Help With Aggressive Drakes Information Posted from other duck group


11 Years
Dec 8, 2008
Waco, Texas
This article was posted by member on another duck group I'm a member of.. William has very sound advice for raising ducks . I found this information to be very helpfull . I hope ya'll will too.

Sorry, here it is in non PDF form, but without the pics.


Little Heirloom Acres
Farm & Preserve

Two Is Bliss ,But Three Is a Deadly Crowd! The Seedy Side of Male Duck Behavior:
The natural world is set on the premise of “only the strong survive” and those that do make the cut go on to breed, reproduce and alter the genetics of a species. One cannot overlook these instincts when raising animals. Whether it be stallions, rams or domestic male ducks, the need to compete over food, territory and the right to breed holds precedence over all other life activities. It’s the very thing that keeps animal species and breeds strong and able to withstand what nature throws at them. Failing to recognize these very instincts can lead to disaster in a domestic setting. Domestic animals are all too often destined to live in cramped pens and enclosures. These small areas in which domestic animals are forced to live are a hotbed for aggressive, territorial disputes. It seems even more common to give domestic poultry inadequate housing and pens. Not only are these small areas a breeding ground for disease, but they also lead to exceptionally aggressive behavior. Domestic male ducks seem to be especially aggressive with each other when kept in such spaces. Two males with a couple of females is fine. The males will determine
that small pecking order and one will be the alpha duck and one will be happy being the subordinent. Sure small fights may develop between males, but usually it is just isolated to small pecks and pushing. However, when three or more males are forced to live together in a small area with access to females, the small fights can escalate into something much more sinister. The strong urge to breed and fight over territory causes a struggle of power to develop between the males in the flock, with the lowest bird often succumbing in the brawl. The two top males will usually form an alliance and gang up on the lowest birds. Deaths are very common in such situations. Without actually seeing the fights, denuded feathers on the backs of the males necks, missing feathers on the back between the wings, vent feathers pulled out and chests feathers missing are all signs of aggressive male behavior. These bare spots usually include lacerations, with small skin infections resulting. Sticky eye or eye infections are also a common sign of male on male aggression. This occurs because of the saliva in the males mouth. When males mock mate other males out of hierarchy disputes, the top male will pin down the lower bird in an action very similar to mating behavior. This is however much more aggressive than normal mating rituals between male and female. The top male will usually grab and jab at the eye of the lower bird. The sticky saliva from the male coats the losers eyes in bacteria. Minor to severe conjunctivitis usually occurs with such episodes. If signs of fighting are not recognized and remedied in a timely manner, deaths can be expected.

Keeping a multiple male mixed flock safe:
Keeping multiple males of three or more in a mixed flock of male and females is not an impossibility. However, you must follow some important guidelines. A good rule of thumb is five females to every male in the flock. This does not mean that they can be kept this way in a small enclosure. Their enclosure has to be very large, preferably with hiding spaces for the lowest males to get away from top overly aggressive males. A minimum of 50 square feet per bird needs to be allowed at all times, night and day. If one cannot provide such a situation, it is better to keep only two males to a female flock, no matter how many “extra” females are in the flock. Because of the high libido of many breeds of domestic ducks, (Runner and Pekin are very sexually aggressive) enough females must be provided in the pen so as to keep too much attention on any one individual female in the flock and causing damage to the head and back of the females neck. Gang mating can also sometimes be a problem. This can happen if only one or two females at a time are ovulating. All the males in the flock will sometimes chase down these ovulating females. Once they corner the female they will pile on top of her, sometimes three or more at once. If this happens to be while in swimming water, the female is at risk of drowning. If it happens on land, suffocation or leg damage can occur. Keeping a higher number of females in a flock will lessen the chances of this scenario. However, one must be very observant during the first weeks of a flocks egg laying cycle. Some females will come into lay earlier than the others. This will cause the males in the flock to seek out these females during the beginning weeks of the flock laying cycle. Sometimes the only solution is to remove the males until a greater number of females in the flock are laying on a regular basis. A watchful eye on flock dynamics will keep injuries to a minimum.
Bachelor Groups:
Bachelor groups can be a great way of keeping males happy and social, without the risk to the females or each other. Again, certain guidelines will have to be followed for the greatest success and to ensure the safety of the males. It has been observed here at Little Heirloom Acres, that breeds tend to get along better with their own kind. When given a choice, breeds will seek out companionship from their own kind and will usually develop closer bonds than with companions of differing breeds. Keeping all one breed male group has other advantages too. Because there is little size difference among individuals in single breed flocks, fighting between males won't be so deadly and damage to one another over small disputes will usually be minor. All male flocks should be given large living quarters with at least 50 - 60 square feet per bird. They should have plenty of room at the feeding stations, an adequate number of bathing tubs and water buckets (1 bucket or tub per 3 birds) and most importantly, bachelor groups should be out of eyesight and if possible, earshot of female ducks. Taking these measurers will lessen the chances of competition and fighting among members of the bachelor group. Once these groups establish their pecking order, they should remain unchanged. Adding a new bird can be risky, as all the members of the flock will attack the new member. If a new male has to be added to an existing bachelor flock, all members of that flock and new comers must be divided into paired groups for at least one month. After their one month bonding time, all the male pairs can be let out together into a communal pen. This pair bonding between males will ensure no one bird will bare the brunt of the entire flock. Still, a watchful eye will keep things safe.

