Adding New Ducklings to Your Flock

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If you own chickens, you are familiar with the term “chicken math”.  At first you are only going to get 3 hens and then before you know it you have 13, not because of accidental chick hatching, but adding new, cool breeds of chickens is addicting!   Well I can tell you “duck math” is also alive and well.  There may not be as many cool breeds of ducks as there are chicken breeds, but I have to say the ducks have wiggled their way into my heart and their hilarious antics and sweet natures just make you want to get more.  Luckily, adding new ducks to your flock is not as stressful and time consuming as adding new chickens.  Chickens have a strict pecking order in their flocks that rules every aspect of their day from who gets the choicest treats to who get the best roost space.  They are constantly jockeying for better position in the order so they don’t usually take kindly to new additions.

Ducks on the other hand, have a pecking order but it isn’t as strict so making new additions isn’t as stressful to them.  They may not mind more guests at the pool party, but especially if you are introducing ducklings to an adult flock that has a drake you want to ease everyone into the idea.

Drakes will be more territorial to newcomers during mating season (spring and summer).  Of course this is also when feed stores are flooded with sweet little ducklings, so it is when you are most likely to be making additions.  A drake will also be more aggressive if you are trying to add another adult drake.  Before you add another drake, make sure you will have at least 3-4 females ducks per drake to minimize fighting.  Additionally your existing females might also get aggressive if there is a drake present, they might want to make sure the newcomers know this is HER drake.  If you have an all female flock of adults and introduce ducklings this is usually the easiest with the least drama. It’s best to wait until ducklings are at least 7-8 weeks old and at least partially feathered out to start making introductions.

Adding ducklings to your flock

Step 1 – Initial Meetings

The first couple times you introduce the new ducks to the older ducks it should be on neutral ground.  Free ranging in the yard is a great place for the initial meeting.  There will be plenty of room to run away if needed and the older ducks hopefully won’t feel as threatened.  Stand nearby as they check each other out and be ready to break up a fight just in case.  Ducks are super inquisitive by nature so they will want to investigate these newcomers.  They know right away these new creatures are the same as them, even though they look different and are much smaller.

Some body language to look for include head bobbing, this is a duck greeting, a way to say “hi, who are you?”.  This is hopefully what you will see.  You will know negative body language when you see it.  The older ducks will run at the new ducks, using their necks to try and push over the ducklings.  If this happens, I would stay close, but let nature run it’s course.  Step in if the ducklings seem overly stressed or if the older ducks start biting.  I would stage these initial meetings once a day for maybe 15 minutes each for 3-4 days in a row. Adding duckling to your flock

Step 2 – Safe Cohabitation

After they ducks have met a couple times, the next step is to bring the new ducklings out for full days.  You most likely do not have the time to sit outside watching over the interactions so you will want to create a barrier between the old and new ducks.  This way they can see, hear and smell each other but no one can get hurt.  If your older ducks free range in the yard during the day,  try securing the ducklings in the duck run.  Alternately you can section off part of your run with some chicken wire. This lets the ducklings get used to their new home outside of the brooder and the old ducks get used to the idea of new ducks living in their space.  I usually bring the ducklings back inside the house at night to let the old ducks have their space back.  After 3-4 days of this we move to Step 3.  An alternative in step 2 is if you have an older duck that is taking to the ducklings and being nice, you can add the nice adult duck in with the ducklings in the run.  Let them all bond together before setting them free with the whole flock.

Adding Ducklings to your Flock

Step 3 – Overnight Visits

Next you want to let the ducklings spend the night outside where they belong.  Section off your duck sleeping area so you have two separate spaces.  Just make sure where ever you have your ducks sleeping is predator proof!  Preferably it is somewhere the old and new ducks can see each other the whole night but can’t get to each other.  After a couple nights of sleepovers, it’s time for the final step!

Step 4 – Full Fledged Friends

The last step is to let the old and new flocks merge.  Let them all out to free range, hold your breath and hope everyone behaves!  Try to make this happen on a day when you will be home all day so you can keep an eye on things.  Hang out with them for 15 minutes or so, if it seems like everyone is being cool, you can go about your business but try to stay close and make frequent check ins.  Definitely keep a closer eye on any drakes to make sure they aren’t being bullies and make sure you have plenty of food & water available so they aren’t fighting over resources.

That’s it!  In another week or so, you will  never even know to look at them that they were ever anything other than a big, quacky family 🙂  Keep in mind that just like humans, ducks have their own personalities.  Sometimes it takes hours for new ducks to decide they like each other – sometimes it is weeks or even months.


101 comments

  1. Orrie says:

    Really? It is that easy? I was thinking that I would have to wait 4 – 6 months like I did with my chickens. This is awesome!

    • Stacha says:

      My Cayuga Drake has taken over care of Swedish blue and 2 black Swedish we call him Daddy Waddles. It is so cool he has taught them in pool to swim and dive. He is never far from them. He even has them on schedule and takes them to where he wants to lay. He has strangest call and when we ones here him they go running. He leads them to pen at night and very protective . It amazes me and I wonder if anyone else has experienced this. I have a flock of 15 . My daughter and granddaughter have never seen anything like it. Pippa Blue Swedish took off after drake Fawn runner cause he got to close to daddy so he must be teaching them defense. Love watching and filming them.

      • Liz says:

        Awww that is adorable! Sounds like you have a very special drake – they can be feisty when you try to add new ducklings. What a good boy!

    • Aurelia says:

      With my chickens I wait 2 months and then just bring them to the coop one night with a flashlight and the new morning it’s like the new chickens were always here.

  2. Jo Gaylor says:

    We are at stage 3 and ready to merge 4 ducklings with a 2 yr old duck. My question is about feed. The ducklings are on the starter grower still. Our duck is on layer. We put brewers yeast and oats with it. Is this ok to feed our older duck?

