To the average person ducks and geese seem pretty similar and closely related. Big ducks especially can even be mistaken for a goose from a distance to the untrained eye. If you’re a homesteader wanting to diversify the livestock on your farm, you might be wondering if you can raise ducks and geese together?
Because ducks and geese have similar shelter, water, and even some food requirements, ducks and geese are able to raised together quite successfully by homesteaders. These similarities along with choosing calm breeds makes for peaceful cohabitation among the two species.
There are some important factors to consider when choosing the makeup of your flock. Read on to learn from my experience of choosing stock, brooding ducklings and goslings, and establishing a successful flock of full grown ducks and geese.
Why Raise Ducks and Geese Together?
First let’s discuss why we would want to raise ducks and geese together. For us we wanted to have a flock of egg-laying ducks and a goose to act as protector of the flock. We did take it one step further and got a pair of geese so that we could also hatch goslings every spring to sell to other homesteaders.
If you are more interested in meat birds, these same techniques would also apply. The difference being that raising ducks and geese for eggs is a long term strategy that requires over-wintering whereas raising ducks and geese for meat requires a much shorter growing period followed by starting fresh the following spring with new hatchlings.
There can certainly be something said for the personality of both ducks and geese which makes for interesting sights and sounds on the homestead. Having a combination of both has been a wonderful addition to our homestead.
Choosing Compatible Breeds
Choosing calm, non-aggressive breeds of birds will greatly improve your chances of raising a peaceful flock. One tool to help you decide is to visit the website of the supplier you plan to use and review their breed guide.
We purchased our birds through Metzer Farms which has both a goose comparison table and a duck comparison table. These tables contain a lot of information but can be a bit overwhelming so I’ve broken down what I feel are the best breeds of ducks and geese for a mixed flock in the table below:
|Duck Breeds||Goose Breeds|
|Saxony||Buff and Tufted Buff|
|Silver Appleyard||Roman and Tufted Roman|
|Golden 300 Hybrid||French Toulouse and Tufted Toulouse|
The breeds listed in bolded text in the table above are the ones that we purchased. Our order consisted of two female ducks of each of those breeds and one male and one female Toulouse goose.
Brooding Ducklings and Goslings Together
Raising the ducklings and goslings together ensures that they all bond as one big family. Our baby birds all arrived at the post office in one box and although we had one duckling that didn’t survive the trip the rest of the bunch was lively and eager to get into the brooder that we had set up for them.
The brooder setup we used was a kiddie pool that after a few days I added higher cardboard sides to because little ducklings can jump quite high. I built a raised platform to set the water station on and catch all the mess. The bottom of the pool was lined with pine wood shavings and a heat lamp placed above one side. This video from my YouTube channel shows this setup
The entire time the ducks and geese were in the brooder together there was never any fighting. In fact, right from day 1 the geese filled the role of protectors of the flock. Any time that something startled the group, the ducklings would clump up behind the geese and the geese would stand up and start yelling at the intruder. It really was quite amazing that they took on that responsibility right away.
Even now that they are full grown there has been zero fighting between the ducks and geese. The ducks all know and respect that the geese are the dominant birds and still look to them for protection.
Geese and ducks don’t roost (except Muscovy ducks) and don’t like to climb too steep a ramp to get into their coop. This makes having a ground level shelter to house them together the best choice to keep them protected from extreme weather and predators.
Making a movable “duck tractor” is one option. This would allow you to keep them safe yet be able to move them to a new patch of grass daily. I know from experience it doesn’t take long for nine waterfowl to destroy a patch of fresh grass so this approach requires daily movement of the coop once the flock is full grown.
We’ve settled on using a permanent duck house and large fenced pasture. The duck house is a shed with concrete floor lined with straw bales and straw on the floor. A sliding door that gets closed at night keeps the predators out. The pasture is currently about 1/4 acre but I have plans to double that this spring and be able to rotate between the two to allow the other to grow back nice and lush.
Food and Water Requirements
Once the birds started to spend more time outdoors on grass you will notice the difference in their diet. The geese took right to eating grass and didn’t eat as much of the chick feed as the ducks did. The ducks did forage around and eat some clover and bugs but still ate mostly commercial feed.
During the warmer seasons, both ducks and geese will forage for most of their food. The geese prefer grass and other leafy greens, while the ducks are searching for bugs, grubs, and slugs. We keep a commercial feed available to them all all times too as a supplement.
Once winter comes you will notice a big increase in the amount of feed you’ll have to give them. I use a mix of about 1/3 quality scratch grains and 2/3 layer crumble. I give them enough in the morning to last half a day and then give them another helping after lunch. I find if you give them too much at once they will make a mess or one of them might tip the feed bowl over.
Ducks and geese both need to have access to water at all times. Ducks especially need water to help wash down their food. A pond or pool isn’t a necessity but a large tub or two of fresh water is a must. I change their water tubs with fresh water twice a day.
They will certainly love it if you did give them a pool of water to play in. On hot summer days I would give them a fresh pool of water everyday. Once the cooler weather sets in I back off to an occasional swim day. When winter hits, the pool gets put away for the season.
Ducks and geese do not interbreed. Having a breeding pair of geese though may put a strain on the flock dynamics. This coming spring will be our first mating season with Francine and Francisco (our geese). Ganders can get very protective of their mate and become aggressive during the early spring breeding season.
My plan to keep the flock safe during this time is to use a dog house for the geese to nest in and enclose the area with a separate fence. This way I can monitor the situation and if it looks like the geese will tolerate the ducks, I can remove the fence and let them continue to intermingle.
Interaction with Humans
Having a peaceful mixed flock of ducks and geese probably means having them be peaceful towards their keepers too. When our birds were just babies, I picked them up and held them daily. The geese always were more receptive to this than the ducks but I would continue to interact with them nearly everyday.
When they got older I would offer them special treats to get them to calmly mingle near me so I could reach down and stroke their neck feathers. All that work paid off as we now have a very peaceful and calm flock of ducks and geese that get along great together and with us.