Have you been planning to add waterfowls to your chicken flock? If something’s holding you back, we bet that the thought of how to introduce ducks to chickens is one of the things that put you in a dilemma.
You may wonder how your existing flock may react and if keeping ducks and chickens is a good idea.
If your chickens or roosters tend to be aggressive and unwelcoming to new members of the flock, it can be a problem.
But worry no more.
With this comprehensive guide, you’ll be able to:
- Discover the factors you need to consider when introducing ducklings to chickens
- Make necessary adjustments to introduce ducks to chickens successfully
- Find tips about keeping ducks and chickens together
So, let’s get right into the eggs-tra challenging part of the integration process.
How to Introduce Ducks to Chickens
The introduction process isn’t backbreaking, but things to keep in mind before starting it. So, we listed all the factors you have to take into account. This will help you make proper adjustments before adding a duck into your chicken flock.
Factors to Consider When Introducing Ducks to Chickens
Here are some factors you need to consider before adding and keeping ducks with chickens.
Drake to Hen Ratio
Ducks and chickens ignore each other most of the time, but they usually prefer the company of their kind.
Ducks usually hang out with their fellow waterfowls, while chickens prefer to be with other chickens. They don’t mind free-ranging together when they’re fully integrated, but things are different when you add drakes into the picture.
The drakes and rooster’s temperament can affect their dynamics, but both can be aggressive during mating season and territorial.
During the mating season, dragons have a high sex drive, usually in spring and early summer. So, it would help if you had enough drake to hen ratio to keep them occupied. It could vary depending on the duck breed, but small flocks’ recommended ratio is one drake per 4 hens.
If you have too many drakes, they might over mate with the ducks or try to mate with female chickens. But it could be hazardous since drakes have a penis and female ones have a vagina.
On the other hand, female chickens’ reproductive organs are called a cloaca, and it has a different structure. They can be hurt if a drake tries to mate with them, and in some worst cases, they could even die.
But if you have roosters, they can protect your hens. The recommended ratio is 10-12 hens per rooster. Other drakes won’t bother the chicken, but you’ll need to separate them from your chicken flock if they do.
You can feed your chickens and ducks with the same feed if it’s unmedicated. However, ducklings and chicks have different nutritional requirements.
The best feed for ducks and ducklings must contain Niacin and more proteins, nutrients that help support their growth and bone development.
Therefore, you’ll need to provide different starter feed for your ducklings and chicks. If there’s no duck feed available, you can let your chicks and ducks eat the same food if you add brewer’s yeast into their meal. To meet their protein requirements, you’ll need to provide additional protein supplements or foods that provide it.
You also need to consider what type of feeding bowls fits your ducks and chicken’s needs. Ducks have larger bills while chickens have pointed beaks, so your waterfowls won’t be comfortable using chicken feeder troughs.
It may not seem like a big problem when your chicks and ducks are tiny, but this can be more noticeable as they grow bigger. So, they need more extensive, open bowls.
Furthermore, ducks are messy eaters, so you need to separate them from chickens when feeding.
Ducks and chickens both enjoy eating dried mealworms and kitchen and garden scraps as a snack, but waterfowls can sometimes be picky in their food. They’d love to gorge on watermelons, broccoli, tomatoes, leafy greens, spaghetti, seeds, and peas that float in the water more.
They’re also fond of looking for earthworms, grubs, tiny snakes, and nibbling on grass and weeds. And during winter, they like to eat scratch grains and cracked corn. However, giving too many treats can cause them to gain weight and strain their legs. That explains why you have to limit the treats to just 10% of their diet.
Ducks are pretty robust and hardy creatures. Most diseases, germs, and parasites are kept away by their abnormally high body temperature.
They aren’t likely to harbor mites, ticks, fleas, or lice since they spend much time in the water. They aren’t prone to Newcastle, Marek’s, or coccidiosis, all of which can cause significant disease or death in chickens.
Although wild ducks can transfer avian flu to other birds and backyard flocks, it would take your ducks coming into contact with it to spread it to your chickens. And that’s unlikely to happen if they aren’t in tight proximity with wild birds or waterfowl.
As with any animal or livestock, as long as you keep their environment (relatively) clean by providing fresh bedding, water, and feed regularly, they should be healthy.
Keeping ducks and chickens in the same chicken coop is not a problem if they’re already fully integrated and used to each other. However, chickens love to roost at night, so they need a branch or any perching place.
On the other hand, ducks prefer to stay at their nest on the ground. Ensure it’s not underneath the roosts when placing their nest to avoid your ducks getting pooped at night.
