Keeping 1 Duck with Chickens: Cohabitation Tips

Ducks and chickens are fantastic additions to any backyard farm or small homestead. 

Keeping both is a great way to diversify your farm animals and add some fun to the mix. 

Chickens and ducks are pretty similar in many of their preferences regarding proper care. 

However, there are some key differences to consider when introducing ducks to a chicken flock. 

It’s essential to pick up some cohabitation tips for keeping 1 duck with chickens. 

Chickens and ducks share shelter well. Make sure to have ground access for ducks to enter the coop and water for them to enjoy. Ducks require extra nutritional supplements like niacin and fresh food. Chickens require nesting boxes and perches. Catering to both is key for successful cohabitation. 

If you are considering adding a single duck to your chicken flock, there are some important considerations to take. 

Let’s go over some helpful cohabitation tips for allowing chickens and ducks to live together harmoniously. 

keeping 1 duck with chickens

How To Keep Chickens And Ducks Together

Keeping chickens and ducks together is fairly simple for the most part. 

They like many of the same things, making keeping them happy very easy, even for beginner chicken keepers. 

Ducks are content to free-range and roam, much like our beloved backyard chickens. 

They even share the same taste in food. 

For the most part, keeping ducks with chickens isn’t too difficult. 

It’s relatively easy to adjust your backyard farm to make all types of birds happy. 

There are certain differences to consider when adding a duck to our flock of chickens. 

The biggest difference is a duck’s love for the water. 

Adult chickens, on the other hand, absolutely hate getting wet. 

This is usually the biggest challenge backyard farmers face when keeping ducks and chickens together, but it’s easy enough to make changes to keep both types of fowl happy. 

Related: Fowl Vs. Chicken – Comparison, Differences, and Characteristics

Ducks also have slightly differing shelter needs compared to chickens. 

Ducks require ground access to the coop as they don’t do well with walking up the steep ramps our chickens love. 

Our duck friends also prefer to sleep on the ground as well. 

While our chickens much prefer to sleep perched on a 2×4 piece of wood, our ducks would rather snuggle up in some hay on the coop floor. 

Overall it is easy to keep both your ducks and chickens happy during cohabitation, but we’ll go into each aspect in more detail so you’ll be ready to go when you bring your new duck home. 

Providing Adequate Shelter For Ducks and Chickens To Share

Ducks and chickens are capable of sharing shelter. 

They do have some differences in shelter preferences, but they are very easy to achieve. 

Ducks are relatively low maintenance compared to chickens. 

Many duck owners use a lean-to or doghouse for their ducks because they don’t need much outside of some refuge from the elements. 

On the other hand, chickens require a bit more when it comes to shelter. 

This is because chickens would rather stay dry and warm, while hardy ducks don’t mind a bit of rain or cold temperatures. 

Here are some of the main shelter aspects to consider to make a suitable place for chickens and ducks to share.

Ground Access

Ducks require a ground-level door or access to the coop. 

They don’t climb steep ramps as well. Seeing as many chicken coops use steep ramps to get into the roost, you’ll need to accommodate your new duck friend. 

Keeping both a ramp and ground access is good, so both types of fowl have their preferred entry to the coop. 

Water For Ducks

It goes without saying how much ducks love water. 

A proper environment for a duck requires a pool or pond. 

Ducks also need access to plenty of fresh water in their coop. 

If you’ve ever watched a duck eat, you’ve undoubtedly noticed how they take their food and swish it around in the water before swallowing. 

It is crucial to make sure your ducks have access to clean water to splash around and drink.

Sometimes this causes some issues with chickens as they hate getting wet. 

For the most part, your chickens will naturally steer clear of the ducks when they are playing in a body of water. 

It helps keep the kiddie pool or pond a good distance from the nesting boxes and where your chickens like to roost. 

This will help to keep everybody happy. 

Further Reading: Ducks Need Water At Night? True Or False?

Perches For Chickens

Chickens love to perch; there’s no doubt about it. 

On the other hand, Ducks have no interest in balancing upon a wood board to sleep. 

For chickens, this is an instinctual behavior for them. 

Sleeping off the ground leaves them less vulnerable to attacks from predators. 

While we want to cater to our new ducks, we also need to keep the things our chickens love in place. 

For the most part, chickens will sleep on the perches to roost. 

Many chicken owners use a two-by-four as a perch about 18″ inches above the ground. 

This helps to keep them feeling safe while they are sleeping. 

Ducks prefer to sleep on the ground. 

Many backyard ducks will sleep under the perched chickens, which helps them feel covered and secure. 

However, this often leads to the ducks getting pooped on while they sleep. 

Consider putting some chicken wire or an extra board under the perch to avoid dirty ducks. 

It’s much easier to clean off the board than your duck every day. 

Nesting Boxes

If you have laying hens, they undoubtedly love their nesting boxes. 

It is a safe space for them to roost and brood. 

Make sure to have ample nesting boxes for your flock of hens. 

If you put a nesting box or two at ground level, your ducks may even enjoy snuggling up in them. 

It is essential to make sure you have enough nesting boxes for all your birds as it is very common for them to fight and bicker. 

It helps to have a few extras to keep everyone happy and content. 

