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Can a Duck Raise or Hatch Chickens?

I’m currently deciding on either ducks or chickens on my homestead, and there’s even the possibility of having both. In my search, I thought about what would happen if the eggs or chicks got mixed up or didn’t have a mother hen. So, I did some investigating to find out what would happen and if a duck can raise a chick (or even hatch a chicken egg).

A duck can hatch chicken eggs and even raise the chicks after hatching. However, you’ll need to be extra careful since they don’t always take good care of the chicks. One of the biggest issues is watching that the duck doesn’t lead the chicks into the water, as they’re not as buoyant and lack webbed feet.

This article’s information will be useful if you have both ducks and eggs on your farm. Find out more about ducks hatching chicken eggs and some more helpful information such as whether they can live together, what they eat, and if ducks can actually harm the chicken.

Can a Duck Hatch Chicken Eggs?

a hatched chick and its eggshell remains

If your duck doesn’t notice the difference in the eggs, it can hatch them. However, it’s always good to check the eggs because of the difference in the incubation period. If all goes well, a duck can hatch and even raise the chick.

If you rear both ducks and chicken on your farm, you’ll notice that they often lay eggs in the same place. Therefore, it’s not surprising to find your chickens laying their eggs where a broody duck has its nest. 

Ducks hatch their eggs in 28 days, while chicken eggs take 20-21 days. If your broody duck is sitting on both duck and chicken eggs, the chickens will hatch faster, and if you aren’t careful, the mother duck can leave the nest, costing you some ducklings. 

Additionally, while it’s sad, some poultry farmers reported the mother duck partially ate a chick as it was hatching.

The easiest way to avoid this problem is to remove the chicks once they’re done hatching. After all, ducks don’t make good mothers to chicks. Let’s explore more why this is the case.

Can a Duck Raise a Chicken?

Some ducks can raise chicks, but many ducks have different mannerisms compared to chickens (such as their love of water) and can prove harmful to chicks. Overall, ducks don’t take very good care of chicks, so as good as it might sound initially, you may be better off not letting the duck raise the chick.

Ducks love water, and although you can rear them in a farm without a pool or pond, they will always get into the water whenever they get the chance. 

On the other hand, chickens prefer to remain dry. They even bathe in dust to remove lice and other pests from living on their bodies.

Unlike ducks, a chicken’s feathers aren’t waterproof, and they get quite chilled and wet whenever they come into contact with any water.

For this reason, you probably shouldn’t leave your chicks to be raised by the mother duck. They will likely lead the chicks into whichever water body they come across, even if it’s a kiddie pool.

Can Ducks Live With Chickens?

Although your ducks and chickens can live together in the same housing, you need to be cautious of specific differences crucial to your flock’s survival.

Water Access

The most significant difference lies in their relation to water. We’ve already mentioned that ducks like water, but this goes beyond their love for swimming.

Ducks need water to help with digestion. Whenever they’re feeding, they take a bit of the food in their mouths and use some water to swish it around to make it easier to digest.

Besides, ducks are quite messy, and they often get mud and dirt stuck in their ears, eyes, and nostrils. They need to keep dipping their heads in water to clean themselves and stay moist. Generally, farmers must provide their flock with a dip for their drinking water. Ducks typically need to dip their entire heads in the water.

On the other hand, chickens only need shallow water, and just enough to get their beaks wet when drinking.

Your best bet is to separate your ducks and chickens and provide a more extensive source of water for your ducks so they can easily dunk their heads. They also need a place to splash about and make a muck with the mud. 

Some common solutions are to build a kiddie pool or use a water tube as a makeshift pond.

Your chickens will probably never take a dip in the pool unless they want to cool off during the summer. Make sure to never leave the chicks unattended as they could drown in the pool.

Because it this, it might be a good idea to fence off the small pool or drain it completely whenever you have some chicks in the flock.

Housing Arrangement

Chicken love to roost at night, and you should provide some places for them to perch in the coop.

On the other hand, ducks like to sleep on a flat surface. It’s best to set aside a quiet place for the ducks to nest at night. Make sure the area isn’t below the chicken perches to prevent them from being pooped on.

Additionally, ducks like to sleep in the open air. While this might be challenging based on your local predators, it can be helpful if you can find a way to build a small door that leads to a safe place outside.

Can You Keep Ducklings and Chicks Together?

While it’s possible to keep ducklings and chicks together, it isn’t ideal as they have different requirements. Additionally, if they’re going to have a mother hen (or duck), it can cause some confusion for the opposite species as they have separate needs.

The excess water that ducks need isn’t ideal for a chick’s health, making it challenging to have them share the same space. 

Also, raising ducklings and chicks together presents a standard question, ‘who mothers the babies?’

From what we listed above, ducks aren’t the best caregivers for baby chicks. On the contrary, hens can be quite good mothers to the ducklings as hens have fewer needs (such as a pool).

However, the ducklings will likely instinctually try to visit pools of water if they can find them. This can confuse or stress the mother hen.

Do Ducks and Chickens Eat the Same Food?

Ducks and chickens eat the same food, but ducks might need some extra niacin. Also, ducks require more water as they need to wash down the food with it. On the other hand, chickens don’t require water to swallow and will casually drink water as needed.

Whenever you have ducklings in the flock, you’ll need to provide some extra niacin. It’s also a good idea to have some open bowls for them as opposed to regular chicken feeders. 

However, for the most part, you won’t have to provide different foods for the ducks and chickens. 

You can add some treats to the diet, including vegetable scraps and mealworms. Both chickens and ducks will go for them. But overall, you’ll likely find that ducks are slightly pickier eaters. 

Will Ducks Kill Chickens?

Although ducks can injure and even kill chickens, it’s not likely. Both species have their own pecking order and they can turn violent on occasion. In most cases, the chicken is the aggressor and drakes are equally capable (if not more so) of inflicting harm.

Additionally, drakes (male ducks) can kill chickens if they try to mate. Drakes have large corkscrew-shaped genitalia, which hens aren’t designed for. Roosters usually have a cloaca, which is used for both excretion and reproduction. This is the same for hens.

Having your ducks and chickens in the same coop will create the opportunity for the birds to mate. If the drakes try to mate with the hens, they could easily injure and possibly kill them. For this reason, consider separating them with a door in the coop.

Final Thoughts

While it can seem like something straight out of a Disney movie, ducks raising chickens usually isn’t a good idea. They’re two different species and have different needs. If you don’t believe me, just look at their feet! Ducks have webbed feet while chickens have claws. One is designed for swimming while the other is designed for scratching up dirt.

So, try to avoid having your ducks raising chicks if you can help it. If you can’t help it, and it’s your only option, supervise them carefully. You should be able to tell pretty quickly if it will work out well or not.