While chickens bathe and clean themselves by dusting with sand or dry earth, our ducks prefer a good swim. The Muscovy duck is a tropical duck. It prefers habitats with water and sheltered trees. So if you’re thinking of keeping some ducks, you’ll need to make provisions for water.
In the beginning, when we had only a pair of ducks, we managed by providing them with a basin of water. As the duck population grew, a duck pond became a necessity.
Recently, in addition to the duck pond, we have provided trays of water for ducklings. This is a much safer alternative for them. If they joined the larger ducks in the pond, they often get hurt and drown. Usually, the hen will accompany her ducklings to the pond for a swim. She makes sure that they get to swim only after all the other ducks have left. However, that doesn’t always guarantee the duckling will be safe from larger ducks suddenly wanting to jump into the water.
Once, I saw an adult duck using the tray. As they say, if there’s a will, there’s a way. 😉 And she looks very much satisfied with the amenity. Thanks goodness there wasn’t any ducklings in that tray!
… is really a bully duckling. It was sometime in March 2015 when I noticed the behaviour of one of many ducklings, one so determined to provoke and beat up anyone it came across. I was able to capture this hilarious though troublesome behaviour on video, below. You can see the mother trying to stop the bully duckling but to no avail.
I don’t know what has happened to this duckling – whether it is still around (unlikely, since all of our ducks are not so unruly but I’m willing to accept that the duckling could’ve undergone a religious experience 😉 ). Or it could have died while still young (we’ve had high mortality rates, as the duck population exploded, mostly due to crushing by larger ducks and aggressive pecking by chickens over food, not to mention being eaten by predators such as cats, snakes, large birds and monitor lizards). Or it could’ve grown up and was made into a stew.
Luckily, as they are free-range, ducklings can get away from aggressive behaviour like this. But once ducklings are kept inside coops and there happens to be a bully duckling amongst them, then there might be some real trouble. For now, we have been keeping very young ducklings in coops to protect them from predators and crushing, as well as to give them the chance to eat and get the strength they need without competition from larger ducks and chickens. So far so good.
If we ever have a bully duckling in the coop, it would be necessary to separate that duckling from the rest. But thank goodness ducks are generally not so prone to fighting as chickens are.