You know that ducks can be an incredibly beneficial addition to your farm.
Not only do they provide eggs and meat for the table, but they are also useful when controlling pests in your fields.
Unfortunately, your sweet and docile birds may become hostile and attack each other, their hens, or even you.
Let’s explore some of the possible causes of sudden aggression from drakes so that you can better manage their behaviors on your property and keep everyone safe.
Drakes Are Getting Ready To Breed
Most of the time, when drakes get aggressive, it has to do with breeding in one way or another.
They feel compelled to chase off competitors, remove all threats, claim their territory, breed their duck flock, and eradicate the ducklings hatched from their rivals.
Drakes can be aggressive any time of the year, but it’s most prevalent during the breeding season.
Most domestic ducks get serious about breeding and hatching a clutch of eggs from February to May.
Every breed is slightly different, though, so this varies from farm to farm and breed to breed– especially depending on your location and climate.
Drakes May Kill Ducks They Want to Breed
Duck breeding is shocking, especially if you don’t know what to expect.
Drakes are very mean to their ducks and mount them several times daily.
Worse yet, if you have more than one drake, they will all attempt to breed the same hen at once, which seriously harms or kills her.
They aren’t trying to kill the female, but they are so unbelievably aggressive that it’s a side effect of having too many drakes near your ducks.
Keeping at least four, but preferably five to eight (or more), ducks per drake is recommended.
This will keep the females from being harassed too often during the day.
Drakes Are Territorial
If drakes feel someone is encroaching on their space or their ladies, they will get aggressive immediately.
These attacks could target fellow drakes, pets, children, adults, wild ducks, or predators.
Sometimes these attacks are warranted and helpful– you don’t want raccoons or stray dogs lurking around your ducks.
Other times they are largely unhelpful and sometimes dangerous, especially when smaller children or pets are involved.
You Have Too Many Drakes
Again, we have to mind the ratio. Too many drakes are dangerous for females and males alike.
They will repeatedly fight each other for dominance and breeding rights, so keeping a healthy ratio is important.
Separate, sell, butcher, or give away your extra drakes, preferably the most problematic ones.
This will really help you to keep the peace in your backyard. Plus, it will keep your ducks (and other animals) feeling much safer and less stressed out.
Drakes May Attack Chickens
Drakes have been known to attempt to mount hens.
This is devastating because their reproductive organs are very different, which can cause serious pain and injury to hens.
If you have a good ratio of female ducks to male ducks, then you should separate the ducks from the chicken flock or get rid of your drake that attacks chickens.
Drakes May Kill Ducklings and Chicks
Drakes do not want the offspring of their rivals to live to grow up and challenge them, so for that reason, they may kill chicks and ducklings.
You can keep the little ones separated from the flock of adult birds until they mature, or you can remove the problem drake.
Six Ways To Deal With Extra Drakes.
How To Prevent Drakes from Attacking Each Other
It’s normal for drakes to have smaller spats with one another to establish dominance and learn the hierarchy.
However, if it is a regular occurrence, then you have a problem on your hands.
Unfortunately, you must correct it before a drake is severely injured or killed in a painful way.
If you don’t want your drakes to attack each other, you have options:
- Keep them in separate pens or enclosures.
- Rehome them.
- Butcher the extra drakes.
- Sell them to someone else who would like to add a male to their flock.
How To Prevent Drakes from Attacking You
- If you can keep from it, don’t raise the drakes yourself, and don’t let them imprint on you. While raising ducks is an amazing experience, it can turn into a nightmare once your drakes mature. They may become too comfortable with you and need to put you in your place. Plus, if you’re especially loving to them, they may perceive your acts of love and admiration as threats. Kisses on the forehead are a sign of endearment to us. To him, you just pecked him on the forehead to show him that you’re the boss. When he grows up, he’s going to want to change that!
- Don’t hand-feed him. If you share your food with him, he will see you as weak. The top duck does not share his food with other drakes, so you sharing food from your hand tell him that he is ranked higher than you and, therefore, allowed to attack you.
- Don’t run or panic when he attacks you. If he has started the habit of flogging, biting, or scratching you up, wear your thickest pair of jeans (head to a thrift store for some of the best, heaviest jeans that will last forever) and closed-toe shoes. It’s intimidating, but with a little bit of protective clothing, he really can’t hurt you. Stand your ground, don’t run, don’t yell, and don’t panic. When you have an opening, reach down and pin him to the ground.
- Pin him to the ground as another drake would. You can either lay him on his stomach or his back, but you need to hold him there for what feels like a long time. Thirty seconds is not enough, and two minutes may not be either. You must hold him there until he “accepts his fate” and quits fighting you. Only then can you let him go. You should act more aggressively if you’ve done this a few times, and he isn’t getting the hint. You don’t have to hurt him, but you should be firm. You can “peck” at him with your hand while he’s pinned to the ground to mimic the same actions that other drakes do when they have their competitor pinned.
- Don’t let mean drakes breed. If you have a mean drake, don’t let his eggs hatch. These traits are at least partially heritable, and you’re just doing yourself a disservice by allowing more mean drakes into your life.
- Remove that mean drake from your property. Sometimes drakes are too aggressive, and you don’t need that extra stress in your life, and a mean duck eats the same amount of feed as a polite one. Feed a polite one instead. Give away, sell, or send him to freezer camp.
Should You Keep an Aggressive Drake Who Attacks? Final Thoughts
It is your decision to make, so consider your wants and needs here.
If your drake does a good job of protecting the flock, and you don’t mind his cranky behavior, keeping him may be worth it.
If he’s hurting you or your hens, you probably need to increase the ratio so there are more hens, or you may want to cull him.
If you have small children or vulnerable pets who frequent the same yards as your mean duck, you probably shouldn’t keep the duck around.
And, of course, if you aren’t concerned with keeping him as predator protection and you don’t plan on hatching any eggs– he isn’t bringing any value to you or your flock then.
My personal opinion is that it costs the same amount to feed a kind animal as it does to feed a nasty one– I would rather get rid of the mean one and replace it with one who has manners.
What are your thoughts? Do you keep the mean drakes?