Why are my ducks so restless and noisy?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by SFDucks, Oct 21, 2015.

  1. SFDucks

    SFDucks Out Of The Brooder

    44
    4
    47
    Apr 1, 2014
    Here is some background, we started with twelve straight run ducklings, culled all but one of the boys and lost a few females to unforeseen issues. We only ended up with three ducks and one drake. The breeds are one harlequin duck, one hookbill duck, one appleyard duck, and one appleyard drake. Those four were doing great for about a year, laying eggs, and getting along. Just being ducks. This spring we decided to hatch some eggs so we got an incubator. We set seven eggs and six hatched. We raised them in a separate pen from the adults, although the adults did have access to come visit them whenever they wanted (fence between them). From those six we ended up with four more boys and we culled all of them. The two remaining ducks are appleyard/harlequin crosses. We put those girls in with the other four ducks which wasn't too bad. We kept them all locked up in their yard together for a few days and overall they put up with each other. The older ducks started to molt just as we put them together. I think was right on schedule anyway but I figured I would mention it. The problem is it has been two or three months and they still haven't 100% integrated. The older ducks still tend to nip and pick at the younger ones and try to avoid them when possible. The younger ducks try to stick to the older ones like glue which seems to frustrate the older ones even more. The hookbill is always loudly honking about something, it seems to be she want to move to a different place in the yard. It's not terrible or anything, it's just that before they were quite serene and now it feels like constant quacking and tension. Also the older ducks have not started laying again. I don't know how long it usually takes but they are just about fully feathered at this point so hopefully this is just a normal molt and doesn't have anything to do with integration problems. Anyway, maybe I am being overly sensitive to the situation because I want them to be happy/comfortable and they don't seem quite right. Maybe I am being overly concerned because I am in a (rural) neighborhood and don't want the people around to get annoyed.

    Would appreciate any advise or experience anyone has on this topic. I think the older four have a pretty tight bond and are reluctant to let the new girls in, but that's not going to work over time as I plan on continuing to add and subtract birds as necessary. Anyone have any ideas?
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2015
  2. TLWR

    TLWR Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,837
    187
    224
    Jul 10, 2010
    southern AL
    I had 2 groups of ducks for several years. First batch hung together and the 2nd batch hung together. They shared a duck house, but otherwise, were often on their own in separate groups. Then I added batch 3 (2 ducks) and it was yet another separate grouping lol
    Now I have 1 duck left from group 1 and the 3 from group 2. They hang together finally (along with the remaining chicken).
    They all got along fine, but just didn't co-mingle.

    My experience - it can take a very long time for them to hang together.
     
  3. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

    22,976
    1,947
    471
    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    My ducks are a fairly content bunch, and they've been a little extra worked up from time to time the last week and a half - I am chalking it up to weather and daylight hours changes.

    I keep two flocks - long story - but within each flock, everyone is content. Our recent addition - a one year old Cayuga girl - has blended in with the Runners almost seamlessly. I get a little concerned when I see a Runner poke or chase her, but then five minutes later, I see her sneaking up behind a Runner and goosing her!!!!

    So all is well.

    And sometimes it really does take a long time to sort things out. I feel that giving everyone treats at the same time can help, as can mixing them up by separating out first these three, then those four, then putting everyone back together again.
     
  4. PotatoWaffles

    PotatoWaffles Chillin' With My Peeps

    686
    125
    123
    Oct 10, 2014
    Northwest Ohio
    I'll throw my two cents in. I have integrated many ducks over the last year. I started with two adults, Potato and Waffles, and added five ducklings in the spring. A month later I added three more ducklings, and then two more mallard ducklings in August. I am currently introducing two MORE ducklings through a separation fence, and in a month with have two more ducklings to integrate. Sometimes, they just never click. It took a looooooong time for Potato and Waffles to get used to having other ducks around, like several months. They still don't always hang out with the newer ducks. They tolerate them better tho. They share a duck shed with the rest of them, but will often times do their own thing just the two of them when the rest of the other ducks are foraging or eating. The two mallards I introduced are tricky too, they seem like they kinda want to be with the other ducks, and the rest of the flock accepted them after about a month, but they also seem like they want to take off somewhere else, fly the coop maybe. They hang back when I toss everyone treats, and they often forage on their own.

    So I guess in short, it can take a long time before everyone is happy and content, and sometimes it just doesn't happen. In my experience, the ritualistic biting and picking on newbies only lasts about a month, and is greatly reduced by introducing the new ones through a separation fence the first two weeks. Before I used the separation fence, I just plopped the new ducks in with the old ducks, and I actually had one of the new ones plucked and drowned by the established ducks. It does vary duck to duck and flock to flock, but patience is key. Feeding treats together is a great way to get them all sharing happy vibes together. Keep at it!
     
  5. SFDucks

    SFDucks Out Of The Brooder

    44
    4
    47
    Apr 1, 2014
    Thanks for all the responses, everyone. We've been trying to keep a close eye on everyone and it really seems to be one duck keeping this all going, our Dutch Hookbill, otherwise known as Hookbill Jill. She seem to be the main squawker and the main antagonizer of the two new ducks. We're pretty strongly considering attempting to re-home her as we're a few more weeks in and they are (she is) still driving us crazy. With the time change is has actually gotten worse as she is up very early making noise and picking on the new ducks. :he
     
  6. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

    22,976
    1,947
    471
    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    @SFDucks you are on the west coast of the U.S., yes? I am on the east coast. I don't think I could offer to take her….

    One idea - sometimes separating the flock for a few days changes the dynamic. I don't understand it, quite, but some folks have settled their rabble rousers with this method.
     
  7. bh1duck

    bh1duck Out Of The Brooder

    29
    1
    31
    Nov 4, 2015
    looks like you haven't posted in a while but wanted to ask if you could share photos of the appleyard/harlequin crosses. curious what they look like because the parents have so many similar qualities. i bet they are great layers!
     
  8. SFDucks

    SFDucks Out Of The Brooder

    44
    4
    47
    Apr 1, 2014
    They have been amazing layers. In fact since they finally started laying I don't think the pair have missed a single day. All through the winter two big white eggs every day while the older ducks have taken an extended break. I'm sure that is just the first year thing but they have been great.

    I don't have any good recent pics, but this is when they were young (dark bills in the trays). Their bodies have darkened up a bunch.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2017
  9. SFDucks

    SFDucks Out Of The Brooder

    44
    4
    47
    Apr 1, 2014

    Thanks for the offer! I'm glad to report we were able to just ride it out and now everyone is one big happy family. I am sad to report we did lose the mama Welsh Harlequin to a raccoon. We would have loved to breed some more Appleyard crosses as they have been great, beautiful ducks.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2017
    1 person likes this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by