Raising Chickens & Ducks Together

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They say that chickens are the “gateway” animal to further farming adventures.  When you are ready to skip through that gateway and expand your farm, lots of people look to adding different kinds of poultry.  Common backyard poultry include turkey, geese, guineas & ducks – turkeys are quite large and geese & guineas are quite loud so many will settle on ducks.

Ducks can be a great addition to a small farm.  They lay large eggs about as regularly as chickens (click here to read more about duck eggs).  Duck eggs are excellent for baking!  Ducks don’t require a tons of room, don’t make a ton of noise, and can often fit right in with your existing chicken set up.

But ducks are definitely not chickens.  While raising the two kinds of poultry together is certainly possible, each species has some different requirements.   How can you make sure your mixed flock is happy & healthy?  The key is making sure even though both flocks are living together, they each have what they need.

Water

Perhaps the biggest hurdle you will face when keeping ducks & chickens together is what to do with the water.  Chickens do great with nipple waterers or water fonts they can dip their beak in for a drink.  Ducks on the other hand need to have access to water that is deep enough for them to dip their head in.  They need to be able to dip their head in the water to clean & keep their nostrils moist, to clean their eyes, and to mix their food with their water for digestion.

Ducks can’t use traditional chicken water fonts because their bills won’t adequately fit in the small font opening.  They can use nipple water systems, but they will still need to have a bowl of fresh, clean water available for cleaning & eating.  Of course the ducks don’t just gently dip their bills in the water.  They splash.  They get in the bowl and try to swim.  They add dirt & feed to the water.  They make mud everywhere.  Chickens don’t care for mud and muck.  They don’t like when their water is dirty.  I have my chickens & ducks share a water bowl.  I scrub it out daily.  I keep it outside of the coop so that the shaving inside will stay dry.  I also move it around the run so I don’t have one area getting overly muddy.

While on the subject of water, let’s talk about swimming.  Ducks technically don’t *need* to have a pool for swimming as long as they have a deep water dish.  But they will be *super* happy if you give them a little kiddie pool to splash about in.  It also might make them less likely to try and swim in the water bowl (but don’t hold your breath!).  Don’t worry about your chickens around the pool.  For the most part, they will just stay away from it, or maybe will occasionally drink from it.  Adult chickens don’t like to swim, but they can naturally float so you don’t have to worry about them drowning if they accidentally fall in.  If the water is shallow enough, you might find your chickens like to stand in the water to cool off in the summer.  Young chicks could however drown if left unattended near a pool.  When you have chicks in your flock, consider gating off the pool, keeping it empty until they are grown, or only filling it up when you are around to supervise.

Feeding

This area is a lot easier than water.  Chickens & ducks can both eat the same quality layer feed.  The only caveat is when you have young ducklings in the flock, they will need to have access to extra niacin.  I like to mix brewer’s yeast into the feed to help the ducklings get what they need (click here to read more about raising ducklings).  I keep a hanging chicken feeder in the coop so the chickens can still use this at night, but everyone’s main feed is in an open bowl that both ducks and chickens can eat out of.  Ducks will have a hard time fitting their bills in many chicken feeder troughs, so open bowls work best.  Ducks & chickens like the same types of treats, both will go crazy for meal worms and both love table scraps like veggies & bread.  I have found that the ducks are a bit pickier about what they eat though.

Housing

Chickens and ducks can be housed together in the same coop or you can try to keep them separate.   Chickens like to roost at night, so they will need places to perch off the ground.   Ducks like to nest at night, so they will need some place at ground level to sleep.  When planning your coop, make sure your ducks have some place quiet to nest on the ground (and be sure it isn’t underneath the roosts or they will get pooped on all night!).  Be sure the ramp is not too steep to get into the coop.  Chickens can navigate a steep ramp, but ducks are not great at jumping and their big floppy feet can make them a little awkward on land.  Ducks actually prefer to sleep out in the open air.  If at all possible, providing a small door that stays open all night, leading to a completely secure small run is best.  If you do this, be sure it is totally predator proof on every side – consider lining the entire floor of the run with wire.  My ducks have their own separate coop that stays open all night, and my chickens have a coop that gets closed up at night.  They both share the same run.  The ducks pretty much never use their coop.  They sleep in the run, usually underneath the chicken coop every night.  Sometimes when I go out at night to check on them in the warmer months, they will be quietly floating in their little kiddie pool that is in the run.

