Your Chicken Questions Answered by a Veterinarian. Honest and Practical Advice

Can chickens and ducks live together?

Chickens and ducks can technically live together but it is preferable to keep them in separate enclosures. It’s rare to find chickens and ducks causing issues with one another when they are kept together, but this can still happen and its best to take precautions and keep them separate.

Although lots of the requirements for chickens and ducks overlap, they still have their differences and it would technically be easier to keep the birds in different coops. However, this doesn’t mean that chickens and ducks can’t peacefully co-exist but its much easier to manage them when they are in separate runs.

Food

Chicken and duck food are different during various stages of their lives. For example, when a chicken is young, she will eat growing pellets. These pellets contain lots of proteins and nutrients required for the chicken to grow, they also contain substances that are harmful to ducks which is why they must be kept separate when they are young.

However, chickens grow older its usually fine to share their food with ducks. This is because the chickens are now fully developed and no longer need the nutrients from grower pellets. But even in this case, there are minor issues, such as layer feed containing too much calcium for drakes but not enough wheat, but more wheat for chickens is bad for them because it doesn’t contain enough protein.

Put simply, feeding chickens and ducks together complicates things, and in most cases its easier to keep and feed them separate from one another. You can share treats though, this is corn feed that we give our birds as a treat:

Fancy Feeds Mixed Corn Poultry Treat (Check current price on Amazon)

Giving your hens treats can be a great way of spending more time with your new pets as well as giving them something to enjoy. An easy rule to follow when giving hens food is that they can pretty much anything you can eat, excluding meats. 

For our birds we provide them with some mixed corn before when we lock them in their coop at night, this is a great way to make sure all our hens are doing alright and give them an evening snack. We’ve been giving them the same treat for years and they still devour it every day. 

The mixed corn treat comes in a 20kg bag which lasts for over 6 months, to get the most up to date price click the link above.

Water

The water situation is another big obstacle when keeping chickens and ducks together. Chickens like to use water fonts, which they can dip their beaks into and easily drink from. However, ducks are unable to do this because of their large beaks which is why they need a large bowl as they often submerge their heads. In summary, the water for chickens and ducks should be kept separate.

Water for ducks

For ducks we recommend giving them a deep water dish, this means they’ll easily be able to drink water and clean themselves. Having a pond isn’t required but the ducks will love a little water to splash around in and it will stop them from swimming in their drinking water.

Chickens are completely unbothered by water, they don’t like getting wet and for the most part, they will generally avoid a pond.

Housing

Ducks and chickens can technically be housed together but again they have different requirements and preferences. Chickens will prefer to roost high up, perched on bars whereas ducks like to nest near to the ground, so you’d have to modify your coop so that it can house both the birds without making it too crammed.

Chickens need space in order to remain happy, so cooping them up with too many birds can cause a fall in egg production, keeping all the birds very tightly packed also increases the chance of disease spreading. So they can be kept together in the same coop but it needs to have the correct facilities.

You’ll also often find that ducks like to sleep outdoors, so they coop must be left accessible even during the night. However, this makes the birds more susceptible to predators. So like everything else, its possible but easier to manage if they are kept separate.

Complications between the two breeds

There are rarely any issues between the two breeds if you just keep females, they usually get along with each other and its uncommon to see them fighting. However, adding roosters and drakes to the flock can sometimes cause issues since they can get territorial but this is very dependent on the temperament of the males.

Lots of people have kept the two together without any issues and others sometimes experience difficulties between the two breeds. Since there is so much variance in how they will behave towards one another there is no way of guessing their reaction because its specific to the flock.

We did find though that males tend to get on best when there lots of females around for the roosters and drakes. Ensuring females are around looks to reduce the amount of conflict between the boys otherwise they may get aggressive.

Conclusion

To conclude, chickens and ducks can be kept together. It depends a lot on the facilities that you have and how you structure the run to fit the requirements of both species but it is definitely possible and a lot of people keep them together. However, in most cases, it is easier to keep them separate

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