If you are keeping chickens and ducks for their eggs or meat (or both), then those two flocks definitely intermingle. Often, it is normal to see a rooster attempt to mate with a female duck or male ducks chase after the hens. That may have raised the question: Can a chicken and a duck mate? Could you end up with a clutch of chucks, or chicken/duck hybrids? If you did, it would be a miracle, because chickens and ducks cannot mate.
Let’s find out why.
Do Chicken/Duck Hybrids Exist?
First off, it is crucial to dispel a couple of rumors or legends that circulate across the internet from time to time. Throughout the years, there have been tales of chickens and ducks mating, creating “chucks.” However, none of these cases were thoroughly investigated, nor has any of the claims been substantiated with science.
Yes, there are instances where a chicken or duck may be born looking like the other, but it is believed these were mutations. There is a very small — almost impossible — chance that anything could come of a chicken mating with a duck.
Since no chicken/duck hybrids exist to point to and say it’s possible, the assumption is that the probability of a hybrid being born is slim.
Can Chickens Breed With Ducks?
No, a chicken and a duck cannot mate. As you will soon find out, it is physically impossible for a rooster to impregnate a female duck. It is also unlikely a male duck can fertilize a hen.
However, just because chickens and ducks cannot procreate, it does not mean it is safe to leave male ducks with your flock of hens. That could spell trouble — but on this in a moment.
Why Chickens and Ducks Cannot Mate
One of the reasons chickens and ducks cannot breed and create a web-footed, cock-a-doodling fowl is biology. Chickens and ducks may both be birds, but they do not have the same reproductive organs. Secondly, if you want to get into the nitty-gritty of biology, they also do not have the same chromosomes. Studies have been done to find that duck chromosomes contain different shapes, often containing far more genetic information than those of the chicken.
This is the same reason why humans cannot mate with other mammals to create hybrids.
If the chromosomes do not match up, it is impossible to breed unless some kind of scientific tampering is done.
But let’s backpedal for a moment. Chickens and ducks have different equipment. Roosters and hens both have cloaca, though the rooster has a way to express semen rather than accept it. Male ducks, known as drakes, have an external corkscrew-shaped penis. Yikes. And the size and shape of that duck’s sex organ makes it impossible to fit into a chicken.
Can a Duck Fertilize a Chicken Egg?
Rarely is it possible for a drake to fertilize a hen’s eggs. There have been some reported occurrences of this happening, though. For example, in 2012, Patricia Rydeen, a well-known farmer and chicken-owner, reported hatching a hybrid egg, which she called “Ducken.” Yet, despite the reports, there are also a great many misconceptions about what happened. Experts offered their opinion, however, stating that the Ducken was most likely the result of two drakes mating with the same female duck and thus fertilizing the same eggs.
If you look back at the anatomy of ducks and chickens, though, you will see how this is also impossible. In fact, it is more likely that a drake mounting a hen would result in terrible injuries to your chicken than in fertilized eggs.
But even if a duck did somehow manage to fertilize the eggs of a hen, there is a very high chance that those eggs never hatch.
Why Do Drakes Try to Mate With Hens?
You may wonder why two incompatible species would try to mate with one another. Well, ducks and roosters trying to breed with one another is nothing new. When the breeding season comes around the corner, certain species become far more driven to procreate than others.
For ducks, particularly drakes, anything that moves will do. Drakes can become extremely aggressive, which is why they try to jump on hens any chance they have. Of course, some drakes are much more calm.
But you do not want to give drakes a chance to hurt your hens. As mentioned above, they are equipped differently. Should a drake try to force himself into a hen, she could end up terribly injured. In some cases, female ducks die during mating. That risk is amplified when a male duck mounts a female chicken.
Watch out for your girls.
Why Do Roosters Try to Mate with Ducks?
For the same reason as their water-bound brethren, roosters have a sexual drive. Should a female duck hang around with the rest of the flock, she may become the apple of the rooster’s eye so to speak. However, unlike a drake mating with a hen, roosters will find that they simply have no way to access the duck’s eggs. The rooster’s cloaca does not match the female duck’s reproductive organs, and so he will soon stop trying to mate with her.
Can a Hen Hatch Duck Eggs?
Do you have chickens who are begging to hatch some eggs or mother some chicks? Being that duck eggs look and weigh nearly the same as chicken eggs, it is possible for a broody hen to foster a duck’s unwanted clutch. Plus, when those baby ducks finally hatch, they will imprint on the hen and follow her wherever she goes. There is some benefit to using a chicken to hatch eggs, as mother hens rarely abandon those that they hatch.
Ducks can be a bit more persnickety when hatching and raising chickens. That is why many farmers utilize their hens to quickly expand their duck population. If you are looking for an excellent breed of chicken to help you raise ducklings, consider Silkies. They are the most loving mothers you could ask for.
Can Ducks and Chickens Be Kept Together?
Yes, you can keep chickens and ducks together without an issue. Interestingly, even roosters and drakes will get along swimmingly. However, this could change should a drake attempt to mate with a rooster’s hen. That could cause a territorial brawl between both males.
If you are worried about your hens being injured by overly aggressive drakes, it is recommended that you separate your chickens and ducks when you notice any mating behavior. Also, create a spacious arrangement where there is plenty of food, water, and resting places for every chicken and duck on your property.
Usually, in many backyards where there are chickens, there are also ducks. As an owner of feathered friends, you may have wondered if a chicken and a duck can mate? Hopefully, you now know that, no, chickens and ducks are not compatible. In the same way a dog can’t mate with a cat, these are two different species of animals. That doesn’t mean male ducks will not try, though! Keep your hens separated from the drakes, and your backyard will be paradise for your flocks.
Valerie has been content writing since 2016 for websites and companies all around the world. A traveler, dancer, martial artist, Valerie loves gathering experiences and wisdom. Her travels have taken her to over 20 countries, and she hopes to see more of the world soon.