Does a male duck need a female companion?
Does a female duck need a male companion?
The answer is no: ducks do not need a companion of the opposite sex to be happy.
When buying (or rescuing!) your first ducks, one of your first questions may be what ratio of males and females you should have. Here are a few guidelines:
1. Ducks must have at least one companion.
Ducks are social creatures and need company. It is technically possible to keep a lone duck, but it will not be happy. Even if you are somehow able to spend all your time with it and it never has to be alone, a human is still a far cry from a real duck friend.
Don’t get just one duck!
2. Ducks can usually be kept in pairs, but not always.
One male and one female duck may seem ideal for someone who just wants a couple pets. While this often works fine, be aware that ducks are not monogamous, and if you have one drake with one duck, it’s possible the duck will be overmated. If you have two ducks and the female is showing signs of wear (feathers missing on the back of her neck is the first sign), it would be best to add another female or two to your flock. It is possible for overzealous drakes to kill ducks.
3. If you have one drake, at least 2-3 females is ideal.
Rather than buying a pair, it’s best to play it safe and get at least two or three females for one drake.
4. If you have more than one drake, you need at least 4-5 females per drake.
Multiple males will fight with each other and can be hard on females. The more females you have, the better, but four per drake is usually the minimum. If you want two drakes, you probably need at least eight hens.
5. Never have more drakes than ducks.
That. Just that.
Equal numbers of drakes and ducks also won’t work—don’t keep multiple “pairs.”
6. All-female flocks are fine.
There won’t be any problem with having a flock of only females. A word of warning, though: you might see them mount each other. This is normal and can either be a dominance display or just due to hormones.
7. All-male flocks often work, but not always.
Drakes can get along with other drakes. With no females to fight over, there will be less fighting.
However, sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t, depending on the temperaments of the individual drakes. Sometimes they’ll still fight too much. And they will still have hormones and will likely still try to mate, especially the more dominant drakes. This can be rough on less dominant drakes. Drakes may need separated from each other at times, especially during spring.
Some people who keep “bachelor flocks” split the group in two or more so they can juggle individuals around when necessary to keep the peace.
Keeping an all-male flock can be a great option, but you’ll need to monitor them to be sure they aren’t harassing each other too much or causing injuries.