder into a sopping mess that requires daily cleaning.
  3. Blackberry18

    Blackberry18 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 25, 2015
    All right, thanks! About keeping them together, do you think that just three ducks would really make it messy? Would smaller ducks make it easier, such as Call or Mallards? I've read about the mating issue, but I think that a drake would be satisfied with two ducks, right? Plus my rooster may not allow mating with the hens.

    I'm a little worried about the brooding just because of the size difference and need for water on the duck side, as chicks need to be dry. I'd still like to introduce them to the flock together though, just for strength in number reasons. Would it work if I had them in the same pen separated by chicken wire or similar so they can see and interact with each other but still be separate, while letting them be together sometimes?
  4. QueenMisha

    QueenMisha Queen of the Coop

    I own over 200 birds. 3 of them are ducks, and they alone make about an equal amount of mess as maybe 25-50 of the chickens do. Don't underestimate the absolute filthiness of waterfowl.

    Drakes are more likely to mate their own species, but having hens won't stop them from going after the chickens. My other species all ignore the ducks.

    There's no disease concerns between waterfowl and chickens, so proximity (such as sharing a fenceline) shouldn't be a problem. I just wouldn't recommend having the physical housed together, or avoid it as much as possible. Some contact wouldn't be too much of an issue (for example a shared free ranging space).
  5. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    Well, I don't have 200 anything, I have sixteen ducks.

    Their pens are not nasty, and they are perfectly happy without a pond. Just goes to show, there are different experiences out in the big wide world.

    The night pen uses pine shavings for bedding, and I have a watering station that keeps the splash from the drinking water confined to that station. It is easy and quick to clean up once a day by scraping the top moist layer with a little manure off, and occasionally replacing the sawdust shavings.

    That means the rest of the bedding stays pretty dry, so I spot pick most days and then with the time interval depending on the weather, replace sections of the bedding from time to time. No ugly odors.

    The day pen has a base of chopped straw and manure that combine into a nice, earthy, compost. The area around the swim pans (small livestock troughs or concrete mixing pans) needs the most care. A couple of times a year I rake out the gummed-up top inch or so of pea gravel and replace it. Oak leaves really help neutralize unpleasant odors in the warmer months. Setting up the area so that it drains properly makes a huge difference as well. Sometimes folks put their ducks in a flat or bowl-shaped area and then they have problems with mud and yuck. It does not have to be that way.

    I use the used bedding for mulching around the garden, it's excellent for holding moisture and keeping weeds down.
    1 person likes this.
  6. TLWR

    TLWR Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 10, 2010
    southern AL
    I have 5 chickens and 4 ducks. They free range, but when penned for whatever reason, they share a pen.

    If they are penned 24/7, your biggest issue will be water management. Ducks are happy as can be if they have anything to swim in. That can be a pond, kiddie pool, cement mixing pan, etc. My birds have all 3 and the chickens are thrilled to bits to drink nasty water even when they have clean water available.

    Some people house their ducks and chickens together. My chickens live upstairs in the house and the ducks live downstairs. The chickens have no issue going downstairs during the day and taking over to lay eggs in the duck bin LOL
    1 person likes this.
  7. debbiemay

    debbiemay Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 5, 2015
    . I have two Pekin ducks purchased at same time as chicks. The male is starting to mate and not only goes after the female duck but he won't leave my one hen alone. I have been trying to keep the separated till I can re-home the ducks. My poor hen is so hassled she isn't laying. It's awful.
  8. HnkyDnkyZZFarm

    HnkyDnkyZZFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 2, 2016
    Northern California
    We were doing it without problem, till the ducks started trying to sit. We got a surprise hatch about 3 days ago - I've just been letting the ducks sit if they want to sit but not getting too invested since it appears they aren't sitting consistently enough. Anyhoo, we got a surprise hatch of one the first night, and two the next day. The chickens pecked the first one, which we lost that night, and ate the second two which had pipped the next day before I could snag them; I had hoped that a couple MORE ducklings might inspire mama duck to take care of them. Not so much. As soon as her precious eggs were gone she wandered off to do something ducky and the chickens chowed down. They've been all over the spot that was the duck nest for the last couple days now.