Flock Dynamics

For the most part, your ducks & chickens are likely to just ignore each other.  If you have a really small flock of each type of bird they might integrate more, but generally ducks will prefer the company of other ducks, and chickens will prefer to hang out with chickens.  My birds free range together in the yard all day.  While they all come running to me for snacks and all enjoying lounging in the shade of the rhododendron bush, they keep to themselves.  I wouldn’t say one flock is dominate over the other and they all seem to get along together.

In general, a group of mixed ladies will get along.  Add in a drake or a rooster and the dynamics are bound to change.  They could get territorial.  The drake or rooster could be constantly trying to chase off the other birds to ensure his ladies get the best treats or foraging ground.  It all depends on the temperament of the male.  The one situation you want to take care with is having a drake (male duck) in a mixed flock without a rooster.  During breeding season (spring & early summer) drakes are in the mood for love and not much can stop them.  It’s best to have at least 2-3 female ducks per drake to keep him “occupied”.  What you don’t want is for your drake to try and mate with your female chickens.  Drakes have an external phallus where as roosters do not.  As such, female chickens are not designed for that type of action and can be seriously hurt or even killed by an overzealous drake.  If you have a rooster around, he will keep the hens safe.  If not, just keep an eye on your drake and be ready to separate him from the flock if he bothers the chickens.

I have had a drake and no rooster for awhile and he never went after any of the chickens.  He actually did a good job of keeping all the ladies (duck & chicken alike) safe when out free ranging.  The chickens all would take cover if they heard him quacking a warning about a potential predator.  I have also had a few drakes and a rooster in the flock at the same time.  The drakes left the chickens alone and all the boys got along just fine.

Final thoughts

I love my little mixed flock, they are all different and fun and bring so much joy to our backyard farm!


62 comments

  1. Jamie says:

    I currently have 2 drakes and 4 female ducks. Wanting to add more females to flock for additional eggs. Is it safe to add more females of different breed without adding anymore drakes?

    • Liz says:

      Yes, the breed does not matter. The drakes might have territorial issues when the new girls arrive but should settle down after a week or two

  2. Christina says:

    Hey Liz,

    We have raised 2 ducks and 6 chickens from babies together. They are getting big and growing their adult feathers. We have many ponds on the property, home to hundreds of wild ducks. We haven’t let our flock (or chickens and ducks) roam freely yet…. we plan to do so soon. Did you think the ducks will branch off or will they stay with the mixed flock they were raised and come back to their home?

    • Liz says:

      My ducks have lived with chickens since day 1 and they mostly keep to themselves. They all go out and free range in the yard but the ducks hang out with the ducks and the chickens with the chickens (for the most part). But they all still go back to the run when it starts to get dark. With all your wild ducks I would definitely be worried about your ducks taking off and not coming back

  3. KristAn says:

    We live in cold Michigan. Our chickens tend to just stay in their house all winter even though they could go out. We have had ducks since spring. We have just started housing them at night with the hens. How do you keep water out in the cold without freezing for the ducks or do you? Our ducks seem to pick on our chickens and corner them. Is hay best for them in winter or wood shavings?

    • Liz says:

      Our chickens don’t like to come out if there is snow on the ground, but the duck have zero issues with this. They like to dig around in the snow. We use a heated pet bowl for the ducks in the winter. It has a little heater that kicks in whenever the temp drops below freezing. We keep it out in the run though because the ducks would make a huge icy mess if it were in the coop. We use wood shavings year round, but hay also has great insulating values. I prefer the wood shavings because they break down neater for composting. Do you lock your ducks in the coop at night with the chickens? My ducks really prefer sleeping outside – even in the middle of winter, they often choose to just sleep under the coop (enclosed just on three sides, but faces the fully enclosed run). If you have chickens & ducks in the same coop where they are locked in and you have harsh winters, you will want to ensure you have LOTS of extra space so they don’t get snippy with each other. The bare minimum recommendation is 4 sq ft per bird, but I would say if they spend a lot of time in the coop you will want to double that

  4. stephen sheridan says:

    Hey 🙂 we have 10 Chickens and now my brother got us 2 ducks..however one of the chickens will not leave the ducks alone..they keep pecking her and i dont know what i should do..will it settle down or will i have to keep them sepreate?