Note: This article focuses on domestic ducks of Mallard decent. Male Muscovy ducks require completely different care. Rarely if ever can two male Muscovy ducks be kept in the same enclosure. Male Muscovy are highly territorial and will not allow another male into their territory. Bloody and deadly battles will be common place with these pairings. Male Muscovy generally should not be kept together once they reach sexual maturity at age 24 weeks.

The Boys Always Seem to Get the Short End of the Stick:
So many male ducks are abandon, abused or just thrown away. They are deemed as problems and many people have trouble dealing with their aggressive behaviors. Following some simple rules and knowing the instinctual behaviors of these wonderful boys will enable you to keep them as members of your farm family. Keeping male ducks need not be any more trouble than the females. If acquiring ducks for your farm, please be sure to do your research before taking the plunge into duck keeping. Know what keeping such birds entails and make sure you will be able to give them the protection, accommodations and love they deserve. We currently have many rescued male ducks at our farm. All these were either abused or dumped and in all probability, it was do to their natural behaviors that people were not capable of dealing with or refused to educate themselves about.
Little Heirloom Acres
Farm & Preserve

2008 Little Heirloom Acres Farm and Preserve

How would it work if there is 2 females and one male. I ordered 3 females as ducklings and I'm almost positive I have a male to my 2 females. I woke up this morning and my one female has patches of feather missing on her neck and won't quack. She hasn't left her duck house all day and the other 2 ducks are out grazing. I'm not sure who's the male or what should be done I'm new at this.
How would it work if there is 2 females and one male. I ordered 3 females as ducklings and I'm almost positive I have a male to my 2 females. I woke up this morning and my one female has patches of feather missing on her neck and won't quack. She hasn't left her duck house all day and the other 2 ducks are out grazing. I'm not sure who's the male or what should be done I'm new at this.

It's not an ideal ratio, especially if you have a particularly frisky drake, but many people keep their ducks in trios. Missing feathers on the back of the head and neck are an unfortunate consequence of mating, You can run into problems when a drake decides one duck is his favorite and mostly ignores the other. Sometimes you just have to separate them for a while to give the female(s) a break, especially if you're seeing abnormal behavior in the duck. It's not that uncommon for ducks to be injured during mating with agressive drakes, particularly if the ratio is that low.
I know this is an old thread, but I have a major problem. I have 5 adult drakes, (blue swedish, black swedish, cayuga, grey mallard, and khaki campbell) and only three females, (silver snowy mallard, golden snowy mallard, and grey crested mallard. I have the females and males separated due to serious aggression from the drakes, females with bare necks, and my silver snowy mallard has severe conjunctivitis. I'm utterly bewildered. I plan to keep the males and females separated at the moment. I bought an order from metzer farms of 15 female ducklings, but after reading that long article I don't feel comfortable putting the males back with the females even when the other female ducks reach adulthood. Should I get rid of some males or is that enough females for 5 drakes? Any suggestions are very welcome.
Hello I am having problems with our flock of 7 ducks we hatched them at home and it came out to be 3 males and 4 females, all of the females are laying eggs and two of my males started chasing me and biteing me hard on the knees and ankles this hasnt happened before Any tips on stoping them and any reasons why?
You need to put the drakes in their place. Don't be mean to them, just when they start biting at you pick them up and hold them to show them that they can't boss you around. This will show your dominance to them. Also, you may want to think about rehoming 1 or two of the drakes because four hens is not enough for 3 drakes and it may result in over mating or gang mating, especially if the drakes have one hen in particular that they like best. Over mating can result in scabs and feather loss on the back of hens' necks and backs. Gang mating can result in severe conjunctivitis in the hens eye/eye's and could lead to blindness. This happens when all drakes gang up on one hen and their saliva gets into the hens eye causing the infection. The other option would looking into buying more hens, but you'd probably need about 5 more following the rule 3 hens per drakes. Hope you find this helpful.

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