Duck Warfare

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by tkathleen, Jun 9, 2010.

  1. tkathleen

    tkathleen Out Of The Brooder

    36
    0
    22
    Dec 5, 2009
    Hi all!

    I have had 2 male ducks (a Pekin, Aflac and a crested white, Q-Tip) that get along famously for the last year. This spring break, we got 3 Pekin (or Pekin cross) ducklings and raised them with the idea of hopefully having females who would lay eggs for us. It turned out we have 2 females (Nibbles and Sweet Pea) and 1 male, Siren. They are 10 weeks now.

    We were aware that we would have a male-female imbalance problem and planned initially to slaughter any male we turned out to have in the new group, but figured we could separate if needed. My poor 10 year old son is currently very sad about about the idea of doing away with Siren, so we have that on the back burner and may give it up entirely.

    We moved the ducklings outside about 4 weeks ago into a run and coop within the other duck's larger yard. My hope was to separate them and allow visual contact long enough that uniting the groups wouldn't be such a big deal. I have tried opening the gate between the yards a few minutes then hours at a time and the result is consistently that my dominant drake Aflac, who lives in the larger yard, attacks males and females alike, very viciously, and with some support from his buddy Q-Tip, who is less aggressive. At first, I let it go on, hoping that as long as no one was seriously hurt, they'd establish dominance and move on to harmonious living, at least until the females were sexually mature. But, after hours on the 3rd or 4th attempt, I saw my 3 young guys all huddled up in a corner, not being allowed the use of their pond or access to their food, and put them back into their run.

    For the moment, I've given up merging the groups. The new ones seemed so stressed and unhappy they wouldn't even come out of their coop the first half of the day I had closed the gate again. The problem is that the temporary run we set up for the new guys is just not big enough and they are stinking it up too fast in our current 90 degree weather, a problem I really have never had in my larger space before. I have thrown down lots of straw to cover their run (and a lot of the yard, since they've murdered the grass). I'd really like to figure out if there is a way to ease them into being together so that they can all have more space and am open to any other suggestions as to how to prevent stinkiness and generally improve the situation.

    Any ideas?
     
  2. nettie

    nettie Enslaved by Indoor Ducks

    1,725
    102
    214
    Nov 20, 2008
    Chicago, IL
    It is normal for bigger ducks to attack smaller ones, it's a pecking order thing.

    The best thing to do is introduce them slowly, preferably with some sort of barrier, like a small animal fence you get for guinea pigs at the pet store. They can get used to seeing each other before trying to put them together again. My duck Victor is a voracious duckling chaser... When vinny was little, you'd find victor with a huge clump of black fuzz in his mouth and Vinny with a naked butt. lol It will take a while to get them used to each other esp. since ducks hate change. good news is, eventually flock mentality takes over (Victor and Vinny are currently friends, lo)
     
  3. tkathleen

    tkathleen Out Of The Brooder

    36
    0
    22
    Dec 5, 2009
    Thanks, Nettie. I appreciate your experience and I hope you're right that it will work out. The thing is this is your strategy is exactly what I've done. They were visible to one another 3 weeks before I ever allowed them in the same space. They can see one another now! The other funny thing is all my new ducks are bigger than my established ones, and could fight back just fine, but apparently are much more passive. I figured there would be attacks-but Aflac is so aggressive with them, he hardly gives them a moment's peace! Q-Tip seems to bite more gently and then sort of leave them alone for a while, but Aflac bites HARD and goes after them over and over and won't let them in their pond or back into their enclosure. It surprised me because he and Q-Tip never fought although I was much less careful about introducing them last summer!
     
  4. angelique_redhead

    angelique_redhead Chillin' With My Peeps

    251
    0
    109
    Feb 28, 2010
    DFW, Texas
    I think I'd put Aflac in the temporary pen and the ducklings in with Q-Tip if he's being gentler. Aflac can come back later when he doesn't think he's head duck any more. Good luck! [​IMG]: Angelique
     
  5. tkathleen

    tkathleen Out Of The Brooder

    36
    0
    22
    Dec 5, 2009
    That's what my husband said! You're probably right. I suppose the sticky thing is he's my favorite, despite being a meanie. He likes me the most, is the friendliest and is so spirited he thinks he can walk into my kitchen through the back door and bite my dog. I guess I'm not making him sound that great, but he's just awfully cute. But I want him to stop terrorizing the other ducks. Maybe I will try that! I think my new guys might be stressed not to have access to their familiar coop, which is within the temporary run, but it's worth a try. There is, of course, another coop outside in the larger area...
     
  6. nettie

    nettie Enslaved by Indoor Ducks

    1,725
    102
    214
    Nov 20, 2008
    Chicago, IL
    maybe once q-tip gets more accustomed to them, when aflac comes back he'll see that everyone's friends. Perhaps it will make him less aggressive. IT sounds like aflac is top duck currently and he;s really worried about losing his title... That happened with my four oldest ducks... Eventually my top duck convinced every one else she was top duck too. lol
     
  7. nettie

    nettie Enslaved by Indoor Ducks

    1,725
    102
    214
    Nov 20, 2008
    Chicago, IL
    we also use a discipline method of tapping them on their beaks and saying NO BITING! which might help. Ours listen fairly well and since Aflac seems keen on you he might listen better if he get in trouble for biting.
     
  8. tkathleen

    tkathleen Out Of The Brooder

    36
    0
    22
    Dec 5, 2009
    Thanks for the good advice! We think maybe we'll let the new ducks free range in our larger yard during the day to spread out the mess. We don't let Aflac and Q-Tip because Aflac bites my poor dog. But these guys played with him when they were teensers, so I think they won't be aggressive-They are generally just more demure. Then we will see about either penning Aflac in their run for a bit or just breaking down and dividing the duck yard into 2 comparably sized yards. I will try that discipline tecnique as well.
     
  9. tkathleen

    tkathleen Out Of The Brooder

    36
    0
    22
    Dec 5, 2009
    Well, I started yesterday free ranging the newer ducks in our bigger yard, away from the older ones and they seem very happy. It's a bit more work relocating them in the morning and at night, but so far peace prevails and the smell is way down!
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by