You have to ensure that the ramp is not too steep as well. Chickens may find it easy to navigate a steep ramp, but ducks may struggle to jump and land because of their big floppy feet.
Furthermore, ducks want to sleep in an open-air, so they’d love it if you could keep the coop door open all night. That means you have to secure the coop’s run with strong wires to ensure no predator can enter their home.
It’s an open secret that ducks need water more than chickens because swishing in the water helps digest their food faster. Aside from that, they need it to wash away the dirt in their eyes and nostrils.
Since waterfowls make a lot of mess, dirt quickly builds upon their eyes and nose. And they know that dunking their head into the water is the fastest way to clean themselves.
As for chickens, they drink water, but they prefer to stay dry since, unlike ducks, they don’t have waterproof feathers, and when they get wet, they can become chilled or sick.
Additionally, a duck’s bill is more significant than your chicken’s beak so it won’t fit into the water fonts.
Ducks can also make the water in the container muddy, and chickens don’t like dirty drinking water.
So, if you want to keep the ducks and chickens together, you need to invest in getting the best duck waterer.
It’d be best to get a large tub for your duck that is deep enough for them to submerge their heads into the water.
If you don’t have a pond in your area, your ducks will love you if you’d provide them with a tiny pool where they can splash, swim and drink. A horse trough or stock tank will also do, but you’ll have to put blocks or bricks into it to help the ducks get out quickly.
On the other end, chickens will settle with fountains or narrow waterers.
If you have chicks in your coop, keep an eye on them and make sure there’s no unsupervised swimming time since they could fall into the pool or tub and drown.
Also, it would be best to put the waterer and pool outside the chicken coop because ducks will surely make a huge, muddy mess where bacteria can nestle and multiply.
Steps on How to Introduce Ducks to Chickens
Introducing ducks to chickens is easy. Just wait for your ducks and chickens to be similar in size before starting the introduction process.
1. To prevent transferring diseases from your new ducks to your chickens, it’d be best to keep your waterfowls away from them for about four weeks. So get your ducks quarantined first before integrating them into the flock.
2. Then, put your ducks in a safe and secure pen, and place them beside your chickens. Your chicken flock may become interested in the newcomers. But you have nothing to worry about if you have aggressive birds since the pen will keep the ducks safe.
3. After a few days in the pen, release the ducks with your chickens. It’d be best if you’d stay at home for the following day or two and keep an eye on their behaviors.
4. Check on them several times during the day and keep an eye out for any aggressive behavior. If they seem to get along well and no one shows aggressiveness, you can finally let them out and stay in the same coop.
When is the Best Time to Introduce Ducks to Chickens?
Drakes tend to be more aggressive during the mating season due to their sex drives. However, ducks do not mate all year, unlike chickens. So if you’re adding ducks and drake to your chicken flock, the best time to do it is during the fall or winter, when they’re more relaxed and peaceful.
How to Introduce Ducklings to Chicks And Chickens
Now that you know how to introduce ducks to chickens, you probably have an idea about the process when you’re dealing with baby ducks. But since they’re young and vulnerable, there are steps you should take before adding them to your flock. Here’s how to introduce baby ducks to your chicken flock.
1. Quarantine your ducklings for about four weeks to make sure they’re free from illnesses, and they won’t contract diseases from your chicken flock. At this stage, they will need a heat lamp and nutritionally-balanced feed and water to grow healthy.
2. Wait for about six weeks to eight weeks until your ducklings’ feathers are fully grown.
3. Put them into a holding pen and bring them to your existing chicken flock.
If there’s an aggressive chicken in your flock, you can rest assured that your baby ducks will stay safe, thanks to the pen. It will help your chickens get used to the new members.
4. Observe them for a few days and watch their behavior towards each other. You won’t risk putting your ducklings in the same space with aggressive hens and roosters.
5. If you notice your chickens, their chicks, and ducks are already accustomed to each other, then you can already release your ducklings out of the pen.
FAQ About Keeping Ducks and Chickens Together
After discovering how to introduce a duck to chickens, you’re probably ready now to make the necessary adjustments. But if you’re still unsure if keeping chickens and chicks with ducks is a good idea, don’t worry. We put together some of the frequently asked questions that may linger in your head.
Can ducks and chickens live together?
Yes, ducks and chickens can live together in the same coop since their basic needs and shelter and feed are similar in some ways. However, there are things you need to take into account when adding a waterfowl into your chicken flock.
