Many chicken keepers lovingly refer to chickens as the “gateway pet” because owning chickens will open the door up to so many other animal opportunities. If you own chickens, you’re probably an animal lover open to raising different types of animals too. One of the most common things for chicken keepers to get are ducks. They’re another fun bird and are cared for almost the same as chickens. If you want to get some ducklings, you might be wondering if it’s safe. Can chickens kill your ducklings? How can you keep chickens and ducks together?
Will Chickens Kill Ducklings?
Yes, chickens will bully and peck at ducklings and could possibly kill them. Chickens, especially Drakes, will bully anything smaller than them or lower than them in the pecking order, including baby chicks and ducklings; they should never be introduced to the flock until they are all almost the same size. It’s best to make the introduction at an early age.
What Is A Pecking Order
Pecking orders decide who is the most and least important in a flock. Usually, if the flock has a rooster, the rooster will be at the top of the pecking order and considered the leader. If there is no male, the strongest female will claim the top position.
To decide the pecking order, chickens will bully and push each other around. The stronger bird will peck the weaker bird until they stand down or submit which lowers their status among the flock. This is usually done with just a few pecks or chasing.
If two chickens appear to be equal, they will fight in order to decide. The winner wins the higher position. These disputes can last up to a few minutes and can result in pulled feathers, injuries, blood loss, and even death. Don’t interfere with the fighting unless you notice serious injuries or bloodshed; if they are separated, they will just go at it again when they get the chance.
There are ways to introduce new chickens to the flock peacefully, but chickens should never be introduced to chicks or ducklings. If they aren’t the chickens’ own chicks, they will be brutally pecked at and bullied and could possibly even be killed if not supervised. Alien chicks and ducklings are at the lowest part of the pecking order.
How to Introduce Ducks to Chickens
Ducklings shouldn’t be introduced to your chickens until they are about the same size or bigger. This is because chickens will associate smaller birds with being lower on the pecking order. Ducklings near chickens will be pecked at, bullied, and possibly killed.
As the ducklings near being full-grown, it is appropriate to begin introducing them to your chickens. Never introduce them in a closed-in space. Let out your animals free-range, so they have room to run away if they’re bullied. Try not leave them alone together at first. Keep a close eye on them to see if there will be any problems.
The more you let them roam around outside together, the more comfortable they will be with each other. Most of the time, chickens and ducks will mostly ignore each other and keep to themselves. Ducks are less concerned about pecking orders compared to chickens. If your chicken is determined to dominate one of your ducks, there may be some issues.
If you experience any problems such as fights or bullying, you might have to create a separate roaming area for your chickens and ducks. However, most people can raise both ducks and chickens together peacefully with no issues. The birds are willing to share spaces together but usually, go about their own way.
Socializing Mature Ducks and Chickens
You can still add domesticated ducks for those of you with adult backyard chickens, but the process will be more complicated. A mature flock has an established pecking order and can be extremely hostile to newcomers, especially baby ducks. Set up an adjacent space for 2-3 weeks before integrating them with your chickens.
You can then start letting the ducks and chickens interact together for short periods of time. Ensure you watch them closely, and be ready to step in whenever you see fights breaking out. After about a month, your backyard poultry and ducks should be able to live peacefully together in the same space.
It’s important to separate the ducks if the male tries to mate with a female chicken, as it can kill it.
How to Keep Both Ducks and Chickens
It’s possible to raise ducks and chickens together without issues. However, some important differences should be taken into consideration before adding ducks to your flock. It is easier to house your ducks and chickens separate from each other because they are different species of birds that require different things and have different needs.
If you have no choice, chickens and ducks can share a coop at night peacefully.
Here are some things you should take into consideration:
Both chickens and ducks need access to fresh, clean water. The biggest difference is ducks consume a lot more water than chickens. You’ll need to invest in separate water containers, as ducks will be unable to get their bills into the narrow reservoir of most chicken fountain or waterer.
Ducks will do best with a large tub, where they can submerge their heads into the water. This makes it easier for them to clean their sinuses and eyes while splashing around in the water.
Chickens prefer to keep dry. If chickens get wet, they can become chilled or sick. Ducks will need a kiddie pool to swim around in.
Feed and Treats
As adults, ducks and chickens can eat the same food. As babies, however, they require different nutrients and should not share the same food. Adding brewer’s yeast to the poultry feed will provide the ducks with extra nutrients such as niacin, which helps support strong bones, in both animals.
Chickens and ducks will need separate roosting areas as chickens love to perch high off the ground, and most ducks, except Muscovy ducks, like to nest on the floor. Muscovy ducks have a back claw, and they use to perch and grip branches.
Ducks lay eggs that are bigger than chicken eggs. Some laying duck breeds will be better egg layers than chickens. This is because of a ducks’ ability to free-range on various foods that chickens can’t consume.
Ducks will eat a variety of foods like snails, slugs, and other insects that are found in rainy wet weather. Whereas chickens will usually look for shelter when the rain comes down in downpours and the insects come out.
A domestic duck will produce eggs between 4 am, and 8 am every day. The eggs are usually found in the pens where they sleep at night.
On the other hand, Chickens have a 26-hour laying cycle, which means you can’t predict when they will lay eggs. Chickens almost always lay their eggs in the nest boxes once they’ve been trained to use them.
Both chickens and ducks molt, but the process varies. Chickens will malt in the fall, while ducks molt in the fall and late summer. A female duck will lose fewer feathers than a male duck.
Will Ducks Kill Baby Chickens?
While ducks don’t worry about certain pecking orders like chickens, a female duck will kill baby chicks that come close to their ducklings.
Best Chicken Breeds for Chickens
Unlike chickens, ducks can be harder to generalize based on breed. Some chicken breeds like the Silkie are known to be extremely docile, making them great with ducks. However, ducks are more individualistic than chickens, making it harder to know which ones will get along with other birds.
Avoid high strung ducks such as the Ancona, Pekins, Rouens, Welsh Harlequin, etc. Female ducks will help keep your drakes occupied, and it’s best to have 2-3 for every drake.
Chickens and ducks should get along well without any issues. If you own a drake (a male duck), you should separate him from your hens during mating season as he will try to breed with them and could cause them harm.
Chickens, if given a chance, will kill ducklings. This is because ducklings are the lowest in their pecking order. Pecking orders determine who is the strongest and weakest in the flock and who will become the leader.
Chickens will try to show their dominance to the ducklings, pecking at them and bullying them. They could possibly cause serious injury or even death to your ducklings if you introduce them too early.
Never introduce ducklings to your flock. Wait until the ducklings are almost the same size or bigger than your chickens. This will show your chickens that they aren’t so low on the pecking order.
Chickens and ducks can live together peacefully, but some differences can’t be overlooked when deciding whether or not to keep them together.
Ducks require ponds to splash around in while chickens can get sick if they become wet. They also need separate nesting areas as chickens love to nest up high while ducks prefer to nest on the ground. Drakes should also be separated from your hens during mating season, so they don’t cause them any harm.
It’s important to understand that ducks are messy, and you’ll need to clean the coop out more often!