If drakes killed ducklings, what do they do w/the bodies?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by ElaineS585, Jul 12, 2011.

  1. ElaineS585

    ElaineS585 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 13, 2010
    I'm trying to figure out what happened here yesterday. I have 2 Rouen drakes and 2 Pekin hens. One hen hatched 5 babies about 3 weeks ago and the other was broody and sitting on a nest of eggs. I noticed some really aggressive breeding and ganging up of the mom duck (since the other is broody) so I chose to seperate the drakes from the hens late last week and they have been pretty unhappy. Last week I came outside and found a drake had just snatched one of the babies through the fence and it took off running with it in it's mouth. I chased after it got it to release it and the baby ran back through the fence to mom. So I lined the inside of the fence with hardware cloth on the two sides where the drakes liked to hang out and whine to the hens both to keep the babies safe & inside and to keep the drakes from getting to them and read up on it on BYC and learned just how aggressive drakes can be during the breeding season. (I've only had ducks for a few months now & this is my first breeding season....)

    Yesterday after a 2 1/2 hour wait at the auto shop I came back to carnage. The 5 ducklings are completely gone and no sign of them or any parts of them. Both hens necks are savagely torn up like something tried to pull them through the fence. Neither drake is hurt (and they were on the outside of my penned in coop, duckhouse and runs area). My hens made it through the night and I'm doing my best to take care of them and keep them comfortable. I'm trying to figure out if my drakes killed the ducklings would they hide the bodies? (I have not done a complete property search, waiting for hubby & son to come home to help.) I've considered the possibility of an aerial attack (hawk, eagle, owl), racoon, etc. and I realize I may never know what hit or happened but I would like to know what drakes do with ducklings bodies after they kill them to see if I can rule the drakes out as the culprit. Do they leave the duckling bodies in plain sight or do they hide them? (BTW, I moved the eggs the one hen was sitting on are now in my incubator, fingers crossed....)
    Many thanks.
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2011
  2. Countrypunk92

    Countrypunk92 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 26, 2009
    Portland, tennessee
    Sounds like an ariel attack, and the hen was trying to protect her young.. but idk a bird that can take 5 ducklings.
  3. desertdarlene

    desertdarlene Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 4, 2010
    San Diego
    Wow, that sound awful. I don't know how the drakes would have gotten the ducklings if you covered the bottom with hardware cloth. That would mean that the ducklings couldn't get out or be dragged out, I assume. But, do you think the drakes could have found a way to get to the sides without the hardware cloth? Or, how about a raccoon or skunk? A hawk might take a duckling, but usually, it takes one, eats it and comes back for another. So, it probably wouldn't take all five at once.

    I don't know what they would do with the bodies.
  4. knjinnm

    knjinnm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 5, 2010
    Sandia Park, NM
    Crows will kill ducklings and carry them off if they are small enough.
  5. EmAbTo48

    EmAbTo48 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 9, 2011
    Northern Wisconsin
    Honestly sounds like a nasty raccoon, or hawk. I know drakes can get pretty crazy but they wouldn't have hurt your hens as bad as you are explaning. Honestly haven't seen a Drake kill a duckling but I am sure it happens way more then normal.

    Sad poor babys! I lost just 4 days ago one of my adult hen Pekins. My hubby left for 15 mintues and came back and I was just heading out for a walk with my daughter and I couldn't find her any where! It breaks my heart I didnt hear a thing in the house, but my ducks spent the rest of day very close to there shed so something grabbed her! Wish I would have walked out of the house earlier since hubby said he saw all of them when he left [​IMG]! I guess that's reality living on 40 acres and allowing them to free range!
  6. ElaineS585

    ElaineS585 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 13, 2010
    Thank you for your replies! Sorry to hear of other losses.[​IMG] The ducklings were 3-4 weeks old so they were pretty big as compared to new hatches and they no longer fit through chain length fencing. The two drakes ganged up on the mother of the ducklings & the few times that I saw it happening I chased them off. When I saw her neck was getting stripped of most of its' feathers and was looking pink, I banned the drakes to the outside area. I have read in other posts on BYC about drakes trying to pull hens through fencing - they can be quite vicious during the breeding season....

    Their area is hard to describe. I have the chicken coop with the front run area made up of a dog kennel - probably 6x8, then uncovered (today I have a makeshift tarp on it). To the left of the coop, I have another dog kennel that has the top covered by 4x8 lattice to give them some shade - this area also has the swimming area for the ducks. Behind the coop I have an uncovered fenced in area next to the duck run & duck house and this was the primary area the mom & ducklings hung out in. Then to the right of the coop I have another larger fenced in area where the all the ducks and chickens can free range. I lined the sides on the left & behind the coop with the hardware cloth as those were the main areas where the drakes were hanging out. The broody hen was on the far right hand side hidden in the perennial border inside the fence and under a tarp that I had hung to give her some shade & help keep her hidden. She was nowhere near where the other hen & ducklings hung out. It's certainly conceivable that the drakes got to the right-hand area of the fenced in sections. I must say that my interior fencing (that didn't have hardware cloth) is not totally secure - it's primary purpose was to protect the perennial borders so in my mind it would have been possible for the drakes to get them. Obviously I will be rethinking my setup and redo the fencing when my guys return. I have a ton of cd's drilled with holes to hang up once I find the fishing line and I will do everything in my power to cover up as much of their areas as I can but there's no way I can cover it all. Whatever I put up will have to come down in the fall because of all the snow we get (WI.) Maybe my broody hen got injured by trying to protect her nest? What would seek her out under a tarp if it wasn't the drakes on the other side of the fence? Gosh, I really must stop writing for now as it makes me sick to my stomach to have to relive it but I do appreciate your comments and insight.
    Thanks again.
  7. cat1994

    cat1994 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 12, 2010
    Southeast MO
    Oh my I’m sorry to hear about your ducklings, I really don't know what could have taken them and hurt the hens, I lost a duckling and a hen to a drake, the hen and the duckling were even separated but the drake still managed to grab the ducklings head through the chicken wire and killed it the hen tried so hared to protect her lil baby that she died from heat exhaustion, it was horrible, but I can't imagine what it feels like to not really know what happened to your lil ducklings and hens.
  8. learycow

    learycow Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 1, 2011
    Southern Maine
    Be sure to check all of the tiny cracks and crawl spaces you can find. Ducklings tend to hide very well when frightened. If something did get into the pen, which it sounds like something did, there might be a remaining duckling or two that are terrified and hiding.

    Its always worth a look : )

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