For example, chickens prefer to roost as high as they can at night, while ducks like to stay on their nest on the ground. Furthermore, ducks tend to chat even at night, which could be annoying to their feathery sisters since they’re supposed to sleep.
But chickens can often tolerate ducks, and they can cohabitate successfully.
When can ducklings be introduced to chickens?
It’d be best to wait until the ducklings turn 7-8 weeks of age before introducing baby ducks to chickens. By that time, their feather will likely be partially feathered out.
Can you keep baby ducks and chickens together?
You can keep and raise chickens and ducks together when they’re older. But it would be best to separate baby ducklings from baby chicks. That is because chickens need a medicated feed to protect them from diseases.
On the other hand, ducklings consume lots of feed, and overconsumption of medicated foods can lead to sickness and even death. Ducklings also need broader and longer waterers to fit their bills, but that’s dangerous for baby chicks to fall into.
Baby ducks and adult ones also need more moisture and water, which isn’t appropriate for chicks because that could get them so sickly.
Can ducks and chickens mate?
Drakes may attempt to mate with chickens, but it could be hazardous since they have different reproductive organs.
Female ducks have a vagina, while male ducks have an internal penis. On the other hand, chickens have a single opening called the cloaca. Given this different structure of reproductive organs, it is pretty hard for these birds to mate.
Furthermore, there are no scientifically-documented cases of duck and chicken hybrid.
What are the best ducks to keep with chickens?
The best ducks that can cohabitate with chickens peacefully are Rouens, Pekins, Saxony, Appleyard, Welsh Harlequin, and the Ancona because they’re calmer and often not on edge.
How do you feed ducks and chickens together?
Ducks have higher nutritional requirements. But they can share regular chicken layer feed with your flock as long as they can forage for other foods. However, it’d be best to give laying waterfowls a duck feed that contains high amounts of calcium that supports growth and bone mineralization and helps make their eggs stronger.
Also, the best food for ducks and ducklings contains Niacin, which helps support the fast growth and development of baby ducklings.
If the duck food does not contain Niacin, you can add some brewer’s yeast into their feed to gain their Niacin requirements.
Can you add new ducks to your flock?
You can add ducks to your existing chicken flock, and it’s usually not hard to do since ducks usually become fully integrated just a few days after putting them together with chickens. The guide on how to introduce ducks to chickens is detailed above.
Do ducks eat the same feed as chickens?
As mentioned earlier, ducks can eat the same feed as chicken feeds, but it won’t meet their Niacin and other nutrient requirements. They would have to free-range or eat additional supplements to suffice their needs. Alternatively, you can put brewer’s yeast into their food which is a good source of Niacin.
Are ducks more intelligent than chickens?
Ducks are more intelligent and have more personality than chickens. These emotional creatures can even recognize their humans and understand commands, play games and toys, and give kisses. And if trained and held gently and frequently from an early age, they can be friendly with their humans.
Are ducks more affectionate than chickens?
Chickens are usually easygoing creatures, but ducks are often more affectionate, slightly friendlier, and less aggressive to other flock members. Human-raised ducks will long for the love and attention of their owners. Since they can recognize their human companions, they can express love and recognition more affectionately. But others are shy and skittish by nature.
However, drakes can be aggressive towards humans during mating. And their high sex drive can make them rough towards female ducks.
Are ducks easier to raise than chickens?
Ducks are more accessible to control than chickens and less prone to diseases like coccidiosis. On top of that, they have bigger and healthier eggs. But the downside is they can be high-maintenance birds.
Their growth spurt at the early days of their lives requires higher Niacin and protein contents. They also need more calcium when they’re laying eggs. That means that you need to provide a duck feed that is specifically formulated to meet their needs. They can be costly, but they’re worth the investment.
Furthermore, they eat more and create more mess when gorging on their food. Additionally, they poop every 15 minutes on average. Thus, raising ducks need time and commitment to take care of and clean up their mess.
Not only that, they can be loud too and defenseless to predators. Therefore, if you’re determined to raise ducks with chickens, then you have to create a safe and secure pen for them.
Summary of How to Introduce Ducks to Chickens
So, that’s it! That’s how to introduce ducks to chickens the right way.
Before introducing them, we recommend quarantining your ducks and ducklings to avoid spreading diseases.
Then, let them get used to each other, and put the ducks and ducklings in a safe pen for a while. They can interact and feed the flock’s curiosity without attacking the new members.
As time goes by, your birds should be able to get along with the waterfowls. There won’t be many problems if you make the necessary adjustments and avoid introducing them during the mating season.