Growing up, my mother kept ducks, chickens, geese, and even lambs together in one pasture without experiencing many problems.
However, not everyone is so lucky to have such easygoing animals living in harmony.
If ducks need to compete for resources or are otherwise agitated, they will sometimes harm or even kill the chickens they share a coop with. Many ducks are docile in temperament and get along well with other birds. However, it is not uncommon for some ducks to behave aggressively toward chickens.
While birds are sometimes aggressive by nature, there is a lot of power in taking proper care of your flock.
Keep reading for tips on promoting peace in your coop and raising ducks and chickens together.
Can Ducks and Chickens Live Together Safely?
The short answer is yes.
But there’s a lot you have to do to make it work.
Ducks and chickens have similar needs, but their behaviors and preferences tend to differ.
Here are our recommendations on how to avoid conflict and keep everyone safe:
- Keep multiple feeders and waterers
- Give them plenty of open space during the day
- Manage coop temperatures and lighting as possible
- Raise them together
- Separate males
Food and Water
One of the benefits of raising duckies and chickens together is their ability to eat the same kind of feed without having digestive issues.
Rather than buying special duck feed, it’s perfectly okay to just give chicken feed to ducks.
However, competition for food and water is the source of much in-fighting in the coop.
Keeping multiple feeders and letting your birds access food at all times instead of having scheduled feeding times is a real game changer.
When your ducks feel secure in their ability to have food when they need or want it, they are less likely to guard the feeder and fight the chickens who just want to eat dinner.
Ducks get especially territorial over water.
Whereas chickens hate a wet feather and will do anything possible to avoid it, giving a duck water is as crucial to their entertainment as it is to their hydration.
Domestic ducks will splash, swim, and generally play in whatever water is available.
When you put chickens with ducks, behavioral issues sometimes arise over this.
To avoid any undue conflict, leave multiple waterers out.
If your ducks decide to guard one of them as their own and make a mess all around it, your chickens will still have access to clean water.
When you offer delicious treats, make sure you have plenty of it to go around and spread the pieces out around the pasture or coop.
Every duck and chicken will want their fair share of the lovely treat, so don’t make them fight over it!
Overcrowding makes birds feel agitated and puts more emphasis on the pecking order.
When your birds have room to spread out and mind their own business, they are less likely to get agitated and feel the need to assert dominance.
The body heat and lack of space irritate birds, just as they would for us.
Allowing your birds to run around and occupy themselves is a simple way to calm aggressive birds and make different bird species live together more harmoniously.
Some small farmers say their ducks and chickens don’t seem to like each other, but there aren’t any problems between them.
So long as your birds can keep their distance, the pecking and bullying won’t be such a problem.
This rule applies to more aggressive chickens as well.
If you have the resources, consider including a body of water in their pasture.
The ducks will have a blast swimming around, even in just a kiddie pool.
Temperature and Lighting
Your birds will inevitably spend plenty of time in the coop together, especially in the colder months.
While your chickens and ducks need a certain amount of light throughout the day to keep egg production up, they also need their beauty sleep.
Furthermore, though, prolonged exposure to bright light agitates ducks.
Keeping a mixed flock means considering the needs of all varieties of birds in your coop.
Give your hens the light they need to produce plenty of eggs, but keep the light on a timer.
It needs to be dark in there sometimes.
While it’s hard to keep the coop cool enough in the summer or warm enough in the winter, this is another important step to keeping the peace.
When your duck’s body temperature gets high, they are more likely to become aggressive.
This is true of people as well.
Provide shade and cool water when the weather gets hot. It will save you more trouble than you think.
In the winter, ensure the coop is well insulated enough to keep your birds from respiratory issues or other health issues.
Raise Them Together
My mother swears up and down that our ducks and chickens managed to get along so well because they were raised together since they were babies.
We got a batch of baby chicks simultaneously as our baby ducks.
This is a common strategy for raising different farm and domestic animals together.
Consider raising your chicks with your ducklings if you don’t already have them.
Again, their care is very similar, so it isn’t difficult to keep them together.
Sharing coop space from when they’re babies makes it easier for them to handle sharing the enclosed space when they are grown ducks and chickens.
Keeping males separate from females outside of mating season is always important.
Roosters are often aggressive toward hens, and male ducks are the same way.
However, chickens should be kept from male ducks, especially during mating season.
Some bird keepers report their ducks attempt to breed with their chickens, which isn’t something you want.
Further Reading: Ducks and chickens mating? What’s going on?