Can ducks and chickens live together? Mixed flocks are possible with a few tricks.
Raising ducks and chickens together is possible, especially for backyard farmers with limited space. You can raise baby chicks and ducklings into a free-range flock of backyard chickens and ducks. However, there are a few things you need to know about keeping chickens and ducks living happily and healthily.
1. Cleanliness is key!
A well ventilated, clean coop is necessary to raise chickens and ducks. All ducks and chicken breeds are subject to different kinds of insects and bacteria from their poop and raising a mixed flock in the same coop will require additional upkeep and cleaning.
2. Split the coop into two sides.
Chickens need to stay dry for health reasons, but ducks need access to water to splash around in (such as a kiddie pool or another type of small pool) and plenty of water to drink while they're eating. If you are not building separate chicken coop and duck coops, splitting a single coop into a dry side and a wet side will prevent the ducks from splashing the chickens. This will also prevent the ducks from dirtying the chicken's fresh water.
3. Chickens and ducks can roost together, with caution.
Chickens, especially brooders, like to roost high up and ducks prefer to lay eggs down low, so this can be an efficient use of space. Nesting boxes for chickens can be placed above straw on the ground as a nesting area for ducks. However, ducks may keep chickens awake all night with their frequent rustling. If this happens, use straw to create bedding for the ducks on the "wet" side of the coop.
4. They need to eat and drink separately.
Chickens and ducks cannot use the same equipment for their food and water due to different beak sizes. Chickens need a waterer (typically a nipple waterer), while ducks prefer an open source of water. Ducklings also need additional niacin than the amount in the standard chicken feed, and benefit from the addition of brewer's yeast to their diet. Having separate feeding stations is also helpful if either the chickens or ducks need medicated feed.
5. Hens and ducks will get along, but they will likely not interact.
Chicken hens maintain a literal pecking order, which female ducks do not. Keep an eye out for the occasional chicken looking to show off by picking on some of the ducks in your coop. This is especially important if the chickens are having a hard time sleeping. Additionally, watch for chickens eating duck eggs from their nest, and vice versa.
6. Drakes and roosters have a small, but non-zero chance of fighting
Watch for problematic individuals and separate them if necessary. The greatest risk of drakes (male ducks) and roosters (male chickens) fighting is at mating season if there aren't enough female ducks and hens (female chickens) to go around. Roosters mating with female ducks is fairly harmless, but drakes making with hens can cause serious harm to the hen. A rooster will protect the hens from a drake.
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