    • Liz says:

      Yes, it is fine for your older duck to eat the duckling’s food. You should keep them all on that diet until the ducklings can eat layer pellets. Offer a bowl of crushed eggshells or oyster shells for your older duck to eat free choice so she can get the calcium boost she needs for strong eggs

  3. MandyP says:

    Thanks for the really useful information. We are at step 3 so fingers crossed! (I visited Cape Cod last year from England, what a wonderful place you live in 🙂 )

  4. Elaine Whittaker says:

    I find your knowledge about ducks immeasurable however, can you (maybe) explain why my drake ‘bows’ to my (male) partner but not me? Also during the mating season when we had 5 ducklings hatch, the drake was particularly aggressive towards my partner but not me. Can ducks sense /smell something that we mere humans cannot?

    • Liz says:

      When a duck lowers it’s head it’s not generally a sign of respect like a bow, it’s a sign of aggression. When a duck lowers it’s head (and sometimes makes a low hissing sound), they are saying stay away, then sometimes might charge with their neck stretched out. Your drake is just likely picking up on the fact that your partner is also male and the bigger threat to his flock. As long as he isn’t attacking or hurting anyone it’s harmless

      • Stormy says:

        I have an aggressive drake and he charges like that at the females. He has particularly gone after my broody when she joined for treat time. She has hatched 3 eggs so far this morning. We have her and the babies separated from the rest but I am not sure what I am going to do when it’s time to introduce.

        • Liz says:

          I would definitely keep them separated until the babies are a least 2 months old, either keep the family separate from everyone else or keep the drake separate. When it’s time for everyone to mix together, just take it slow. Let them out together for an hour or so and keep a close eye on the drake. If he is just chasing them off, that is ok. He needs to get it out of his system. If he tries to nip or grab any of the babies I would put him away immediately. Hopefully it will be ok, but it will likely take him several weeks to get used to the idea. If he continues to be a problem and is hurting the babies or the even the females you might need to consider finding him a new home for the sake of the flock

          • Kelly says:

            I have 2 pekins which are almost twice the size of my younger rouens and cayugas we have 2 of each one pekin is a male and one of the cayugas but my concern is that we introduced the 4 additions to our already newly established pekins and now the drake is not only constantly attempting to mate with them all but he shows a lot of aggression towards all the other ducks as well as people. He has never hurt anyone (probably due to the fact that we stop him any time we catch him misbehaving) we have tried everything putting him in time out, my daughters are both able to pick him up hold him and there are no issues but we still cannot put all 6 in the coop overnight in fear of what will happen it’s been 2 months at least now they free range in our large yard all day and do well with the exception of the mating attempts. I feel terrible about the thought of rehoming him but I also cannot keep them all separate forever as we are currently moving the 4 younger ones into our garage every night to ensure they stay safe. Any suggestions?

          • Liz says:

            How old are the Roeuens & Cayugas? If they are under 16 weeks you are doing the right thing for now, young ducks can be injured during mating attempts, especially if the drake is significantly bigger than them. The Pekins are always going to be bigger and probably going to end up as the ducks leading the flock. The size difference isn’t going to stop the Pekin drake from mating the smaller girls though. It’s possible that his misbehaving is just from all the upheaval – you added new ducks and these ducks aren’t really part of the flock because they are coming in and out and not with him all the time. So he’s not going to really accept them until they are together all the time and he is going to keep defending his area, his food, his water, his Pekin friend. But you’re right to keep them apart if those new girls are still young and he is trying to mate with them. I wouldn’t give up on him yet. Once the little ones have finished growing and can be integrated full time, hopefully he will calm down (also as summer moves on and mating season comes to an end his hormones will naturally settle a bit). If he is constantly trying to mate the young ducks, I would back off introducing them until the girls are grown. Can you separate the coop & run with some chicken wire so they can all sort of live together but he can’t get to the girls? Drakes always seem to make introductions tricky.

  5. Jessica Sullivan says:

    Hi Liz!! Do these same rules apply for adding full grown ducks to your flock? I have a mated pair but I’m adding two full grown females.

    • Liz says:

      Hi Jessica! Yes, same process! You can expect that the male will probably be a jerk for a little while to the new girls but hopefully all will go well 🙂

  6. Tracy Adams says:

    Liz, Thanks for that info. We’re incubating Indian Runner Ducks from our mom and dad duck. Cross your fingers for us! Tracy

    • Stacha says:

      I have 2 Fawn Indian Runners both male 8 months old they fight all the time with each other and other male ducks My Khaki absolutely hates them. If he sees them near the babies he runs them off. I have 15 ducks Male female Cayuga One Blue Swedish and 3 black Swedish 2 crested giant Peking and normal Peking 2 Khaki Campbell’s male female. 2 Mallards male female they all have names and are trained and eat out of your hand We have big green bowl that I put corn peas in and when they see that bowl the 4 flyers take flight to beat others to bowl I spend about 4 hrs day outside with them filming and afternoon I sing to them. They love it and stay at my feet if I stop they start quaking . Wrote song Luluby Duck and they love it. They were taught to knock on door if they want to come in but they have to stay on mat Several go places with us diapers and leash. Like to go for walks and will follow you. I have fallen in love w each one and they each have unique personalities and they all have names and when eating out of hand I call each one by name. There such social creatures and spoiled rotten.

