We finally did it. We finally made the decision to get rid of one of our original ducks. Our only drake. It was actually a really hard decision, but after he injured two ducks hens and snapped the necks of another couple, it was time.
Speaking from experience, here are some options on how to handle a drake that’s too rough.
After our drake, Gordon, seriously injured Bombay (get it? Gordon Bombay. Use the google if not.) and another one of our little ducks, we had no choice but to confine him to his own coop within the duck coop. It was sad that he couldn’t cozy up with the others while they slept or play in their pools together, but it was also annoying that we had the added chores of his coop cleaning, his water and his food. Breeding season is supposed to be around February through September so we tried letting him be with the ladies again in the offseason to no avail. Gordon must not have gotten that memo about breeding season dates, but if yours does, you could always just keep him separated during this period.
The problem with a drake being too rough in a coop is that the ladies aren’t able to get away from him. He eventually corners them and does the deed. If you haven’t ever seen a duck mate, it ain’t pretty. The drake pins the hen down by biting the top of her head and pushing her to the ground. Then he puts his whole body weight on her and you can imagine the rest (this part actually can’t be seen which is great). If it’s too much, the hens will get little bald heads, and there’ll be feathers everywhere. If they could just get away from him, then everyone might be able to live in peace. Sure, they would still mate, but it wouldn’t be the constant barrage. We let them free-range when possible but because of our bird-murdering dog, we couldn’t let them be fully free-range.
Get More Duck Hens
We tried this. It didn’t work in our case, but it may work in yours! We originally had two ducks: one drake, one hen. When poor Bombay was not enough to fill Gordon’s appetite, we ordered 11 more hens. Our biggest mistake here was ordering a variety of breeds, some that were much smaller than pekin ducks. It was a mistake because this is how he killed a couple. He was just too big and too strong for them. I’ve heard in other cases that getting more hens has fixed everything. The common recommended ratio is 5 hens to every 1 drake.
Not all drakes are too rough. Gordon is a pekin duck, and I have heard that pekin drakes have some serious sex drive and rough tendencies. You unfortunately can’t break these habits, so another option for dealing with a rough drake is to slaughter them for consumption. In our situation, we hand raised Gordon from a day old. He has a name. He literally lived in our bathtub for two months (at our first home before we got our homestead). As much as we knew it would be a humane death, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it this time.
Are you thinking, well, duh? I know, but I had to make this an option because like I said up there, this wasn’t an easy decision. This drake, even though he’s a overzealous raper, is still our responsibility. We had to find the right home and environment for him to go to before I would even consider him leaving. The last thing I want is for him to go kill someone else’s duck hens too. You’d be surprised how many people suggested we just go drop him off at a community lake. Not okay. For one, Gordon was hand raised (not that that made him any nicer) and lived in a coop his entire life exceptionally well-fed. It’d be cruel to dump him out in the wild to find his food and figure out how to survive. He wouldn’t, survive that is. Secondly, Gordon could be a carrier of something that he could give to the wild ducks and geese OR vice versa. Wild ducks and geese have a hard enough time successfully getting through life without throwing that disadvantage at them too. Not to mention that I would pass that lake every day on the way to work wondering what happened to that duck of ours that we left stranded. Yeah, dumping your pet into the wild to fend for itself, not an option.
We really hope that Gordon does well in his new home. When you’re responsible for life, no matter how small, decisions like these can be difficult. What would you add to the list?