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Ducks attacking the chickens.

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

This is different from the usual 'drake vs chicken' thread, because it's not the drake doing the attacking. He ambles about peacefully, hardly giving a second look at anything except our dog who he loves to chase (she's terrified of him, even if she's 40 pounds bigger).

 

Instead, it's the females. Some of them. Two of our friendly, docile, quiet cayuga females have suddenly started jumping up and biting our hens and even roosters right on their tails, even taking a running start to do so. Fortunately there haven't been any fights because the chickens run away from the ducks (the ducks are fat, therefore, bigger).

 

They've never attacked the chickens before - at least, not the females. Except one of the females would protect herself if one of the hens went after her, but they never started it before. And the poor rooster was quite surprised when she took a big nip on his tail and took a few of his feathers out. They are eating whatever feathers they manage to pull out - perhaps they're doing it as a need for protein (from the feathers) as opposed to random aggression?

 

The drake, meanwhile, just sits right by and watches, then goes back to peacefully eating next to the other ducks and hens. Our pekin female, the sweetest, and gentlest duck we have, does not participate in the behaviour.

 

I have noticed every so often the drake (a cayuga male as well as the 5 cayuga females) will, when the pekin begs him to mate with her, nibble on her feathers and gently pull out some to eat them, then walk away leaving her laying there. Our ducks are fed a high protein feed, and we didn't have this problem last winter/spring with the same feed and same flock. Perhaps they're bored.

 

Any ideas? I suppose if no big fights come of it then it's not going to cause too many problems, except for the poor rooster's missing tail feathers.

post #2 of 5

Dealing with this exact issue. One of my hens is living in the house due to the extensive feather loss (happened while I was on vacation). Unsure as to why they are suddenly doing this...although my hens just started laying so they "squat" for the ducks sometimes...making them easy targets for feather eating. I increased protein with mealworms/bugs (from naturespeck), changed to a 20% protein All Flock diet (from an 18%). I also have been trying to increase their greens at the suggesting of other members....I tried soaked alfalfa cubes but no interest so I give them handfuls of kale at night...maybe try more forage?

 

I keep my ducks separated from my hens unless they are free ranging...and even then, I notice them still trying to grab a taste of feathers. We are going to build a duck pen in the spring.  It is very frustrating so I hope you have more success than I have had!!

post #3 of 5

The Cayugas may just be feeling that nesting instinct and are seeing the chickens as a potential threat.

 

Ducks really can be hard to figure out.  Really.

 

The most that I ever hope for is to watch enough of the behavior to try to change some things up so that no one in the flock suffers.

Please PM me, or use @Amiga in the message if you would like to hear from me soon.  

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Please PM me, or use @Amiga in the message if you would like to hear from me soon.  

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post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 

You may be right. One of the ducks came across a chicken eating a duck egg (we have a couple of egg eaters we're trying to break but there are so many!) and she attacked the chicken and ripped out half of her tail. Perhaps they're seeing the chickens as potential threats because of that, since the weather is getting warmer and they may be getting ready to brood this year.

 

Our ducks are turning 2 this summer.

post #5 of 5

Oh, yeah, I think that's what's going on, then.

Please PM me, or use @Amiga in the message if you would like to hear from me soon.  

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Please PM me, or use @Amiga in the message if you would like to hear from me soon.  

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