      • Liz says:

        WOW those are some lucky ducks!! Ducks are such awesome little creatures, so full of personality! I like to sing to my animals too 🙂

  7. Serena says:

    We introduced 6 wk old ducklings to the older ducks with a baracade for a couple weeks after having them in the same run in a brooder coop. One day I let the youngins have the run with the pond. They weren’t interested in it, but later in the day I found two in it but struggling to get out. I also noticed that my very randy drake had broken through the baracade and I wondered if he had anything to do with them being in the pond. Turns out one of the babies was already drowned. So the advice about introducing should depend on whether there is a pond.

    • Liz says:

      That is so sad! You are definitely right, any access young ducklings have to water should be monitored with easy in and out. Your drake probably chased them into the pond and in the confusion and commotion they got trapped or held down. So sad

  8. Lee says:

    Hi, Liz.

    We have a serious imbalance of male to female ducks on our lake, with a gang of about 8 males harassing two females in our cove. First, is it common for males to force mating on a female with a stench? I find the forced mating distressing, but can live with it when i talk myself out of anthropomorphising the females. The problem is that when there are 8 males, it takes some time for each to have his go and for the female to recover, all the while leaving the ducklings unprotected from the crows and heron. We are losing entire stenches in a matter of weeks. These are not domesticated ducks; it’s a small lake. Ideas?

    • Liz says:

      Hi Lee, it can be really upsetting when multiple males gang up on a female. Unfortunately it is normal behavior for wild ducks. I agree it can be very distressing! It is also unfortunately not uncommon with wild Mallards for other females to kill stray ducklings that do not belong to their brood. The ducklings, especially in the first month, generally stick very close to the mother at all times for protection. Even very soon after hatching, the mother duck will lead them to water to swim with her and they stick pretty close. Most times they should not be leaving them unattended for long periods of time. Unfortunately, it is usually best to not interfere with nature. 20-50% of ducklings will not make it to adulthood due to predators, weather, lack of food, etc. The good news is mating season should be coming to an end, in the next month or so the males should be calming down a bit and hopefully the females will find some peace

  9. Shannon says:

    I have five 6 week old ducklings that I hatched. Momma was hit by a car. They are native to Florida and do not migrate. There are several in the neighborhood. Lots of birds around here on the coast.
    I have a pen in back with two large pools. I researched what they eat in the wild and have kept to that diet with duck chow to supplement. We live on open, salt water. Lots of hawks, herons etc. These guys turned out to be Mallards and are pretty large, fully feathered except for a little down on their necks. They are practicing flying. How do I go about letting them go safely and when? We live on a canal with very little yard. I put them away at night to protect them and then let them out into a large pen I built during the day with a fan, shade etc. I will put a board from the canal to our dock so they can get out easily. I guess after all of that was said I need to know when to stop putting them away at night and keeping in a pen period? We do not talk to them, play with them etc. I did not want them too comfortable with people. The neighbors dog got into our yard but due to the pen the dog did not get to them. It did serve the purpose of making sure the ducks do not like dogs. We have a Blue Heron who hangs out. They sit and watch each other but the ducks are large enough now that Burt the Heron does not bother them. He just wants to use their pool, LOL. They are wild and here apparently it is not legal to have them as pets. I make sure to wash down the pen two to three times a week but will be very ready to let them be free when the time comes : )

    • Liz says:

      I don’t know a ton about wildlife rehab, but it sounds like you are doing everything right. If they are fully feathered they should be ready to be released. Ducks are considered fully grown around 4.5/5 months. My guess would be to start by letting the pen door be open during the day. It is very possible they will come back to the pen on their own at night. Is there a wildlife rescue in your area that you could reach out to? I am sure they will have great advice about getting those ducks released. Good luck! Mallards will often return to the place where they were raised when it is time for them to raise their own young, so hopefully you will get to enjoy watching these little ones raising their own broods next spring!

  10. Lauren Brady says:

    Hey, I have a female about 20 weeks old. (She was raised with 3 drakes, but I just re-homed them today because I was afraid for her safety with them.) I also have a female duckling only 3 weeks old. Do you think I could put these two together a little easier than all these steps? I don’t want my older female to be lonely! Today, after the drakes left, I had the duckling in a cage outside while she free ranged. Do you think 3 weeks is too early for meetings and being in the same space?

    • Liz says:

      3 weeks is a little early. Ideally they should be feathered out and around 7-8 weeks but if your other ducks are nice it could work out. Sometimes, especially with females, they really easily accept newcomers. The only way to know is test it out. Put them together and see how it goes, she might surprise you! Not too long ago we put out a 5 week duckling and she immediately took to one of our females and they have been inseparable since

  11. Hayley says:

    Hi there, so i added new ducks (10weeks old) and they are already friends with my two 20 week old ducks my wuestion is i jave a drake who is typically a randy devil, will they be ok if he mates with them?

    • Liz says:

      I would keep an eye on him and just make sure he isn’t being overly rough. He will likely recognize that the babies aren’t full grown yet and not suitable mates, but you are right that most drakes are just little randy devils.

  12. Teresa says:

    I have 4 khaki Campbells, about 4 months old, and I just got 4 Ancona ducklings. The breeder said the Anconas are 6-7 weeks, but they look more like 3 weeks. I questioned her on their age and she said they develop a little more slowly because they are not hatchery stock ducks. I don’t really understand that, but in regards to socializing, so far only 1 of my female khakis is being really aggressive to them. It’s been 3 days of socializing and no progress with this one duck. Any advice? Or just keep socializing little by little each day until they get along?

    • Liz says:

      Hi Teresa, hatchery ducks have been selectively bred for generations with only the biggest, strongest and healthiest used as “breeders”. Sometimes they can end up larger than what a farmer might consider breed standard. Most ducks are just fine with new additions, but just like people they all have different personalities. Sounds like your khaki needs a little more time to get used to the idea of babies around. Keep socializing slowly and she will get there!

