Duck rearing can be a lucrative business if done correctly, but some negative factors can affect the productivity of your duck farm. Among the setbacks that you can face as a duck farmer, the possibility of ducks attacking and even killing each other is one of the foremost.
Do Ducks Kill Each Other? Ducks can kill each other. Especially drakes can get very aggressive when mating which might lead to the killing of female ducks or ducklings. Ducks might also kill other ducks when fighting over the hierarchy in the flock, or under poor living conditions fighting for food and space.
Ducks are quite violent animals and can get even more so under certain circumstances. As you can see there can be multiple reasons for them being aggressive which may lead to the death of some ducks. If you would like to find out more on the topic let’s get into it!
Ducks Peck At Each Other
It is not rare to see ducks pecking at each other, and they might do so when struggling for food to eat or when fighting for a mate. Also, ducks might peck at each other to affirm dominance among themselves.Learn how to raise your own quail and have an unlimited supply of eggs and meat.
If you are new to duck farming, it might be unexpected and worrisome if you notice that ducks are beginning to peck at each other. Such violent behavior can be particularly shocking to you when you consider that these ducks were cute and fun as ducklings.
Ducks change a lot as they age, and these changes, such as an increase in aggression, are not always positive. Male ducks, also called drakes, are the most likely to exhibit violent behaviors towards other ducks that they share a pen with.
While aggressive drakes can simply be separated from more docile ducks, other measures can help. Below, I will explain the most likely reasons why adult ducks are pecking at each other, and possible ways to remedy the situation.
- Fighting For Mates
In the animal kingdom, reproduction is one of the most common reasons why animals might fight each other, and ducks are no exception. If you see two male ducks pecking at each other, then there is a good chance that they are fighting for the right to mate.
In such a case, the drake that wins the fight is then allowed to mate with a female duck.
While this sort of conflict among ducks is normal, you should ensure that the aggression being shown by either drake does not exceed the usual level found among rival drakes.
The clash between male ducks for mating rights can last several hours and the older drake between the contestants usually ends up the victor.
Keeping the proper ratio of males to females (1:5) can solve/reduce the issue.
- Fighting For Food
Alongside the urge to reproduce, feeding is one of the strongest primal urges that animals feel.
If you have a lot of ducks in an enclosure and a few feeding containers, there is going to be competition among the ducks, especially if there are aggressive ones among them.
Most commonly, an alpha drake will be protective when eating and might peck at other ducks, keeping them from the food container. This behavior might not be isolated to the main alpha drake, but to other male ducks as well.
If a few ducks prevent others from eating properly, this can be problematic since the smaller ducks can get malnourished over time.
You can resolve this imbalance by providing enough feed, reducing the fighting, and ensuring that they are all properly fed.
- Fighting For Dominance
Sometimes, two drakes simply go head to head to determine which of them is dominant. While this is similar to the clash for mating rights explained above, it is not exactly the same.
Like many other animals, there is a hierarchy among a flock of ducks, with an alpha drake being at the very top.
If there are multiple male ducks in a flock, there will be regular fights, and these fights will likely involve the alpha drake trying to establish dominance over other drakes.
While this behavior is natural, you can curtail it by isolating the ducks that clash most frequently or reducing the number of male ducks in your flock.
You should avoid spending too much time with a single duckling, as this effectively isolates it from the rest of the flock. A duckling that spends time away from others might have issues settling in increasing the chances of getting attacked.
Ducks Might Kill Ducklings
Drakes are known to exhibit various forms of fierce behavior, some of which are mentioned and explained above. Yet another form of violence that is common among drakes is the attacking and killing of ducklings.
One unpleasant habit that is common among animals is unfriendliness by adults towards offspring that are not theirs. The reason is that adults want to preserve their own genes within the group of animals.
By killing off young animals that belong to other adults, these animals can stave off competition, ensuring better odds for themselves and their offspring. Male animals are likely to kill young offspring that are fathered by other males if they have the chance.
In the case of ducks, while a female can attack ducklings that belong to other females, it is more likely for these attacks to be carried out by male ducks. Not all drakes are a threat to ducklings, as some drakes are more predisposed to violence than others.
Since ducklings face the risk of attacks from other ducks, their mother hens often act as their protectors, keeping them safe from other aggressive adults. If a mother hen is not actively involved in the safeguarding of her ducklings, they might be exposed to harm from adults.
Apart from preserving their genes, another reason why male ducks might kill ducklings is because of the urge to mate. When trying to mate with a hen that has ducklings, a drake might see these ducklings as an obstruction and try to kill them off.
The desire to reproduce is usually strong among male ducks, making them act more aggressively than usual, hence their eagerness to get rid of ducklings. Also, some drakes are generally unfriendly, and you should watch them closely as they are more likely to harm ducklings.
