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Month old ducklings are starting to become skiddish. Advice please?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Hello!
I have four, month old ducklings.  When I first got them, I held them for a couple of hours a day and they would just lay on my lap.  They would cheep at me when they would see me, and they enjoyed my company.
About a week ago, we moved our ducklings from their inside brooder, to their outdoor pen.  They have been skiddish since they have been outside.  In our backyard we have three dogs (they aren't always outside, but they are out a lot when the weather is nice), and they are also right next to a chicken pen, but the chickens free roam during the day time.  Whenever the hens call after laying an egg, the ducklings freak out.  When I'm in the pen, and my dogs are outside, the dogs are generally on the outside of the pen because I'm there.  The ducklings seem skiddish around them too.  My neighbor was mowing her horse pasture the other day, and they flipped out.  It's also been quite windy here.  We have done what we can to the sides of their pen so that they don't get a draft, but it does make a noise.  I don't know if all of these factors are playing into their skiddishness or what.  When it is night time, and the chickens are put up, nobody is doing yardwork, and my dogs are inside, they are more inclined for me to give them pets and loving. 
When I come outside, they "talk" to me.  Sometimes, they will run towards me, other times they will run away from me.  It seems like they wander more towards me at night time.  Whenever I catch a duckling, and hold it, it is calm (for the most part, eventually they get tired of it), but I mostly have to "chase" them down to catch them.
Bottom line is, are they just becoming more skiddish as they are growing older?  Is that in a duck's nature?  Or is it that they are acclimating to their surroundings?
Is there anything I can do, to get them to be more relaxed around myself, or the other animals?
I'd appreciate any advice that you can give me.  I really do not want my ducklings to begin to not want anything to do with me. :/

post #2 of 7

Hang on, this is not unusual.  The timing of moving them into a new environment has, I think, coincided with their adolescent instincts kicking in.  I saw this with my Runners at about 3 weeks of age.

 

This phase can last several weeks.  They are now out in the big world where everything is scary.  Things that will worry them:

 

Sudden noises, especially from somewhere they cannot see.

Things that loom over them.

Large dark objects.

Things that approach them silently.

Being cornered.

 

Anything you can do to minimize their exposure to these things during this phase will help.  Sitting near them placing treats where they can get them, refraining from cornering them, staying low, making sweet gentle noises before you come into their sight and while you are around them, keeping over exuberant critters away from them, letting them walk instead of carrying them places (if it is safe for them).

Please PM me, or use @Amiga in the message if you would like to hear from me soon.  

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Please PM me, or use @Amiga in the message if you would like to hear from me soon.  

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post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

I love you!  Thank you!

So, a couple of questions:

1. Should I attempt to hold them right now if this means I need to corner them?
2. I caught them all today to put let them swim in their pond for the first time.  They loved the pond!  However, should I refrain from doing this,
    so I'm not having to corner them?

I miscalculated, they are three weeks.  I just checked, so this makes me feel SOOOO much better.  You have no idea!  Thank you!

post #4 of 7

Can you set up a "limousine" that they can walk into for transport to swim time?  They need swim time.  But if they can walk into a carrier and then walk out of it, that would reduce their stress.  Wish I had known that, myself!

 

But that's how I handle my more nervous adopted older ducks now.  Oh, and the limousine has plastic poultry fence over it to keep little heads from poking out in transit.

Please PM me, or use @Amiga in the message if you would like to hear from me soon.  

Reply

Please PM me, or use @Amiga in the message if you would like to hear from me soon.  

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post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 

We will have to try that!

Do you just put treats in their to coerce them?  We just set up their pond, deck, and stairs today.  They were getting swim time regularly when they were inside, in the bath tub.  They just haven't gotten it in a week.  They do have a big bowl of water that they can float in, in their pen though.

So after they get out of this awkward stage, if I play my cards right, they should go back to being the sweet little duckies I knew before moving them outside?  lol.

post #6 of 7

Mine are all very friendly, a few like to be petted and hugged, no one likes being picked up.

Please PM me, or use @Amiga in the message if you would like to hear from me soon.  

Reply

Please PM me, or use @Amiga in the message if you would like to hear from me soon.  

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post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 

That makes sense. I'm good with petting and hugs.  I'd rather not pick the up.  I'd rather them come to me if they want cuddles.  I'll just do my best to keep them de-stressed and hope they turn out like your duckies. 

Thank you for the awesome advice. :)

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