Adventurous Muscovies.... what to do?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Gator113, Sep 13, 2010.

  1. Gator113

    Gator113 Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 25, 2009
    Port Angeles, Washington
    Background: We have had about 20 laying hens for about a year. I built them a very substantial house (with a 20'x30' run... dog cyclone fencing with a net top) that is large enough to house as many as 30 chicken, but I won't be adding to the count. We own 5 acres that is fenced for cattle that we once raised... 5 strands of barbed wire.

    I have free ranged my girls without ANY problems.

    A few days ago, I purchased our first group of ducks, Muscovies... 2 drakes and 4 girls. Well, one of the suspected drakes might be a girl, we are just not sure. They are all 2 months old.

    I want to be able to free range the ducks, but I have no intentions of re-fencing the property... too much work for this old guy, besides, I would like to not clip their wings, so in a short time, they would be able to defeat the fencing anyway. I would hate it, but I might be willing to put a gate at the end of our driveway.

    I quickly found that I could herd this crew by simply walking behind them in the direction that I want them to go. Hopefully I can bucket train them in the not too distant future. we had a class yesterday, but they were more interested in taking baths and looking around. I suspect A.D.D. I have a 2 year old GSD that has learned to help with some of the spoiled brat chickens (Falco thinks they are short grumpy sheep), so he may help me after the ducks are used to being around him. They rested and bathed not more than 3 feet from this wolf looking monster yesterday, all without any issues.

    The problem: These 6 brats like to go on adventures... apparently long ones. Yesterday, I took my eyes off of them for about 10 minutes. The obvious drake led them down our driveway (200 feet), down the road about an 8th mile, and then back behind a neighbors house (another 50 yards) where they hid under a backhoe. The neighbor has dogs, so they were very lucky. The neighbor dogs have learned that I am the Devil, so they will NOT come to my place. LOL

    I am beginning to wonder if I screwed up by buying this crew. Maybe I am asking for too much too soon, but if these guys don't stay home, they aren't going to last long. I am open to suggestions, but I really, really don't want to fence them in, other than locking them down for the night.

    So, lacking any other solution, I wonder if what I should do is let the girl ducks free range for part of the day, with the drakes locked in the chicken run, and then switch them in the afternoon. I am retired (thank all that is good and holy) so while this will be a pain, I usually have the time. I've also been thinking about buying a couple of geese, so I wonder if they will help me keep tabs on these bratty ducks. ;>)

    Please, I need help soon before I lose this crew. I have only had these guys since Friday and I already love having them around. I tried to convince them by promising them that I would never kill them, that they would live like Kings, I would spoil them and that we would only eat their kids... do you think that I shouldn't have told them about my plans for their kids? ;>)

    Thank you for any help.



    p.s. Please remember that all this bird crazy stuff that has become part of my life IS YOUR FAULT. By chance I happened to find this forum about a year ago and after reading about all of the fun you folks were having, I immediately over built a chicken house that cost me about 2K, went out to buy 4 hens and came home with 26... I got hooked. ;>) Perhaps you can see why my wife, after 38 years I call her "Yes Dear", will not allow me to go to the local dog prison. Anyway, I am now spoiled and will NEVER eat another store bought egg for the rest of my life. I hope that I end up liking duck and duck eggs as well.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2010
  2. NotAFarm

    NotAFarm Embracing the New! Premium Member

    Nov 5, 2009
    HI Gator! disclaimer.....this is my first years with Muscovies so I'm no expert by any means. I think they just haven't recongnized your place as "home" yet. You said you got them a couple of days ago. You may need to fence a smaller area near their coop and keep them in it until they understand that this is their new home. After a while, let half of them out at a time. This will keep the others from straying too far. Eventually, you should be able to have them completely free ranging without them wandering too far. Welcome to "the Duck Side"!
  3. Gator113

    Gator113 Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 25, 2009
    Port Angeles, Washington
    NotAFarm.... Thank you so much... you have given me hope.
  4. Big Dreamer

    Big Dreamer Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 21, 2010
    Central, FL
    Thats what i would do, i would just keep them in a run for a couple of days and then just let a few out, then they will know its their 'home' and they gotta stay there or there isn't going to be much food or safety away from their new 'home'
  5. Bleenie

    Bleenie Wyan-DO's

    They always need an "acclimation period" so that they know where home, food & water is at. I usually can get away with a few days of confining them but for the more stubborn ones it takes closer to a week. I do not like to clip my birds wings just because they like to go to our creek & pond and we have coyotes around here.

