Your chicken farm is growing, and you are dreaming about adding stock. One of the things that might be playing at the back of your mind is whether you can diversify safely. For instance, you would want to raise ducks also. The question is can you raise chickens and ducks together?
An even more pertinent question is whether they can use the same coop or you will be forced to build separate coops for each of the birds. This article will do our level best to answer these questions and provide you with enough information to guide you.
Many small-scale poultry farmers would prefer to diversify with ducks first before other poultry types such as geese, guinea fowls, and turkeys. Guineas and geese can be pretty noisy, and turkeys are large birds. On the other hand, ducks are quieter, lay eggs as regularly as chickens, and require a small room.
How Do Ducks Differ From Chickens?
While ducks share a lot of similarities with chickens, they are equally different. You can raise these birds together, but each one has its unique needs. So long as you satisfy the needs of each type, the birds can co-exist happily and healthily.
Therefore, you can successfully raise chickens and ducks together. The road to your success will be your ability to provide each of the birds with what they need sufficiently. Below, we have provided you with information on each of these needs and how you can satisfy them for each of the birds.
You can raise both types of poultry in a single coop, or you can house them separately. Ducks tend to nest at night while chickens enjoy roosting at night. Therefore, you will need to provide ducks with level ground to nest, and chickens need places to perch above the ground.
If you intend to house the two types of poultry together, you must take care of each bird’s individual needs. You’ll have to prepare a level ground on the coop floor to provide ducks with nesting places.
Similarly, you’ll provide roosts for the chicken. Ensure the roosts aren’t directly above the nesting places of the ducks. Otherwise, the ducks will have to contend with chicken poop all over them. You and the ducks will not like this.
The ramp that leads into the coop should not be too steep. The chicken will not have a problem climbing a steep ramp while ducks will struggle. Ducks’ webbed feet and heavy bodies make it difficult for them to jump from steep ramps.
Ducks also love to sleep on the ground in the open air. If it’s a walk-in coop, you can leave a small door that remains open all night long and leads to a totally secure small run. However, you must ensure 100 percent security from predators.
In terms of feeds, ducks and chickens pretty much eat the same things – from primary feeds to treats. In fact, you can buy chicken feeds to serve both chickens and ducks. However, you may have to pay more attention to chicks and ducklings as they have different nutritional requirements.
Young ducklings required feeds rich in niacin. For instance, you can add brewer’s yeast into their foods to boost ducklings’ early growth. Besides, ducks’ wide beaks cannot fit the narrow feeder troughs for chickens. They eat better with much ease in open bowls.
You can read more on what to feed your baby chicks and ducklings.
You may appreciate from the preceding discussion how easy it is to raise ducks and chickens together. The biggest hurdle is that to do with watering them. Chicken waterers are only ideal for their tiny beaks.
Conversely, ducks need access to large quantities of water where they can dip their entire heads in to drink. They need lots of water to drink and wash their heads and moisten their nostrils. The water also cleans their eyes and helps mix their foods for easier digestion.
So, you will do your ducks injustice by providing water in traditional water fonts because their beaks won’t fit therein. Although they can use nipple waterers, they will still require a bowl or trough of fresh, clean water to help clean themselves and digest the food they eat.
Unlike the chicken, ducks are great swimmers. When drinking and cleaning, they splash the water. Then, they will attempt to jump in to swim, adding feed and dirt to the water. In fact, ducks thrive in muddy and murky water. Chickens, on the other hand, drink only clean and clear water.
You can have your chicken and ducks share a bowl of water. However, you must maintain it clean at all times by scrubbing it daily. We’d also advise you to keep it outside the coop to keep the shaving inside dry. You can use Coop Bedding to dry the coop inside. Also, don’t set the bowl in one part. Rotate it frequently and occasionally in a single place from becoming too muddy.
Ducks thrive in swimming, and they tend to be happier where they can access a good amount of water. It’s not a must that you build for them a swimming pool so long as they have somewhere deep enough to plunge into.
For instance, you can create a small pool just for the ducks to prevent them from jumping into the water bowl and splashing the water all over. Chicks can drown in pools if they can access them. So, make sure it is inaccessible by grating it. Alternatively, you can choose to fill it only when the chicks have grown or when you can supervise.
Adult chickens, on the other hand, avoid pools and go there occasionally to drink. Besides, they do not like to swim but naturally float, so there is no drowning risk.
How Do Ducks And Chickens Interact?
We can consider the interaction between chickens and ducks as flock dynamics. Mostly, these two types of birds ignore each other. If each bird type’s flock is small, they will integrate much better than if the flocks were large.
In the latter case, ducks will enjoy the company of other ducks while chickens will definitely cling to other chickens. When they are free-range, the chicken will stick together, and so will ducks. If they sense you want to give them a treat, they will all come running, and no group will dominate.
We have also observed that each group’s females tend to tolerate each other’s company more than males for obvious reasons. Drakes and roosters are territorial, especially when foraging and during treats, to save the best for their ladies. These dynamics, too depend on the temperament of each bird.
During the breeding season, which may be early spring or summer, you might want to keep drakes in their corner, each with 2-3 female ducks. Otherwise, the drake may try to mate with female chicken with catastrophic consequences. Having a rooster around may protect the female chickens, but why risk it?
As you can see, you can successfully raise chickens and ducks. The trick lies in understanding the needs of each type and satisfying them as best as you can. Ultimately, you will have a happy mixed flock that’s fun to behold and care for.