Can ducks and chickens live together?

Have you ever raised ducks and chickens together? I have. I get asked "can ducks and chickens live together?" all the time. Gotta be honest, I just don't recommend it. I mean, you can raise chickens and ducks in the same coop, but there are a few things you need to watch out for to make sure they get along safely. Especially if you keep males!

Ducks and chickens that live together

Many people choose to raise a mixed flock because they only have 1 coop. Building or buying multiple coops just might not work for many reasons from space or zoning to expense. When I first started raising ducks I had them in the same coop with my chickens. We built a duck coop for them after about 6 months. 

I personally like having my ducks in their own coop because of the mess. Ducks are so much messier than chickens! I had a real hard time keeping the deep litter method going when ducks were in my chicken coop. Their poop tends to have a higher liquid content, plus they swim then come in the coop wet.



They also tend to take over the water, slop up the feed and crowd into nest boxes if they can reach them. It can cause a lot of chaos. Once I moved my ducks into their own coop though, most of those problems went away. 

ducks and chickens in chicken run

Raising ducks and chickens together

If you're going to raise ducks and chickens in the same coop you'll need to stay on top of these potential problems.

Messy drinking water 

Ducks tend to muck up the water pretty good, which is one thing if they're in their own coop because they don't care, they will drink all that mucky water! They will gleefully add mud to the fresh water the second you set it down and keep going back to drink the muddy water till it's gone. 

If you have 1 waterer for all the animals then the chickens are drinking muddy duck water. Also the ducks will keep drinking and playing in the water till it's gone so you will end up refilling it several times a day which is understandable, but the chickens are going without water between fill ups. 

Wet coop bedding 

Ducks love to play in their water and they do this thing where they get a mouth full of water and then shake their heads side to side. As you can image, water goes everywhere! So if you have ducks in a coop, you can't have the water in there too or your coop will always be wet. This is bad for numerous reasons. 

  1. Will increase the ammonia smell from their droppings
  2. Wet bedding can rot the wood of the chicken coop
  3. Wet bedding and feed gets funky and attracts flies.
  4. Wet feed can grow mold. 

Ducks in the nest boxes 

We had a rather unfortunate incident when my chickens were living in the same coop with my ducks. We had some very low nest boxes because there were some silkies in the coop and they don't fly well. 

Well one night one of the ducks decided to climb into the nest box with a hen that was sitting on some eggs. When I opened the coop door in the morning the duck jumped out of the nest box and unfortunately had squashed the silkie hen during the night.

If your ducks can reach the nest boxes they may try to climb in. Ducks aren't really made to jump up or down like chickens can, so jumping out of the nest boxes can cause leg injury in ducks. They can also kick out eggs, breaking them when getting into or out of the nest box. 

Drakes may try to mate chickens 

One of the biggest problems you can have with ducks and chickens living together is because of the drake. The male duck will sometimes try to breed with a female chicken. He will hurt her, and hens have died from this! 

To put it plainly, male ducks have a penis and male chickens don't. So the chicken hen is not equipped to be mated the same way a duck hen is. 

If the drake mates with a chicken it will cause injury. Now if you don't have any male ducks that's clearly not a problem. If you do though, it's something you want to watch out for. You may have to seperate the drake even if he seems to have enough hens. 

Ducks and chickens may fight

For one thing ducks don't have a pecking order like chickens do. So putting the flocks together may lead to some problems between bossy hens and ducks. Also, if you keep a rooster he might not take too kindly to the drake being around his girls. 

Chickens have sharp beaks and a ducks bill is considerably softer, so if a squabble starts the duck has a bigger risk for injury. Of course this depends entirely on the dynamic of the particular flock.

Water safety for chickens

One of the things you will need if you have ducks is a pond. Unfortunately, Chickens can't swim so you'll need a way to keep them away from said pond. If it's a real pond with gradually sloping grass banks, then a chicken won't have a problem getting out. 

However if your ducks have a plastic pond sunk into the ground, a kiddie pool or anything else that may be difficult to get out of, then you have to keep the chickens away or they may drown. 

Of course even a quick splash can be fatal for chicks, so extra care will be needed to keep chicks from water.

Ducks and chickens in the snow

There are good points!

The nice thing about having chickens and ducks in the same coop is that there is no wasted space. Ducks sleep on the floor and chickens sleep on the roosts. Since they're not in each others space you can fit more in the coop, as long as you let them out each morning.

If you free range they will tend to stick to their flocks during the day, so you shouldn't have any squabbles.

Many breeds of ducks lay eggs all winter long so by adding ducks to your flock you won't have to worry about winter egg production dropping off!

Since grown ducks and chickens can both eat layer feed you won't need to try to keep their feed separate. You will need to make sure that everyone is getting access to the food and water though, as ducks tend to go back and forth between the food and water a lot. 

Extra hanging feeders the ducks can't reach and nipple waterers might might a good solution.


If you decide to raise ducks along with your chickens, they can live together but sometimes they need kept a part. As long as you know what to watch for going into it, your flock should be fine.

Thinking about raising ducks? Check out all my information on raising ducks in your backyard or homestead.

~L

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2 comments:

  1. I've had my ducks (drakes included) live with the chickens for a couple years and for the most part, it works fine. The chickens have their own pen to go into at night, separate from the ducks. They free-range in a 100x100' fenced enclosure during the day. The drakes have never tried to mate with the hens. The ducks are generally a little scared of the chickens, so they keep to themselves and vice versa. I use the deep bedding system and the chickens help overturn it nicely.

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    1. Sounds like your ducks and chickens get along just great! I also found it worked best when they had their own pens at night. Thanks for stopping by!

      Lisa

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