What Is The Best Drake to Hen Ratio When Raising Ducks? (2022)

“Drake to hen ratio” is a common term in the duck raising and breeding world. What does this mean, and why should you care?

Perhaps more importantly, have you ever wondered what the drake to hen ratio is for your favorite duck breed?

Wondering which type of ducks are better suited for laying eggs than others?

You’re in luck! Regardless of whether you are raising Pekins or Muscovies, Rouens, or some other breed of duck, this article will tell you everything you need to know.

What Is The Best Drake to Hen Ratio When Raising Ducks? (1)

What is the Ideal Drake to Hen Ratio?

Managing a waterfowl flock can be challenging, particularly if you plan on breeding those animals. If you have multiple drakes, managing that flock can be even harder, particularly in the spring and summer months when hormone levels are at their all-time highs!

Because of this, it’s important to pay attention to the ideal drake to hen ratio. While there is an average ratio to mind, you may also want to consider the best drake to hen ratio for specific breeds (something we will address in more detail below).

In general, for a small flock, it’s recommended that you maintain at least one drake to four hen ratio. This will help prevent your drakes from fighting, but it will also serve another purpose – it will make sure that your hens aren’t over-mated.

If you have too many drakes, there’s a good chance that your hens are going to be bred – again, and again, and again. Too few drakes, and you might not have the right breeding outcomes that you’re looking for.

Overbreeding, in particular, can present multiple challenges for a hen. Not only can it cause the oviduct to prolapse, a condition in which a hen’s egg-laying tube inverts and pops outside of her body, but it can also cause injuries to the hips and legs.

Feather damage is another common side effect of overbreeding.

What Is The Best Drake to Hen Ratio When Raising Ducks? (2)

How Many Drakes Should Live Together? The Benefits of Multiple Drakes

Many people wonder whether it’s worth it to have more than one drake in the flock, and the reality is that yes – it is often a good idea to keep multiple drakes. However, you do need to make sure a good drake to hen ratio is maintained.

Don’t avoid keeping drakes altogether! There are lots of benefits to raising drakes.

(Video) Indian Runner Duck Breed and Is it the right duck for you?

When raised and handled responsibly, they are good pets and can be friendly and invaluable additions to any backyard flock.

Drakes Add A New Dynamic

So many people shy away from raising drakes entirely or only raise one drake. However, drakes can offer a pleasant dynamic to a flock. Not only will they help keep your girls safe from predators, alerting them to any danger.

They can also fertilize eggs that you can later use for incubation. You don’t need to fear for the safety of your hens as long as you maintain proper ratios.

Of course, keeping drakes with your hens will allow you to view the beautiful and entertaining courtship behaviors that ducks engage in during the spring and summer, such as flirting, quacking, and head bobbing.

Multiple Drakes

Keeping multiple drakes in a large flock of ducks amplifies all the benefits listed above.

Some people wonder if you can keep a flock exclusively composed of drakes (something you might do if you are only raising ducks for meat, for example).

While raising only drakes can certainly be done, we don’t recommend it for the sole purpose of reducing the likelihood of fighting in the flock. Males will still fight.

Even if they get along well during the first year, it might not be so peaceful next spring – yes, even if they are without hens! Sometimes drakes will even imprint on the owner so that they’ll consider you to be the hen.

Then, come spring, the drakes will fight whenever you are around.

What Is The Best Drake to Hen Ratio When Raising Ducks? (3)

Why Do You Need to Maintain a Good Drake to Hen Ratio?

As we mentioned earlier, raising a backyard flock of ducks can be challenging – but those challenges present themselves tenfold when raising multiple drakes.

They have multiplied a hundredfold when the time is nigh for breeding – in the spring and summer months when those sex hormones are surging! You’ll have all kinds of behaviors that you need to be on the lookout for.

Some people say that it’s good to let drakes fight their own battles without owner interference. However, having too many drakes – or having overly aggressive drakes that like to fight – can often lead to serious injuries or even death.

These deaths and injuries are entirely preventable. You need to watch out for signs of an inappropriate ratio and manage the flock to adjust the ratio should issues become apparent.

(Video) 5 Reasons to Raise Khaki Campbell Ducks

In Addition to potential injuries and deaths in your flock, you also need to watch out for egg-laying being reduced if a proper ratio is not maintained.

Because female ducks are subjected to a great deal of stress when they are consistently over mated, their bodies may slow or stop their egg production entirely.

