In general, ducks and chickens get along with each other very well without too many problems. This is especially true if they grow up together.
Even the meanest of roosters can get along with a male duck (a drake). Yet, sometimes, ducks and chickens will just tolerate each other and prefer the company of their own species.
But there are some things you want to think about before you mix ducks and chickens together. So make sure to keep reading!
Unlike roosters, male ducks (drakes) actually have a penis (a topic for another day). Overall, hens aren’t made to accept what the drake has to offer her.
A drake mating with a hen can cause a prolapsed vent which can eventually kill the hen. So if you keep chickens and ducks together, you might want to make sure all ducks are female.
Domestic ducks are generally polygamous and have a high sex drive. So if you still want a drake, a good rule of thumb is to have at least 2 female ducks for each drake to keep him busy. But he’ll be able to handle up to twelve hens.
When you introduce new ducks or chickens to your flock, the chickens’ pecking order shifts.
You’ll need to give them A LOT of space so that if one chicken bullies a duck, they can run the opposite direction. Eventually, things will hopefully settle down and they’ll start respecting each other.
Personally, I’m not a fan of introducing new members that are smaller than most of the original flock. The stress on me and the birds is just too much and doesn’t seem worth it.
Chickens like to be dry, but ducks love to splash and bathe in water.
So what’s the problem?
If you have a small yard, this water will probably find its way to the coop and run. What a mess!
And your chickens will most likely get wet too. On hot sunny days, it’s not so much of a problem. But, in winter, wet chicken feathers is a huge problem! The chickens will freeze because they lack that wonderful layer of down and fat ducks have.
So, you’ll need to keep the ducks’ swimming area away from the chickens. And you’ll have to take out any waterer from the chicken coop or the ducks might end up playing in it.
Please Note: Chickens and ducks both need water to wash down their feed. Do not leave food out without water near it or it could choke.
Seasons & Behavior
During spring and summer (breeding season), ducks may become more aggressive! This is because their working to lay and hatch eggs.
So you have to make sure your chickens and ducks have an abundance of space so that the ducks’ nesting area isn’t close to the chickens.
It’s recommended that you don’t introduce new members to your flock during this time, as ducks can be especially hostile.
If you’re not an expert woodworker (like me) but you’re still thinking of building your own coop and run (it’s really not that hard!), you might want to check out my favorite do-it-yourself chicken coop eBook called “Building a Chicken Coop“. You’ll save tons of money and your coop will most likely be of higher quality than a store-bought one.
Ducks and chickens have slightly different nutritional needs. They also both require different feed formulas at various stages of their lives.
So, while it’s totally possible to have ducks and chickens of different ages together, you’ll probably need to separate them (or at least some of them) at times to make sure they have access to the proper feed.
It’s really unfair to the chickens if you put the ducks in the same coop at night. Chickens like to sleep through the night. Meanwhile, ducks… not so much!
Ducks alternate between sleep and play. They can be so rowdy that the chickens will probably not get the rest they need. This will not only torture your chickens but will most likely slow down or stop egg production.
A better plan is to provide separate shelters for the ducks and the chickens.
Chicks and Ducklings
Although introducing chicks and ducklings at an early age avoids the whole pecking order shift, raising them in the same brooder (Amazon) is not such a great idea.
One of the biggest problems is that the ducklings will splash a lot in the drinker and make a mess of the brooder. Ducklings also drop feed from their bills into the drinker, making the water dirtier much faster.
So to keep your chicks dry and healthy, keep them in their separate brooder.