    • Liz says:

      They should settle down once they get used to the ducks (unless your chicken is just a jerk lol). Individual personalities aside, most times chickens will keep to themselves and ducks to themselves. Give it some time! In a week if the chicken is still picking on the ducks, I would section off part of the run for the ducks to live safely in for a couple weeks. The chicken might just need more time than normal to get used to seeing them around (but this will keep the ducks safe while she adjusts)

    • Stefanie says:

      Good morning home stead folks! Beginning my journey to a mixed flock. We have 4 ducks, 2 perkin 2 Khaki. We got a hurt Roster with 6 chicks. This article gave me insight to set up there house.

  5. thuoc ga da says:

    Thanks for the great advice. I also love to give mine cold vegetables. When I have cucumbers that have grown too big in the garden, I put them in the fridge then share with the chicks.

  6. Sarah Walduck says:

    What age for the ducks can I add them to my chickens? They are only 5 weeks at the moment. Can I just put them straight in at night like when adding new chickens?

      • Nicole says:

        I have had 4 chickens and 2 ducks since they were a few days old and they love each other and stay all together, even cuddle at night. But now that they are 12 weeks old I believe the two ducks might be both males. Does this mean I need to get some female ducks so the two boys don’t hurt each other and so they don’t go after the chickens?

        • Liz says:

          It would be a good idea to get a couple females for the males. Since they were raised together since birth they will probably get along with each other, but come mating season they might go after the female chickens which would be very bad for the chickens

  7. Hadley says:

    Hello, I will shortly be receiving 6 chicks. 3 weeks later I will get 2 ducklings. How long should I wait before integrating the two species? Thank you
    Also, my sister is getting chicks too and wanted to just get 1 duckling, do you think that the chickens will keep her company or will she get dreadfully lonely?

    • Liz says:

      I tried last summer brooding chicks and ducklings at the same time in the same box. The duckling was about 2 weeks older than the chicks. It was a mess, the duckling & chicks for the most part got along fine at first, but the duckling grew so much faster than the chicks that soon he was towering over the chicks and started to grab the chicks by the feet and knock them down (I think maybe he thought their long toes were worms). So the duckling went outside with the older ducks much earlier than planned. I would suggest waiting until they are all at least 2 months and fully feathered to introduce them. As adults, my ducks and chickens get along just fine, I think it’s just the baby stage where it’s harder. Even my roosters and drakes get along fine. BUT they do pretty much just keep to themselves. The ducks and chickens tend to not really mix when free ranging and the ducks like to sleep in the run while the chickens are all in the coop. So as far as your sister goes, it might be tricky if her chickens shun the duck and she doesn’t have any other ducks to grow up with. I think the best chance that single duck would have is if she has a broody hen that you can give the day old duck too. Then the broody will raise it up as her own and it will be part of the chicken flock. But even then, as the duck becomes an adult the duck still might be an outcast.

  8. Tera says:

    I purchased 10 pullets and two ducks at Easter this year. One pullet turned into a rooster and one duck is a drake. My ducks at 14 weeks still follow the chickens into the hen house every night. We live in Carlsbad New Mexico so weather is hot in the summer and no real snow. I got so tired of cleaning the five gallon water everyday and recently got a kiddie pool for the ducks. After awhile I saw the chickens drinking the pool water and thought I am just going to pull the 5 gallon water because it was getting nasty every other day anyway. I have pump in the pool that I can turn on and quickly drain the pool and fill up with out breaking my back. Am I causing the chickens harm by allowing them to drink out of the what seems like dirty water all the time? Should I make a separate water solution with the chicken water cups just so the chickens can have fresher water? Any other advice for

    • Liz says:

      My chickens are always drinking out of the duck pool. I try to keep it clean, but as you know that can be an impossible chore. I would still recommend you have a waterer for them to drink from though. The algae and duck waste really isn’t great for them, so if you can encourage them to drink from another water source that is best. You might want to think about get a nipple waterer for the chickens. That way the ducks can’t hop into it and it will always stay nice and clean for drinking. I have a large water bowl that I dump and clean every day that is kept in the run and then have the duck pool which I usually dump every other day but it is out in the free range area.

