If you are raising chickens, you might be tempted to add some ducks. With their similarities in appearance and some behaviors, you may think that mixing them is a good idea. But without understanding them properly, you are very likely to end up having problems. In worse cases, your hens may eventually die.
Raising chickens and ducks together is very much possible. Feeding them the same food is also fine, although there should be some adjustments when it comes to ducklings. They can also live in the same coop, except for drakes, since they may harass hens.
Adding ducks to your flock can be both fun and challenging. If you know how to handle ducks and chickens separately, it does not necessarily mean you can already mix them in one coop.
In this ultimate guide, you will learn very important facts about ducks and what to do while raising them together with your chickens.
Chicken Food vs. Duck Food
Generally speaking, the foods for chickens are almost the same as the ones for ducks. Chickens and ducks are omnivores, which means that they eat fruits, vegetables, plants, grains, and cooked meat and fish.
As adults, both of them are great foragers. Hence, they may also eat insects, bugs, worms, snails, and slugs.
This means that it is safe to feed ducks with chicken feed and chickens with duck food. However, ducklings grow faster than chicks. To have stronger bones and legs, they need more niacin, which they can get from brewer’s yeast.
Chicks also need niacin for their growth, but ducklings need about twice as much as them.
Chickens and ducks can also eat together. But since ducks are messy eaters and eat faster than chickens, it is better if they have separate feeders.
Duck beaks are broad and flat, while chicken beaks are pointed and sharp. Therefore, ducks may find it hard to use feeders that are specifically designed for chickens.
Chicken and Duck Water Needs
Both chickens and ducks have no teeth and need clean drinking water. So, while eating, chickens eat grit (small stones) to help digest food. Ducks love to swish food in the water to digest food properly.
But just like in feeders, not all chicken waterers are compatible with ducks. Duck waterers are usually deeper and wider.
Aside from drinking water, ducks need water more than chickens do. As waterfowls, they love to swim and take a bath at least once a day. On the other hand, chickens don’t use water to clean their bodies.
Instead, they use dirt to take a bath and to remove parasites. This is called a chicken dust bath.
Ducks have waterproof feathers, which is why they love ponds a lot. Meanwhile, chicken feathers are not waterproof. They don’t care much if there’s a pond nearby.
Nonetheless, chickens may take a dip and float in the water. If there are no ponds in your area, ducks may also enjoy a kiddie pool as a good replacement.
Chicken Coop vs. Duck Coop
Chickens and ducks don’t mind sharing a common coop. But then, chickens love to sleep on perches at night. Chicken roosting bars should be at least 1 foot off the ground and around 8 inches of space per individual.
Laying hens sleep in the dark the whole night with the lights off. They also need clean, comfortable nests.
On the other hand, ducks tend to sleep on the ground. As semi-nocturnal creatures, they may stay awake half the night.
But since ducks emit lots of water when they breathe and sleep, the ventilation inside your coop should be adequate. Laying ducks make their nests, so they don’t need nest boxes.
As compared to chickens, ducks have floppy feet and are not high jumpers. Therefore, the ramp should not be too steep for them. Both of them can fly, but chickens are not good fliers.
Except for Muscovy ducks, most domesticated ducks don’t fly. But then, the coop fence should be high enough against predators.
Chicken Behavior vs. Duck Behavior
Ducks are typically quiet at night, except when they spot a predator. They quack aloud, but hens are noisier, especially when laying eggs. Roosters crow aloud at dawn to defend their territory and to protect the flock.
They also crow at night if there is a predator approaching. Drakes (male ducks) don’t quack, though.
Chickens have a social hierarchy called pecking order. This usually happens when there is a new chicken in the coop. Here, aggressive chickens peck on the new ones to show dominance.
It can be bloody and sometimes, the weaker ones can get killed. Ducks also have a pecking order but are not as violent as chickens.
Meanwhile, the mating behavior of drakes is also another factor that you should consider before raising chickens and ducks together.