  13. Diane Carlisle says:

    My friend has 3 khaki campbells ducklings raised by chickens she tried to introduce a white Campbell Duck of the same age.The Khaki’s are terrified of the new White campbell and got really stressed as did the chickens. Any Ideas how to integrate in this situation so neither are stressed too much

    • Liz says:

      I would separate the 4 ducks away from the chickens and let them bond together. I have found that when I let a momma bird raise the young, they tend to be more skittish (as opposed to babies that I raise in a brooder). It might just take them some time to adjust.

  14. Robin Toste says:

    I have 2 female mallards, and wanting to get a male. It would be from the same egg batch, Just CURIOUS If I’m Going To Have ANY Major problems, after reading this I don’t really see a problem, just keep a good eye to make sure they are getting along. Any advice you would give?

    • Liz says:

      It’s really hard to predict how any set of animals will get along because they all have their little quirks, but I would guess it would go smoothly. The girls should let him in alright and as long as he behaves himself and doesn’t choose to just overmate one they should all get along fine!

  15. Kerensa says:

    Great advice!! We have all females, and started our introductions at 9 weeks. We are at step 4 and holding our breath. The older girls seem to run away from the littles, and the littles will charge the older girls with heads down and mouth open. We also have a goose and the littles are charging her too and the goose runs away! This really surprised us!! Any advice or just wait it out and eventually they’ll work it out on their own?

    • Liz says:

      Wow! You have some feisty babies there! As long as no one is being hurt physically (emotionally the big girls might be a little embarrassed being chased off by a baby lol!) it’s best to let them sort it out on their own. It’s likely some of these babies just have dominant personalities and will end up as flock leaders, and the girls will all sort it out on their own. If someone starts pulling out feathers or hurting the others that’s when I step in and separate the offender for a few days

  16. Kendra says:

    HI, thanks for the great information. I’ve read several of your posts. I haven’t been able to find information on introducing young(er) ducks to an existing chicken flock with the following characteristics:

    *1 drake with 5 hens, all approximately 2 months old (and appear to be maturing as sexed). The weather has been decent, so I moved them from the garage to a “transitional” fenced off area in my pasture with access to shelter/heat lamp at night (both them and myself are much happier with this housing arrangement! 🙂 ).

    *4 mature hens with 1 mature rooster, which I’ve had for a couple of years. This flock free ranges a 2 acre pasture during day and coop up at night.

    The transitional duck pen is in the pasture, and the chickens/ducks have constant visibility of each other through the wire mesh fencing. I have not found the rooster in the duck pen, so I assume he has not tried to fly over their fencing. I haven’t observed any “issues” between species occuring through the fence. But the rooster does like to strut around the duck fencing crowing and making his presence known (interestingly the rooster has charged me a couple times lately when I’m near the ducks, which is out of his normal character.)

    At what age is appropriate to introduce a developing drake (with his hens) to a mature rooster (with his hens)?? As noted in the article above, the ducks are so easy going I’ve never observed a scuffle between them so its hard to tell if they are capable of “fending for themselves,” or if they even know how to fend for themselves.

    I really appreciate any input!! I think my pasture is big enough that the two can live in harmony. I just want to make sure initial direct contact with each other goes as uneventfully as possible, and that the young ones are mature enough to hold their own!

    • Liz says:

      It sounds like you are off to a great start. I’d let them live side by side in the transitional pen for a couple weeks and then they should all be old enough to be together. For the most part my chickens keep to the chickens and my ducks to the ducks, so the rooster doesn’t do much “policing” of duck activities or additions. I have three drakes and one rooster and the boys all get along fine. When you let them out together just keep an eye on them for the first couple days. It sounds like they are all easy going though so fingers crossed everything will go smoothly!

  17. Kat says:

    I have a question! Im fairly new with ducks! I bought 5ducks in march 2 peaking and 3runners (i was told they were all runners, but when 2 of them turned out huge and white i had to do research, also 2 of my runners are greenish blue and 1 is white and tan) im not sure of their sexes yet online it says the ones with deep quacks are females and the ones that peep still are males is that true? Thats one of my questions my next question is i bought 8 more ducks on may 11 4 runners and 4 peakings all baby ducklings i had them away from my other ducks and yesterday i tried to introduce them to my older ducks they did good ALL day there were no isssues one of my peakings even went and laid down and had the babies laying by it (still not sure if the peaking is male or female) i did hear an owl(great horned to be exact) but didnt think anything of it. So they were together ALL day no issues so i went back inside and around 6pm (i was inside for less than an hr) i came back out and 2 of my ducklings were dead and not just dead they were DECAPITATED with NOO HEADS?!?! My duck couple doesn’t have the top on it yet its an above ground pool with 6ft of wire around it 50ft around but my husband has NEVERA SEEN ANYTHING LIKE THAT before!!! Did my older ducks kill and Decapitate the 2 ducklings?!? Or do you think its possible that the owl we heard did it?!? I got really freaked out and the ducklings are now completely separated but is it possible that my other ducks bit off the little ducklings heads?!?!? I cried forever and told my babies im so sorry i love ALL my animals also i have 11 hens that i got with my first set of ducks and they are ALL family the hens think they are ducks and there was some separation anxiety between the ducks and chickens from introducing them to ducklings after reading this i am gonna wait 4-6 weeks and do small introductions in between like this says but i need to know if its possible for ducks to bite the head off of baby ducklings!!

    • Liz says:

      Oh no!! It is so so so to lose any of your critters – especially like that, how horrible! I really don’t think it was your other ducks though. If they were just dead maybe I would think it was your older ducks, but your adult ducks aren’t going to decapitate the ducklings. That is definitely a predator of some sort, either that owl you heard or something else. Certainly could be an owl, predator birds like that do a lot of tearing. Definitely keep a very close eye on the flock in the next few days, I’ve lost a few of my hens to hawks and it seems like once they found food in your yard, they will keep coming back. I wouldn’t put the ducklings out to free range in the next week just to be safe.