  9. Jim says:

    Hi. I live in Northern Nevada Saturday i found 12 Mallard ducklings in my yard, Mom and Dad were no where to be found. These ducklings are only a week or so old and are now occupying my bathtub.
    How long is this going to go on? When can i move them outside?

    • Liz says:

      Wow! I wonder what happened to the parents? It’s so nice of you to give these guys a fighting chance! I usually keep my ducks inside for the first 3 weeks and then move them outside into an enclosed pen for a couple more weeks. In the wild, ducks will leave their parents around 6-8 weeks once they are fully feathered and self sufficient. I know keeping ducklings (especially that many!) inside can be a messy business. Because it’s the middle of the summer, they could be ok outside after around two weeks, but if you could provide them a safe place that is ideal. Especially at night, they will need somewhere sheltered from predators.

  10. Robyn says:

    I have had 7 hens, but recently, due to a friend’s rehoming need, added 8 more hens and 4 drakes. Since her flock had been raised together since babies, the integration into my coop went really smooth. Yesterday, a friend brought me two more drakes. Long story short, someone had dumped two domestics out at the game refuge near the lake and they wouldn’t have lived. They all stayed in the coop/barn last night and seemed to settle in alright after a while. I’m a little concerned I don’t have any female ducks. Right now, they are all free range during the day and closed in the barn at night (they all go in at dusk and find their spot). I am building a run off the barn to give them extra space, but wondering if I should plan for a second, separate run for the ducks or just see how things go. I don’t want my chickens being hurt next Spring. (Existing coop/barn is 8’x12′ – with plenty of roosting places as well as laying boxes & ground floor nesting area. The run will more than double the space.) Should the Drakes start being aggressive with my hens, I don’t want to just kick them out of the coop, because we have a fox in the area and they would not last. Suggestions?

    • Liz says:

      It is a definite possibility that the drakes will go after the hens. You said the original group from your friend have been raised together – did she ever have any issues with the drakes going after the hens (most likely to happen in the spring/early summer when mating season is in full swing)? If it were me, I would wait it out and just see how things go. But definitely have a backup plan. If the drakes are going after chickens, you need to take action to keep them separated. Your choices at that point are either to get them separate coops/runs or add female ducks to your flock. The drakes will naturally want to go after the female ducks, but if there are no female ducks, often they will think the chickens are “close enough”. Ideally you should have 2-3 females per drake, so you are looking at adding at least a dozen females. If that is too big a duck flock for you, then you might need to rehome some of the boys.

      • Nicole says:

        One of my ducks seems to be wheezing and coughing. What should I do? He is otherwise acting his normal self and eating/drinking normally. He has a pool and his nose holes look to be clear without anything stuck.

        • Liz says:

          Hmm that is strange. Definitely make sure he has lots of clean water to clean his nostrils out. I use VetRx for a lot of respiratory issues. You can put some under his wing so that when he sleeps at night he inhales it (it’s sort of like Vicks Vapor Rub for ducks lol)

  11. Serena says:

    Hi! I have two very friendly male and female pekin ducks, which were raised around chickens. Now, we only have three 7 week old Rhode Island chicks, no adults, and the drake chases them! I don’t think he is trying to mate since he is about 6 months old and 3 times their size, plus the female will even team up with him to try and corner them so he can peck them. Any suggestions on how to get him to stop? Or will he stop once they get bigger or if I get an adult chicken?
    Thanks!!

    • Liz says:

      Drakes can be really territorial and sometimes they just need time to accept that there are other birds in their domain. At 7 weeks old, the chicks are old enough to be able to run away. So long as he isn’t hurting them, it’s fine. They need to all work out how to get along with each other. I have found that some of my drakes are not too bad with newcomers and adjust after a couple weeks (chicken or duck), but I have one drake in particular who will chase off any newbie for at least 2-3 months. They are all individuals. My female ducks don’t usually concern themselves with the chickens, but the females can often take their cues from the drakes so if he is being a jerk it’s not unusual that your girl is following suit. Just keep an eye on them, as long as no one is getting hurt they will all figure out how to get along on their own

  12. Serena Reyes says:

    Thank you!! The drake did end up catching one of the chicks last night right before the chicks get put up at night. Luckily I was out there to grab him before he could hurt her! I’m going to build a second fenced area in the yard to keep them seperated when they free range durning the day until he seems to lose interest in chasing them. I appreciate the input!