Usually, a drake might kill a duckling by simply picking it up and shaking it or throwing it around.
Also, drakes can kill ducklings by drowning them. In either case, you should note that not all duck hens might actively defend their ducklings from a rampaging drake. In cases of inactive mother hens, you will need to intervene to keep the ducklings safe.
If there are any incidents of violence by drakes against ducklings, the male ducks should be separated from the flock instantly. They should only be reunited when the ducklings have grown big enough or if there is no imminent threat.
Apart from violent drakes that knowingly hurt ducklings, it is possible for a drake to accidentally kill a duckling. When you compare the minimal size of fragile ducklings to large adult male ducks, you understand why ducklings can die if they are accidentally trampled upon by a drake.
For maximum caution, you can simply separate male ducks from the hen and her eggs before they are even hatched. This way, your ducklings will be protected from harm, either intentional or accidental.
Drakes Are Aggressive When Mating
Drakes are known to get aggressive when mating and can pose a threat to hens, other drakes, and ducklings.
Despite all the trouble that they seem to cause, on a good day, drakes are actually some of the most docile poultry birds. Compared to their counterparts like turkey toms, ganders (goose), and roosters (chickens), drakes are quite calm.
The issue with drakes is that they get vigorous in some situations, giving in to their primal urges. For instance, during mating season, drakes get a lot more hot-tempered, lashing out very easily at other ducks in the flock.
During mating season, the hormonal levels in drakes spike up, causing a distinct rise in aggression. When it comes to food, mates, and personal space, drakes tend to be more protective when mating than in other periods.
Apart from a general change in mood, the actual mating process between a drake and a hen is also very violent. Drakes restrain hens by clamping their bill around the back of the hen’s neck, and this can be dangerous and painful for the hen.
Male ducks also have a very high sex drive and this is directly tied to their aggression during mating season. Due to their overcharged sexual behavior, drakes can mate with hens several times a day.
Female ducks have been known to die from drowning when a male duck mates with them while they are on a body of water. Since a drake will constantly push the head of a female duck underwater, the hen might drown if mating goes on for too long.
It is important to avoid placing a few hens with a large number of drakes during the mating season, as violent copulation with several drakes can harm a hen.
For safety, some farmers have a drake-to-hen ratio of 1:5, ensuring that the hens do not get harmed by excessive mating.
Violent drakes might go as far as attacking humans and this can be a major concern. When a male duck is violent towards a person, it might either be venting out its aggression, trying to establish dominance, or even trying to mate.
Whichever reason your male duck might have, you should ensure to handle the situation correctly and immediately to prevent a repeat. Below are some ways to handle a duck attack, and how to regulate such unwanted behavior.
- First, if your duck is attempting to peck at you, you can fend it off with an item such as a rake or a net with a long handle.
- You can push back at your duck, using a finger to poke at the drake without using too much force.
- Finally, you can hold down the duck against the ground, as this is a typical way that animals establish dominance.
It is possible that you might find a particular duck that is just too aggressive to handle, lashing out at other drakes, hens, and people. Farmers sometimes opt to handle these types of drakes by either isolating them from the flock or culling them altogether.
Do Ducks Eat Each Other?
While this does not happen all the time, ducks can go as far as eating each other if they are faced with a lot of stress or placed under poor living conditions.
When raising animals, one factor that needs a lot of attention is the accommodation that will house the animals. A lot of animals are naturally suited to living in the wild, so raising them in captivity is already placing some strain on them and needs to be done properly.
Cannibalism in ducks occurs most often when ducklings are around a month old and when there are too many of them in a confined space. Overcrowding and inadequate nutrition make ducks get agitated, increasing their stress levels.
High levels of stress contribute to the chances that ducklings will cannibalize each other. When ducks are fed properly and raised in pens where there is sufficient room, there will be proper ventilation and freedom to move around, they will definitely not cannibalize each other.
One other thing to note is that ducks can be attracted to the sight of blood. If a duck has a visible wound, other ducks might begin to peck at it, worsening the affected duck’s condition, and possibly killing it.
So, if a duck gets injured, it should be isolated immediately till the bleeding stops. Before returning the injured duck to the pen, you should ensure that the wound is cleaned properly and is beginning to heal.
Will Ducks Kill Ducklings If A Human Cares Of Them After Hatching?
Unlike many people believe, a hen will not kill its ducklings if a human takes care of them after hatching. The belief that ducks and other birds will abandon or even kill their ducklings if a human touches them is false.
The motherly instinct to take care of offspring is too strong to be disrupted if a human takes care of the ducklings for a while. When necessary, farmers can handle a duckling’s care if they need special attention that a hen cannot provide.
Another myth is that birds can smell when people have touched their chicks, causing them to either stay away from their chicks or attack them. This, again, is false. In fact, birds barely have a sense of smell, discrediting this widespread belief.