Can Ducks Breed With Chickens, Turkeys, Swans, Geese & Other Ducks?

A Chicken Duck crossbreed from China (1)
This is a photo of an unverified duck-chicken crossbreed. As you can see, the farmer may be “holding” chicken feet up to a duck’s body.

Raising ducks, chickens, turkeys and geese can be a lot of fun. If you are raising more than one type of bird, you may be wondering if it’s possible to interbreed some of your mixed flock. Depending on the types of birds you have, it may be technically possible to breed two species together. 

But, often interbreeding various species can present danger to one of the species. Read on to learn more about specific cross-breeding issues. 

Chickens And Ducks Mating

Can A Duck Breed With A Chicken? A rooster can successfully breed with a duck, but a drake that mates with a hen will usually harm the hen. A drake has an external sex organ that hens are not made to accommodate. When successful cross-breed chick results, it will be sterile and the eggs are usually inedible. 

There are known cases of a rooster mating with a hen duck. Generally, the mating won’t amount to anything. That’s because male ducks have an external sex organ that inserts into the female duck. But, chickens are actually the opposite. 

The hen usually does more of the “mating” with the rooster. 

As a result, when a rooster and a duck mate, the rooster’s sperm usually doesn’t make it into the female duck.

xchicken-duck-hybrid-300-396-11.jpg.pagespeed.ic.N0B_SDL09W
A supposed chicken-duck hybrid out of Texas. This bird was not DNA tested to confirm it’s parentage. Photo credit: Macroevolution

The vast majority of the time no viable offspring results from a rooster and a female duck mating. 

However, occasionally a half duck-chicken breed does result. When this happens, the halfbreed is sterile and won’t be able to produce any offspring. This often happens with animals of different species or breeds mate. 

Does A Rooster Mating With A Duck Harm The Duck? Roosters are more gentle mates than drakes so a rooster that mates with a duck will not harm the duck. 

Can A Drake Mate With A Hen? 

A drake should not be allowed to mate with hens for several reasons. 

  1. Drakes have external sex organs (phallus) which will harm the hen when mated. Vent prolapse is a common issue and if left untreated can greatly harm and even kill your hen. The drake’s phallus can puncture your hen’s internal organs, cause bleeding, and introduce bacteria and infection. 
  2. Drakes are much more violent during mating than a rooster. This often means that a hen that is mated by a drake suffers from torn skin and bleeding on the back of their neck. Occasionally, a hens neck may even get broken. Drakes are called “wife beaters” in the fowl industry because of how rough they are on their mates. Hens can even suffer from internal bleeding from the rough and repeated mating of a drake. 
  3. Drakes have a very active sex drive. In the spring and early summer, a single drake can keep a dozen ducks mated. A single drake can actually cause mating harm to even a duck if there aren’t enough hen ducks around to mate. He can over mate his own species, and if he goes after hens, its very likely that he will over-mate the hens. If they survive the first few attempts at mating, they won’t survive the repeated assaults. 

In my research, I am aware of only one instance where a hen supposedly laid an egg that resulted in a mix between a duck and a chicken. That instance isn’t verified. 

It should also be noted that although there are numerous accounts of half chickens and half ducklings, that none of those accounts have been DNA tested to confirm the parentage. 

While I think that it’s possible to occasionally get a halfbreed, it’s also possible that some other freak of nature occurred instead. 

Ducks and Geese Mating

Can A Duck Mate With A Goose? Technically, a duck and a chicken can mate, but it rarely happens and if the offspring survives the embryo stage, it is unsterile. Ducks and geese have similar sex organs and do not harm the other species if they attempt to mate. But, they have a different number of chromosomes so the resulting offspring cannot reproduce. 

There are many “sightings” of duck-goose halfbreeds in the wild. Nearly all of those hybrids are actually the cross between different breeds of ducks that result in what appears to be a goose-duck crossbreed but is not. 

One example of this is when an Indian runner duck mates with other species of ducks. The Indian runner duck is more upright and looks more goose-like. When they mate with another breed of duck, the offspring is 100% duck, is a hybrid duck, but can appear to “look” like a duck-goose crossbreed. 

duckgoose possible crossbreeds (1)
These ducks look like geese cross-breeds, but are actually just cross-breeds of various species of ducks. This photo was taken and researched by John Farley who found and photographed these “duck-geese” and found they were 100% ducks.

Is mating a duck and a goose dangerous? Mating of a duck and a goose is not dangerous to either the duck or goose. Both the drake and the gander can mate with a female duck or female goose without causing her harm. Rarely will either species be interested in mating with the other species and will prefer their own species. 

Geese generally mate for life. Only Mallard ducks mate in pairs for life. As a result, both ducks and geese are not generally attracted to one another. 

There can be exceptions. 

In rare cases, a duck or a goose that is domestically raised with another species may start to mimic the habits of the other species. In the wild, this seldom happens as a solo duck or goose will usually die and won’t be “adopted” by the other species. 

I have heard of a few cases in which a flock of ducks and a gaggle of geese were raised together. If something happens that leaves one duck or one goose alone with the rest of the other species, they will sometimes try to mate with the other species

Can A Duck And A Goose Produce Offspring? In the rare case that a duck and a goose mate and the egg is fertilized, the embryos are usually not viable. The embryo usually starts to grow but dies before it reaches a stage where it can hatch. In the even rarer event that the offspring hatches, it usually has a very short lifespan. 

