One day last May, three drakes came to live at the Funny Farm. They had been living at Pasado’s Safe Haven but because they were too aggressive to live with the other ducks, they were sharing a pen with some geese. They weren’t even listed as adoptable, but the Funny Farm is full of aggressive drakes, so we decided to give them a try.
I put them in an isolation pen where they could get used to my flock without being in direct contact with them. I even had to double up the fencing because they would fight through the chain link. I placed some baker’s shelves (square grid) where they liked to peck at each other.
Tony is a black and white mixed breed drake. Sal and Vinnie are fawn and white Runner Duck drakes, a notoriously aggressive breed.
The three gangsters were closely bonded. That made it challenging to integrate them into my flock. They spent their first days together in isolation, gazing at the other ducks, geese, and hens and the spaces beyond.
Every afternoon, when my flock was out playing in the back yard with Dobbye, I let The Gangsters out of isolation so that they could check out the larger part of the aviary.
I observed that the bond between the two runner ducks, Vinnie and Sal, was stronger than their bond with Tony, the more adventurous but gentler duck.
They were so interested in the aviary it was weeks before they became interested in the back yard, beyond the gate. Meanwhile, though, they learned about the aviary, the hiding places, the food and water, and the swimming pond. (Pool #5)
Finally, The Gangsters began notice that they were missing out on all the fun in the back yard.
By the end of the first month, I began to introduce Tony, alone, to my flock by letting him out into the back yard with them. Once they were used to him, I separated him from Vinnie and Sal completely. They slept near each other, but the fence was between them: Tony on one side, Vinnie and Sal on the other. Eventually, Tony made friends and joined the flock.
It was another month before I was able to separate Vinnie and Sal. I let them out in the yard with my flock but they always picked fights and had to be penned up within minutes. Soon I noticed it was Vinnie who picked ALL of the fights! Sal now came out with Tony and the flock and when the excitement calmed down, I separated Sal from Vinnie.
Sal never did much fighting, but he was devastated by his separation from Vinnie. Even though they could see each other through the fence and sleep very near each other, Sal had a hard time joining the flock. Being with Tony again wasn’t very satisfying because Tony was totally integrated into my flock, with new friends and hobbies to keep him busy.
I kept trying to let Vinnie out with the flock but he continued to fight. I let him into the aviary every afternoon, though, and he was always excited to swim in the big pond and always very well behaved about getting penned back up in the isolation area.
I had a vacation coming up so I decided to wait until after my return to deal with Vinnie. Tony and Sal were doing well with my flock and Norman the goose, my Flock Manager, was now watching over them, too.
When I returned from my trip, Vinnie was ready to behave, and no one was interested in fighting any more. Norman reluctantly accepted him into the flock. It had taken four months! Vinnie and Sal continue to stay close together, but Tony hangs out with Shamrock, now. And everyone is very excited to spend their afternoons in the backyard. Even though Dobbye is there!