Can ducks and chickens coexist happily in the same coop? Well, yes and no.
When we first got our ducks, we technically weren’t allowed to have them where we lived at the time. In our county, you’re required to have at least two acres to keep ducks (but only an acre for horses… ridiculous). We already had our chickens and a predator proof coop so of course we thought the ducks would be fine in there, and they were for the most part. We did learn a few things in the process though.
Things To Keep In Mind For Chickens And Ducks To Happily Coexist:
The problem we ended up running into was that one of our ducks was male, a drake. Drakes’ anatomies differ from roosters in that they’re penises are crooked. Not just crooked, they’re actually like a corkscrew. Obviously the female ducks are equipped to handle the male duck’s equipment, but chicken hens… are not. Luckily our drake never tried to do the deed with one of our chickens. However, I have heard that it can kill a chicken if they do repeatedly, and if you’ve ever had a horny drake, they will do it repeatedly. When we moved to our farm, we built a separate coop for the ducks, just in case Gordon got any new ideas towards our chickens. When it comes to roosters, you can have one with all of your ladies, but be cautious of how he treats the ducks. He might be too much of a bully to coexist nicely or he might not! Just depends on the temperament of the rooster.
Although chickens and ducks CAN eat the same feed, it doesn’t mean that they necessarily should, especially when they are young. Ducklings require unmedicated feed and a higher level of niacin than chick feed can provide. You can often add niacin to their diet by simply adding brewers yeast to their feed. Chicks do not require the niacin and should not have access to it. Besides nutrition, ducklings get so wet and messy in their water whereas chicks like to stay dry and fluffy to keep warm. I would definitely recommend keeping chicks and ducklings separate for at least the beginning of their lives. As adults, we have found that our ducks’ health and egg production really shine while they are on waterfowl feed. The chickens thrive on layer pellets. When they are housed together, it’s impossible to make each species eat their own feed and not dive into the others’ feed. If you plan to house them together, I recommend using the layer feed for everyone.
Chickens can drink out of small nipples or shallow bowls. Ducks cannot. They require a water bowl that is at least deep enough for them to dunk their nostrils in it in order for them to properly swallow. Contrary to popular belief, ducks do not require a pond. They do however enjoy being able to swim and play in a pool of water. Ducks make a mess of a coop in no time when they have access to water. Chickens don’t always appreciate this wet, messy environment. They prefer their coop dry and dusty. When we housed ours together, we made sure the chickens had ample vertical space and at least one side of the coop that would stay dry at all times.
Chickens like to roost at night, and they will roost wherever they like… like on the feed bin’s lid rather than inside their coop. 🙄 Ducks nest on the ground, and although they don’t mind getting wet in the rain, they still need the chance to have a roof over their head in case they do decide they want coverage.
Chickens have a pecking order that they are constantly fine tuning. Ducks kind of do in their own way, but it’s way less fussy than chickens. When we housed our chickens and ducks together, they mostly kept to their own species. Sometimes they would get in a tussle over treats, but they’d quickly work it out. Much to the chickens’ dismay, the ducks would usually win because they were just bigger. We did make the mistake of putting the ducks with the chickens too soon when they were babies. Ducklings mature so quickly so when our ducks were fully feathered and about the same size as the chickens, we moved them from the brooder to the coop. All seemed to be going fine until about a day in. The chickens attacked our poor ducks and plucked out all of their wing feathers. They were bleeding and hiding the best they could when we found them. I was devastated. They were whisked away to a warm bath inside, sprayed with blu-kote and kept inside for another two to three weeks where they had warm baths every afternoon to help with their healing. When we finally did put them back out in the coop, we built them a small coop within the big coop so they could coexist for awhile before they could actually get to each other. Even as adults, you still need to be on the lookout for bullying. Chickens can be real jerks.
So, can you keep ducks and chickens happily in the same coop? Absolutely. As long as you keep in mind their individual species needs.