Make Sure You Have Enough Space

One of the most important things to consider before adding any additional fowl to your flock is the amount of space. 

Each bird needs about 3′ square feet per chicken and duck. 

Make sure you have this space available in your chicken run, coop, and backyard farm. 

Otherwise, you will have some unhappy birds. 

Unhappy birds are significantly more prone to fighting and bickering. 

This leads to unnecessary stress and even injury if the fights get bad enough. 

Calculate your square footage before adding duck or chicken to your backyard flock. 

You may also want to check out our article on ducks and chickens interbreeding.

Feeding For Ducks And Chickens

duck and chicken feed

One of the easiest parts of cohabitation with chicken keeping with ducks is their similar taste in food. 

Regular chicken layer feed is fine for ducks and chickens alike. 

This is very convenient for backyard chicken keepers as you’ll cut down on tasks by feeding all the fowl simultaneously. 

Both ducks and chickens love to free-range and forage for food. 

This also helps tremendously with supplementing food. 

Many backyard chicken owners love how many insects and pests their ducks and chickens take care of. 

In areas with lots of mosquitos, a duck is your best friend. 

They are skilled at snatching mosquitoes right out of the air to snack on. 

This is a huge benefit in the summertime when biting insects become a considerable nuisance. 

There are some key nutritional differences between ducks and chickens to keep in mind. 

Ducks tend to require a bit more supplement food and their commercial feed. 

Many snacks and supplements also benefit your chickens, so there is no harm in letting them share all the food you give them.

Importance Of Niacin For Ducks

Ducks often suffer from niacin deficiency if it is not supplemented in their daily feed. 

One easy way to boost niacin is through supplements. 

Brewer’s yeast is an easily accessible source of additional niacin. 

Duck keepers have to sprinkle some of the brewer’s yeast onto their duck’s food to add a little extra vitamin to their food. 

Typically duckling feed has niacin added to the feed, but it is not present in chick feed. 

For this reason, it’s essential to supplement your duck’s diet with another source of niacin to keep them happy and healthy. 

Fresh Food To Supplement Commercial Feed

One major thing chickens and ducks have in common is their love of fresh fruit and vegetables. 

Supplying fresh vegetables and fruits to your mixed flock provides an environmentally friendly way to get rid of food and garden scraps and helps boost the nutritional profile of both your ducks and chickens. 

Many chicken keepers allow their fowl to go nuts in the garden at the end of the season. 

This allows them to feast on the remnants of the season’s harvest while also clearing the plot out. 

Another bonus is the nutrients offered from the chicken poop they drop as they scratch about the garden plot. 

Ducks also love fresh fruits and vegetables. Many homesteaders and backyard farmers find their ducks flourish when their daily food is supplemented with healthy snacks and treats. 

While we may be nostalgic for the days of tossing bread to ducks, this is not the best snack for them. 

There are many other healthy snacks for your ducks and chickens to enjoy. 

Here are a few your backyard fowl are sure to enjoy:

  • Greens, herbs, and weeds
  • Berries; blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, etc. 
  • Tomatoes; just the fruit as the leaves, stems, and plants contain toxic elements for ducks and chickens
  • Corn
  • Peas
  • Beans
  • Cabbage
  • Melon; watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, etc. 
  • Cucumber
  • Grapes

Adequate Protection For Ducks And Chickens

If you have a backyard flock, you probably already have a very safe coop and run for them to live in. 

No one likes to wake up to discover an unwanted predator found its way into the coop and wreaked havoc on your flock.

This is a sad affair, but it also means the predator will likely be back since it now knows it has access to food on your property. 

Since your ducks and chickens will be sharing the same coop at night, you’ll need to ensure it is safe from mischievous and clever predators. 

There are many ways to provide adequate protection for your ducks and chickens. 

We recommend implementing all of these tips before you bring any birds home to ensure they are safe the first night in their new coop.

Tips For A Predator Proof Chicken Run

Keeping your ducks and chickens safe is a mutually beneficial affair. 

We don’t want to lose our investment or beloved feathered friends. Providing adequate protection against potential predators is vital. 

Here are some helpful tips for making a predator-proof chicken run for both your chickens and ducks:

  • Bury the chicken wire at 3′ feet deep. This makes it considerably more difficult for potential predators to burrow under the fencing and get into the coop. 
  • Invest in motion sensor lights. When a predator gets too close to the coop, it will trigger the light. Often this alone is enough to scare predators off. 
  • Buy heavier gauge chicken wire. Some predators, especially raccoons, are mischievous and deceivingly strong. Some predators are strong enough to rip through weaker chicken wire and make a hole big enough for them to enter and pull out chickens. 
  • Always lock the coop after dusk and until dawn. The night is when most duck and chicken predators strike. Certain predators are very intelligent and even learn how to use a lock. Using a combination latch like this will help keep even the most clever predators out of your coop. 

Read next: What’s the difference between a duck and a goose?

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Growing up amidst the sprawling farms of the South, Wesley developed a profound connection with farm animals from a young age. His childhood experiences instilled in him a deep respect for sustainable and humane farming practices. Today, through, Wesley shares his rich knowledge, aiming to inspire and educate others about the joys and intricacies of rural life.

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