Raising Chickens

Can Chickens And Ducks Live Together?

By Chicken Fans Editorial Team

Yes, you can raise both chickens and ducks together. However, you first need to keep plenty of things in mind before mixing ducks with your chicken flock. Ducks are similar to chickens in many ways regarding egg and meat production. On top of that, they’re usually friendlier than chickens, and also make great pets for children.

Let’s dive into the subject.

Can Chickens Live With Ducks?

Yes, chickens and ducks can live together. And, luckily, both chickens and ducks have similar needs so you don’t need to make too many changes to the coop and run area. However, experienced chicken keepers recommend you familiarize yourself with common issues that chickens and ducks share to prevent any problems.

Common issues you need to consider are:

  1. Behavior/Pecking order
  2. Nutritional Needs
  3. Water
  4. Housing Space

Despite how similar they are, both chickens and ducks have inherent differences that are noticeable at first glance. Learning what those are will help you better understand both animals’ needs.

a duck with a chicken

Behavior / Pecking Order

Ducks are friendlier than chickens in general. They don’t enforce a pecking order within their raft, the term commonly used to refer to a group of ducks. If a fight breaks out between two ducks, it doesn’t last long as they move past it rather quickly.

On the other hand, chickens are much more aggressive than ducks and will reinforce their position in the pecking order. Their fights last much longer and are more fierce.

As such, it’s not uncommon for a duck to earn a chicken’s ire. Because chickens have talons and sharper beaks, they can inflict severe damage on ducks if left alone.

Nutritional Needs

Both chickens and ducks can share the same type of feed, just as long as it’s unmedicated. However, many experienced chicken keepers still advise giving both birds separate feeders.

For one, chickens and ducks don’t have the same type of beak. Chickens have sharp, pointed beaks, while ducks have rounder, flatter beaks, commonly referred to as bills.

Because of this difference, ducks will have difficulty eating from a specific type of feeder. So if you only have a feeder that caters to chickens, then ducks won’t meet their daily nutritional needs. The same is true inversely.

Additionally, ducks require more niacin in their diet to strengthen their bones and legs. Adding a layer of brewer’s yeast can also help.

a duck and a chicken eating together

Chickens need more protein, especially if you plan on raising them for their meat and eggs. While niacin can help chickens, too much protein will result in an imbalance in ducks.

If a duck has too much protein intake, it will show signs of slowing down and being unable to move properly. Angel Wing is the common term for this condition, which will leave them immobile and could lead to permanent damage.


The main thing you need to remember when raising chickens and ducks together is their water needs. Both birds need plenty of fresh, clean drinking water. However, ducks need water more than chickens.

Ducks love the water so much that they often splash around it, creating a muddy mess. Chickens, though, prefer to stay dry.

The reason for this lies in their feathers. Ducks have waterproof feathers because of a special gland that produces oil, the preen gland. The oil it produces acts as a barrier to prevent duck feathers from getting soaking wet.

Chickens also have an oil gland, which they use to clean, rearrange and waterproof their feathers, but unlike ducks, they aren’t fond of water. Their feathers are water-resistant, like a raincoat, but not as waterproof as duck feathers.

They will rarely take a birdbath by choice; if you install a small pool inside the run, they probably won’t use it.

chickens and ducks and geese living together

Housing Space

Ducks need more space than chickens. That’s because you need to consider the pool of water they will use.

If you plan on raising both chickens and ducks, ensure enough space for both of them to roam around and stretch their legs while keeping the pool of water near the edges or corners. This way, the chickens won’t randomly come across it or fall into it.

Additionally, you can keep both birds in the same coop, but make sure there are two separate areas.

Chickens prefer to perch and roost in high places, while ducks love nesting on the ground. Make sure to keep their shared space clean and dry to prevent the cultivation of diseases and bacteria.

If you want to know the minimum requirements for a coop and run for your chicken flock, including the number of nesting boxes to provide, try out our ‘Coop Size Calculator‘.

Health Issues

Chickens and ducks share several common diseases, but ducks are less likely to get sick than chickens due to their stronger immune systems.

On top of that, their external body temperature is much higher than that of a chicken’s, making them less susceptible to external parasites like mites. This also means their chances of contracting a disease through external parasitism are much lower than a chicken’s.

Can You Raise Drakes And Roosters Together?

Raising a drake and a rooster together since they were young can help eliminate animosity between them. But if you’re introducing both to each other for the first time, they can become aggressive toward one another depending on their personalities.

If you want to avoid such problems, providing enough hens for the drake and the rooster is important. This prevents the two of them from butting heads. Additionally, ensure enough space for them to roam around so they’ll feel comfortable in each other’s presence.

Ducks and chickens

A good rule of thumb is that a drake needs at least three hens. When it comes to roosters, they need at least six to ten hens.

If you’re keeping chickens and ducks together, it’s not a good idea to keep a drake and no rooster or vice versa. Drakes are one of the few birds that have a penis. Roosters don’t have one, so hens are not equipped to handle a drake. A drake attempting to mate with a chicken will not only cause it a great deal of pain, it can even lead to death.

Can Chicks And Ducklings Incubate Together?

Yes, both chicks and ducklings can incubate together because they require the same temperature. However, they have different incubation durations, and duck eggs are larger than chicken eggs. But, by keeping this in mind, they can be placed and hatched in the same incubator.

One issue you need to remember is the egg size. Most incubators with an automatic turning system come with a turner that’s set to a specific size. So if you’re using a turner specifically for chicken eggs, it likely won’t turn the duck eggs properly.

Luckily, you can buy a separate turner for the duck eggs. This way, they can still incubate together.

Secondly, chicken and duck eggs don’t have the same incubation duration. It takes around 21 days to incubate a chicken egg, while a duck egg needs 28 to 35 days.

To solve this problem, you need to incubate the duck eggs for a week before adding the chicken eggs. Although, take note of the incubation duration of the duck breed that you’ll be hatching so that you can adjust the time correctly.

Can Chicks And Ducklings Live Together?

You can raise chicks and ducklings together in the same brooder with relative ease. Still, most experts agree that keeping them separately is the best option, as ducklings grow much faster than chicks. As a result, you need to transfer the ducklings to a larger space earlier.

a batch of chicks and ducklings in a hatchery store

And secondly, more often than not, chicks need medicated feed to help them combat common chicken diseases like Marek’s disease and Coccidiosis. Veterinarians don’t recommend that ducklings eat a chicken’s medicated feed as it can cause them health issues, which could result in a hormonal imbalance and nutrient deficiency.

Additionally, ducklings want to stay near a pool of water as they grow older. If you continue to raise both chicks and ducklings together, the former can easily catch diseases due to the wet environment.


Ducks are growing in popularity with homeowners. So it’s not uncommon for someone to raise them in their backyard alongside another flock of birds, like chickens. However, it’s important to understand their similarities and differences.

If you try to raise chickens and ducks together without prior knowledge, you will give yourself more work. It’s always best to do your due research first and understand what you need to make raising chickens and ducks together a success.

If you want to learn more about co-housing multiple poultry types together, take a look at our ‘Can chickens live with guinea fowl‘ and ‘Can chickens and turkeys live together‘ articles.

Chicken Fans Editorial Team

The editorial team consists of 3rd generation chicken owners Kat, journalist, editor-in-chief, and Nick, working with illustrators and specialists in the field.