Aggressive Drakes – Reasons & Solutions
When faced with an aggressive drake, you too perhaps have wondered how did this once cute yellow fluff turn into this mean bird that seems hell bent on hurting you?
Turns out there’s a reason for the insanity and – luckily – there are solutions to curb the aggressive behaviors exhibited towards you or other birds in your backyard.
But just because it’s normal for some ducks to become aggressive, it doesn’t mean you have to tolerate such behaviors.
There are techniques you can try to stop aggressive drakes, but you might also want to consider whether it’s worth keeping drakes at all.
First, I’m going to cover the reasons why drakes suddenly become aggressive and how you can curb this behavior. And then, I’ll go into the reasons why you might not want to keep drakes at all.
5 Reasons Drakes are Aggressive
If you notice a drake becoming aggressive towards you or your backyard flock, here are some of the most common reasons why this happens:
– Hierarchy Challenge
One of the reasons why drakes will pick a fight with other drakes or attack humans is because they perceive them as a challenge to their authority.
By pecking or charging at their perceived opponent, drakes will maintain their authority over the other drakes.
This behavior is bad enough when it’s directed towards other drakes but even worse when it’s directed towards you.
Aggressiveness is not limited to male ducks either. The same type of behavior can be observed in roosters as well.
An easy way to stop this type of behavior is to isolate aggressive drakes from the group.
– Mating Season
Drake aggressiveness can be most commonly observed during the mating season. The whole mating ritual of ducks is extremely aggressive in itself, and a drake ruled by hormones can become extremely unruly.
Violence and aggressiveness is at its worst during the mating season, so keeping aggressive drakes away from your mixed poultry flock is best.
This is especially because drakes will attempt to mate with chickens too, which can have devastating consequences for the hen, whose reproductive tract is not designed for penetration like that of the female duck.
Because drakes are so unruly during the mating season, make sure you keep them away from any ducklings you may be raising since drakes may end up killing your ducklings.
– Not Enough Food
When there’s not enough food to go around, drakes will fight over food. But even when food is otherwise enough, some drakes will hoard food just to establish their dominance.
When other ducks are kept from eating enough, you’ll notice them developing differently from the ducks that do get enough to eat.
If a drake doesn’t want to share food with other ducks, it will fight and attack them to keep them from feeding.
Because this aggression over food can cause ducks of the same age to end up at different stages of development, it’s important to address this issue so that all ducks can eat peacefully.
– Lack of Territory
Territorialism exhibited by drakes is also tied to them trying to establish their dominance and fighting with other drakes over potential mates.
But aggressivity also arises when ducks are kept in an enclosure that’s too small to accommodate them.
Ducks actually need a larger pen compared to chickens. That’s because they have a larger wingspan and need more space to flap their wings and waddle.
Aim for at least 15 square feet per duck in a pen or a run. As for their coop or house floor space, ducks need around 3-5 square feet per duck.
Ducks will also benefit from a pond or simply a kiddie pool to splash around and wash themselves during the day.
– Protecting the Flock
Drakes will exhibit aggression towards humans or other animals or birds they view as intruders in an attempt to protect the flock.
But even in this case, the behavior doesn’t stem from an altruistic place to actually protect the flock but instead it’s tied to the territorial and domineering nature of ducks.
That said, a drake will pick a fight with other birds or animals that might try to approach the flock, so in a sense they can keep potentially dangerous birds or other farm animals away from the flock.
As you can see, there are quite a few situations in which drakes can become violent and unruly.
There are ways to mitigate such situations and prevent aggressive behaviors towards other poultry in your backyard and even towards humans.
Many of these solutions center around separating, isolating, or permanently removing drakes from the flock. But there are some other mitigating techniques as well that I’m going to explain below.
How to Stop Drakes’ Aggression?
Here are some of the ways you can temper and manage the aggression of drakes:
– Ducks to Drake Ratio
In a flock, it’s important to have the right ducks to drake ratio. Too many drakes and too few female ducks spells trouble. If males have to compete for females with lots of other drakes, aggressivity will rise.
