Ducks and chickens are two of the most common poultry animals. Both of them give us delicious meat and nutritious eggs. But if you are a chicken breeder, is it safe to add some ducks?
Or if you have ducks, can you mix some chickens in their coop? But more importantly, are their reproductive organs the same or not?
Can ducks and chickens mate? Ducks and chickens can mate, but there are lots of disadvantages and no benefits at all. This is because they have significant physiological differences. If a rooster will mate with a duck, no actual mating will happen. If a drake tries to mate with a hen, the hen will suffer a lot and may die.
At first glance, ducks and chickens may be thought of as belonging to the same group. But if you are planning to mix them in your yard, don’t do it yet.
You should first have a full understanding of them. This comprehensive guide has everything you need to know about the mating behaviors of ducks and chickens.
Can Ducks and Chickens Live Together?
Ducks and chickens can live together. Note, however, that these two poultry have different characteristics and behaviors. For instance, ducks love water a lot, while chickens are quite the opposite.
Chickens love to roost at night, while ducks are somehow semi-nocturnal animals. Nonetheless, they can live in a common coop.
Can a Rooster Mate with a Duck?
A rooster can mate with a duck. In fact, some roosters have tried mating with a duck. But since they belong to different families and genera, it is impossible for them to have offspring.
The reproductive organs of ducks and chickens are also not compatible with each other. Hence, the actual mating is very unlikely.
Duck Mating Behavior
The mating behavior of ducks is quite violent. First of all, the penis of a drake (male duck) looks like a large corkscrew while mating. Then, it will expand and can be up to 20 cm. long while inside the female duck’s body.
On the other hand, a duck’s vagina is a counterclockwise helix that matches the drake’s male organ.
During copulation, the drake will climb on the back of a duck. Then, he will force himself on his partner. The drake will bite the back of her head. The actual mating process only lasts for about one-third of a second.
If the duck likes the drake, she will simply lift her tail feathers high and will give the male enough time to relax.
But if the duck resists very vigorously, she is likely to be badly injured. In some cases, ducks ended up dead. Nevertheless, some ducks misalign their bodies to prevent full penetration.
This way, they can avoid unwanted pregnancies. In fact, only around 3% of forced copulation produces ducklings.
Do Ducks Mate for Life?
Ducks don’t mate for life. Instead, they practice a behavior called seasonal monogamy. Here, a duck couple will mate in winter during the first year of their lives.
Males will not mate with another female and will not allow other males to mate with their partner. But the following year, both of them will find a new partner.
Chicken Mating Behavior
Unlike ducks, chickens have a peaceful and romantic mating behavior. First, the rooster will court the hen by dropping his wings and “dancing” around the hen.
If the hen likes him, she will lower her back, and the rooster will mount her. Using his beak, the rooster will grab the back of her head to steady his position.
The reproductive organ of a rooster is called the papilla, which looks like a small bump instead of a significant penis. Hens have a vagina, though. The actual mating process lasts for about 15 seconds.
If the copulation was successful, the rooster would bend his tail on her side, and the hen would shake her body.
Unlike drakes, roosters don’t force hens to mate with them. So, if a hen is not impressed with a rooster showing off, she will simply walk away. The rooster will then find another hen or will try another time.
Chickens are polygamous animals, but some couples may mate regularly before choosing another partner.
Are There Chicken/Duck Hybrids?
There have been several reports claiming that a chicken-duck hybrid is possible. However, none of them have been scientifically proven to be true.
One classic example of an alleged chicken/duck hybrid is Chuck the Chicken-duck, which is a female. Her owner was Ron Schneider of Texas, and she died in 2014.
In 2012, a supposed half chicken half duck named Dunken went viral. The bird was owned by Patricia Rydeen of Arizona.
She later said that Dunken is a male duck, saying that two drakes mated one duck. The result was an ugly duckling with one leg that looks like a chicken leg. So no, there are no chicken/duck hybrids.
Why Ducks and Chickens’ Mating Organs Aren’t Compatible?
The reproductive organs of ducks and chickens are different from each other. Drakes have unique penises that are not compatible with chickens.