      As far sexing the ducklings, listening to their voices is one way – the females will have a louder “quack” sound and the males a lower raspy sounding noise. If they are still peeping, they just haven’t found their grown up voice yet. The boys will also develop a little curly feather at the base of their tail.

  18. Kim Staggs says:

    I have 1 male and 1 female adult Rowens and just rescued a maybe female 3 – 4 month old peking. I have been introducing as suggested.. it seems my girl Daisy is terrified of the baby.. any clues as to why? What I can do to change it? Thank you in advance..

    • Liz says:

      Every duck is different – just like every human! Hard to say what is going on in Daisy’s head. But as long as they aren’t fighting I would just let them work it out. They will get used to each other in time. Ducks generally love having other ducks around, they just need a little time 🙂

  19. Laura says:

    Hi! I have a flock of 4 hens and 2 drakes, and we got two more female ducklings this year. They are fully feathered and we keep them separate from the drakes at this point (they are too aggressive with the young ones). The hens seem terrified of them! In fact I’ve seen one of the “babies” run one of them off several times. Is this normal? Are they extra stressed being separated from the drakes? I didn’t anticipate this transition to be so complicated.

    • Liz says:

      They could just be stressed by the changes in the flock. Some birds are more sensitive to change than others. It’s good to keep the drakes separated, besides being aggressive, they will change the flock dynamics making it harder for all the girls to bond. My guess would be one of your babies is a natural leader with a strong personality and will probably end up being “top hen”, and she is exerting her power right out of the gate. They will settle in shortly. Then hopefully you can add the drakes back into the mix. If at all possible wait until the babies are 4 months to let the drakes in because they WILL try to mate with them and the babies really aren’t ready for that until 16-18 weeks old.

      • Adam scannell says:

        Hello I have a 8 week old duck a crested magpie and I’m trying to introduce him/her to my 4. 1 year old ducks 3 girls 2 rouen 1 cayuga 1 drake cayuga. The drake will not leave it alone and is very aggressive to it. I got the magpie from someone who doesnt want a deformed bird “crest” so kinda saving It. I want to say her but doesnt have an adult voice and I cant tell yet 2ith the tail feathers Haha will they ever stop being mean to her? Also the female ducks by themselves wont accept the new duck either. Thank you for any help

        • Liz says:

          He will calm down eventually. Drakes are usually not very welcoming to new ducks, and unfortunately the females usually take their cue from the drake. When my drakes are being mean to new ducks (especially when they are young), I will lock up the drakes in the run and let everyone else out to free range. This lets the ladies bond with the new ones. But I have found it takes my drakes about a month or so to get used to having new ducks around. The good news is it’s not a whole month of the drakes being mean. For the first week or so they constantly chase them off and sometimes grab their wings or neck, but everyday it gets better until they are just chasing them off without trying to hurt them, then they just accept them being there. If you can get the 8 week old duck to become friendly with one of the females that is the best bet. I once had a young drake I was trying to integrate and my older drake was having absolutely none of it, even after a few weeks. Eventually I took my nicest, calmest female and locked her in the run with the new duck. They really took to each other in just a couple days and when I released the pair out to free range again, the older drake still chased him off occasionally but for the most part left them alone. Good luck!

  20. janeburton2008 says:

    Hi there!
    We have 2 male Aylesbury drakes who we hatched ourselves, they are 3 years old and All ways been together. We have purchased 6 female ducks but the drakes seem to be very aggesive and territorial with them. They chase them back into their own and won’t let them near the pond. How long will it take for them to get along, I don’t want the new girls to be over stressed as they had a bit of a bad start to life and we want to give them a good life? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    • Liz says:

      Drakes can be real pains sometimes lol. You would think they would be excited to finally have some lady friends, but it usually isn’t the case. It will probably take a few weeks, even up to a month for the boys to calm down and let the ladies into their boys only flock. Did you try separating them at first (having them live in separate areas where they can see and smell each other but not interact)? If not, it can be a good way to ease the boys into the idea of the ladies living in the yard while still keeping the girls safe. Unfortunately, they will likely still be a little jerky when you finally blend the groups together, but it can be a little easier transition.

  21. Lori Calderone says:

    I have 4 7 week old ducklings I am trying to integrate with 4 older ducks. All are female (in theory–I do have my doubts about one of the ducklings, though I ordered all female. :- ). The ducklings are sleeping in a huge dog kennel, while the older ducks are in the main duck house. The ducklings have a fenced area in front of their house so they have some protection (all the ducks are in a huge fenced duck yard) from the big ducks, but the ducklings can come and go into the main duck yard as they desire. They have ventured out, and even gone into the big duck house, did a little swimming in the pool, and snarfled for worms, etc. The big ducks have ventured into the duckling area to share their food, but one of the adults consistently lowers her head and runs them all back home whenever she sees them come out. They’ve been out together for about 5 days– it’s still happening. Is there anything I can do to help this along, or is patience all that is required? They have not co-habitated yet at night. I feel like they are not ready for that, given that one unfriendly duck. Thoughts? Thanks so much!

    • Liz says:

      Unfortunately you have to let them work it out on their own. By 7 weeks they are pretty big so I wouldn’t be super worried about the unfriendly duck hurting them, she will probably just keeping chasing them. In female only groups, most ducklings are accepted within the first week, but ducks all have their own personalities and sometimes you just get a grumpy one that doesn’t like newcomers. All you can do is just keep an eye on them. Lower her head and chasing them off is fine, she is just establishing dominance. But if she starts to grab them with her bill to the point where the babies are losing feathers, you might need to keep them separated a little longer. Fingers crossed she comes around soon!

