Introducing ducklings to their parents without injury?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by thomshap, Nov 17, 2013.

  1. thomshap

    thomshap Out Of The Brooder

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    I have 3 pekins (2 ducks, 1 drake) that we hatched from fertilized eggs (we have the parents too) almost 7 weeks ago. I've been putting the ducklings outside in a pen separate from their parents (and another runner duck we have) during the day and bringing them in at night, but it's so mild for November, that I thought I would let them into the larger pen with the other ducks tonight, and I've always heard it's better to introduce them at night. Immediately, the father went after one of his daughters - I assume to rape her as he did with the female runner when we introduced her to the flock. However, I'm pretty sure he would harm a 7-week old if he goes after her. I separated him from the others - he's not too happy and neither are his two original girls - the female pekin who is the mother of the ducklings and the runner. This is a very long-winded way of asking whether there is a way to reintroduce the drake into the main pen without him harming the ducklings. The pen is also shared with chickens whom he has always ignored.

    Is there an age when the ducklings can defend themselves against a full grown (and rather meaty) male? Is there a way to integrate the flock without him hurting the ducklings? Sigh. Thanks for any help on this - I've looked at a lot of other threads, but no one seems to actually give any advice other than getting rid of the drake. Most of the threads say, "oh yeah, that's happening with my ducks too".
     
  2. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Well, the best bet would have been to let them hatch them and raise them. They won't have any paternal/maternal instincts towards ducklings they don't think are their own. Kinda pointless to say, I know, sorry.

    It's a little bit of a long shot, but you could shackle him. As in give him just enough rope to walk, not run, so his intended victims can escape. I do it sometimes when traveling a bully; I get a soft bit of rope, maybe a shoelace, and tie it around each ankle, leaving it loose enough to not cut off circulation, but tight enough to not slip over knee or foot, and leave just enough between both ankles to allow normal walking, but not running. Pretty soon the bully learns that charging equals falling on their face, and they stop charging.

    Of course, with this method, you need to check on them regularly just in case something goes wrong (never has with mine but you never know, better safe than sorry, like with any tethered/hobbled/restricted animal) and make sure his environment is as safe as it can be for such a suddenly incapacitated drake. And if you're not confident in tying a knot that won't slip tighter, definitely brush up on knotting methods.

    If he were mine, I'd cull him for ever looking at a juvenile with lustful eyes. Just sayin'. These aberrant traits tend to breed true, and no male who is sexually attracted to juveniles deserves to pass on his genes, in my opinion. But obviously you're not keen on culling him, so there's one idea on dealing with it: shackling.

    Best wishes.
     
  3. Nebraskagirl

    Nebraskagirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Let me tell you MY story about what happened to me this summer. I hatched out two Welsh Harlequin ducklings via incubator. The duck and drake to the ducklings were on the premises and was exposed to them daily (I would HOLD the ducklings in my hand and show them to their parents.) Neither seemed interested. When the ducklings were around 11 weeks old I let them "mingle" and it was a disaster. The drake was hell bent on attacking the babies. Over and over I tried. The same result; drake going after the baby. One time he was too fast for me and ended up badly hurting a duckling's leg. The duckling recovered just fine but the drake got shipped back to the farm I got him from. Drakes are MEAN and not to be trusted around babies. Ever. I don't care how "nice" and "caring" and "docile" the drake may be, please just know you need to be supervising them at ALL TIMES if you want to attempt this. I am not saying it is impossible but just don't expect them to be all happy happy happy.
     
  4. chooks4life

    chooks4life Overrun With Chickens

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    Quote: One bad experience doesn't mean all males of a species are violent; after all many roosters and drakes and ganders, cats and dogs and sheep and even horses and cattle (etc, the list covers most species) are in fact good fathers under the right circumstances.

    This circumstance involves having the mother raise the babies herself, with him, otherwise for all the parents know, you've just unloaded random infants onto them which aren't even related to them. Many drakes are good fathers to their own offspring.

    Most male animals, as well as the females, are not known for tolerating strange infants which have just been introduced into their territory which they instinctively consider reserved for their own offspring. The presence of strange young animals to which they have no bond directly equals, as far as their instincts tell them, a lessened chance that their own offspring will survive, as these new animals are taking up valuable resources in their territory.

    For peace between parents and offspring, it's best to let them raise them naturally. I cull animals lacking parental instinct or just don't breed them, since I prefer to avoid this whole 'baby-killing' or harming issue.

    The natural social and familial instincts can be bred out, and in order to preserve them, one must allow them to experience that instinct and thereby increase the chances of breeding strong paternal/maternal/filial instincts on. It's also possible to breed filial instincts out so that babies no longer understand to snuggle under a mother, follow her, answer her, take cues from her, etc.

    If an instinct is never reinforced for multiple generations in a row, it weakens and begins to fade, as clearly it's not vital to the survival of the species, since generations are continuing to be produced and live to breeding age despite their failure/prevention of acting on that instinct. The warped instincts developed under repeated generations of artificial rearing and incubation replace natural family instincts over time. It's possible that animals raised this way will not recover their lost instinct in their lifetime. Even the much-lauded and respected breeding instinct can be totally weakened or thwarted by repeated human intervention.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2013

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