Duck flock behavior and a weakling

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by nikbrown, Aug 3, 2011.

  1. nikbrown

    nikbrown Hatching

    Apr 19, 2011
    We have a flock of 15 black magpie ducks that are 9 weeks old.

    A couple weeks ago we noticed one of them wasn't getting his feathers in as well as the others and was limping a bit. He spent mot of the day just sitting under the coop ramp.

    We left him overnight and the next morning he came out of the coop limping badly and his flight feathers that were just coming in stripped and bleeding; again he plopped down most of the day and didn't move.

    We decided the others must be picking on him at night and we pulled him from the flock to recover. We kept him in a separate area for almost 2 weeks feeding him extra food and nutritional yeast on peas for it's added niacin (we've been adding yeast to the food container for all of them since the beginning). We took him out once a day and let him hang out in the garden with us while we worked. He mostly just kind of sat around though. Any time he saw the other ducks in the distance he tried to make a beeline to them.

    3 days ago we decided he looked strong enough and his plumage had developed almost completely enough to go back with the flock. When we put him back ,all the ducks went into some sort of dominance testing mode where they would each go over to him, or he to them, and each would try and put their head on top of the others head and force the other duck to the ground. This went on for about an hour or 2 but he seemed to be holding his own even thought he had many challengers.

    At some point that day he ripped the nail off the rear toe of one of his feet.... sigh. We took him out cleaned the wound and packed it with corn starch to stop the bleeding. We kept him separate that night to rest up.

    Yesterday I put him back with the other ducks in the morning and most of the day seemed to go well. At some point his toe started bleeding again, but I left him alone and it seemed to clot on its own. There were a couple of ducks that would chase him and yank at feathers but at the end of the day they were all resting and mostly leaving him alone. He slept with the others last night.... We did briefly pull him over to the side by himself and gave him more peas and yeast.

    This morning I let them all out and watched them for about 10 min. Durning that time I saw a number of the ducks chase him, grab hold of him and yank feathers out.... He is also limping a bit.

    These aren't pets. My plan was to keep all the females and 2-3 males. They are supost to be for eggs and the occasional meat. I know he needs to reincorporate himself into the flock somehow and there is a pecking order of sorts, but I just dont know.

    Any insite on flock behavior? Ideas on what we need to do?

  2. crj

    crj Songster

    Dec 17, 2009
    Rocky Point, NC
    You didn't say if the duck was male or female. I would pull him out and give him a mate to be with. If you can put a pen next to the area where you keep the other ducks may help. It is obvious the other ducks find him to be a threat or weak to be with them right now. I've had to do that with a duck that got attacked by a stray hunting dog. The other ducks just want to kill him since he can no longer defend himself. I do keep his mate with him. They get along fine.

    What I did was separate the ducks with some fencing (portable metal pet pen) at night. During the day I let all the ducks out but the two that are separated. I open the fencing where they can roam or hop where they want. They stay in the pen where they have a pool, water and food but no aggression from the others. They seem to be happy this way.

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