      • Lori says:

        They are doing better, making tiny half inches of progress daily, but still sleeping in separate quarters. The ducklings are actually quite large, especially the Black Swedish. No one is being mean, just stand offish. Would my instinct NOT to force them to quarter together until they are much friendlier be the right instinct?

        • Liz says:

          Yes, I think you are right to keep them sleeping separate until they are friendly with each other, especially if they are locked into their house at night

  22. Lori Calderone says:

    Thank you! They are making (seemingly) the tiniest of progress ….The young ‘uns have ventured out closer to the others, but no one is buddy buddy, not even remotely! I did see the grumpy older one do the beak down run, but I also saw one of the newbies do it, too! So, hopefully over time they will work it out and I’ll look out one day and see them all relaxing together. I hate to put them in the same duck house at night til I see that (tho the babies have explored the big house on their own….). They will have to get it together this month or next, before the temps drop and the snow falls……

  23. Reagan says:

    I bought a Khaki Campbell and a Pekin about 2 months ago. I went to tractor supply to buy more food for them and there was this one Rouen duckling. This had been the original breed I wanted so I HAD to get her(I have a slight obsession). When Coco (the rouen duck) was shipped to tractor supply there was 16 other ducks in with her. Coco was the only one to survive, so no one could get her because you have to buy at least 2. I already had Percy and Puddles ( The first 2 ducks. I like to call them the twins) so they let me get her. She’s about a month old now and this is about the time when I put my other ducks in the run. I started to introduce them. I put up some plastic netting and let them meet. I have done that for about a week and everything seemed fine. I took it down yesterday and walked to outside the run. Percy the pekin duck walked right up and then started biting and Coco’s tail. Puddles just watched. I tried again this morning and now they both come up and bite Coco’s tail. Should I try and stop it or let them figure it out? Also, when Coco walks she steps on top of her feet and her bill and feet are turning pale. I give her the exact thing I gave to my other ducks and it has calcium and niacin in it. I’m worried because I read that this happened to a duck and they had to put it down. 🙁

    • Liz says:

      I would let them work it out, but under supervision. You don’t want Coco getting hurt. Most likely they are just trying to establish who is in charge and won’t take it further than a little bullying. If she starts losing a lot of feathers or you feel it’s getting out of control, you might need to keep them separated a little longer until Coco is bigger. As far as her stepping on herself, some ducklings just have higher nutrient needs so she might need some more supplementing. They grow so fast in the beginning sometimes it goes faster than their food intake can supply. When I notice one duckling in a group struggling with leg strength or coordination I’ll give that one some liquid vitamin B. It will help with the niacin intake you comes with a little dropper so you can give it just to one specific duckling to make sure they are getting what they need. I usually do 1/2 dropper every day

  24. Larry Walkley says:

    We have 4 runners (2 male and 2 female) in a flock, all adults. We have a younger flock of 4 Rouen and 1 magpie, all females. We’ve been following then advice here and we are still having trouble getting them to unite as one. Been at it for three months now. The runners chase off the younger ducks all the time and we can’t seem to get them to get along. They don’t seem to hurt them but they also keep them away from food and water in the side of the pen they are all in.

    They are in a 25′ by 32′ pen that we split in half. During the day the separator is opened so everyone has access to the entire pen. Does anyone have any suggestions we can try to get this to work. I would really hate to have to keep them separate for the rest of their lives. Thanks for any help.

    • Liz says:

      I would get a second food & water container (or even a third set just to eliminate as much competition as possible) and try to keep the separator down as much as possible. The more time they spend together the better. To start the year this year we had 3 males and 3 females. We then added 3 more females in May. The males chased off the new females for months. I was starting to think they would be separate forever. Like your runners they didn’t really try to hurt the new girls, just would chase them off. Then about a month ago (so about 4 months after we brought the new ones in) all of a sudden they were all moving around the yard together. Now all 9 ducks move as one flock all the time. Some ducks just have a harder time than other accepting newcomers

      • Larry Walkley says:

        We have a food dish, water dish, and pond in both halves so they have all three items irregardless of which side they are in. We can remove the separator completely as I am off work for an injury for a while so i can watch them. We placed three dog houses (large dog size) and they actually use them at night.

        I think if Hank, the alpha boy, chills out then everything will settle down.

        Thank you for the advice. I sure do hope this works.

  25. Larry Walkley says:

    Thanks for all your advice. We took the separator down the day after you suggested it. Ducks, for the most part, are getting along okay. The one alpha boy still chases the young ones but not as bad as it was. Both female runners are hanging out with the youngsters and eating out of the same tub with them on occasion. And the one goofy boy chases everybody around because he thinks they’re all his girlfriends now. I saw all of them yesterday morning in one flock all together so I think we’re in the clear for the most part. Thanks again for all your help.

  26. Jenny hickinbotham says:

    Hi Liz I am bringing home today two 8 week old Pekins x ducks. I want to put them in a coop with two old wyandots, will that work? And tomorrow I am picking up 4 Indian runners also 8 weeks, can I add them immediately to the same coop?

    • Liz says:

      The ducks should all get along just fine without much issues. It’s usually just the boys that cause problems when adding new ducks, but at 8 weeks the boys shouldn’t be territorial yet. Just keep an eye on the chickens. Usually its the chickens that have issues with new birds, but because they are so outnumbered my guess is they will not cause problems.

