Mixed Flock 101: Can You Raise Ducks & Chickens Together?

chicks and ducks in the grass

Haven’t we all been tempted? You have done your research. You know what types of chicks that you are going to get. You go to the farm store to get your new babies and you see the bin of baby ducks. They are so cute so you start to wonder if you should get a few ducks too. YES!! You can raise ducks and chickens together

What Is Different When Raising Ducks with Chickens?

The really great advantage to raising ducks and chickens together is that the brooding process is essentially exactly the same. Baby ducks and baby chicks require the same brooder temperatures. Additionally, they both need a high-quality starter/grower feed and they both need access to fresh, clean water. You absolutely can raise them together!

Feeding Ducks and Chickens Together

As we have discussed in previous articles, baby ducks do grow faster than baby chicks. They also have some unique nutritional requirements. Because of these unique requirements, you want to choose a high-quality starter/grower feed that is formulated for mixed flocks of poultry. Look for a feed that specifically mentions ducks as well as chicks in the feeding instructions. Kalmbach 20% Flock Maker is an excellent feed to use when raising baby ducks and baby chicks together because it has a wide nutrient profile that will meet the nutrient needs of both types of poultry.

Can I Feed Medicated Chick Feed to Ducks?

Medicated chick feeds are NOT labeled for ducks. If you choose to raise baby ducks and baby chicks together, you should choose a non-medicated feed. All feed companies are required by law to declare if a feed is medicated. The word MEDICATED will be noted on the label along with the type of medication, the purpose of the medication, and the inclusion of the medication. If there is nothing written on the label to indicate that the feed is medicated, it is a non-medicated feed. The great thing about Kalmbach 20% Flock Maker is that this feed contains LifeGuard® Poultry, an all-natural blend of ingredients that naturally supports gut health and immunity. It’s a great way to help protect and boost your birds’ immune systems without using medications. On a side note, most medications (amprolium) used in chick feeds are very safe. So, if your ducks have accidentally consumed medicated chick feed, it is unlikely to do harm.

What Feed Do I Need for Adult Ducks and Chickens Together?

Adult ducks and chickens can absolutely be raised together. My flock is a lovely mixed group of chickens and ducks. As we mentioned earlier, ducks do have some unique nutritional requirements when they are growing. However, adult ducks actually have pretty similar nutrient profiles compared to adult chickens. This makes feeding really easy for mixed flocks. You can choose to feed Kalmbach 16% Flock Maintainer which has a wider nutrient profile for all types of poultry. Or, if your ducks are layers, you can choose from any of our complete layer feed options.

What to Expect When Raising Baby Ducks and Chicks Together

Ducks and chickens can be kept in the same brooder and in the same chicken coop. Expect your ducks to grow very fast – faster than you chicks. This is okay. They can still be kept together but your ducks may also be ready to move to the coop a little sooner than the chicks. The difference in growth may also require that you have a larger brooder with more temperature zones – larger ducks can move to the cooler zones while smaller chicks can still get to the warmer zones. You will also need to be diligent in cleaning and refreshing the water in your brooder. Ducks LOVE water and they spill and make a mess any chance they get!

What to Expect When Raising Adult Ducks and Chickens Together

Once the ducks and chickens are adults, they can absolutely be kept in the same coop if that is what you want. My ducks and chickens all free range during the day and all come back to the same coop at night. I find that my ducks do generally stay together as one flock when exploring. My chickens are much more independent. They may venture out in small groups but they usually explore individually. Your ducks will also nest and lay on the floor of your coop. Don’t be surprised if that influences some of your hens to lay on the ground too! I often find brown or green chicken eggs in the same nest with my white duck eggs. Since I’m raising my birds for egg production, I provide a single high-quality complete layer feed for everyone. That makes feeding easy and keeps my egg quality great.

Nancy Jefferson, Ph.D.

Dr. Nancy Jefferson has been a member of the Nutrition and Technical Services team at Kalmbach Feeds since 2013. She received her Ph.D. from West Virginia University in 2008 and has worked in the feed industry for over 15 years. She lives on a farm in Crown City, OH with her husband, John, and their children. Dr. Jefferson is a passionate poultry enthusiast and loves her chickens! Together, she and her family raise beef cattle and she keeps an ever-growing flock of backyard chickens.