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The Omlet Blog

Too Many Drakes Spoil the Ducks

The Muscovy ducks have been their usual fecund selves and one duck hatched off eight ducklings more or less unassisted in the hay shed, protected of course from the fox. Looking at the sizes of them I believe that at least five are drakes so it will be a full freezer this autumn. We take no pleasure in this actually and although Mick is an expert and quick duck dispatcher, it is not something we relish. It always seems such a shame but totally necessary. In all the books and articles I have written over the years I frequently rant about drakes. It’s not their fault but they are rampant and the ratio of ducks to drakes should be very low, ideally one drake to each group of ducks especially for the ultra virile light duck breeds such as runners. Call ducks tend to be more faithful and the larger ducks are less sexually active but even so attention must be paid to family groups and ensuring the drakes do not harass the females.

If you have more than one drake they do compete meaning that they force themselves on to the same duck several times. Drakes have penises and can and do injure the ducks internally causing death. They can also accidentally drown them by holding their heads below water. This does not happen at all if you have the right ratio of drakes to ducks. They will still have plenty of sex but it will be non competitive and the duck will normally be equally interested.

Some people have obviously solved their drake problem by dumping unwanted drakes on rivers and this is disastrous not only for the domestic drake who will normally be well out of his depth and will die pretty soon but if he survives, disastrous for the native duck population and that’s when you see cross bred ducks on rivers which is not good for anything.

I think the message is do not breed if you are not prepared to kill your surplus drakes (call it cull if it makes it sound better). Don’t try and off load them on someone else and think hard before you put them in a sale as their fate is almost certainly the freezer and it would be better for them to have gone there straight from your garden or yard without travelling and being in a strange environment before hand.

This is a good guide to humane slaughter of poultry for small producers

You can also join your local self sufficiency group or smallholding club who will normally have someone who can slaughter humanely.

The only other thing you can do if you really want to keep your drakes is pen them separately with plenty of space and water well away from the girls and they will normally live together fairly peacefully. If they fight then you will have to separate them further or remove the offender and deal with that one.

So you can see why I say, don’t breed unless you are prepared for dealing with the surplus drakes!

Muscovies Mating

The male is heavier than the female which is acceptable for normal mating but not continuous harassment.

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