With various types of birds kept in a backyard setting - and with it being so rewarding - it’s not uncommon for people to keep a mix of bird types and species together.
Before doing so, you should always do some research to make sure you’re putting together birds that can live happily with one another.
If you want to keep ducks with chickens, keeping 1 duck with chickens or even multiple ducks with your flock of chickens should be fine.
What I will say is that ducks, much like chickens, are social animals, so ideally, the more you have the merrier.
Chickens and ducks do have some different requirements to be aware of, too. But they’re two of the species of birds that are known to coexist well together.
Keeping 1 Duck With Chickens - Tips
It’s perfectly acceptable for ducks to live in the same space as chickens, and a lot of people do so.
It’s important you are aware of the differences, particularly in what chickens and ducks need to maintain optimal health, but it’s not too difficult to make it happen.
Some of the key differences are:
The obvious difference between ducks and chickens is that ducks need water to splash around in, and chickens do not like water at all.
In particular, ducks need water for digestion and to keep themselves clean and happy. While chickens take dust baths to keep themselves clean.
If you’re not familiar with dust bathing, chickens literally roll around in the dirt to clean out their feathers.
Water actually has a negative effect on chickens as they don’t produce the same oils as ducks do that help wick water away, so chickens' feathers can easily get waterlogged.
So, as far as habitat goes, you’ll need a pond or so another form of water when keeping one or more ducks.
For chickens, the more pasture and land you can provide for chickens to free-range the better.
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I’m sure you’ve seen some cute video clips of ducks and chickens hanging out, or even ducklings and chicks.
It’s not always harmonious, however, and they both behave differently, especially when they’re in a larger flock.
Believe it or not, it’s almost always chickens that cause the problems. Chickens for a pecking order within a flock, and will often pick on the chickens lowest in the order.
Ducks will have their issues here and there, but it’s certainly not as common.
Of course, the males are likely to be more aggressive, or at least do more damage when they are being aggressive.
It’s something you’ll need to keep a close eye on and step in and do something at the earliest signs of aggression.
There are some feeds on the market that are labeled as being suitable for mixed flocks, or even ducks and chickens specifically, but these are not generally recommended.
Ducks and chickens have different nutritional requirements. Mature chickens and this applies to laying hens, in particular, require 16% protein in their diet.
Chickens need a lot of protein and a balance of specific nutrients to lay healthy eggs, maintain optimal health, and regrow a strong coat of feathers during a molt.
Mature ducks require slightly less protein and a different balance of nutrients to maintain optimal health and lay at their best.
The best way to ensure both chickens and ducks in the same flock are getting the right balance of nutrition is to give them their own feeders and (try) to keep their food separate.
Do Ducks Protect Chickens?
If you’re looking to employ some security for your chickens, you’re much better off with a protective rooster than you are a duck.
You also have to take into account why or what you want to protect your chickens from?
If you’re concerned about predators where you live, I can’t think of too many predators that pose a serious threat to chickens that’ll be scared off by a duck.
It’s the role of the roosters to protect hens. Roosters will make a lot of noise if they see something that they perceive to be a threat, and they’ll also put up a good fight.
Roosters have something called ‘spurs’ on the rear of their legs. These are hard, sharp pointy spikes that they use as defensive weapons very effectively.
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Can You Keep Baby Chickens and Ducks Together?
It’s not a good idea to keep baby chicks and ducklings together, with or without adult chickens or ducks.
Baby ducklings and chicks are very fragile. It’s best to brood each species separately and make sure they are well cared for during the first few weeks of their lives.
I spoke with some poultry keepers who have raised both, and while they said they have let ducklings and chicks mix on occasion, they never recommend it.
It’s better to be safe than sorry and make sure you can take care of the needs of chicks and ducklings without the interference of adult birds.
Chickens and ducks can live together. Keeping 1 duck with chickens is a good place to start, but ducks are social animals and prefer to be around more of their own kind.
As long as you know the nutritional and environmental needs of both species and are able to meet them, I’m sure they’ll live happily with one another.