    • Liz says:

      Oh no! That is terrible! Did she get stuck in deep water and just get worn out? I’ve never heard of an adult hen that couldn’t at least float to safety at the edge, unless the pool just went straight down deep with no shallow end for her to find footing to jump out. I am sorry that happened to your little girl. I could see it happening in human swimming pool if she fell in and couldn’t figure out how to jump out and she just couldn’t swim long enough for you to find her

  13. Stephanie says:

    I just got 8 chicks and 1 duckling. As of now everything looks fine but I’m reading I need at least 2 ducks. The lady at the supply store insisted 1 would be fine as long as is it was raised with the chicks. I have had chickens before but is a first for a duck. My 6×6 coop is about 2-3ft off the ground with a ramp. The run goes under the coop and out front about another 6 ft. Should make an area outside of the coop for the duck instead?

    • Liz says:

      It is possible to have just the chickens as friends for the duck, but not really likely. It depends a lot on your birds. My chickens and ducks pretty much keep to themselves all on their own. While the ducks want to be naturally splashing around in the pool or digging holes in the mud, the chickens want to be scratching in the dirt or dust bathing in the sun. So their natural tendencies will lead them to want to do their own things. But given no other ducks to hang around with you duck might just suck it up and hang out with the chickens more. I think she would be happier with another duck to hang out with, but having chicken friends is better than having her alone. You can also keep your duck in the coop, you just need a few modifications. I would not keep the water inside the coop because the duck will make a huge mess with it. And you will want to make sure the duck has somewhere she can sleep on the ground not underneath roosts so she doesn’t get pooped on all night. So I would suggest you either get another duck and make a little coop for the ducks in the run, or make arrangements for the duck to co-habitat with the chickens so she won’t be lonely

  14. Kerry says:

    Hi,
    is it ok for my drake to eat the layer feed with my ducks? Is the calcium to high for him? I have 2 ducks and one drake.
    Thank you,
    Kerry

    • Liz says:

      I like to come up with names in a group – so when I get a new “batch” of chicks I come up with a theme. This year’s chicks are all named after country music singers lol. It makes it easier to come up with names. Beyond that you could check out Cackle Hatchery’s random chicken name generator, maybe you will find something there? https://www.cacklehatchery.com/chicken-name-generator

  15. Sylviawiththehair says:

    Hi I’m wanting to start a mixed backyard flock I ha e previously kept chickens but not ducks was thinking 3 bantam hens and 3 ducks just wondering is it best to get them together at young age so they get used to each other or buy more mature birds. Thank you

  16. Katie says:

    I have 6 adult hens, 4 six week old hens, 2 male Peking ducks(I believe) and another Peking that has deformed legs.
    The two ducks can not get to my deformed one. The chickens can jump from both areas with the ducks. We are considering adding a 6 week old rooster. I know you say your ducks and roosters don’t really mess with each other. Do you think the rooster would bother my handicapped duck?

    • Liz says:

      A lot of that really just depends on your rooster and how aggressive he is. I actually also have a duck that was born with one bad leg. She can get around with a strange hop walk but she manages. The rooster doesn’t pay any attention to her

  17. Lara says:

    Hello Liz,
    We are just incubating some duck eggs and have 5 chickens in our coup with a large pen. Will it be alright to put the ducklings into the pen once they have finished their time in the brooder?
    We close the chickens into their coup at night but should we have a duck house for the ducks as the pen is open (but very tall), also with an electric fence?
    Your information is incredibly helpful, thank you!

    • Liz says:

      So fun! Most likely your chickens will just ignore the ducklings and not see them as a threat because they aren’t part of their chicken pecking order. But definitely keep an eye on them the first few days. If the chickens are messing with the ducklings, you might have to put up a wire divider until the ducklings are bigger. Unless your run is totally enclosed (covered top and buried wire to discourage digging predators) I would suggest you lock the ducks in their own house or in the chicken coop at night. They are pretty defenseless.

  18. Brianna says:

    I currently have 5 hens and 1 rooster that are about 11 weeks we have had them for about 2 months. And we just got 2 ducks they are about 3 and a half weeks and we have had them for about 2 and a half weeks. we are hoping to have them share a run and let them have their own coops so we are trying to get them used to each other. But our rooster likes to chase and peck at the ducks and the hens don’t care. We also don’t know if our ducks are a boy or girl we think one is a boy because he freaks out when we separate them. And his quack is a little but different then the other duck. How do I mix the chickens and ducks so that they won’t mate with each other and so they can live happily? How do I tell if a duckling is a boy or girl? And what do I do if I have a drake?

