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protecting ducks from predators & still allowing them outside time?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

We have lost two drakes to coyotes or bobcats, so all the ducks are locked up now.  I would love to allow them out occasionally, but none of them can fly and they tend to be a bit difficult to get back in their pen.

How do others do this?  We are close to some woods, and the ducks just go right through the fences in their explorations.  The chickens all come back for dinner, but the ducks just tend to wander.

post #2 of 11

before you let them out, train them that the sound of something means treats!  For example, start rattling a can every time you have peas or cheerios... or something they love for them.  Once you start letting them out again, they will still come running when they hear the can rattle.... just make sure you always have the treats for them.

Quack addict and animal lover.

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Quack addict and animal lover.

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post #3 of 11

Boy, as well as ducks seem to survive in the wild one wonders how the poor domestic ducks can be soooo vulnerable.  I like Rainplace's suggestion about giving them a reason to be rounded up.  Maybe that would help keep them closer at home during the daylight hours when the coyotes are a little less of a problem and help to get them in in the evenings.  We have a collie who very fiercely deters the coyotes at the fence line (but woe be it to any of our small animals who wander too far through the fence).  The neighbors also think he has scared off the raccoons a bit because they've hardly seen hide nor hair of them with our collie patrolling property.  But, even if you can keep the predatory 'mammals' at bay, the birds of prey seem to extract a toll as well.  There are many of us who agree that there are good arguments (besides just the pleasure of watching them wander the yard) to let them free range.  Rainplace, among others has promoted geese (not sure if those help with the coyote problem or not).   I wonder if the geese would be more likely to shout out alarms when the coyotes are hovering. 

When we had the coyotes actually challenging our dog at the fence line, I contacted the local wildlife officials who suggested shooting the coyotes or, for those of us 'weaker at heart', getting some kind of an air gun that made them think they were being shot at - and many of our 'old time' friends from our rural network indicated that just finding a way to make the coyotes nervous decreased their success rate.  We ended up just getting the neighbor's permission to clear the brush significantly back from the fence line, which ended up being a pretty big job, but took away the 'hiding places' for the coyotes and also made them less willing to come in so close.

Not sure if I've helped any - just 'thinking out loud'.  Good luck with some sort of reasonable resolution.

post #4 of 11

Those are really good points, LOrraine.  Dave Holderread says that keeping the fence line clear a few yards on the other side, is a great deterrent for many predators.  He also said that many dog type predators won't jump a five foot fence into new territory.

My geese keep the air predators at bay, I've watched them.  They can spot the fliers from long distances.  It's really amazing.  The crows they mostly ignore, but airplanes and birds of prey they watch like a hawk...

I had a dog come into my yard before I got it fenced off, the geese let out noises that scared the heck out of me.  They charged, but when the dog didn't back down they ran.  However, their alarm had my butt out there so fast that I was able to tag the dog with a nice rock to the head before it got anyone.

I didn't use treats or anything to get my flock to go to bed at night.  For a week I made a corral that I herded the ducks into.  Once in the corral the only place they had to go was in the duckhouse.  Chicken wire works great for this.  Now they put themselves away.

I also only feed twice a day.  One in the morning and once in the evening.

Quack addict and animal lover.

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Quack addict and animal lover.

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post #5 of 11

I don't know about making coyotes "nervous".  I've had attacks in broad daylight right in front of me and my three dogs.  Luckly coyotes are bad aims and if we are around they have only gotten mouths full of tail feathers.  Clearing their trails back has been a big help.

Now bobcat is a different story.  They can take a full grown hen on a full run.  They can go over almost any fence.  I went from 15 chickens to 6 and lost one duck this year to that bobcat until the day my dogs finally treed the thing.  My birds have spent most of the past 4 months locked up tight, but it still got my duck through the runs fence.  By the way, he didn't look at all nervous staring down at me, DH and three golden retrievers from up in the pine tree.  My suggestion is if you have serious predators, keep them penned most of the time.

Mom to 4 Golden Retrievers, 3 Muscovys, 40 chickens in a melange of a variety, two red ear sliders, a bullfrog, fish, the zoo keeps growing.  Oh, and wife to a very tolerant man.
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Mom to 4 Golden Retrievers, 3 Muscovys, 40 chickens in a melange of a variety, two red ear sliders, a bullfrog, fish, the zoo keeps growing.  Oh, and wife to a very tolerant man.
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post #6 of 11

I have read that information in the Holderread book as well, but I agree with neverbdone.  It is just not worth the risk (to me personally) to not keep them penned in a predator proof pen.  In my case, that includes completely covered secure runs/flight cages.  Even though Holderread says that dog-type predators will not usually jump a five foot fence, that has not been my experience at all.  Many, many times, I have seen them in our yard here and up at our farm (which they have to go over multiple fences to do).  We have a major fox problem and they seemingly have no problem at all jumping over six foot fences.  I have even seen them on top of our buildings, which means they can jump a good 8 feet high.  There are a number of different predators (including raccoons, foxes, and coyotes) that can completely decimate a flock in one single night, killing several dozen birds.

post #7 of 11

ive had my share of predator problems, once of which we believe was a bobcat, considering there was just feathers and no body ever found. it was definitely quick, dang murderer just snuck up, grabbed my baby and ran away with him. i still allow my ducks out during the day, but the normally walk right down to the pond where they are safe or they end up coming up to the house and hanging around in the garden. we've only had one rabid fox try to get them by the house. our property ends in acres of swamp and woodland and we normally have manyyy animals around, but only a couple have tried for the ducks, all at night time. i witnessed a fox run right past my ducks laying in the yard, just glanced at them and kept running. maybe some ways to scare away and deter the bold bobcats might help?

in loving memory...
RIP slushie and chubby. i love you both so much and i'll miss you forever. May 13 2008-May 3, 2009.
RIP lucy. you were my baby, now and forever. i love you. May 13 2008-October 23, 2009
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in loving memory...
RIP slushie and chubby. i love you both so much and i'll miss you forever. May 13 2008-May 3, 2009.
RIP lucy. you were my baby, now and forever. i love you. May 13 2008-October 23, 2009
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post #8 of 11

I can't imagine those of you who have to deal with bobcats, but got thinking Shilo04 should also visit the Predators and Pests section of BYC.  You don't always get a response to specific questions, but it's interesting reading.  I often read through several pages of posts at a time (and there have even been some interesting threads and also pictures from those with night cameras that are quite amazing).  The site does sort of reinforce that there are no really good solutions other than the completely predator proof pens, which I think most of us try to resort to for the night time hours.

http://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewforum.php?id=13

post #9 of 11

Another idea if you can afford it, is to buy the electric net fence from Premier1, that's what we finally did. 

http://www.premier1supplies.com/fencing.php?species_id=6&

Quack addict and animal lover.

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Quack addict and animal lover.

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post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 

I've not yet found a body, just woken up in the morning and one was gone.  We aren't entirely sure what got them, but we have heard coyotes and my MIL has seen a bobcat just down the street by the creek.

I did let them out briefly today while I was home to watch them, and they actually came back when I went to feed.  That's a first.  Usually I have to chase them all around the place.

It doesn't help that none of these guys can fly.  They really have no defenses.

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