Of course, if you are raising ducks specifically for eggs or for breeding, this can have an undesired effect – and negate the benefit of having drakes in the first place!

Drake to Hen Ratio for Specific Breeds

Although the general drake to hen ratio is around one drake for every four hens, there is some variation in this ratio. Typically, with light breeds, you can get away with a larger number of birds – you can have more drakes per hens.

Just keep an eye on your ducks to make sure the hens aren’t being injured during mating so that you can fine-tune your numbers if needed.

Mallard Duck Male to Female Ratio

Mallards are relatively large ducks with hefty bodies. Because of this, you may want to exercise some caution when following the typical one drake to every four or five hen ratio.

Although this can certainly still work irrespective of the Mallard genetics, you may want to increase this to one drake to every five or six hens – perhaps more if you are raising Mallard drakes with smaller hens.

The opposite is true if you are raising Mallard hens with smaller drakes.

Call Duck Drake to Hen Ratio

When raising small ducks, like the Call Duck, Black East Indian Duck, or Wood Duck, you will want to stick to a ratio of around four to seven hens per drake.

Bantam Duck Drake to Hen Ratio

When raising any bantam duck breed, such as the Miniature Appleyard, you should maintain a ratio of five to eight hens per drake.

Provide even more hens if the drake is of a larger breed.

Pekin Duck Drake to Hen Ratio

For Pekins, another large breed, you will want to stick to a ratio of no more than one drake to every three or four hens.

If there are too many males to the females, the drakes may become mean, try to mate each other, or overbreed the females.

(Video) CHOOSING A MUSCOVY DRAKE FOR YOUR FLOCK - Introducing a Drake to the Muscovy Ducks

What Is The Best Drake to Hen Ratio When Raising Ducks? (4)

Other Considerations in Determining Drake to Hen Ratio

It’s not all about flock size when it comes to determining your drake to hen ratio. There are several other considerations you will need to make.

For example, it’s a good idea to make sure that your hens are either equal in size to or larger than your drakes. Providing your hens with slightly smaller drakes can be a major gift to them.

Doing so will stack the odds in her favor, or so to speak so that you can push off any drake who is trying to mate her before she is ready.

It’s also important to consider water body access. Too many drakes (or drakes that are too large for your hens) can cause problems and even fatalities in this regard.

Because ducks often mate on water, drakes fighting over a hen on the water can drown each other.

Drakes Can Be Dangerous

Sometimes, a drake that interrupts the breeding efforts of another drake with the hen who is the object of his affections can go after the hen, too – he will take out his frustration on her rather than the drake who is already breeding her.

Unfortunately, a hen that is smaller than a drake won’t be as good at keeping herself above water when the drakes start fighting over her (or showing her aggression).

Not having the right ratio can lead to serious, potentially lethal, accidents in your flock.

In any event – and at any ratio – it’s also important to make sure your pens are spacious and lean. Ducks that are crowded are far more likely to behave aggressively toward each other, even if the proper drake to hen ratio is maintained.

Wait Until Fall to Add New Ducks

When introducing new ducks, make sure you only do so in the fall.

This is when hormone levels are lowest, so you won’t have to worry quite as much about fighting about your ducks – particularly the males, but hens can fight, too.

Monitor all interactions carefully when adding new ducks to the flock – especially if you are introducing new animals in the spring or summer. As with chickens, ducks have a pecking order that needs to be sorted out.

You typically don’t need to intervene if you must see some occasional squabbling. Still, excessive fighting or bullying (like tufts of feathers on the ground or in another duck’s bill) may warrant your intervention.

(Video) HOW THE NEW DRAKE IS FITTING IN WITH THE MUSCOVY DUCKS AND CHICKENS

To stop your drakes from fighting, you will want to separate them and, ideally, divide the hens equally between them. You can also separate all the drakes from all the hens entirely.

While the drakes will still likely fight, the fighting maybe to a lesser degree if there is no competition for the attention of the hens; sometimes, extremely aggressive individuals may need to be isolated by themselves.

How To Tell If You Have the Right Hen to Drake Ratio

There are several signs to watch out for if you are concerned that your drake to hen ratio is not up to snuff.

One of the most obvious signs of an imbalance is that you’ll notice bald, irritated, red spots on the back of your hens’ necks. This is a telltale sign that your hens have been over-mated.

