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Maybe you have some ducks and are thinking about getting more. You might be asking yourself whether it’s anything like introducing new chickens. Then this post will help you know how to introduce new ducks to an existing flock.
And the best part of familiarizing your new ducks with the established ones is that ducks, for the most part, are not as adamant in their pecking order as chickens are. It would even appear as if ducks didn’t have one. Unless you’re watching closely.
How to introduce new ducks to each other
So, how do you introduce new ducks? What’s the best way, with minimal stress on both the new ducks and established ducks?
- First of all, the best time of year to introduce new ducks is in the fall. Their mating season, however, happens to be when most people want to introduce new ducks. Spring and summer. That, also, is when hatcheries sell ducklings.
The reason mating season isn’t a great time to bring in new ducks and ducklings is because the drake, or male duck, tends to be more aggressive during this time. Female ducks can also get more assertive, but it isn’t to the same degree as males.
- Wait to introduce new ducks until the ducklings are at least 7 weeks old. And as with chickens, don’t only introduce one at a time. Also, if you have a drake, I recommend waiting until the ducklings are bigger in order to protect themselves.
With that being said, not all drakes will be murderous. However, it does happen. Though, sometimes it just depends on the breed of duck you have. But, if you just have an all female duck population, or only introduce female ducks, this is the best situation.
- Most people introduce new ducks on public ground, away from the coop. This is so territorial behavior won’t occur. Or at least will be less likely.
Watch for aggressive behavior. Or signs that your birds are getting stressed. Either are unmistakable. If you have a bird that’s being aggressive or one that’s getting stressed, don’t get discouraged. It might take a few ‘re-introductions’ until everyone is on the same page and ok with the new set-up. You definitely don’t want to rush things.
Sharing a home
After you’ve successfully introduced the new ducks to your existing flock, it’s time to bring the newbies to their new home. You can do this one of two ways. Either let them join the established members in the coop, just as it is. Or, you can make a partition in the coop, or run, where they’ll be separated for a few days. Just make sure it’s predator proof and resistant to the elements.
Ducks prefer sleeping outside, in the big wide open, next to a body of water. Even if no one is picking on them. After all, it is their natural habitat. However, if you take care of waterfowl, make sure they go into the coop at night. Because, there are predators who will eat them as well as chickens.
A few nights in a row should be all it takes to get everyone used to each other. After that, let all your ducks out to free range together. But, preferably when you’ll be available to watch their interactions. If, after about 15 minutes, and all looks as it should, and everyone is doing good, then let them be.
Do you notice any feathers?
The only thing people seem to be concerned about is whether or not there is feather loss. Or feather pulling. And if so, they attribute it to bullying. Though, if you observe your ducks, you’ll know whether you have a bully.
I already mentioned that, during mating season, female ducks can be more ‘assertive’. They won’t let the newer ducks around the watering hole, or the wet ground, where everyone else wants to dig for bugs. But the main thing is, that female duck has her eyes set on the drake she prefers.
We have 2 established female ducks. And when we introduced our new ducks and adolescent ducklings to the group, Aizawa, the female Mallard, didn’t care one bit. She still doesn’t. But, Bakugo is the one keeping the new ducks away from her water, her bugs, and I suppose, her drake. Aka, the rooster.
A word about drakes
Drakes can be aggressive both to females and ducklings. So, if you have any, as with chickens and roosters, you need to have a proper ratio of 3 or 4 hens to every drake. Because, if you don’t, it will cause drakes to be even more violent.
Some will even attack and kill their own young. You might not have any issues once you’ve introduced the new ducks to your established flock. But, if you do, and you have a drake who is murderous or infanticidal, you’ll have to make a decision of whether you’ll re-home him or let nature take its course.
Quarantine adult birds
If instead you have adult ducks to introduce to your established flock, the main thing you’ll want to add to this list is to quarantine the newcomers first. And that’s to make sure the new ducks are free from diseases and parasites. Quarantine can last anywhere from 7 days to a month. Though, the longer it is, the more time you’ll have to fully know what’s going on with the birds you’ll be introducing.
I hope this helps answer any questions you might have regarding introducing ducks to an existing flock.