Need duck advice

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by saxonyduck, May 1, 2009.

  1. saxonyduck

    saxonyduck Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 4, 2008
    Mountain View
    My three Saxonys are now almost a year old (I very much appreciate the advice I got here last year!) and I finally having to deal with what I was hoping, naively, wouldn't be as big a problem as I feared. Basically of my eggs we hatched two boys (Elvis and Jimmy) and one girl (Joey).

    [​IMG]

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    They've been together 24/7 since day one and 95% of the time all is well in their world. They're friendly and like humans, love to come in the house, have three little pools, go for walks in our quiet neighborhood with me, work hunting snails in the neighbor's yards, LOVE worms, spaghetti, and mushrooms. But since around January things have gotten hard. They've been mating since late Fall (Joey has been laying eggs non-stop since November when she was six months old...she's so tired. I wish I could turn off the eggs) but in the past few months it's gotten really aggressive.

    Elvis is clearly the dominate male and he's gotten more aggressive and now bites my ankles/hands/legs as much as he can (just me - not my boyfriend or neighbors) when I first come into the yard in the morning. But when they mate it's Elvis on top of Joey - but then Jimmy pulls the feathers out of Elvis's neck in an effort to get in on the action. Otherwise Jimmy has remained totally docile and sweet and almost seems to enjoy being held by me. In the past month we've put Joey by herself for the night to at least give her some rest - and that seems to help. But her back is still torn up and the feathers gone from her neck.

    My question is who should go stay with my sister. She's volunteered to take a duck in her yard with 11 chickens, two kids, and two dogs. Will Jimmy get aggressive like Elvis once he's promoted to top duck? Or should I send Joey away so she'll have complete rest from this pretty painful mating process? I really love all of their personalities (except Elvis when he's tearing up my hands!) and I hate to think of one of them being a lone duck.

    Thank you for your input!

    BTW - has anyone else noticed a male's feathers changing color? Elvis's grey head turned light brown as he got more and more aggressive. Maybe the stress hormones or testosterone?
     
  2. ShadyGlade

    ShadyGlade Chillin' With My Peeps

    Wow all choices have pluses & negatives. Unfortunately one hen is not enough for one drake generally speaking. Having said that the dominant/aggressive behavior is really not likely to change even if you were to keep the two males and send Joey away. If you get rid of Elvis he's going to still want to be dominant in his new domain and if your sister doesn't have any duck hens for him you might find he develops an interest in chickens. (I've had that happen before to drakes isolated from their own kind). Is there any chance of getting another hen or two for which ever drake you keep? Is a saddle for the hen an option you've considered? She'd only need it during the day when they were together. Have you clipped and filled Elvis' toe nails so they are less sharp? When Elvis gets aggressive with you try holding him down and stretching his neck out in a submissive position. Keep him there until he quits struggling and do that EVERY time he displays inappropriate behavior. This technique generally chills out aggressive behavior in poultry males, however I have had some hard heads that just don't respond to not being the top of the pecking order very readily. Good Luck in what ever decision you make & keep us posted on your progress. By the way they are lovely birds.
     
  3. saxonyduck

    saxonyduck Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 4, 2008
    Mountain View
    Hi Shady Glen - thank you so much for your advice! Reminding Elvis that I'm dominant duck has helped - I think what has also helped more is reducing their sex time so he seems less aggressive overall. I put some bright orange plastic fencing across the yard to give Joey her own space/pool when i'm at work and then she sleeps alone at night. So she has more spunk and gets mated maybe once or twice a day (as soon as I stop chaperoning the boys chase her). She hasn't started growing back any feathers yet though - I think they're all molting a bit right now so I'm hoping it happens soon. As much as I love her I also love walking across the entire yard without hopping a fence!

    Thank you again - I'll post if her feathers come back. BTW - Jimmy's face just started getting lighter. And he's getting maybe a bit more aggressive. I can't figure out what causes the color change!
     
  4. headred

    headred Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 28, 2009
    Lawrence
    WOW, thanks for all this information. I am currently trying to figure out my ratios and know I have ended up with too many drakes. Sad to let them go, but I can see for females sake, you must! I currently have 4 hens and 3 males. Should I get that to 4 hens and 1 drake? Sounds like that would be a better mix.
     
  5. Duck Keeper

    Duck Keeper Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 18, 2009
    Out in the Boonies
    Elvis sounds like a heavily imprinted duck that thinks you are one of his 'girls' or a contender for Joey. He's just trying to tell you to BACK OFF.

    Every time from here on out you should hold him (in your arms on pinned to the ground) and ruffle up his feathers good and bad. [​IMG]

    You need to show him who is HIS boss.
    Dominance struggle...


    As for the missing feathers on your female, it's from being mated like crazy. I only have one drake (but he's huge!) and six ducks, and some of them still have missing neck feathers. :hmm;
     
  6. Duck Keeper

    Duck Keeper Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 18, 2009
    Out in the Boonies
    Oops! Posted twice.
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2009

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