As I’m researching more about the kinds of livestock I’m interested in having on my homestead, ducks and goats are consistently in my top five. This begs the question—can ducks and goats live together? I did some research to find out more.
Ducks and goats can live together and peacefully coexist if you’re cautious of things such as feeds, water, and space. Ducks eat bugs that bother goats, and goats scare off duck predators, but ducks make messes that can affect goats if they are not taken care of. If you manage the two well, the pros outweigh the cons.
Raising goats and ducks together can be a great idea, as they’re able to thrive in one another’s company. However, if these arrangements should have a fair amount of planning.
Let’s take a closer look at how raising these two animals together works, as well as how you can maximize the benefits of doing so.
Do Ducks Get Along With Goats?
Ducks can easily get along with goats, provided there is enough feed, water, and space for each of them. There are hardly any ‘bullying’ cases between these two animals unless they are competing for something.
Because of this, once you notice regular fights between them, check to see what the issue is and what could be lacking (usually food, water, or space). Make adjustments as soon as issues arise for a more peaceful mixed raising.
With these taken care of, these animals can be the best of friends!
Will Goats Protect or Harm Ducks?
If goats see ducks as part of the herd, they’ll often protect them from most threats. The loud bleating and size of goats can scare away any duck-craving predators, such as foxes, hawks, or eagles.
However, it’s not all a walk in the park for ducks. Sometimes goats can be frisky and may not watch where they are stepping. In this case, they may end up stepping on your ducks and cause accidental injuries. Although such injuries are not common, they could occur.
You can avoid such accidents by making the shared space bigger. But all in all, the consensus is that goats will protect the ducks. Goats will rarely cause intentional harm to ducks.
Pros and Cons of Keeping Ducks and Goats Together
Some people rearing ducks decide to add goats and vice versa. So, what’s the motive behind this move? Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of raising these social animals together.
Here are the top reasons why you should consider raising ducks and goats together:
- Ducks eat bugs: With these birds around, there’ll be no bugs attacking your goats. Ducks have an insatiable appetite for insects and other nuisance-causing animals such as spiders, earthworms, and nematodes. This helps keep nasty parasites away from goats.
- Goats protect ducks: Your ducks will enjoy near unbeatable protection from their goat companions. Whether in an open space or a shed, goats will act as protectors. The noisy bleating of goats tends to scare off most potential duck predators.
- Friendship and company: Both animals enjoy each other’s company, and rarely fight unless there’s insufficient food, water, and/or space. Otherwise, they’ll be happier and more active together.
- Ducks clean up goat feed spills: Most goat breeds are messy and often spill their food. Fortunately, ducks will feed on the spilled food, leaving the feeding area cleaner than they found it.
Although the picture of these two animals living together seems fun and promising, it can sometimes be messy. Here are the reasons why:
- Goats should never eat duck feed: While ducks are omnivorous and can eat goat feed, the opposite doesn’t hold for goats. If your goats eat duck feed, they’ll likely show signs of malnutrition and develop a bloated stomach.
- Ducks contaminate water: Ducks are messy and love water. As a result, you will find them stepping in goat water with their dirty, webbed feet and spilling it all over. Most goats hate dirty water, and they might get sick if they drink it or if it makes their hay moldy.
- Ducks poop anywhere and everywhere: Ducks also like to defecate everywhere, including on goat feed, in the drinking water, and in the goat’s sleeping area. Like most animals, goats aren’t too fond of areas that smell like poop.
- Shared diseases: Although most diseases are unique to one species, others can be spread between birds and mammals. One example is salmonella.
However, these cons shouldn’t discourage you from attempting to raise both animals together. Overall, they’re pretty manageable and many farmers do it successfully.
How Do You Keep Ducks Out of Goat Water?
Water is one of the vital issues that anyone who wants to add ducks to their trip of goats needs to address.
Generally, ducks love water, and you’ll find them stepping on the goats’ water with dirty feet and messing around with it. Unfortunately, they can turn this area into their ‘bathtub.’ While this might seem fun for the ducks, goats need a dry pen to stay healthy.
To keep them away from the clean goat water, you can:
- Use separate watering points for each of the animals.
- Raise the goat’s watering bucket or trough to a height the ducks can’t reach.
- If everything else fails, lock ducks out of the goat barn or shed.
Raising the watering bucket works well if you have taller goat breeds such as Boer, but it can be challenging if you are raising shorter breeds such as the American pygmy or Nigerian dwarf, which calls for some creativity.
If your goats are short, you may be able to use a water tank that’s short enough for the goats but too tall for the ducks to mess around in.
Can Ducks Eat Goat Feed?
Ducks can eat goat feed (in small amounts) without experiencing any negative health implications. Generally, ducks have an insatiable appetite and tend to feed on any food material around them. Since they are omnivorous, they can comfortably eat some goat food if it’s not moldy or medicated.
Due to this, the ducks can be a nuisance to the goats, resulting in unnecessary fights.
The best way to avoid ducks and goats from having food fights is by spreading goat feed at a height that the ducks can’t access.
Additionally, you can feed your goats just enough food at a time. By enough, this means an amount they can feed on without leaving behind leftovers for the ducks.
Can Goats Eat Duck Feed?
A goat’s digestive system is not well adapted to digesting some of the specific nutrients in duck feed. Goats are herbivorous and rely on plant-based food, while ducks are omnivorous and can eat both plant and animal products. As a result, duck feed can have protein sources from bugs or other omnivore ingredients.
As much as ducks can eat goat feed, it’s not advisable to allow the same for the goats when it comes to duck feed. So, why shouldn’t you allow goats to eat duck feed?
If they feed on duck feed, goats will likely develop signs of malnutrition and a bloated stomach.
Keep in mind that if goats can access duck food, they will undoubtedly eat it. To prevent this from happening, keep the goats away from the ducks’ coop. Alternatively, spread the feed in an area large enough for the ducks to access but too small for the goats, or simply separate them when it’s feeding time.
More Tips To Keep Ducks and Goats Together
For a successful mixed raising, it’s important to look into the needs of both goats and ducks and see what the conflicts are, and come up with compromises and solutions.
Here are some more tips to keep them together:
- Make sure they both have a clean, dry, and well-bedded floor to rest and sleep.
- Keep the goat water clean and out of the ducks’ reach.
- Keep goats away from the duck feed.
- Organize for frequent vet checkups to ensure your animals are free of diseases and parasites (frequent goat dewormers are also usually necessary).
- Keep your ducks away from goats’ medicated food and water. Ducks should never feed on medicated food or water.
- Keep nesting ducks or those with ducklings away from the goats.
- Collect duck eggs as soon as they are laid to avoid cases of goats breaking them.