Concern for outnumbered hens. Do I need to be?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by mynameisjustjen, Sep 7, 2013.

  1. mynameisjustjen

    mynameisjustjen Out Of The Brooder

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    I have been caring for 9 Mallard ducks for about 2 months now. I am concerned because I believe it is turning out we only have 2 females. I have read the ratio needs to be the opposite and I fear for the hens lives. Should I be concerned? And what should/can we do? We plan on as soon as they begin flying, they will be on their own other than some feed out for them and offering a suggested open pen at night. There is a lake couple pastures away and assume they will spend their time here and there. Currently they are penned at night and roam with some supervision during the day. They are spoiled rotten!

    Their behavior recently seems friendly and normal. Although a couple of weeks ago we had one duck that had a bleeding feather. I cared for the injured duck inside till bleeding was no an alarm to predators and not sure if was a female at the time. Then later witnessed an aggressive duck pinching/pulling on a wing and removed a feather...no bleeding that time. I isolated the aggressive duck in an adjacent pen for a couple days (sometimes with a buddy, sometimes not). When rejoined the pack after a couple days they seem to get along fine. Just some light pinching to date. I hope the boys will behave themselves!
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2013
  2. keesmom

    keesmom Overrun With Chickens

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    I may be new to ducks, but I certainly wouldn't keep 7 drakes and 2 ducks together. Way too many males. I would definitely be concerned for the ducks' lives. Can you rehome 6 of the males, or confine them to a separate pen?
     
  3. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    I agree, those girl duckies need to be protected. Once hormones kick in, they are at risk. There are a number of options, but their safety needs to be the priority.
     
  4. mynameisjustjen

    mynameisjustjen Out Of The Brooder

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    I believe we have bigger concerns. Yesterday we left the ducks in the yard and one went missing. We assume it is was taken by one of the many hawks we see around daily that took the bird. We could not find even a feather left or any trace of a duck. Our suspicion grew that it was a hawk when a large hawk was waiting on our rooftop before we even had a chance to get the ducks out of their pen this morning. And I assume they are not vulnerable to snakes at 2 months? We only let them graze in the yard now when they can be closely supervised. :-(

    I suggested a scarecrow in the yard. lol. Anyone have any suggestions on warding off hawks? There is a lake a couple pastures away and we have seen no ducks on the lake. Could this area/lake be unable to support waterfowl due to the hawk population? Will they fly to safer area or be killed off one at a time. This would be heartbreaking.

    The boys and girls are getting along fine these days and it turns out we might have 3 hens. One duck I discovered, has a very low hoarse quack if any at all. So far I have only been able to spot two loud ducks to determine sex, but she might just be a injured or sick hen.

    Thanks you Keesmom and Amiga for your responses. I really need some guidance and want the best for our ducks
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2013
  5. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Running over with Blessings Premium Member

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    Hawks are one of ducks worse preds, and usually if large enough will carry their prey off at 2 months your ducks are the perfect size meal for a hawk, about the only thing that will keep hawks out is netting over the run or an LGD or you sitting out side with them while they forage around the yard. Even then I have read hawks will still be bold enough to try. So sorry for your loss. [​IMG]
     
  6. HollyDuckFarmer

    HollyDuckFarmer Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi there, drakes are funny creatures. Each drake will need 2-4 female ducks. I say
    2-4 because all drakes are different, one might not be satisfied without 4, another milder drake might be ok with 2.
     
  7. clacka

    clacka Out Of The Brooder

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    I have 2 drakes and 4 female ducks all get along fine
     
  8. Going Quackers

    Going Quackers Overrun With Chickens

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    Yeah ratios like that can cause all sorts of trouble, mallards drakes will start to turn green on the head and they don't quack. I have some calls done in the classic mallard colouring(ie; grey) and you could see the green coming out for quite awhile.

    Hawks are a rough one, you could try some old school stuff, windchimes.. as well this tape..

    http://www.niteguard.com/pages/OtherProducts1

    A bit odd but i have some here as well as one of their lights... i am pretty pred heavy here( i have cougars, bears, wolves, coyotes, foxes, skunks, raccons, hawks, etc)
     
  9. mynameisjustjen

    mynameisjustjen Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks to everyone who has responded with answers about our flock of Mallards. We have only lost ducks to migrating since my last post. Four out of eight in the flock migrated about a month ago. It included my favorite female (Sweet Sue) and three males that decided to head south. Sue had an unusual and distinctive call that was precious! :-( I hope to see her back in the spring.

    The problem now is yesterday the remaining flock decided to leave and left the last female (Missy) alone. We normally lock them up in the coup at night, but my experience is that a single animal should never be kept alone. We brought her inside and she was happy to stay in the bathroom. She ate and slept fine. Today I have her locked in the coup outside, as I am afraid she will fly off on her own. I am thinking some of our options would be to get her another female companion duck to keep her company. There is a farm close by that has non flying breeds and might ask her to buy a female. Although if Missy decides to migrate will will again be left with a single duck. Is it safe for her to migrate alone or should we keep her caged with a buddy?? We have also considered diapering her and making her a house duck, but since we have never diapered her I am not sure if this is an option.

    I hope someone can offer some advise as I am HEARTBROKEN seeing her alone in her coup. PLEASE HELP ME WITH MISSY!
     
  10. Luminide

    Luminide Out Of The Brooder

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    Oh geeze, that's one of my worse fears...my ducks migrating. I really do hope yours return in spring. If I were you, I would certainly buy a diaper and bring Missy inside. Even if she hasn't been diapered before, she's still young enough to adjust to that after a week or two. It may be a little hard putting it on her the first few times, but I'd say its for her safety. A duck migrating on its own is at risk. Unless you can find another flock for her to join, I see little other choice.
     

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