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Probably the wrong place, but...any duck experts around?

(20 Posts)
OldFarticus Sun 19-Jun-16 13:42:27

Hi all

We have a fairly decent size garden with a very large pond that kind of backs onto 3 people's gardens (i.e. ours and 2 of our neighbours) with an island in the middle that we can only access with waders! Living on the pond/island is an odd number of drakes and female ducks can't remember the word blush and at mating time this year there was a lot of aggro.

The two males had a daily bust-up over the one female in which they basically took turns trying to drown each other sad I basically left them to it. The female then had 2 ducklings, 1 male 1 female. The male duckling has since disappeared and in view of the earlier shenanigans I suspect that one of the drakes drowned him. (Who knew ducks were so violent?)

I am worried because we now have 3 males and 2 females. (Yes, I am aware this is a ridiculous first world problem!) DH and I are wondering whether we can "introduce" a new female to make it fair, but obviously we know zip about bloody ducks and would not want to do anything that could harm the group.

I should probably just leave them to get on with it shouldn't I? I have not been able to find any duck-related advice on tinternet (although there was loads about chickens and ducks mixing when I was introducing our hens) so I thought there may be some lovely MN'ers who either knew about ducks or knew where I could go for advice.

Thank you in advance flowers

MrSlant Sun 19-Jun-16 13:50:30

You need more females than males, male ducks are randy as hell and will eventually damage the female ones. I had a drake and two females which seemed ok, I think a 2:1 ratio is the minimum. I have no idea how to go about introducing a new one though!

There will be a hierarchy amongst the females too, one of mine used to hold the other one down so the drake could have his turn. Nearly drowned her. They are a most unexpectedly violent creature!

IAmcuriousyellow Sun 19-Jun-16 13:53:46

To be honest I would rehome or cull two of your drakes. They are awful rapists. We got the ratio wrong and very much regretted it - one poor female was being constantly mated, with another two waiting alongside for their turn, while they pecked at her head. Even on the water - it was awful. I'd say an ideal ratio would be one to five or six.

Sorry not to have any better suggestions, but they get really nasty over mating, and we feared that the females would start to get killed.

OldFarticus Sun 19-Jun-16 13:58:10

Yikes, I had no idea! I thought they were all serene and zen....

Thank you MrSlant. It sounds as though 2 "new" females would be the way to go, but I don't want to upset the group. One of the drakes is already chasing the female duckling around with a glint in his eye and she doesn't even have all her proper feathers yet. DH wouldn't let me chuck a bucket of water over him, unfortunately!

Were yours wild ducks or pets? Ours are wild, but they eat the mealworms and wild bird food we leave out for the other avian residents, so I was thinking of trying to find them a more suitable snack! Apparently they like sweetcorn.... smile

Mrsmorton Sun 19-Jun-16 13:59:53

Ducks are awful for this. They also go in for a bit of necrophilia. I'm pleased you're doing something about it tho!

OldFarticus Sun 19-Jun-16 14:04:26

Thank you curious. I don't think rehoming is an option unfortunately - they are not really "our" ducks and I don't want to upset the neighbours. DH does regularly threaten to barbecue the more vicious of the two drakes!

I did wonder whether nature would sort it all out next Spring by evening up the numbers, but the fact that there were only 2 ducklings this year makes me think that all the argy bargy is interfering with breeding. (I don't know a lot about ducks, but I have only ever seen ducklings in larger groups). We had 2, now 1...which at least prevents the imbalance being even greater.

I know exactly what you mean about the rough mating. It was just the same with our poor female - the drakes were either humping (and half-drowning) her or trying to drown each other.

I love my placid happy hens even more now!

OldFarticus Sun 19-Jun-16 14:08:06

Thank you MrsM. Necrophilia? Ye Gods! I am preggers and when we bought the house DH and I were naively saying how nice it would be for the LO to watch the lovely duck family grow <hollow laugh> grin

NeedACleverNN Sun 19-Jun-16 14:13:34

Ducks are awful creatures.
My husband actually waded into the river and pulled a half drowned female out of the water once
There was about 6 males all waiting their turn. Her neck was bald and bright pink and she was almost dead. He carried her up on the bank and half way down the road. The makes tried to follow him until I chased them off. She may not have gotten a lot of rest but I hope it was enough for her to survive

OldFarticus Sun 19-Jun-16 14:19:04

Okay I am now wondering whether to get rid of ALL the drakes and just have a female duck refuge! grin Sounds like they need it!!

TotalConfucius Sun 19-Jun-16 14:34:31

I don't keep drakes and only have Aylesbury's - and quite truly watching a little gang of female Aylesbury's can be like watching gang warfare on occasion. Ducks are horrid to each other.

NeedACleverNN Sun 19-Jun-16 14:47:58

I don't even think a whole female gang will be pleasant either

It would be like watching mean girls duck style

CuntingDMjournos Sun 19-Jun-16 14:51:32

I'm seeing those ducks in peppa pig in a whole new malevolent light now

OldFarticus Sun 19-Jun-16 15:06:54

Mean girls duck style grin

I bought the LO a mallard rattle from the RSPB because I thought it was cute. It's now also looking a bit malevolent...

I am going to ask a RSPB wetland place local to us for advice. I think introducing more females is the best (ie least nutso) option, but I want to make sure I don't introduce any diseases or create any more angst amongst the existing group. (DH says I have been watching too much Big Brother. Which is lies!)

Thank you all very much flowers

MyLifeisaboxofwormgears Sun 19-Jun-16 15:14:30

Spike Milligan campaigned for years to get the male ducks in St Jame's park removed as the females were so distressed - the ratio of males to females was huge as the females were regularly killed by the males attacking them.

My friend lives on a houseboat and regularly saves females and keeps them for a bit to recover.

I have rescued ducks but I'll stick with chickens as the main bird occupant in my garden.

IAmcuriousyellow Sun 19-Jun-16 20:28:28

We ate ours in the end.. whatever you do, don't wait until spring, it's not going to get any better! If I were to keep ducks again I'd only have females. After our males went, all was harmonious.

cowssheephens Fri 15-Jul-16 06:58:16

Get rid of the drakes.

GerundTheBehemoth Fri 15-Jul-16 07:36:33

So these are wild ducks that use the pond at the moment (but are free to leave)? I'm not sure it's a good idea to add domestic females to the the pond.

Mallards usually pair up in winter and stay together until the female is ready to nest in spring. Once a male's partner has gone off to nest (which she does on her own) he will try to find other females (paired or not) to mate with, whether they are willing or not, and this carries on til he starts to moult in early summer and his hormones ease off. Having domestic and therefore flightless females at a pond that's accessible to wild ducks may draw in even more wild males.

Oh, and the word for a female duck is duck smile

OldFarticus Sun 17-Jul-16 12:11:21

Thanks for all the good advice folks smile I decided to let nature take its course in the end which was a good move. A couple of weeks ago some new ducks (ie female - thanks Gerund!) flew in and at around the same time the drakes all buggered off. We now have 2 females and 7 ducklings (plus 5 juvenile moorhens, the surviving "teenage" duckling from the OP and a couple of other waifs and strays.) It's all harmonious at the moment (touch wood!) Have attempted to attach a pic of the new ducklings. They make the loveliest cheeping noises - DH and I are smitten!

We have started to keep a duck diary so we know what to expect next year in terms of migration. not anally retentive oh no

And now I need to start a new thread about chickens! Thanks all flowers

OldFarticus Sun 17-Jul-16 12:13:04

Pic attach fail!

glorious Fri 29-Jul-16 21:29:29

Awh! Glad it's improved!

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