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Expert tips and tricks for backyard chicken keeping

Keeping ducks with chickens


Keeping ducks with chickens is not only possible but a lot of fun. It has often been said that chickens are the gateway animal to farming!

Raising ducks or raising chickens is becoming a far more frequently asked question. Backyard chicken keeping has been popular for many years. Duck keeping is garnering increased attention because the common myth that you need a pond to keep ducks for eggs has been busted … that and the huge creamy duck eggs being simply delicious. So why not keep them together?

Firstly some facts you may not have known about ducks.

1. Ducks are less susceptible to parasites

Ducks spend so much of their time in the water, which means they tend to be far less susceptible to mites and other external parasites than chickens.  Any parasites that might be tempted to latch on will drown.

2. Ducks are generally healthier

Chickens and ducks are both plagued with their fair share of diseases and health concerns, but ducks tend to be quite hardy. Amazingly, they have a higher body temperature than chickens and this can prevent external parasites, like mites from infesting ducks, and thus fewer ways to contract diseases. Ducks have hardier immune systems, tend to stay in better general health, and are less likely to contract disease than chickens.

3. Ducks are more heat-tolerant

Ducks can handle the heat quite easily by taking a dip to cool off. During the hot, humid summer months, chickens stand around panting, crowding in the shade. Meanwhile, the ducks paddle about quite contentedly in their pool.

4. Many people who are allergic to chicken eggs can eat duck eggs

The protein in duck eggs is different from the protein in chicken eggs.  This means many people with chicken egg allergies report that they’re able to eat duck eggs with no problem. The opposite can also be true.  You might have duck egg allergies, but not have chicken egg allergies.

5. Ducks are wonderful for pest control

Given the opportunity, ducks will eat every slug, worm, spider, grasshopper, cricket, fly, and grub they can find.  They are wonderful for natural pest control.  I have found chickens are more selective about the kinds of bugs they will eat. Some of our hens won’t even look twice at a worm – but the ducks will chase a bug down until they catch it.  Given the opportunity, they will also dine on small snakes, toads, and even mice.

Can you keep ducks and chickens together?

Chickens and ducks share very similar living conditions. And, while ducks do tend to be a tad messy, with the water, and the splashing, and the mud…they do make great companions for your chooks.

While integrating chickens and ducks is a manageable process, in order for chickens and ducks to coexist harmoniously they must have LOTS of living space. The different flocks need to be able to avoid each other during the day. They will establish a pecking order. Once they work out their position, things normally run smoothly.

Because ducks require less calcium than chickens, you need to dilute out the chicken grain with some wheat (for the ducks only). The easiest way to do this is to place the wheat in a shorter bucket and cover it with water. The wheat will sink to the bottom allowing the ducks access to all they can eat while keeping your chooks from eating it.

Chickens like to roost at night, so they will need places to perch off the ground.   Ducks like to nest at night, so they will need somewhere at ground level to sleep.  When planning your coop, make sure your ducks have somewhere quiet to nest on the ground. Ducks would prefer to sleep out in the open air.  If at all possible, providing a small door that stays open all night, leading to a completely secure small run is best.  If you do this, be sure it is totally predator-proof on every side.

Ducks require a pond or at least a deep bowl, whereas chickens require a dust bath. It is important to keep these two apart otherwise you will end up with a mud bath! I also add bricks to the pond or a ramp for the chooks to exit if they accidentally hop in. Ducks technically don’t need to have a pond for swimming as long as they have a deep water dish.  Ducks use water to clean their eyes and nostrils. A duck can get quite dirty, and buildup can form in its nose and eyes. They naturally know how to clean up by dunking their head in the water to clear away the gunk.

Chickens and ducks can be feed from the same feeders and waterers. All of our range is suitable for both. Nipple products actually work the best. Ducks can be messy!

Keeping your ducks and chickens together can certainly require some extra work to make sure everything runs smoothly.  In the end, it’s definitely fun and rewarding to see all your adorable ducks and chickens happily co-existing.

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