Keeping Ducks With Chickens

 
Keeping Ducks With Chickens - The Do's And Don'ts
 

There are many mixed opinions about keeping chickens and ducks together in the same enclosure. From a purists point of view, they should be kept in separate enclosures but I have kept my chickens and ducks together for many years with very few problems. Here are a few guidelines.

 

Will Chickens and Ducks Squabble?

Chickens and ducks can fight just like they squabble amongst themselves sometimes but it's the chickens that can cause the most damage with their sharp beaks. Caution should be taken with Drakes and Cockerels as both can be argumentative at certain times of the year.

If they are kept in a large enough area, are able to get away from one another and have access to enough food and water containers, then they can usually live together happily, going about their own business. Ensure there is adequate housing space or provide different housing for each. Remember ducks won't always put themselves to bed like chickens so if you are using an automatic pop hole opener, you will need to get the ducks to go in before it closes when it gets dark.

 

Feeding Chickens and Ducks Together

As youngsters, chickens and ducks require a different type of food. Growers pellets intended for chickens often contain Anti Coccosidistat. Once both are fully grown, they can both be fed on poultry layers pellets and wheat although true free-range ducks will find most of their own food from greens such as grass, duck weed (if available on a pond), insects, bugs and slugs. There is too much calcium in poultry layers pellets for drakes, so ideally, wheat should be provided for them - this is difficult since too much wheat in your hens diet will make them fat and they won't lay as many eggs! The answer is that wheat can be fed to ducks under water - so cleaning their tub of water daily and adding some wheat allows the ducks to take it from the bottom without the hens getting to it. Drakes will regulate their intake between layers pellets and wheat. Only provide as much wheat as they are taking to prevent rats and mice when the tub is emptied out the next day. Expect to feed them between 40 and 60% of their food intake in this way, more in the winter months when the ducks aren't laying.

 

Managing their Water

Ducks need water to wash in and they will soon make a mess of chickens' water containers. If this is the case, water containers can be hung a little off the ground on a wooden tripod with perching bars јust off the ground. This allows chickens to fly up onto a perch and take a drink but stops the ducks from reaching the container.

A small tub that can be emptied easily is often used for a small number of ducks so that they can climb in and wash themselves or dabble in the water when they want to. If this water is too deep or difficult to get out of, chickens can fall in whilst having a drink and get waterlogged, trapped and drown. Bricks on the edge of the tub or a ramp out of it can help a chicken to get out if it falls in.

Most often I'm asked about ducks and rabbits so I thought I'd spend some time this week addressing those issues.

 

Are chickens compatible with ducks?

Chickens are compatible with ducks in that they probably won't fight much more with ducks than they do with each other.

The key to raising chickens with ducks is that they are raised together from the beginning. Do not introduce any new birds, particularly males of either species.

Another important factor is that there is ample room for each to do its own thing. Chances are the chickens and the ducks will leave each other alone, basically ignoring one another. However, if conditions are crowded, there will be a lot of bickering with a greater chance of the fights ending in wounds and possibly death.

Remember that chickens and ducks need different types of food. Once they are of a certain age, I believe there is feed that can be used for both but until that time, you'd need to make sure you feed separately.

Also, remember that ducks need water and ducks are really messy! For that reason alone, I wouldn't keep the two together in a confined area. I would however consider it if I was able to release the animals to free range for the day though.

I know of someone who keeps chickens and ducks together. As mentioned above, they have all been raised together from the beginning. They share a coop at night for protection from predators. The chickens take their spot on the roosts, the ducks settle in on the ground. Come morning, they are all off doing their own thing.

I saw a story once where a chicken hen (female ducks are called hens also) had lost her mate, I don't recall how, stew pot maybe. The farmer also had a pair of ducks but the drake (male duck) had accidentally drowned the female while mating in the pond. The chicken hen had recently hatched her chicks. It didn't take long for the drake to start hanging around with the hen and her chicks. Apparently the two became inseparable; the drake even "adopted" the chicks and was very protective of the whole family.

Although that's a nice story, I don't believe it is the norm, at least when you're talking about larger numbers of birds.

My understanding is that chickens are compatible with most fowl, but again, only if they are raised together from the beginning and have ample room to leave each other alone.

 


 

 

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Why Choose Keeping Ducks? For Meat, Eggs Or Pets?

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