When you notice these spots, take some time to rinse off the area with warm water and make sure it’s clean.

Give the wounds time to heal, if necessary, by separating her from the flock and giving her some time to regrow hair feathers in isolation.

What Is The Best Drake to Hen Ratio When Raising Ducks? (5)

How Many Drakes Can I Have In My Flock?

Remember, the right drake to hen ratio is usually around one drake to every four hens. This ratio can vary, though, depending on what kind of duck you are raising and how much space you will give them.

Drakes will fight much less often and less aggressively when raised as ducklings together and when their hormones are naturally low between September to December.

The biggest challenge in maintaining the proper drake to hen ratio for specific breeds is that it can be tricky to get the right numbers when you buy ducklings from the hatchery.

Most people choose to purchase their ducklings straight run, which is by far the most economical option.

However, you get what you get when you buy like this – and the odds are good that you’ll get about 50-50 split of drakes and hens, meaning you’ll either need to cull or rehome some of the drakes you do not want or need.

Of course, you can always purchase male-only or female-only ducklings when you place your order to get around this.

Though it can be more expensive, it’s a better way of making sure you get exactly what your flock requires.

(Video) Why We Raise Ducks... Are Duck Eggs More Nutritious? | Ducks On A Homestead

Final Thoughts

Remember, too, that although there are many benefits associated with raising drakes, you don’t have to raise drakes with your hens unless you want fertilized eggs (hens will still lay eggs without the presence of a drake, you can’t hatch ducklings from those eggs).

Over time, and given the proper ratios, you should find that raising hens and drakes together is no challenging feat at all – and it can be quite a rewarding endeavor, too!

What Is The Best Drake to Hen Ratio When Raising Ducks? (6)

FAQs

What is a good ratio of male to female ducks? ›

If you plan to keep them together all the time, 1 drake for every 4-6 ducks is recommended. If you have too many males, they will become very aggressive sexually and may harm some of the weaker females. Make sure you have plenty of space and places your females can go to take a break from amorous males.

What is a good Drake to hen ratio? ›

Remember, the right drake to hen ratio is usually around one drake to every four hens. This ratio can vary, though, depending on what kind of duck you are raising and how much space you will give them.

How many ducks does it take for Drake? ›

Five to eight ducks can be mated to each drake. In colder weather, limit the number of ducks per drake to five. In warmer weather increase it to eight. Drakes may be determined by their larger size, higher pitched voices and more erect carriage than ducks.

What is a good number of ducks to start with? ›

For starters, ducks are easy to raise even in a small backyard. They are extremely social, so consider raising at least three (but preferably five or six) together. In terms of male versus female ducks, good flock makeups include three females (and no males) or a male with four or five females.

Can you have too many drakes? ›

With too many drakes in a flock, they tend to squabble over the females. It's possible for them to endanger each other, but the most serious danger is usually to the female ducks. When too many drakes are competing for the ladies, it's common for 2 or even 3 drakes to attempt breeding one female at the same time.

What do I do with too many drakes? ›

It's a tough choice, but we take a two-step approach to extra drakes. First, we try to re-home them whenever possible, sending them to flocks ready for a new drake. If that fails, we raise them to adulthood in the same pasture-based system as all other birds, then hire a professional poultry processor to cull them.

How many ducks is too many? ›

When getting started with ducks you may be wondering if there is a minimum or even maximum number of ducks you should get. Ducks are very social animals, you should keep a minimum of 3 ducks, while 5 to 6 is the optimal number for household uses like eggs.

Can 2 Drakes live together? ›

Often times, drakes can reside together with minimal fighting on one side of a fence with the hens in full view on the other. This is not always the case, however. Separate your drakes from one another, and separate your hens from the drakes (the hens can all stay together).

Will 2 male ducks get along? ›

Apparently, if you raise male ducks with no females around, they'll get along perfectly well. If you have no interest in eggs and you just want pet ducks, you might actually consider getting an all-drake flock.

Will Drakes try to mate with ducklings? ›

Drakes Will Attempt to Mate With Chickens

Waterfowl are one of the few birds that actually have penises. Drakes have long corkscrew mating organs that stay tucked within the duck's body until it's time to mate.

How long will male ducks fight? ›

The fights can last for hours before one of the ducks finally gives up. Older males are more dominant. One of the problems for males is that there are roughly two males for each female in the mallard population, so many must fight to find a mate during mating season.