If a drake forces a hen to mate with him, there is a very huge chance that she will be badly injured or even die due to internal damage.
On the other hand, a rooster’s mating organ is only a small bump, which is not compatible with a duck’s mating organ. Roosters cannot penetrate deep inside a duck, and therefore, they cannot fertilize a duck egg.
With that, ducks and chickens are not matched sexually. So, there is no way they can mate physically.
Why Is My Rooster Trying to Make With a Duck?
If your rooster tries to mate with a duck, it means that he is already sexually mature. Cockerels (young roosters) start to produce sperm once they reach 4-5 months old.
If there are no pullets (young hens) to mate with, they may attempt to mate with a duck. Therefore, you should separate your roosters from ducks.
Can a Duck Fertilize a Chicken Egg?
A duck cannot fertilize a chicken egg. Note that a hen can only have fertilized eggs if a fertilized sperm will meet the unlaid eggs in her oviduct.
But since drakes have unique reproductive organs that are not compatible with hens, they cannot fertilize their eggs. The same thing goes for roosters and female ducks.
Are Chicken Eggs and Duck Eggs the Same?
Chicken eggs and duck eggs are not the same. First of all, they come from different species. They may look similar in terms of shape and color, but duck eggs are 50% bigger (or even bigger) and heavier than chicken eggs.
The yolk of duck eggs is golden orange, while the yolk of chicken eggs is bright yellow.
Another significant difference between duck eggs and chicken eggs is that the former is more nutritious. Duck eggs are richer in calories, carbohydrates, cholesterol, fats, iron, and protein.
Nevertheless, both eggs almost taste the same. But since duck eggs offer more benefits, they are also more expensive.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a Goose and a Duck Crossbreed?
A goose and a duck cannot crossbreed, and they never will. But since both of them have similar reproductive organs, they may mate with each other.
However, geese are a lot bigger and heavier than ducks. This means that a female duck may resist if a male goose tries to mate with her. Drakes are more likely to try, though.
Assuming that a goose and a duck will mate, they will never have offspring. Geese and ducks belong to the Anatidae family. But then, geese are of the genus Branta, while ducks are of the genus Anas.
Therefore, the eggs may be fertilized, but they will not grow and will soon die. This is why goose-duck hybrids are not possible.
Can a Chicken Breed With a Turkey?
A chicken can breed with a turkey, but it does not mean you should allow this. Back in 1956, Dr. Marlow Olsen and his team at Beltsville Agricultural Research Center in Maryland developed so-called “fatherless turkeys,” which were dubbed “churk.” The results were very unhealthy chicken-turkey hybrids.
These fatherless turkeys from virgin hens were a result of a process called parthenogenesis, which is to develop embryos without fertilization. Unfortunately, the poor offspring had crooked legs, twisted beaks, and very low levels of intelligence. This proves that chickens and turkeys should never crossbreed.
Meanwhile, a lot of people thought that the Transylvanian naked neck chicken is a crossbreed between a turkey and a chicken. Dubbed turken chicken, this unique chicken breed was originally seen in Romania hundreds of years ago. Turken chickens are very healthy, despite having no feathers on their necks.
Transylvanian naked neck chickens possess a body of a chicken, but their long, featherless necks and above are that of a turkey. According to scientists, this genetic mutation is due to the huge presence of a feather deterrent called BMP12. But again, these turken chickens are pure chickens, not chicken-turkey hybrids.
Can Duck Species Interbreed?
Duck species can interbreed. Interbreeding is the process of breeding closely related species. This is different from crossbreeding, which is the process of breeding non-related species. Among the duck species that can interbreed are mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos) and Muscovy ducks (Cairina moschata).
You should not allow ducks and chickens to mate, especially if you have drakes. Instead, make sure that you let them mate only with the same kind. As much as possible, separate them at night or when you are not around to monitor them. Otherwise, you will likely end up with dead hens or culling your drakes.
List of Sources
Dominance Relationship and Mating Behavior of Domestic Cock – A Model to Study Mate-Guarding and Sperm Competition in Birds
Raising Ducks – Breeding ducks