Note that these two species have different reproductive organs that are not compatible with each other. Once a drake tries to mate with a hen, the hen is likely to suffer badly or can get killed.
Will Chickens and Ducks Fight?
Chickens and ducks will fight, but it depends on the situation. Mixing hens and ducks don’t usually result in problems.
But once you introduce roosters and drakes, they will fight each other, especially when there are only a few ladies in your coop. The more hens and ducks, the happier the roosters and drakes are.
Can Ducks Eat Chicken Feed?
Ducks can eat chicken feed. As mentioned earlier, ducks and chickens can share the same food, especially when they are already adults. But if you have ducklings, you should give them more niacin.
Nonetheless, chickens and ducks have the same nutrient requirements. Ducks eat more than chickens do, though.
Can a Duck Mate With a Chicken?
A duck cannot mate with a chicken. Drakes have corkscrew-like penises, while roosters only have a small bump called the papilla. The reproductive organs of ducks and hens are also not the same.
Therefore, actual penetration will not happen with roosters and ducks, and drakes may accidentally kill the hens.
Can Ducks Eat Chicken?
Ducks can eat chicken but the dead ones. They may be fed with chicken meat, as long as it is properly cooked, boneless, and in small amounts only. In the same way, chickens can also eat diced cooked duck meat.
Both of them can also be fed with cooked turkey. Nevertheless, processed foods are not good for them.
Is Duck Healthier Than Chicken?
Ducks are healthier than chickens. As explained above, ducks love to stay on the water more than chickens do. Therefore, they are less prone to external parasites such as lice and mites.
Ducks also have a stronger immune system than chickens. They are less susceptible to various diseases, including Coccidiosis.
Aside from having waterproof feathers, ducks also have a thick layer of body fat. This makes them more cold and hardy than chickens and can survive better during winter.
Both of them can suffer from heat stroke in the summer. But then, ducks can cool their bodies faster than chickens after dipping into a pond or kiddie pool.
Are Duck Eggs More Nutritious Than Chicken Eggs?
Duck eggs are more nutritious than chicken eggs. The yolk of a duck egg is larger than that of a chicken egg. It also contains more egg white (albumen). This means that duck eggs have more protein than chicken eggs. Interestingly, duck eggs also have more carbohydrates, iron, and Vitamins A, B6, B12, D, and E.
A 100-gram duck egg has 12 grams of protein, while a 100-gram chicken egg only has 10 grams. With the same egg weight, duck eggs and chicken eggs have 223 and 149 calories, respectively.
But then, the protein content in fried eggs is reduced, as compared to raw and hard-boiled eggs, regardless of the type of egg.
Do Duck Eggs Have More Cholesterol Than Chicken Eggs?
Duck eggs have more cholesterol than chicken eggs. In fact, the cholesterol in duck eggs is 276% of the Daily Value (DV). On the other hand, chicken eggs only have 92% cholesterol of the Daily Value (DV).
Both eggs have no fiber, but duck eggs have 18.5 grams of fat, while chicken eggs only have 11 grams of fat.
Is a Duck Egg Bigger Than a Chicken Egg?
A duck egg is bigger than a chicken egg, especially in terms of egg yolk. They tend to be about 50% bigger, or even double the size, and heavier than chicken eggs.
This is the main reason why they are richer in vitamins and minerals. But because of this, duck eggs are more expensive than chicken eggs.
Do Duck Eggs Taste Like Chicken Eggs?
Duck eggs taste like chicken eggs. But if you are used to eating chicken eggs, and you will eat duck eggs for the first time, you may notice that the latter has a more intense flavor.
Duck eggs also somehow taste less watery than chicken eggs. If you are eating duck eggs frequently, the difference in taste is negligible.
By now, you have an idea that ducks and chickens are not exactly best friends. Although you can mix them in a single coop, close monitoring is a must.
Aside from providing them with the right food and clean water, give them also enough space. If you want to mix drakes and roosters, start while they are still young.