Do male ducks protect female ducks? ›

Especially during mating season when their hormones are raging they can get protective of their food, their space, their females. Sometimes they take that aggression out on their human caretakers, other animals, or even on the female ducks.

Should ducks be locked up at night? ›

Housing: Ducks need shelter at night (and for the winter) and shade during the summer. If you already have a chicken coop, you can confidently keep your ducks in the same coop at night, provided you have enough room.

How do you get ducks to lay more eggs? ›

Ducks can be brought into full production by giving them 14 hours of light daily once they reach sexual maturity. Artificial light can be added to the day by using a 40 to 60 watt light bulb in the holding pens or coop. The flock should be laying 90% or more within 5 to 6 weeks.

What month do ducks mate? ›

Most species of ducks find a different mate each year. Many waterfowl pair bonds form between the months of December and March on the wintering grounds or during spring migration, which is different from songbirds that find their mate after they arrive on their breeding grounds spring.

Do male ducks help raise ducklings? ›

In most northern-nesting ducks, on the other hand, males play little to no role in brood care. In fact, most male ducks abandon the female when she begins incubation or shortly after her eggs hatch. The bright plumage of the drakes may attract predators, so the male ducks rarely attend broods.

Why are my ducks attacking my chickens? ›

Why Does Male Duck Attack My Chickens? Male ducks are highly territorial. They don't get uncomfortable with the presence of chickens and other birds. Drakes attack chickens to scare them away and to prove their dominance.

Can a male duck turn into a female? ›

The dominant sex in ducks of all species at the time of hatching is male. Don't expect your male duck to turn into a female. Furthermore, males don't have ovaries, unlike females. Therefore, males can't experience gender change due to hormonal changes that make females experience gender change.

How do you calm an aggressive duck? ›

How to deal with an AGGRESSIVE DUCK - YouTube

Can you mix duck breeds? ›

A: Yes, it is genetically possible for any breed of duck to cross with any other breed of duck, and any goose breed can also cross with other breeds of geese.

How many ducks can you have per acre? ›

Generally speaking, no more than 8-15 ducks or about 4-6 geese per acre (. 5 ha) of water is recommended for maintaining a healthy pond ecosystem.

How many ducks make a flock? ›

Domestic and pet ducks are usually between three and fifteen birds, depending on the type of flock. Ducks as backyard pets, for example, typically contain around three birds, but mid-sized hobby flocks contain 15 - 20 birds.

Does inbreeding affect ducks? ›

Unfortunately (for the ducks) the fancy hair is a result of inbreeding and is often associated with other, more problematic deformities. If you breed a crested duck with a crested duck, many of the offspring die before they hatch, while others emerge with twisted necks or other problems that leave them disabled.

What does it mean when a duck vibrates its head? ›

Another reason they do this is that they are happy and excited. It may also be a component of mating behavior in male ducks. Or it could be a sign of a serious health issue such as duck viral hepatitis.

What should I put in my duck coop? ›

Bedding. Pine shavings work fine for bedding, but our ducks prefer straw. Straw has wonderful insulating properties during colder months, keeping ducks warm; it also holds its shape better, so they don't end up sleeping on the cold wood or cement floor.

Will ducks fight to the death? ›

Problems within a duck flock typically tend to occur when you have two or more males or an equal number of females or less to males. Male ducks fight and kill their offspring to free up the female duck's time.

When can you introduce baby ducks to older ducks? ›

It's best to wait until ducklings are at least 7-8 weeks old and at least partially feathered out to start making introductions.

How old should ducks be before releasing them? ›

Wait until the young ducks have grown their first adult plumage before preparing them for release. Transfer the ducks to a large pond in a high, covered outdoor enclosure for at least two weeks prior to release.

What does it mean when a duck flaps its wings at you? ›

Wing flapping generally means a bird is either seeking attention or displaying happiness. If your bird is flipping his wings, it often means he is upset by something. If your bird's wings are drooping, he may be tired or sick.

Do ducks remember humans? ›

If a duck follows you even after meeting you after a long time, it means the duck recognizes you and loves you. According to duck owners and caretakers, ducks do remember faces. They say that ducks would immediately recognize your face and chatter continuously while following you until they get your attention.

What does it mean when a duck bobs its head up and down? ›

Ducks bob their heads up and down to flirt or attract a mate. Whereas, they bob it from side to side to establish dominance, show aggressiveness, and warn birds and animals to stay away from their nests.

