Have you had chickens for a while and you’d like to add a duck or two but don’t want to build another house or worry about them fighting? Can chickens and ducks live together? Rest assured, they CAN!
In early spring I found two free purebred Pekin male ducks (called Drakes) and put them in a pen sharing a fence with my three breeding Cayuga ducks. This seemed organized, ducks next to ducks, right? Big mistake. Sometimes I just have to learn the hard way.
Geese honked brain shatteringly high-pitched warnings—they obviously knew more than I did about ducks.
The drakes charged the fence as fast as they could waddles, and stuck their beaks through the tiny two-inch-holes. The green and white ducks began to awkwardly pull feathers off each others’ heads through the fencing. Wings flailed and flapped out of sync. Tiny feathers filled the air and drifted down like fat, lazy snowdrops.
Roosters balked with excitement and stood tall like proud soldiers. Hens gossiped with each other, likely betting on a champion duck while pacing their pen fencing for a better view. Turkeys gobbled and yapped like little angry dogs who’d chew your ankles clear off—but moved with slow graceful steps in no certain direction. This was my first time pondering: Can chickens and ducks live together?
The cat leapt in surprize to the roof of a small coop with a stiff, puffed tail as I whizzed past and barreled over the fence to the duck pens. I had to grab the white ducks by the ankles and set them in with the chickens two pen-yards away. This ended the barnyard drama—well, for that day anyway.
Roosters and drakes, unless raised together with ample females, food resources and room to roam become aggressive and can fight to the death. Roosters are usually more aggressive then ducks, who don’t have sharp spurs like roosters do. Ducks will pull out feathers and give chase. If they can see, or even hear the other male duck the drake will have no interest in food, water or females for hours or even days. He will pace the closest wall or fence edge keeping an eye on their counterpart.
After moving our birds to accommodate maximum peace within our mixed flock, I asked myself: Can chickens and ducks live together? I settled on putting our three Cayuga ducks in with our pair of American Bresse chickens for a week. I knew I’d be home almost everyday all day to observe their behavior. A few weeks passed and not one fight.
The rooster and the drake go about their own buisness, drink and eat together and could care less about mating in close quarters. Both duck and chicken hens lay on the same nest by choice. There are two small well-bedded houses within the same 20- by 10-foot pen, but the eggs are always in one house.
Each house has a top that can be lifted to collect eggs, capture birds and clean out every few weeks. A slider door adorns the front to close them in on cold nights and to keep predators out. The houses are up on legs but in winter I bank them in to keep the birds warmer.
Can chickens and ducks live together in the same coop?
Yes, they do with great harmony here on our homestead. For me, this means less work collecting eggs, filling feeders, and cleaning water dishes. I have Cayuga Ducks living with American Bresse Chickens, Blue Swedish ducks with Buff Polish chickens, and Silkies in with Anconas and one Mallard. All do well with no cross-species feather nipping or fighting.
Duck and chicken hens will even co-parent together and will sit on nests together. (Just keeping mind chickens hatch at 20-23 days and ducks at 30-36 days depending on the breeds.) For information on hatching chicken eggs and duck eggs, see our other posts.
I also keep turkeys and geese and have been experimenting with their co-housing needs.
More articles and resources for raising chickens and ducks together: