Many people who own poultry birds own more than one type of bird. Chickens, ducks, and turkeys are all common backyard fowl and it is common for a bird owner to have a combination of these species in their flock. But can these birds be kept together?
Unfortunately, there is no easy answer.
Keeping multiple species together seems to work reasonably well. Many people who own multi-species flocks keep them together, for at least part of the time. Some just keep them together during the day but have them sleep seperately. Whenever combining species, there are certain drawbacks, risks, and special considerations to make.
The most important component in blending a flock is space. One question people have about blending their flocks is whether or not the various birds will fight. If they are in confined areas, it is likely that they will. But if you provide them with enough space, much of this trouble can be avoided. You will still get a few small confrontations, mostly for show, but it is unusual to have major issues with birds fighting cross-species. Also, if you keep their area clean it will help.
Even though fights are unlikely, the birds may try (unsuccessfully) inter-species breeding. This usually isn’t a problem. If it becomes a problem, it may be necessary to seperate the species.
When done carefully, a Mixed Flock can be
Another big issue people face is Blackhead disease, which is highly uncommon in most places nowadays. This is a disease that doesn’t have much affect on chickens. However, they are carriers of the disease and can easily give it to turkeys which have a very low resistance to this disease and can die from it. Again, keeping their space clean will help prevent this. And as previously mentioned, this disease is rare.
Additional care needs to be taken when ducks are a part of the flock. They are messy and love to splash around in their water, getting it everywhere. Chickens and turkeys can become sick or just unhappy when exposed to so much water and mud. Enough space should solve this problem. You may also want to consider having multiple ponds or watering areas.
The situations described above are specific to adolescent or adult birds. Very young birds, chicks especially, should usually not be combined with birds of other species.
But these are just some cautions to be considered. When all is said and done, combining bird species can be very convenient and helpful. It should be done carefully, and the risk should be understood, but most flock owners agree that creating a multi-species flock will usually work well.