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What to do about aggressive female ducks added to flock?

 
Nicole Alderman
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Yesterday we picked up two new, female, laying ducks for our flock, to try to even out the male-female ratio in our flock (we had two females and four males, one being so wimpy that he took the role of a female). So, now we have our six anconas, which are very sweet, and two new khaki campbell ducks that were raised in a dog run-sized enclosure with at least three other ducks. I found out after the fact that some of the drakes our new ducks were housed with actually killed each other off .

Our anconas are actually frightened of the Khaki Campbells, which have noticed pecking at anconas. During the day, the two groups just stay apart from each other, but we only have one duck house. The anconas were afraid of entering the house tonight, and it took three tries and two people to get them to go in. Our duck house is 8x8 (64 sqft), so there's 8 sqft per duck. They have a large (1700 sqft) fenced-off area during the day with salmonberry bramble separating two grassy areas.


I hadn't realized how nice my ducks were until I met these (abused, mistreated) khakis. And here I was getting more females to reduce the sexual pressures I was afraid my girls were getting from the drakes, only to realize our new females are meaner. Should I be worried for my anconas' safety? Are there any measures I should be taking right now?
Will the Khaki Campbells learn to be nice?
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All eight ducks
 
Landon Sunrich
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Yeah, I mean I'd defiantly keep a close eye out. If things get really bad (you'll notice bald spots... like they will literally pick each-others heads bare) you will need to intervene. I have only seen this sort of behavior in unbonded flocks when conditions are too tight and provisions to scarce (forage... ducks are too dumb to realize you'll step up to feed um all)

Keep a close watch. The Marx Brothers hold you're solution if things start to sour.

That's my opinion anyway.
 
S Bengi
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Each male duck requires at the very least 5 female ducks. So the total of 4 females isn't enough for even 1 male. The new females are just establishing their dominance once this initial fighting is over they will stop. This is if the 2 females survive the rape from 4 males and ass whooping from the two newer females.


Solution
Cull 3 of the males and divide the duck house
 
Nicole Alderman
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S Bengi wrote:Each male duck requires at the very least 5 female ducks. So the total of 4 females isn't enough for even 1 male. The new females are just establishing their dominance once this initial fighting is over they will stop. This is if the 2 females survive the rape from 4 males and ass whooping from the two newer females.


Solution
Cull 3 of the males and divide the duck house


This is why, even though I wasn't really seeing any aggression from our males to our two females, that I picked up two more females. But, I never see the males picking on the new females. The khaki females come over to the flock of anconas and nip at them until the anconas move away.

As for male aggression, in a given day, I see a male mount a female ancona maybe once, and that's only one male at a time. Most of the day, the anconas all just forage happily, or just rest in the grass or inside the bushes. So, even though everyone seems to be saying that my males are horrible "gang-rapists," I'm just not seeing it. Instead, I'm seeing our new females avoiding or attaching the rest. I was searching through the forum, and say this thread : http://www.permies.com/t/15036/ducks/Rapist-Ducks. The last post, by Dennis Lanigan, suggested to the OP that they should switch to anconas if they didn't like culling males, as the males are not nearly as aggressive as other ducks. Maybe my males just aren't that aggressive, or their enclosure is large enough, with many hiding spots and sources of water, that they just aren't that aggressive. (Though, I do worry about what I cannot see when they are cooped up at night).

As for an update today, none of the girls laid eggs. (We had been getting two a day from our two ancona layers, and supposedly the Khaki Campbells are good layers). Yesterday, there was only one egg. So, I do think the Khaki's are stressing everyone out. I think we will divide the coop tonight, and see if that helps. Thank you for that suggestion! I don't know why it hadn't occurred to me.

I'm going to go out now and inspect the flock closely for bald spots and damage. Here's hoping for the best!

 
Nicole Alderman
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Here's the update:

I spent about two hours watching the ducks, both in and out of their house. The Khaki Campbells seem to have been learning manners. They stay closer to the anconas, and I saw no biting. When they approach the anconas--for food or water, etc,--the anconas leave what they're doing and move away from the khakis, even though the khaki's aren't approaching aggressively. We ended up not dividing them in the house, as there was no signs of aggression. I stayed at watched them for about 15 minutes where they coucln't see me, and there was no violence. The anconas just stayed out of the khakis way, even though the khakis weren't actively approaching the anconas. We had two eggs this morning, which tells me that things are getting a little less stressful for the ducks. Yay!

As for the males being aggressive, in all the time I was out there, I only saw one drake approach a female to mount. She moved away, and he backed off. I did notice one male peck at another, but never at the females. I also noticed, upon very close inspection, that the females' (and the gimpy male's) plumage on their necks was a little less than the males, but there was no bare spots. It just seemed to be a little shorter there. We plan on removing one more male on my husband's next day off. I'd like to add more females to our flock, but with avian flu flying about, I really don't want to risk it.

 
S Bengi
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Happy to hear that a new pecking order has been established without too much damage. With 4 females pretty soon you are going to have too much eggs at least in the warmer months.
 
Nicole Alderman
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Oh, my husband eats six-eight eggs a day . If my son and I start eating eggs again (he's still nursing and has food sensitivities), we'll be eating at probably 8-10 eggs a day. The main reason we decided to get ducks was because so much of our food budget was going into buying eggs that we might as well raise them ourselves!
 
Nicole Alderman
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Today's report: They seem pretty integrated now. There was no fighting at all, and they acted as a united flock. I even got to see duck behavior I'd never seen before. The ducks were all resting under the salmonberries when the Khaki Campbells got up, one of them bobbing her head repeatedly. I'd never seen any of my anconas do that. Then, the three drakes got up and started following the khakis around. The khakis went into the shallow water dish to bath, and one male mounted her, while the other khaki and drakes wandered around. Then, off the drake got, and they all went foraging happily. It was the first time I'd ever seen the drakes move away from our ancona females (they've always followed one or the other girl). I kept watch for the next half hour, but no more mountings. Was the khaki instigating a mating ritual? I've read about drakes bobbing their heads, but not females...

At sundown, we put them away in their house with ease, and they all shared the food without fighting. I am so glad that their fighting seems to have resolved itself!
 
Landon Sunrich
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Yeah, different dialects and cultural values do funny things don't they? With ducks I mean. It's cool to be exposed to different traditions and ways of doing stuff.

And ducks, different groups of ducks.
 
elle sagenev
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I know you say you don't see much mating but that hen to drake ratio just makes me very uncomfortable. Some drakes would have to go for me.

As for the behavior, I see my welshies bobbing their heads all the time, male and female. They appear to be doing it to me. I've no idea what they are trying to tell me. I imagine it involves more food or water. I have gathered they think that is all I'm good for.
 
Nicole Alderman
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Yeah, it doesn't make me very comfortable, either. Hopefully my husband will have time to slaughter another one soon. Until then, since we now have portable fencing, I'm going to try to separate the males from the females, though I'm not quite sure the best way to go about that, as they sleep in the same house. I guess I'll have to try to herd them away from the females every day. Any one have any tricks for that? Our ducks don't like to be picked up and never come very close...

In other news, a few days back I saw one of the female Khakis mounting the other one. Any clues as to why? Is that normal?
 
Kris schulenburg
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my all female runners do that sometimes, I figure it's a dominance thing?
 
elle sagenev
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females mounting females is a dominance thing.

As for separation, I wouldn't. At least not daily. They'll learn to avoid you like the plague.

Mine don't like to get close, like yours, and when necessary I use a fish net to catch them. Works fine. Or throw some feed down and wait until they're distracted. My kids pet chickens doing that all the time.
 
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