    • Liz says:

      Roosters are going to be naturally protective of their space and of their food so I’m not surprised he is trying to chase off the newcomers. But introducing them now will be better than waiting until they are full grown. As long as he isn’t hurting anyone I would keep them together and let them sort out the mixed flock dynamics (swiping, pecking, chasing off are all fine & normal. If he is drawing blood you need to separate them). Once they have determined who is in charge, you will find the chickens just stick to themselves and the ducks stick to themselves.

      Ducks are VERY social, both the males and females, and will often freak out if they are separated, especially when they are young. So that is totally normal and wouldn’t indicate gender, just that that little one REALLY loves his flockmates. Your ducks are too young to tell if they are males or females yet. Around 10 weeks their voice will start to change – girls get a loud, clear “quack” and boys have a low, raspy “wap wap wap” sort of noise. Around 14ish weeks they should be settling into their adult feather patterns, so if the breeds you have look different as males or females that will be the next clue. Finally around the time they are full grown (18ish weeks) drakes will develop a curly feather at the base of their tail called a drake curl, and females will start laying eggs.

      Unless your rooster or drake is very confused (or has no other options of his own species) they won’t try to mate with each other. Right now in my flock I have 1 rooster and 3 drakes, all the boys get along fine but the rooster is clearly the head of the mixed flock. If he wants the ducks out of his space he will chase them off. He doesn’t hurt them or peck, just chases them off. I have plenty of females for both the rooster and the drakes so I have never had an issue with them trying to mate with the wrong species. They all sleep in the same coop, share the food & waterers, and free range together. But they don’t “hang out” together often, they mostly just ignore each other

      • Tily says:

        I have had chickens before and had ducks before but never had a mixed flock. I was thinking 3chickens and 2 ducks (no males) and want to know what you think. Any advice?

        • Liz says:

          I think that would be a lovely little flock! 🙂 With a flock of that size, I would definitely recommend no males with both the chickens & ducks though

  19. douchka says:

    Hello,
    I live in Belgium and have 2 runner ducklings who are now 7 weeks old. They run around the garden in daytime en go into a coop for the night. I am wondering what to do with them if I go away, from what age on can I stop worrying about predators (they are too near to the house for foxes but there are cats around). Must I go on feeding them chicken food once they forage around the garden as they already do now?Is it true that bread is not good for them?
    Thanks for answering my questions.

    • Liz says:

      Hi! You will probably not ever stop worrying about predators. Anytime you keep an animal outdoors there is always a risk of predators getting to them. When they are full grown (around 18 weeks), they won’t be AS tempting to some predators just because of their size, but there are so many animals that would love a duck dinner. Runner ducks can’t fly and likely can’t outrun many suburban predators like stray cats & dogs, or brave foxes & raccoons. So even when they are grown it will be important to continue locking them up at night and letting them out in the morning. Runner ducks are pretty good foragers, so the amount of feed you will have to provide will be less (depending on how big your garden is and what kind of bugs/vegetation they can find). if your garden is small it is unlikely they will be able to forage enough that you won’t be providing feed. In the colder months when bugs & fresh greens are hard to find, you will end up providing pretty much all of their feed. Bread is not good for ducks. They can eat it and digest it, but it provides no nutrition for them and just fills them up so they don’t eat the things they should be eating. It’s junk food for them. But there are lots of fruits & veggies you can feed them from table scraps that they will love. I have a post here on treats for your ducks https://thecapecoop.com/treats-ducks-will-love/

  20. Jason says:

    Hi

    I have started to keep chickens and ducks, I have a secure pen for them both but then outside of that I have a large fenced off area with a large pond in for the ducks. The pen is fully predator proof but the larger fenced off area is not.
    I feed them in a morning then let them out into the larger pond area but I have to close the gate to the pen or I get about 50 other native birds on there.
    The problem with doing that is that the chickens cannot get back in there until the evening when I go and open up again and then cannot go and lay eggs in there coup in the day time.
    Any advice how I balance this, what do other people do when they let there chickens out around there house yard during the day ?