To date, there have not been any confirmed cases of a duck-goose offspring, although there are a few stories of some surviving. DNA testing has never confirmed the parentage of these offspring and many times cross-breeding ducks can result in an offspring that may look more goose-like but has no goose DNA. 

There is no scientific evidence that ducks and geese can breed. 

Ducks and Swan Mating

Can A Duck And A Swan Mate? Ducks and swans do not breed. Swans breed for life and are rarely without their mate. Ducks are very likely to breed with more than the female duck they are paired with, but unlikely to ever succeed in mating with a swan. 

Swans are very protective of their families and have nothing to gain by breeding with more than one male. There are no known instances of a duck even attempting to mate with a swan. 

Swans mate for life and as a couple learns season after season about how to successfully raise their clutch. Each season, swans generally raise more cygnets than when the pair first mated.

The dangers of swans copulating with multiple partners is far greater than the benefits. As a result, only one species of swan, the black swan, participates in mating with multiple partners. Even then, the swans will be mated with a partner and only occasionally mate with an additional partner. 

Ducks, on the other hand, may mate for a season with a partner but are almost never exclusive. Male ducks usually attempt to mate with as many female ducks as possible. Female ducks attempt to ward off most males but are often unsuccessful 100% of the time. 

Male ducks participate less in the raising of the young than male swans. As a result, ducks have less to lose if they are not faithful to a single partner. 

Duck and Turkey Breeding

Can A Duck and A Turkey Mate? While a drake can possibly mate with a female turkey, resulting offspring would be very rare. There are no confirmed cases of a half turkey-duck offspring. A tom making with a female duck would likely cause severe harm or death to the duck because turkeys are much larger and more ferocious than even ducks when mating. 

A drake has a strong sex drive and if there are not enough female ducks, it might be plausible that the drake would attempt to mate with a female turkey. 

But, it is highly unlikely that a drake could successfully mate with a turkey. It is thought to be impossible for a duck and a turkey to produce living offspring. 

Interbreeding Duck Breeds

Can different duck breeds mate? Nearly any duck breed can successfully mate with another duck breed. Most ducks species descend from the Mallard duck and so are sexually compatible. The offspring will be fertile and able to reproduce, but will often have difficulty finding a mate due to their odd coloring or differences in behavior. When successful, hybrid ducks actually threaten the extinction of some local duck breeds due to the drakes forcing copulation on the females of the pure species. 

There are several issues that arise in nature when different duck breeds mate. 

  1. It often contaminates the pure species and can threaten the survival of the original species
  2. Hybrid ducks can have issues mating, specifically the females in attracting males of either of the parent species 
  3. The hybrid drakes tend to be more numerous and can force mating on the female ducks to the point that it harms or kills them 
  4. Hybrid ducks are more susceptible to disease than the natural species

In nature, most duck breeds do not interbreed. There are several reasons for this. Often the species don’t come in contact with each other. 

In modern times, because of people’s importing of ducks and the thousands of domestic ducks that have been released into the wild when the ducks became too much for the owners, crossbreeding has become more common. 

In the wild, ducks imprint on their parents. When a duck is hatched, the first few adults that the duck sees becomes an imprint on that duck. 

For the rest of their life, that duck will try to mate with other ducks that look like it’s parents. This keeps each breed of ducks clean in the animal kingdom. 

Fulvous x White-faced Whistling-Duck, Pensthorpe, 9-Mar-14 (A) (2)
Fulvous x White-faced Whistling-Duck, Photo curtesy of Gobirding.edu

However, in some cases in the wild, and more commonly with domestic ducks, the new hatchling may see a duck that is not it’s actual parents. It becomes imprinted with the wrong species of duck. As a result, it may attempt to crossbreed with other breeds of ducks. 

In a backyard or farm setting, there are some considerations before mating various species together. 

If you have mallards, they are much more likely to take off and fly away during seasonal migration. This can mean lost expense in raising your ducks. It can also mean the introduction of illnesses to local natural duck populations as feral ducks interact with wild ducks. 

The reproduction of hybrid ducks may not be a consideration for homesteaders. Cross-breeding of several breeds of ducks can often produce a tastier duck that is preferred for eating. 

Individual families and local farms often specialize in these varieties of ducks for the market. 

In some cases, new species of ducks have been formed through selective breeding. You may be interested in such an experiment. 

Can a Mallard Duck And A Muscovy Duck Mate? Muscovy ducks are the only duck that isn’t thought to be descended from a Mallard. A mallard and a muscovy are very unlikely to successfully mate with each other. Successful matings of a mallard and muscovy are usually done through artificial insemination. Even when artificially mated, the offspring are almost always sterile. 

Related Articles 

How To Raise Ducks: The Complete Guide for Beginners

What’s The Best Duck? A Complete Guide To Choosing The Right Breed

Resources

Interbreeding issues of wild ducks by Cornell University

Penn State research on mating habits of Ducks, Geese, and Swans

http://www.gobirding.eu/Photos/HybridDucks.php 

 

Annemaria Duran

Hi, I’m Annemaria Duran. I moved out to the country 6 years ago, mainly so I could have more land. I love all aspects of country living. First, we got chickens, then ducks. Now we have sheep, goats, and rabbits. I'm always learning and love sharing it!

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