How Raising Backyard Ducks is Different than Raising Chickens

Silver Appleyard duckIf you’ve already experienced the joys of raising backyard chickens and are considering adding ducks to your flock, there are some notable differences to be aware of. While ducks share some similarities with chickens, they have unique needs and behaviors that can make caring for them a delightful challenge. Let’s waddle through the main distinctions to help you better understand what’s involved in raising backyard ducks:

Water Needs

Unlike chickens, ducks are natural swimmers and need water for their well-being. While they don’t require a full pond, ducks thrive with access to a kiddie pool or other shallow water source for splashing, swimming, and cleaning themselves. Be prepared for this love of water, as it can lead to wet and muddy areas. You’ll need to manage drainage or ensure the pool is emptied and moved periodically to maintain dry ground around the coop.

Housing Requirements

While chickens enjoy roosting high up at night, ducks prefer to nestle down on the ground. Their coop should provide safe, dry ground-level space and will not require perches. Ensure the coop has ample ventilation, but also keep drafts to a minimum as ducks can be sensitive to cold air. Additionally, ducks often lay their eggs early in the morning, so it’s essential to keep them contained in their coop until sunrise to collect eggs more easily.

Dietary Differences

Ducks and chickens share similar feed, but ducks require extra niacin to support their growth and health. Duck-specific feed is ideal, but supplementing their diet with niacin-rich treats like peas can help. Ducks also need grit (small stones) in their digestive systems to break down food, especially if they don’t have access to natural foraging areas.

Mess and Cleanup

Ducks are inherently messier than chickens, especially when water is involved. They splash and dabble, often turning their food and water area into a muddy mess. Be prepared for extra cleaning around their coop and run and consider placing feed and water containers on platforms or in a separate area to keep things drier.

Noise Levels

While chickens are known for their clucking, ducks have distinctive quacks that can be louder and more persistent, especially when they’re excited or see their caretaker coming with food. Depending on your neighbors and space, their quacking might be an important consideration in your decision to raise them. The more space you have, the better.

Health Concerns

Ducks are generally hardy birds and less susceptible to many poultry diseases. However, their webbed feet can be prone to injury if the ground is too rough or unsanitary, leading to bumblefoot infections. Keep their walking areas dry and provide soft bedding to reduce the risk of injury.

Personality and Interaction

Ducks are often gentler and more curious than chickens, enjoying interaction with their caretakers. They can form strong bonds with both humans and each other, making them entertaining and endearing pets. If raised from a young age, ducks can become incredibly friendly and trusting.

Understanding these differences can help you better prepare for the enjoyable experience of backyard duck keeping. Their love of water, unique behaviors, and dietary needs are just some of the factors that make ducks special and worth the extra care.

If you’re ready to add these delightful birds to your backyard flock, Chickens for Backyards has you covered. Offering a variety of waterfowl breeds along with chickens, geese, turkeys, and guineas, we provide everything you need to expand your poultry-keeping journey. Choose from our wide selection of species to bring new life and joy to your backyard. Contact us today to learn more about how we can make your duck-raising dreams a reality.