The general rule is to have one drake to every 4-6 female ducks. This will ensure that there are plenty of female ducks to every drake. Since drakes no longer need to compete for mates, aggressivity plummets.
– Provide Enough Food
Even if some drakes are hoarding food, when food is abundant, they will feel less inclined to exhibit food guarding behaviors.
Having plenty of food go around also ensures that ducks that are less confrontational will also get a chance to feed.
And if all ducks are well-fed then there will be no differences in growth between ducks of the same age.
If you can, you can also try feeding them separately. Feed drakes away from the more timid ducks to give them a chance to feed in peace.
– Keep One Drake Only
What if you don’t want to keep an entire flock of ducks? For smaller flocks, focus on having a single drake regardless of the number of female ducks.
You can keep two ducks and a drake, or even a single female and a drake. Never keep more than two drakes if the number of female ducks is lower than 4-6.
Better yet – don’t keep drakes at all. Especially if you have a mixed poultry flock, where you risk your drakes attacking your other birds or even attempting to mate with them.
Female ducks are docile and you won’t have any of the aggression problems you have with a drake.
Plus, ducks will still lay eggs even without a drake around. Drakes are only needed to fertilize the egg if you want to hatch the eggs.
– Separate Aggressive Drake
A little territorial behavior or a bit of snappishness towards other birds is normal, but when things get out of hand and drakes go as far as injuring other birds or humans, it’s time to separate aggressive drakes from the rest of the flock.
Separating drakes is especially important during the mating season when drakes going around attempting to mate with chicken hens can become dangerous.
Ideally, you should not keep drakes in a mixed poultry flock just to avoid these kinds of situations. And if you do have drakes, make sure to separate or isolate them from the rest of the flock at the very first signs of trouble.
You can even keep separate female and male flocks if you want to keep drakes for egg fertilizing purposes.
– Get Rid of Aggressive Ducks
The easiest solution is to simply get rid of an aggressive drake. You can always try to correct the behavior of an aggressive drake, but ultimately their hormones will get the best of them.
There are various tips to address drake aggressivity such as pinning down the drake for a few minutes to calm them down. Another tip I’ve seen is to pick up the drake and carry it under your arm.
These are essentially techniques to assert your own dominance over the drake in the hopes that it will temper its aggressive behavior.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt to try these tips to see if they help. But if they don’t and your drake risk injuring your other birds, it’s best to rehome or cull them.
What to Do If Drake Attacks You?
I’ve mostly discussed drake aggression towards other ducks and birds in your backyard. But what if that aggression is directed at you? What can you do when a drake attacks you?
Your first instinct, of course, is to run away. It’s the common sense response to a duck attack. But that won’t fix the problem. By running away, you’re just allowing the drake to assert its dominance over you.
Here are some things you can try:
– Stand Your Ground
If you’re confident and don’t allow the drake to scare you, you will assert your dominance over it. Running away will make the duck think that it has won.
If you’re scared of injuries, bring a broom or a long stick to block the attacks of the drake. You don’t need to hit the drake, just simply block its attacks on you, so won’t have the chance to injure you.
– Hose it Down
If you have a water hose handy, hose down your duck while it’s attempting to attack you. This too can help block its attacks and stop the duck from injuring you. Plus, you’ll be standing your ground once again.
– Pin the Drake Down
If you’re not worried about injuries, you can go as far as to pin the drake down by its wings, and keep it pinned down for a couple of minutes. This is another dominance-asserting move on your behalf, which will let the drake know that you’re the boss.
– Carry it Under Your Arm
Picking up the duck and carrying it under your arm works the same as the previous method of asserting dominance.
As you can see, there’s a toolbox worth of things you can do to deal with an aggressive drake. The question is – is it ultimately worth it to go through all this trouble just because of an aggressive drake?
Depending on your reason for keeping ducks, you may want to avoid keeping drakes altogether. If you need drakes for fertilizing duck eggs, then the techniques I mentioned can be helpful in managing their aggressive streaks.