    When I get a couple spare hours I'm going to be giving the ducks their own pen. I've caught the chickens eating the duck eggs now twice after this. I'm not necessarily a huge fan of duck eggs, but at this point it's gotten kind of annoying. Everyone was about two before they started becoming yard bosses and dictating who may and may not lay and whose eggs belong to whom. We have one hen that has decided she owns all the eggs and must break everything but her own. The general attitude in the bunch has turned very every bird for themselves. I at least want to give the ducks some respite from the insanity. Especially since they're starting to figure out this sitting thing.

    If you have the space, the mess isn't all that bad. It just depends on how tight your space is. We have a 50x50 yard and an 8x12 coop, but the ducks are about to get their own box. I'm sort of fed up with the chickens calling the shots. Duck poo is watery, but it soaks in quick. I hose the entire yard and coop out about once a month and try to get the coop/roosts/nesting boxes cleaned out every other day.

    Our drake leaves the hens alone, he's a water lover, so unless they got in his duck pool they're just annoying to him. He has two ladies, and they seem to have a decent relationship. Nobodys getting worn ragged by too much attention. One has gone insanely broody, but seems to be snapping out of it with the cooler weather this last couple days. That and after the chickens ate the ducklings I hosed out the nest. Figured enough is enough for a little while.
  9. arrowti

    arrowti Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 20, 2014
    We actually have the opposite problem as a few of the former posters.

    We have ~40 chickens and 5 ducks (1 is a drake). The ducks have two pools to swim and play in, and are actually pretty clean. The run is rather large though, and they have a wooded area to go to. The duck poop is mostly water because during the day they don't really eat any grain and prefer to eat weeds, grass, and vegetables, so it sinks into the ground rather fast. They tend to poop in the same area in the duck house so it's only in one spot, although the area around the water is always wet.

    And then the chickens...

    The chickens poop everywhere. They go in the duck house and crap in their water, in their food, and all over their eggs. They fly up on the aluminum cans where we store food and crap all over the lids.

    Long story short: depends on your ducks I guess. Ours are cayuga/pekin crosses but we haven't experienced any major dirtiness from them. The water's in one corner of the coop so the other side is always dry and that's where they sleep.

    The chickens are far more disgusting.
    1 person likes this.
  10. Shahann

    Shahann Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 23, 2014
    I have about 45 chickens (30 are chicks kept in a separate area). I have five Ancona ducks. They all live together. There are three roosters and one drake all in the same 40 x 60 old fenced-in garden area. I used to let them all free range together, but we have six fox on the property. If I let them free range the fox take 8 at a time. They seem safe in the garden.

    I have a kid's sandbox as a duck pond and a big feeder pan that the ducks use to swim. I didn't feel the need for two places to swim, it's just that I started with two ducks and didn't remove the pan when I got more ducks. I haven't have anything drown in it yet.

    Our ducks don't seem to be filthy. I keep the food away from the water areas. I have at least five places where I dump feed during the day. I use wild bird seed, layer feed, and I throw a cup of oyster shell supplement in the feeders every week or so. I think one of the reasons why they are not filthy is because I dump out the two mini ponds at least once very three days. The ducks play in the water/mud that is dumped (it drains out the fence about six feet away from them.)

    I have seen a rooster mount a duck. I have not seen my one drake mount any chickens yet. He is a little timid. He is only five months old. He does mount the other ducks though.

    The ducks sleep in the corner of one of the three small coops. I did keep them in a separate box when they were ducklings until they could fend for themselves. They do not go in at night like the chickens, but I do chase them in so that they are safe from predators each night.


    Here's a picture of my ducks mixed in with the chickens. I entered it in a photo contest this week on a quilt blog. I'd love it if you would throw a vote for #38 my way... Voting to end some time next week, so get your votes in 8/27 and 8/28/16, Just by voting you could possibly win a little prize too.

    The ducks were not afraid to walk on the quilt at all. The chickens were a little timid of posing on the quilt. I LOVE my ducks (okay and chickens too!)

    You can see all the entries at the above link. Categories are:
    Pet-Themed quilts

    Last edited: Aug 27, 2016

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