The Difference in Raising a Duck vs Chicken 

Lisa Steele from Fresh Eggs Daily began raising chickens and ducks at the same time in 2009. In this video, she explains the differences between chickens and ducks, as well as tried-and-true tips and tricks if you own or are interested in raising a duck flock of your own.

Tips on bringing ducks into your yard, garden, or urban farm:

Why Ducks

  • Ducks are easier on your garden than chickens, can’t fly, won’t eat tall plants, don’t scratch roots out, might eat your garden, won’t go and eat your whole garden and scratch roots and dig bulbs out
  • Drakes – male ducks; Don’t quack, make raspy noise, make less noise than females
  • If you live in an area that doesn’t allow roosters, having drakes is a good idea since they are quieter than roosters
  • Ducks aren’t too loud, generally.
  • Ducks lay eggs every day like chickens. They generally lay well through the winter too without any added light.
  • Ducks get a bad rap for being messy but are clean animals

Brooding, Caring for Ducklings

  • Ducklings eat starter feed for two weeks then move onto food
  • Ducklings are cold hardy
  • Brood ducks and chickens separately
  • Ducks grow twice as fast as chickens
  • Start duck brooder temperature at 90, then drop 10 degrees a week

Housing Ducks

  • Ducks can live with chickens, and both will sleep on the floor
  • Straw makes great duck bedding because it’s hollow and dry
  • Ducks won’t fight with chickens for roosting area
  • Cold hardy, aren’t bothered by cold, can sleep outside in almost any weather
  • Keep ducks in wire pen to protect them against predators, such as raccoons and weasels
  • Ducks like to sleep next to fencing, so keep them safe if they sleep outside
  • Dog houses are good for warmth, ducks start to feel cold below zero
yellow duckling in a nest


  • Ducks don’t lay in nesting area; They will lay wherever they want
  • Ducks can eat chicken feed and special waterfowl feed
  • Ducks need more niacin than chickens, which is found in brewer’s yeast
  • Ducks don’t like the same treats as chickens; They enjoy cracked corn and mealworms
  • In the Winter give ducks cracked corn, scratched greens
  • Ducks like anything green, leftover salad, peas, salad greens, broccoli, kale, herbs
  • Duck Treats: Dandelion Greens, leaves, grass, Herbs, dill, parsley, mint, watermelon, spaghetti

Ducks and Water

  • Ducks need to be able to dunk their heads in water to clean their nostrils and eyes out, so their water needs to be deeper than chicken’s
  • Large rubber tubs or kiddie pools allow ducks to swim and clean themselves in the summer; Just make sure the pool is far away from chickens
  • Ducks tend to play in their water, so don’t worry if their water is not clean
  • Make sure no feces gets in their water, as it can lead to diseases
  • Put out more than one water source for ducks
four white ducks eating

Eggs and Laying

  • Duck eggs are 30% larger than chicken eggs
  • 2 duck eggs = 3 chicken eggs
  • When cooking or baking, use duck eggs 1 to 1 for chicken eggs
  • Duck eggs have more fat, which makes baked goods rise higher
  • Ducks start laying at 5-6 months old
  • Most ducks lay white eggs, but some will lay light blue or mint green eggs
  • Ducks lay better than chickens, and they will outlay chickens in winter

How to Care for Ducks

  • Managing coop litter is a lot of work; Rake coop litter into run regularly
  • Do not feed inside the coop; this will attract flies, rodents and fleas
  • Keep feed outside to make ducks come outside and to cut down on water mess
  • Big ducks are typically laid back, while smaller ducks tend to be skittish

General Information

  • Get ducklings at your local feed store, Metzer Farms, local farms, craigslist, livestock conservancy
  • Starting flock of ducks should be no fewer than 3 or 5
  • Duck breeds are in critical condition, not many breeding pairs, go for heritage breeds
  • Ducks come in breeds of all colors: pekin, anconas, saxonies, magpies, buff ducks
  • Ducks are friendly with chickens
  • Ducks will drill holes in lawns to find worms, grubs, insect larvae, good aeration for your lawn
  • Duck manure is high in nitrogen

Learn more about different duck breeds

Find Kellogg Garden Products near you and ensure a great garden for your ducks!

About the Author:

Lisa Steele and Chicken

Lisa Steele is an author, 5th generation chicken keeper and Master Gardener who tends to her flocks and gardens on a small farm in Maine. The founder of Fresh Eggs Daily ( she shares natural chicken keeping and gardening tips as well as recipes using eggs fresh from her coop and produce fresh from the garden on her website.

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    • Hi Michele! There are actually a lot of breeds that do well in the cold. The Buckeye, Buff Orpington, Cochin, Easter Egger, Marans, and Plymouth Rock are just a few. A great person to follow is Fresh Eggs Daily, Lisa is in the North East and she has great information on raising chickens.

  1. What type of chics do I purchase for good egg layers and free roaming plus I want to build a moving chicken coop for they’re poop too scatter in apple orchard and is this a good idea.
    bank you Michele

    • Michele, you have a lot of great questions, and the answers really depend on your location, predators, weather, etc. We would recommend getting some nice resource material to help you go from A to Z with your chickens. A few good chicken books to check out are The Chicken Chick’s Guide to Backyard Chickens by Kathy Shea Mormino, Fresh Eggs Daily: Raising Happy, Healthy Chickens…Naturally by Lisa Steele, and Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens
      by Gail Damerow.

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