Are ducks the new chickens? Yes! Chickens are considered "gateway" animals. As soon as you add a backyard flock of chickens it won't be long until you want to add ducks. After a year of having two flocks of chickens, ducks, guinea hens and turkeys have entered my mind on many occasions.
Ducks are also known to be easier than chickens when it comes to daily management. Yet they are also known to be messy!
Experts at The Happy Chicken Coop tell us,
"While chickens and ducks can be raised together, there are certain differences that any owner should take into consideration when adding new fowl to their flock. Keeping chickens and ducks together requires a little bit of tweaking to coops and equipment."
Just imagine your backyard ducks swimming in the kiddie pool you set up! Here are 5 expert tips and what you need to know.
1. Ducks love water and chickens love to stay dry.
Ducks actually use water to help aid in digestion and when they take a bite of food they will swish it around with water. They use water to clean their nostrils and eyes. All waterers need to be placed outside the coop for both chickens and ducks so a mess isn't made where they sleep and roost!
2. Ducks nest on the ground, they don't roost.
Sharing the coop is no problem! They'll just nest on the ground while the hens roost but nesting material is just as important to ducks so be mindful of what you're using for the coop floor as far as bedding.
3. Roosters and drakes together may be an issue.
Countryside Daily tells us,
"I've never had issues with the males fighting or trying to breed with the other species. I think the key to that is having enough females to go around. A good rule of thumb is at least 10-12 hens per rooster, and at least 2 female ducks for each drake. And when it comes to girls, the more the merrier to keep the peace between the boys!"
4. Ducks are hardy, moreso than chickens.
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The only issue here is keeping the coop clean and the bedding dry. If these two live together the coop needs to stay completely clean! You don't want bacteria to thrive. Ducks do have fewer health issues than chickens overall so are lower maintenance when it comes to illness.
5. Ducks don't care as much about the pecking order as chickens do.
Chickens live and die by their pecking order. I've seen this with my own eyes time and time again. Ducks, on the other hand, don't and you'll need to make sure they're not bullied by any head hens.
Experts at The Happy Chicken Coop explain,
"This can be dangerous for a duck who is not interested in establishing pecking order. A Chicken's beak and talons are sharp and can do damage to a duck who is less equipped to do battle with such a foe."
Ducks can also eat chicken layer feed but adding brewer's yeast is a best practice.
Raising chickens is not "easy" but the reward of fresh eggs daily makes it all worth it! Wouldn't it be wonderful to have duck eggs AND chicken eggs? Backyard chickens and ducks seem to complete the whole homesteading picture for me!
All my birds free range and seeing (hearing) ducks out in the yard would be wonderful! Hoping these expert tips on keeping ducks with chickens helps anyone considering adding in other types of poultry. A mixed flock is certainly do-able if you have ways to tweak your coop and keep everything clean and dry. A small pond will work for those ducks!
Do you have both chickens and ducks in your flock? Please let us know in the comments!