    • Liz says:

      I have my ducks & chickens in a large barn stall, I let them out in the morning and leave the door open for the day so they can go out into their large fenced in (but not predator proof) yard. They come in at night and I lock the door. I have barn swallows living in stall, probably about 8 of them, because of leaving the door open all day. There is not much you can do about wild birds coming in and making themselves at home if you leave the pen open for them during the day. So either you will need to learn to live with the native birds, or provide your chickens a nest area outside of the pen. Maybe you could set up an outdoor nest box area just outside of the pen? This would give the chickens somewhere to lay near the safety of their pen, and have it still be convenient for you for collecting eggs. Many people will also just leave them in their pen until later in the day (10 AM or so) so that the majority of the girls will have laid their egg for the day. But if you have to open them up before heading to work or school this option would be difficult

  21. Samantha Rhine says:

    Hello! Great post! Very helpful. I have a mixed flock of 11 chickens (hens) and a male female pair of ducks. They all get along very well. I got my first duck egg today! Super exciting. 7 hens have been laying for awhile and 4 will start soon. My question is that I will eventually want to let my female duck brood her eggs. Is this advisable or should I incubate then instead?

    • Liz says:

      So fun! Ducks can be hit or miss as far as being successful brooders. I have a post here from a few years ago you might want to check out: https://thecapecoop.com/hatching-ducklings-with-a-broody-duck/ After those terrible experiences I swore I would never let a duck hatch eggs, but I am horrible about follow through lol. I had a Buff duck that went broody this spring and she was so fierce and so dedicated I decided to let her do it. About a week in her best duck friend, a Silver Appleyard, decided to join in. We sort of cheated though because we let her “incubate” some eggs that wouldn’t hatch but bought ducklings for her (because we already have three boys and I didn’t want to risk getting anymore!). She sat like a champ on that nest for 30 days though and then we sneaked the babies in and they have been doing great with them. They have two ducklings that are a week old now, they are sharing parenting duties. The Buff is an amazing mom, super dedicated and great at protecting and taking care of the babies. The Appleyard is there. She is around, helping, but I don’t know how she would do as a single mom. So honestly it just depends on your duck mom. Many domestic ducks have lost their instincts for hatching and rearing ducklings.

  22. Christina says:

    Hi there! We’ve got 7 chickens (hens), 1 mallard drake, and 2 pekin hens that have been raised together since they were young. So they’ve been together for 5 months now.

    Today we noticed that the drake is aggressively running after a couple of the smaller breed chickens. He’s catching them and pulling out clumps of feathers. Should we separate the ducks so that he doesn’t injure the chickens? I’ve heard that drakes that try to mate with chickens can injure/kill them because of the anatomical differences. Is there anything else we can do? I had hoped that by having two female ducks around, he would be satisfied. Do you think this is temporary or a permanent thing?

    • Liz says:

      Is he trying to mate them or he is just attacking them? If he is just chasing and pulling out feathers that sounds more like he is just defending his territory for his ladies. It is true that male ducks can seriously injure a female chicken if he tries to mate her. I have never had a drake try to mate a chicken though. Having the two female ducks for him should keep him happy. Keep an eye on him and make sure he isn’t making the chickens bleed with the feather pulling. If you see him trying to mount one of the chickens then I would separate them for a little bit. Most likely what will happen is the drake will show the chickens “who is boss”, they won’t challenge him, and then he will leave them alone. I think it’s likely just a temporary thing as everyone is full grown now and establishing a pecking order

      • Christina Willis says:

        I think he was initially trying to mate with one of the chickens. It appeared that he was trying to mount her. We separated them for a day by leaving the ducks in the outdoor run and letting the chickens free range around the yard. So far today there haven’t been any signs of mallard misbehaving towards the chickens. Today we’re home so we’re watching them carefully and allowing all of them to free range. The chickens are giving the ducks a wider berth and seem to be doing fine with both flocks out at the same time. I’m relieved to hear that it’s likely a pecking order thing and temporary until everyone knows their order.

