Goats And Ducks: Can They Live Together?

ducks in the snow

Raising different types of animals together is usually a great idea, since both animals can benefit! But there are some exceptions that don’t work!

What about goats and ducks: together forever, or a disaster from the start?

Goats and ducks can be raised together as long as each has separate feed and water and both have plenty of room.

Raising goat and ducks together has both benefits and challenges. It’s getting them to work together, by having the benefits out weighing the challenges, that makes this combination successful.

We are relatively new to goats. We have a small herd of meat goats, mostly Boer type, that we started just over two years ago.

We also raise all sorts of poultry and we definitely have quite a few ducks. While, we are not goat experts by any means, we do have experience with raising them together.

Farm Animals That Can Live Together goes over the good and the not so good ideas for multi species farms.

Water is the main challenge of raising ducks and goats together

The main challenge for anyone raising ducks and goats together is to get one thing to balance: water. Goats like their area to be dry, ducks like their area to have wet spots.

Let me be specific, ducks need their pen to be dry, as well. The catch is they spend their entire day sloshing in the water and think about having a dry place to sleep later, like right before they go to sleep!

How can we balance the needs of both animals to keep everybody happy?

  1. First, we need to acknowledge the nature of each animal and work with their natural tendencies as much as is practical. Of course, you can choose to work against natural tendencies, but, by doing so, you are making your life much harder!
  2. Second, make sure that both the ducks and the goats have a source of clean water and food and a well bedded area to lay to rest and/or sleep.

That’s it, really just two areas that we need to keep in mind to successfully raise goats and ducks together! Now, on to the specifics.

author, Kathy Mccune holding boer doeling, Agatha
One of our doelings, Agatha, did not want her picture taken. If you look closely, you can see a guinea in the picture, just over my shoulder on the right. There aren’t any ducks in this specific picture, but they are always zooming around.

Your goat’s water must be clean

Keeping the goat’s water clean will be your biggest challenge on the goat side. If you can, the easy answer is make the water too high for the ducks to reach.

This is very doable if you have taller breed goats, like dairy goats or any cross that has longer legs.

If your goats are on the shorter end, keeping the water clean becomes more of a challenge. In this case I would heavily consider keeping the ducks locked out of the goat pen.

I have to admit, if you are willing to change out the goat’s water several times a day, this is less of an issue.

Rest assured, the ducks will find that water and when they do, you’ll need to change it. Carrying new water to the goats will get tiresome pretty quickly.

Raising Goats Feeding And Nutrition goes over the basic needs for your herd.

Keep ducks out of goat feed

If the ducks are messing in the goat feed, you are giving the goats too much feed!

Your goats should be cleaning up their feed in one shot, taking 15 minutes at the most! Any feed left over is more than they need.

We don’t worry too much about the ducks hanging around and cleaning up any spilled feed, I think it’s a good thing, really.

I’m referring to the scraps of feed that would dust the ground, not diving into the newly filled trough!

The obvious exception to limit feeding (giving your goats a certain amount once or twice a day) is creep feeding kids. If you want to creep feed the kids, you’ll need to lock out the ducks.

If you are not familiar with the term: Creep feeding is making feed available to younger goats, but not older/bigger goats.

Usually through a gate that has small kid size, but not mom size, openings. The feed is always available, free choice to the kids.

Adult goats will be fast enough eating the feed to beat out the ducks, kids will not. And free choice, like the creep feeder, will just be a duck buffet!

Ducks and medicated feed or water: yikes!

You should also be aware that ducks can not have medicated feed of any sort, even what they steal from the goats!

If your goat feed or water is medicated, the ducks must be kept out of it!

Make sure your ducks don’t get bullied by goats

The ducks being “bullied” by the goats is the exact opposite of the things we’ve went over so far, but another likely happening.

Here’s what I mean: You give the ducks some duck feed and the goats come over and eat it. That’s duck feed, not goat feed!

Why are those goats stealing from the ducks? Short answer: because they can!

If the goats can get to the duck feed, they will. Count on it!

Is this bullying? I don’t think so, this is normal animal stuff. The goats aren’t swooping in and eating the duck food to be mean or cause the ducks harm.

They are eating it because they want it, that’s all. My point is that to the goats, it’s not about the ducks at all!

Ducks can make goat water dirty

The only risk to your goat’s health, when keeping goats and ducks together is the dirty water. When we’re taking ducks, dirty could be actual dirt or manure, they love to dibble around in both!

Once again, the easy fix here is to keep the ducks out of the goat water. I know that is easier said than done, especially with shorter goats.

However, clean water is a must! Having your goats drink poopy water is a disaster in the making!

Goats benefit from living with ducks

To me, the biggest benefit of raising goats and ducks together is the clean up aspect of the ducks, for both grain and bugs. This is the “work with their natural tendencies part” I mentioned above.

The spilled grain from feeding your goats will invite rodents. Choosing between growing rodents or ducks, I’m definitely feeding the ducks!

The other benefit to the goats is the bug patrol aspect that is built in to ducks. Not only will ducks keep control of bugs in grasses, they will also eat adult flies and get any maggots that are hatching out of the manure.

A final, often overlooked benefit to raising goats and ducks together is that they have very different parasites, so will not generally pass parasites to each other.

This means that every goat parasite that the ducks eat doesn’t get back into your goats! And since parasites are species specific, those goat parasites do not infect the duck, they are just a snack.

Meet the needs of both ducks and goats

Anytime you decide to try something new, or rework what you are doing, there will be some adjustments that you’ll need to make along the way.

This will be true with all animals and raising systems.

No need to worry, but there is a need to observe! Check out how your goats and your ducks are getting along together. If something isn’t right, change it!

One of the biggest challenges of multi species raising systems is getting all of the pieces parts working together, it’s more like a dance.

When you are off rhythm things can be ugly, but when you are working in harmony, wow, is that beautiful.

Times when mixed raising won’t work!

A few cautions regarding times when you really need to keep the goats and ducks separate:

  • Medicated feed or water
  • Ducks nesting
  • Ducks with ducklings

The medicated feed and water should be only available to the animal it is intended for. In this case, separation is a must!

For the ducks nesting and raising ducklings, give her space. The goats will poke, not to be mean, more because they can or out of “let’s see what happens if we” activities.

Respect the duck and keep the goats out of her space.

Brooding Ducklings goes over a nice set up to keep the ducklings happy and safe until they are big enough to venture out on their own.

Once the ducklings get a few days old, they will start zooming around quite a bit with their mom. This is where ducklings get lost.

Keep them out of the goat pen until you are sure the ducklings are agile enough to navigate obstacles, including non cooperative goats, to keep up with mom.

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