  27. Sadie Y says:

    Hello! I have 4 drakes and 1 female, so this spring I decided to introduce some more female ducklings. I have 9 8 wk old ducklings and I am in the process of introducing them. I do not want to keep all 9, so I am planning to give 3 away. However, once the males realized the ducklings were female, they starting mating like crazy with the ducklings, and the ducklings did NOT like this. They are targeting one particular duckling, so I have decided to give that one away. The drakes were doing fine with the ducklings except for a little chasing, but then they starting mating and the duckling they were targeting did not look so good. Also when I put the ducklings in their pen if the males start mating, the males will circle the pen, trying to get in. Do you have any advice?

    • Liz says:

      Ducklings really should not be allowed to be mated. The drakes could harm them both in trying to mate them because they are so much bigger and if they actually do succeed in mating they could injure the still developing reproductive system. Mating should really be held off until the ducklings are full grown (around 16 weeks). It’s probably best for them if you keep them separated from the males until then

  28. Lynda says:

    Hi
    I have one drake left and I am trying to find him a friend. I have tried looking for a adult duck to adopt but I can only adopt is bonded pairs. Any advice?
    Thank you

    • Liz says:

      Have you tried places like Craigslist in the farm section or in a local Facebook Homesteading group? Your local feed store might also have some leads on people looking to sell adult ducks

  29. Bobbie says:

    Hi Liz I have another question! So my babies are 8 weeks and like I said before I ended up with two males and one female. We hate the thought of getting rid of anyone so my question is I found someone that has ducklings that are a month older then mine so 12 weeks if we got some more females would it be hard at those ages for them to get along? Also should I separate the boys and girls in different houses at some point? Or if we didn’t fell like taking on more ducks would to be ok to separate the one girl and two boys durning mating times or would she be sad alone. Ugh I’m so bummed that two ended up being boys but we love all three and really don’t want to give up the girl or the two boys. ?

  30. Kerry says:

    Hi! I was wondering at what age can a drake fertilizers a egg? My drakes are 3 1/2 months old and I have ducks that range from 3 1/2 months to a year old. The one year old is sitting on the eggs. Is there a chance that these eggs could be fertilized by a 3 1/2 month old drake? Thank you!

    • Liz says:

      It’s unlikely, but just like humans some ducks hit puberty before others so it could be possible. In general it’s around 4.5-5 months. If she sits on them for a week consistently you will be able to candle them (shine a bright light to the egg, illuminating the inside). If an egg is developing you will see a network of blood vessels growing

  31. Kerry says:

    Ok thank you! I adopted the lady sitting on the eggs she is about 8 months she has angle wing and rye neck. The person that was taking care of her kept her as the only duck. I got her 3 days ago. Unfortunately she is not mingling with any of my other ducks as she just wants people. Do you think she will ever become part of the pack? Is there anything I can do with her wing or neck to help her at this age. The wing seems to be getting in her way, could I trim it now that it’s fully grown out with no blood running threw it? Can I do anything for her neck? She eats and drinks just fine her neck just seems to make her walk in funny directions. I Left the eggs in the coop because she seems to enjoy sitting on them and watching over them. I’m not sure she even knows she is a duck yet. Her nails are extremely overgrown too, can I trim them like I do my dogs? Thank you!

    • Liz says:

      Wow! Sounds like she has a few issues to sort out! She will eventually join the flock. She just isn’t used to being a duck yet. You can clip her nails, just like your dogs you want to be careful not to cut them too far down. Now that she is outside, her nails should naturally file themselves as she scratches about so you shouldn’t have to do it again. But when a duck lives in indoors they can get overgrown. Wry neck is usually a result of vitamin deficiencies and angel wing is from too much protein in the diet, so it sounds like she wasn’t being fed a proper duck diet before. At 8 months you might not be able to reverse the damage, but a good, nutritious diet can sometimes work wonders. Get her on some quality duck or chicken feed. With the little ones around you will want to be adding brewer’s yeast to the feed so they get enough niacin, and that will be good for her as well. The other thing you might want to look into is adding some vitamins or electrolytes to their water at least for a little while to help with any deficiencies. She is old enough to eat layer feed, but your younger ones should really still be eating a chick/grower feed until they hit about 20 weeks. So I would suggest you just feed everyone the chick/grower with added brewer’s yeast and some vitamins in the water.

  32. amanda says:

    I have 2 crested Khaki Campbells one white and one brown they are 11 weeks old, we just got another dark khaki Campbell which is about 8 weeks old. The reason we got another duck was because the brown male khaki has a poorly leg which the vets can not do anything about, and at some time in the future when it becomes to painful we will have to have him put down, we invested in another duck so my female white will have another pal when it happens. we are struggling to get them to bond, any suggestions? we only have a small garden and cant leave them wondering in the garden without cover so not sure how i can keep them separate on a nigh as we only have one house.

    • Liz says:

      It is important that they start spending all their time together, including at night so they will start to feel like one flock. Is your duck house too small to section off an area for the new duck to sleep in? It could be as small as just a little corner or nest box for her to sleep in. Then in the morning you could let them all out as normal. When you have a bonded pair, sometimes it can be hard for them to let someone new in. But keep at it, they will accept her in time!

      • Amanda says:

        It’s not that it’s small it only has one small opening and the back comes right off, what we have done is made a cage inside were the 2 ducks have been for the last 11 weeks we haven’t put them out yet because of the other ducks leg. I have put the new duck in a large guinea pig cage in front of the ducks so they lay next to each other. We have also had them outside together. Do you think they will except the new duck it just the white duck is very protective of the poorly duck.

