It feels like urban small-scale poultry farming and raising “backyard” poultry has never been more popular than it is right now.
People are experimenting with all kinds of different species and breeds of birds, most of which can live happily together if properly integrated.
One of the more popular breeds of backyard ducks is the Muscovy breed.
Muscovy ducks are not that closely related to other ducks. Which is why they look and behave quite differently to most ducks.
Their personality lends them to living happily with chickens if properly introduced though. Here’s everything you need to know about keeping chickens with Muscovy ducks.
Can Muscovy Ducks Live With Chickens?
Yes, most ducks can live happily with Chickens. Muscovy ducks, in particular, are a great choice as they will happily coexist with chickens and bring a lot of their own benefits to the yard.
If you can introduce ducklings and chicks together when they’re young you have the highest chance of success.
Still, it’s not that difficult to introduce adult chickens or ducks in most instances. You can’t just throw them together though, there is a pecking order within a flock of chickens and it takes time to introduce new birds.
You need to start by keeping them nearby, so they can see, hear, and smell each other. Then slowly release them into areas they share and while being present to break up any fighting or pecking.
It usually takes about a month of supervised visits while gradually increasing the amount of time they’re spending together before adult ducks and chickens can live together.
Each situation is going to be slightly different. It depends on how many birds you’re introducing, their ages, the space you have, etc.
If you’re unsure of the best plan of action, I recommend talking with an avian vet or a similar bird expert in your area and explaining your circumstances.
But the bottom line is that Muscovy and chickens can live together happily.
What Is the Red Stuff on Muscovy Ducks’ Faces?
It’s hard to talk about Muscovies without addressing what everyone thinks the first time they see one – what is the red flesh-like stuff on their faces?
The proper name for the red growths on a Muscovy is caruncles. Which is basically a fleshy excrescence that is part of an animal’s anatomy.
A chicken’s comb and wattle helps them regulate their temperature and is a good indication of their general health. A Muscovy’s caruncle serves an important function too.
There are small holes in their caruncles that release oil. They then spread this oil around when they are preening their feathers.
Effectively helping them keep clean and spreading oils to keep their feathers healthy and aid water resistance. Pretty clever for what looks like a strange growth at first, eh.
Benefits of Keeping Muscovy Ducks with Chickens
Muscovy ducks are fun pets. Not only can they integrate well with chickens, but they also have loads of unique characteristics that make raising them so enjoyable.
Here are some of the benefits of raising Muscovy ducks:
Some ducks can make a huge racket. Muscovy ducks are one of the quieter ducks, however. Which makes them a great choice for more urban settings or if you have neighbors.
They Are Social and Friendly
Muscovy ducks are incredibly social and friendly animals, which makes raising them all the more enjoyable.
Need proof? Just check out the video below:
Muscovies Eat Rodents and Some Other Pests
Small pests like rodents are never welcome. Chickens are pretty good at keeping these at bay, but Muscovies are a little bigger and hardier when it comes to pest control.
This is one of those “in the eye of the beholder” things. Some people think Muscovies are ugly, some think they’re cute, and to the untrained eye, a lot of people think they look a lot like chickens.
Personally I think they’re cute. They come in all kinds of colors too. Black and white are the most common varieties, but they are also available in shades of blue, chocolate, and some other shades.
It’s also funny how they wag their tails when they’re happy, kind of like an excited puppy.
Potential Issues of Keeping Muscovy Ducks With Chickens
While chickens and ducks can live happily together in the same space, they are very different in some ways and have different requirements.
Here are the main differences between these species of bird:
Baby chicks and ducklings have different dietary requirements. I suggest you pick up the appropriate formulated commercial feeds for both chicks and ducklings and feed them separately.
As adults, chickens and Muscovy ducks have very similar dietary requirements. Both need feed containing around 16% protein.
Both chickens and Muscovies are great foragers, but Muscovies take the edge in this department. They will find and eat lots of stuff that chickens won’t, so don’t worry about them going hungry if they’re free-range.
Another major difference between chickens and ducks is that chickens bath in dust and do not like water. While ducks love water and can’t resist splashing around in anything large enough for them to get into.
This means large water troughs will become a mini swimming pool for ducks. You’ll have to provide plenty of drinking water that can’t be contaminated. As well as some spots for our ducks to swim in.
Potential Issues With Roosters and Drakes
As is the case with a lot of animals, the males are prone to fighting. Usually over females and territory, and they can become aggressive.
Keeping either a rooster, a drake, or both within a mixed flock can be complicated unless they were raised from babies.
It’s often easier to not have any males. There is a real risk of the male trying to mate with the females of the other species, which can cause some obvious complications and injuries.
Are you sold now that you know chickens and Muscovy ducks can live happily together?
If you’re in the position where you can accommodate both Muscovy ducks and chickens in your backyard or on your property I’m envious!
I say go for it. The more the merrier, and it’s so fun watching these two species interact with each other.
Plus, as you will have seen if you watched the video above, Muscovies are super friendly and love interacting with people and other animals.
Image credits – Photos by Fábio Scaletta, Daniel Holland, and Elle Hughes on Unsplash
Research into the facial caruncle of the Muscovy – ncib.gov