  23. Joli says:

    We have 1 drake who lives with 3 ducks in one area, then we have 2 much more sexually aggressive drakes that live with our 4 chickens. They totally ignore the chickens. Since both areas are mixed – hard to know what to feed them. I had read it would be good to feed the males water fowel raiser like the – Mazuri Waterfower Diet (which has 14% protein). and feed all the ducks and chickens 16% layer feed, we use Purina Organic Layer Crumbles (or Nature Smart organic). I think the chickens mostly eat thier own food, but the drakes eat mostly everything. Is it ok let them eat each other’s food? In the other area, with the 3 ducks and 1 drake – i only feed the 16% organic layer crumbles, but have considered mixing in some of the 14% Mazuri feed. Any thoughts?
    With the 2 drakes and 4 chickens I’m thinking of just putting some of their duck food on the water in the baby pool.does that seem ok? I’ve never used it but heard it will float. I don’t know if that’d give them access to it all day or not.

    • Liz says:

      The only way you are really going to get them to only eat their own food is to keep them in separate pens. Both chickens & ducks are going to eat the food available to them, they aren’t too picky. It is true the drakes don’t need that extra protein or calcium that you would find in layer feed, but your chickens do. If they live together, I would just feed everyone the 16% layer feed. I also have three drakes and they all eat the layer feed that the female ducks & chickens eat. Your idea to float the feed in the water is good in theory. It would probably keep the chickens from eating it, but I wonder if you would be able to give them enough feed that way to keep them out of the chicken feed. I have also heard it floats, but if you are pouring their entire day’s worth of food into the pool, I would imagine a lot of it would dissolve into a mucky mess before they get a chance to eat it all. My drakes (and roosters) have been eating layer feed for years with no ill effects

  24. Ginny N says:

    I’m unsure if I have two bantum roosters. Both crow at different times. I pretty sure Midnight is a rooster. but my white one crows occasionaly but does that butt whiggle which I’ve read shows shes ready to lay an egg.I was told I was given 2 silkies 2 bantum hens and 1 bantum duck. My duck has become attached to Midnight the rooster. We have even moved them both into their own area. I my duck a male drake or female. Can they live together during mating season? Can you take a look to determine if I have two rooster and what is my duck male or female?

    • Liz says:

      If your chicken is crowing it is most likely a rooster. Sometimes females will start to crow but it is usually only in instances where it’s the lead hen of the group and there are no other roosters present. By butt wiggle do you mean the squat that hens do when getting ready to lay? If you have 2 male and 2 female chickens you will probably want to either get more female chickens or get rid of one of the roosters so they don’t overmate the hens. If your duck is also female, the roosters might decide to try and mate with her and that would be bad as it can really hurt the duck. If the roosters have enough females though, they will likely ignore the duck and they can all certainly live together. If you would like to send me photos of your birds I can certainly take a look and see if I can tell their sex. The important things to see are their tail feather area and neck feathers if you have pics of that. You can email me at liz@thecapecoop.com

  25. Ginny says:

    Thank you for your info. I’ve forwarded my photos via email. Yes the sqwatting is what I’ve seen her do that is why we think a hen but then started crowing. Looking at her waddel and crown to me as a new chicken raiser. I’d say she’s a rooster but my friend has said some hens have the waddle too. She is the lead hen and in size bigger than midnight the rooster possibly. Midnight started crowing at a few weeks old.I’e grown attached to them all and have tried to calm the crowing by using velcro as a collar. Any other suggestion? Midnight and the duck are in separate areas since the duck chases the silkies. The duck was depressed and missed her buddy the black rooster. they are so calm now being together but Now I’m afraid the rooster midnight will hurt the duck if she’s a female.

    • Liz says:

      Looking at your photos, I think all three are males. You didn’t mention the breeds, but that green head is pretty much only male color pattern, so pretty good bet your duck is male (look for the curly tail feather as another tell). I think most likely your duck is a Rouen. All chickens have wattles, both male & female, but both your chickens have really big wattles which would suggest they are males. Some breeds of chickens have large wattles & combs in males & females, but the males are always bigger. And some chicken breeds are naturally bigger than others, so you could have a female of one breed is that much larger than the male of another breed. When comparing things like size and comb/wattles you really have to compare it to others of their breed. I don’t keep bantam chickens so I’m not as familiar with those breeds, but these are my guesses – the black one is definitely a rooster with that giant tail and comb/wattle combo and I think he is black Japanese bantam. The white chicken I am 95% sure is a rooster – probably a bantam white cochin. All three very cute though 🙂 hopefully they will get along

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