        • Liz says:

          Sounds like you are doing everything exactly right. I actually also have a duck with a lame leg. She was born with it and has managed surprisingly well. She might not go out free ranging as far as some of the other ducks, but she gets around pretty well. She is 4 years old now and still limping around. I will say in the past 6 months or so she seems to be slowing down more but she has made it a lot longer than we originally expected. She has a bonded friend duck, like your duck, that seems to stay with her when she isn’t up to exploring which is very sweet. So your little guy might surprise you at the way he adapts to his handicap! They will eventually accept the new duck, just give it some time. I would start letting them all out to the garden and see how they do

  33. Kerry says:

    Hi!
    I just picked up a silver Apple yard, I was told she was 12 weeks old. She is very tiny about 1/2 the size of my rowen that is only a few weeks older than her. She looks like she is 6 weeks to me. She still has some baby fluff on her and is not fully feathered yet. My drake runner is being very aggressive to her trying to bite her neck. I have her in a brooder looking out the slider door so she can watch the other ducks. Should she be this small at 12 weeks? Are they slow growers? I contacted the person again and she confirmed she was 12 weeks and a standard size duck. If she happens to be a mini Apple yard could she still be ok with standard size ducks? I have 2 drakes a rowen and a blue runner and 4 ducks and trying to look for 2 more ducks for the ratio. Thank you.

  34. Melissa says:

    I have an 8 week old mallard, still not sure if its male or female. There is a large flock of wild mallards at a nearby pond, about the same age as mine. I want to set mine free with them but I don’t think I can stage the introduction, because they are wild and I’ll probably never be able to catch mine once I let him loose. Do, you think they will get along? I could set up the pen I have nearby for an introduction.

    • Liz says:

      These steps are really for introducing domestic ducks to each other, not for wild birds. I don’t have any experience releasing wild birds, a good resource might be to call your local wildlife rescue. They should have some great advice on how to best release him. Good luck!

  35. Kerry says:

    Hi, I just picked up a 11 week old duck and my drake is being really aggressive with her. I can’t trust him, he runs right to her and starts biting her. I made a separate section right off there pen so she can be with them but every time I try to get them together he attacks her. I currently have 2 drakes and 4 female ducks including her. They are all about 4 months except the new comer. He is the only one being mean to her everyone else has excepted her right away. I keep her in The brooder still night to keep her safe but she seems very sad as she is alone. The lady I got her off of had only her with a chicken. She seems very tiny for her age too. Will he always be mean to her? Any suggestions on how to deal with this so she can be part of the flock?
    Thank you!

    • Liz says:

      He will accept her in time. Drakes can make introductions difficult. He is just going to need some time. Keep her in her separate section for a couple weeks before putting them together again. Do you have one female that is particularly nice to her, or is just calm in general? The last time I introduced a single duck (who was about 6 weeks old), I had her in separated pen and I put my nicest adult duck in with her. The two bonded so the little one wasn’t lonely and then by the time I was ready to let them into the main flock a couple weeks later she at least had one friend to hang out with. One of my drakes is usually a jerk for a few weeks when I add new ducks. He will run them off from the food & from hanging out with everyone. And sometimes he will even tackle the newcomer and pin them to the ground. It’s unfortunately normal, he is the flock leader and needs everyone to accept it. If you can wait until the new duck is closer to full grown (14-15 weeks or so) she is less likely to be seriously hurt. At some point you do have to allow them to work it out themselves though and as long as no one is bleeding I usually just let it go.

      • Kerry says:

        Hi Liz,

        Ya that’s exactly what my drake is doing to her, I think he is the leader. All of the other ducks are nice to her daisy my pekin sits right up against the fence where I sectioned off to keep her safe. I have no problem keeping a section for her until she is bigger. I’m told she is 12 weeks but she still has a lot of baby fuzz and her wings are tiny little things, is this normal for 12 weeks? I have 4 months old and I remember them growing a lot faster!

        • Liz says:

          At 12 weeks I would be surprised if she had a lot of baby fuzz and tiny duckling wings. I wonder if they were just wrong about her age?

          • Kerry says:

            I’m definitely hoping so! I asked the lady a few times and she keeps telling me she is 12 weeks and that she picked her up on April 30th. Could there be something wrong with her? Is there any health concerns that would cause her to be so tiny and have so much fluff? On her tiny little wings the rachis ( I think that’s what they are called?)are exposed and big feathers are growing out of them. She seems to be healthy in every other way, she eats, drinks and gets around really well. I do notice her feathers that she dies have the water does not bead off as well as the other ducks but again is it because she really is younger than what I’m being told. The only thing I do notice is that she does seem to pant a lot but it’s really hot out and I’m sure she is stressed with the new situation. Thanks for your help!

          • Liz says:

            If she still has fluff mixed in her waterproofing isn’t going to be as good as the other ducks yet. Hopefully she is just a late bloomer! If she is eating, drinking, and moving around like normal I wouldn’t worry too much about her size. I think you are right, the panting is just from all the heat and stress

  36. Caitlin says:

    I have a 10 week old Kahki Campbell (female), Goldie, who just lost her best friend duck. We got two 2 day old Muskovees which we are brooding inside and have been doing short introductions outside with Goldie.

    What I notice is that one of the muskovees looks like they are preening Goldie’s chest feathers. Goldie looks almost excited by it, and seems to be nuzzling them with her bill and chest.

    Is this normal? Do they like each other? Or is it a form of aggression?

    • Liz says:

      That doesn’t sound aggressive, it sounds friendly. She is likely very sad from losing her friend and sometimes that loss can make them bond quickly to a new friend. Just keep an eye on them because Goldie is so much bigger than the little guys

  37. Bobbie says:

    Hi I have three welsh harlequin two males one female. They are 4 months old and I got a few Muscovy females to add but they are only two months old. They been outside everyday together for a few weeks but in separate pens. They can see and talk to each other all the time they are next to each other. I’ve tried twice to let the litter in with them but I feel like they get to aggressive with them. They grab at them or push them. I’m not sure how to go about adding these girls so they don’t get hurt. Should I wait till they are a little older then t