What does it mean when a duck follows you? ›

That's because ducklings follow the first moving object they see after hatching. While it's more likely to follow something that makes duck sounds, it's not uncommon for ducks raised by humans to follow the first person he sees and hears. Once that attachment forms, he'll follow you around for life.

What would eat the head off a duck? ›

If birds are dead and not eaten but are missing their heads, the predator may be a raccoon, a hawk, or an owl. Raccoons sometimes pull a bird's head through the wires of an enclosure and then can eat only the head, leaving the majority of the body behind.

Can you have 2 male ducks together? ›

You should never keep just one duck as it will get lonely. You can keep just females or just males. However if you want to keep both you should only have one male to every 4-6 females as during the breeding season the male will be very active and a single female will suffer.

Do male ducks protect female ducks? ›

Especially during mating season when their hormones are raging they can get protective of their food, their space, their females. Sometimes they take that aggression out on their human caretakers, other animals, or even on the female ducks.

Can you keep 2 Drakes together? ›

Two or more drakes can usually live together happily if there are enough females to go around. If you have more than one drake, you need at least four females per drake. A flock with two drakes should have at least eight females, a flock with three drakes should have at least twelve females, and so on.

Are male ducks aggressive to females? ›

Mating Relationships

When it comes to mating, drakes are quite aggressive creatures -- in fact, as many as one in three duck mating events are rapes. Three or four drakes may attack a female duck simultaneously, resulting in her injury or even death.

What month do ducks mate? ›

Most species of ducks find a different mate each year. Many waterfowl pair bonds form between the months of December and March on the wintering grounds or during spring migration, which is different from songbirds that find their mate after they arrive on their breeding grounds spring.

Will Drakes try to mate with ducklings? ›

Drakes Will Attempt to Mate With Chickens

Waterfowl are one of the few birds that actually have penises. Drakes have long corkscrew mating organs that stay tucked within the duck's body until it's time to mate.

Do male ducks help raise ducklings? ›

In most northern-nesting ducks, on the other hand, males play little to no role in brood care. In fact, most male ducks abandon the female when she begins incubation or shortly after her eggs hatch. The bright plumage of the drakes may attract predators, so the male ducks rarely attend broods.

What does it mean when a duck flaps its wings at you? ›

Wing flapping generally means a bird is either seeking attention or displaying happiness. If your bird is flipping his wings, it often means he is upset by something. If your bird's wings are drooping, he may be tired or sick.

Do ducks remember humans? ›

If a duck follows you even after meeting you after a long time, it means the duck recognizes you and loves you. According to duck owners and caretakers, ducks do remember faces. They say that ducks would immediately recognize your face and chatter continuously while following you until they get your attention.

What does it mean when a duck bobs its head up and down? ›

Ducks bob their heads up and down to flirt or attract a mate. Whereas, they bob it from side to side to establish dominance, show aggressiveness, and warn birds and animals to stay away from their nests.

How do you stop Drakes from fighting? ›

To stop fighting among your drakes, three good options are available to you:
  1. Separate your drakes from one another, and divvy up the hens between them (we try to keep pairs or groups that prefer one another's company together).
  2. Separate drakes from hens; that is, drakes in one pen, hens in another.

How long will male ducks fight? ›

The fights can last for hours before one of the ducks finally gives up. Older males are more dominant. One of the problems for males is that there are roughly two males for each female in the mallard population, so many must fight to find a mate during mating season.

Does inbreeding affect ducks? ›

Unfortunately (for the ducks) the fancy hair is a result of inbreeding and is often associated with other, more problematic deformities. If you breed a crested duck with a crested duck, many of the offspring die before they hatch, while others emerge with twisted necks or other problems that leave them disabled.

Can a female duck turn into a male? ›

The gender change in ducks usually occurs when a female duck loses her ovary, primarily due to infections or injuries. The female duck will gradually turn into a male upon losing her ovaries.

Does it hurt if a duck bites you? ›

Does Getting Bit By a Duck Hurt? While ducks may be small and seem non-threatening, getting bit by one can hurt! If you get bit by a duck, you may be wondering what you should do next and how you should treat the bite.

Why do two male ducks hang out together? ›

He'll hang out nearby to help protect the hen and the nest, but his presence can actually attract predators so he generally stays away.

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