    Muscovies are super easy to herd into an area, they usually aren't very flighty unless they're feral or never been handled. I suggest getting them into a pen and keeping them there for a week. They're really lucky to have not met the neighbor dogs!!
  6. Chickies-duckies-etc

    Chickies-duckies-etc Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 5, 2008
    Keep them penned at least a week, more is better. Once they establish your place is home they will stay. Use a " verbal call" whenever you feed them. They will learn to come to that and the sight of the feed bucket also. Getting that done while they are penned will help with the training when you do let them out. My call is a higher pitched and fast "duck, duck, duck." That gets every bird on the place running to me. I just have to remember to call duck, duck, when I am wanting the geese to come also. [​IMG]

    When you let them out, surprise them with little treats at random times. They will want to stay close to get those. And when they are in ducky heaven taking baths, no point in even trying to do anything else with them till they are done and groomed. Maybe a temporary gate at the driveway untill they get established better?

    Ducks are creatures of habit. If you put them in their pen at a certain time (based on the sunset time), that is when they will go in. Too early and they don't cooperate as well. Change the routing totally and you could have mass confusion on your hands. So set the routine with what works for you to begin with. Giving them their evening feed IN THE PEN also helps to get them in.

    Geese - think dealing with 2 year old human children. Boy, can they give you a run. Mine started going to the county road so they would get some grain. My fault, I keep feed in the back of the van in the drive way. When I would let the geese out to eat grass, they learned that if they went to the county road, I would call them and then give them grain. Boy, that lesson was learned by them quick and then I had to rework the whole thing. But now, I let them out to eat grass and give them some grain and they do not go to the county road. The ducks usually just follow the geese.

    And - ducks have NO problem being out after dark. Chickens have the "get on the roost before it gets totally dark" drive, ducks do not. If allowed, they will wonder around all night long making them even more of a target for attack.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2010
  7. Gator113

    Gator113 Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 25, 2009
    Port Angeles, Washington
    Chickies-duckies-etc ,

    Thank you very much. I will follow your tips to the letter.
  8. TennesseeTruly

    TennesseeTruly Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 5, 2009
    Church Hill, TN
    I have some adult Muscovy's that a friend brought to me from about an hour away and I had some babies at the time when I got her 4 hens. Her hens were very well behaved. My Scovy's are now 7 months old, fully mature, 3 drakes and 2 hens, plus the 4 hens from my friend. They never leave my property. We do have 35 acres but most is behind and to the sides of us. They can see the road from their house. We free range them all day long but because we have 33 acres of woods, they find the most interesting things to keep them occupied. We have downed trees that they tear apart and eat insects out of. They catch mice, lizards and even an occasional snake.

    They do have a fence around their pen but its only used for the night time.

    I think if you keep them penned up for a short amount of time...a week, they will quickly learn that this is home and if they're happy, they'll stay.

    Mine fly around my property! I love watching them fly! But for the most part they stay grounded and find things to do.

    Good luck! Muscovy's WILL grow on you! My largest drake, Puppy, follows me around our property like a dog, (hence the name, he was named Valentino, because he was born on Valentines Day). He barks, pants, and even climbs up in our laps if she sit on the lawn with him.

  9. maggiemmm

    maggiemmm Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 26, 2010
    Kewadin area
    I hate to be the downer of this discussion. I raised three scovies from one hour old to 18 weeks old. They fly. Flipper the male loves me so he does not go anywhere. Darkwing is a scaredy cat and only hangs around Flipper. BUT Flier has really taken her name to heart. when she could get out she spent the night on our roof. We had to go downstate for two days .. the fellow who takes care of the chickens & ducks called at 9PM and said Flier escaped and he could not get her back in the pen. We have electric fence at night . I told him to hook the fence up and look for her the next day - she is gone. Probably headed for Florida. Maybe she has heard about Northern Michigan winters ??? We have a covered duck pen.. she found a 1 foot opening and made her break. OH, if you live near any water -- Scovies will be gone with the wind..... or next wave that comes around.:-( We live on a lake the call of the water was too much . Good luck. [​IMG]
  10. Buttercup Chillin

    Buttercup Chillin Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 27, 2008
    SouthEast TX
    Just wanted to add ....PEAS....While you have them in a confinement area for a week to get used to their new home. Make Peas or Pea Soup their treat. Muscovies, well ducks, love love love peas. I don't call duck duck duck when I want them, I say PEAS. And I better have them to.

    Mine like Pea soup (given to them when just babies). They don't like frozen ones like other ducks. If I give them frozen I have to cook them and mash them and water them down. Silly Ducks.

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