Anti-social Ducklings, please offer suggestions...

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by m.kitchengirl, Aug 4, 2011.

  1. m.kitchengirl

    m.kitchengirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    999
    17
    123
    Jun 4, 2011
    Maine
    I have three 4 week old ducklings. I know that ducklings this age go through a period where they realize things want to eat them, etc, but I adopted mine from a family that was quite vocal about their dislike for their animals in general & ducks particularly. They were given basics- food & some access to water (a trash can lid over turned in a small, muddy yard with a dog carrier for shelter. Their parents were right across the yard in a large shed with a nicer sized yard but no swimming that I could see, which I thought odd, since the mother was there, rather than with the ducklings...) but I know they have never been hand fed or given loving attention.
    For a week I have sat patiently & quietly near them for MANY hours (like its a job, really), given them a nice swimming area, some time & chance to range, treats, etc (all while patiently & quietly sitting by) and made sure to have everyone move slowly & quietly near them. They still cower in fear, they will eat peas, etc if i leave them in the water or halfway between me & the ducks, but won't come more than a foot from me. I think they have never imprinted on anyone.
    Is it too late for these ducks? Should I bring them back into the house, with diapers or something, until they get more accustomed to us? Or is it too much to expect them to be approachable when they were only expected to be in their pen & gross before?
     
  2. lovesgliders

    lovesgliders Chillin' With My Peeps

    366
    5
    111
    Apr 2, 2011
    Maine
    Seeing the way my spoiled, raised underfoot ducklings acted during that horrible four-week-old fear period... well, I can only imagine how terrified yours, having never had positive human contact, are.

    The only advice I can give you is to keep being patient with them. It sounds like you are doing all the right things. Talk to them (I read out loud to mine a lot), offer treats (toss them if you must, but try to gradually toss them closer and closer to you), sit with them, move slowly and deliberately... just keep doing what you are doing. They will come around. They may never be as tame as ducks that were pampered from birth but they just might surprise you. All ducks have their own personalities, after all. [​IMG]

    Bless you for taking them in! They are going to have such a nice life with you.
     
  3. m.kitchengirl

    m.kitchengirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    999
    17
    123
    Jun 4, 2011
    Maine
    The only advice I can give you is to keep being patient with them. It sounds like you are doing all the right things. Talk to them (I read out loud to mine a lot), offer treats (toss them if you must, but try to gradually toss them closer and closer to you), sit with them, move slowly and deliberately... just keep doing what you are doing. They will come around. They may never be as tame as ducks that were pampered from birth but they just might surprise you. All ducks have their own personalities, after all. smile

    Bless you for taking them in! They are going to have such a nice life with you.

    Thank you. I sing little songs to them that I make up, and tell them how pretty they are & sweet. I waffle between wanting to go get the rest & not knowing what to do about these.

    I guess I am mostly concerned their anti-social nature will affect the next 4, much younger, ducklings I bring into the flock. Once they are out from under the brooder will the new ducks take on their anti-person stance (if I can't get them over it by then)?
    They are Anconas & I really want to get 1 or 2 good trios out of this, to help save the Anconas. I want friendly babies to woo people to their greatness. (I have a dear friend who keeps almost every type of duck imaginable & I love her Anconas & Welsh Harlequins the best. I am getting into Anconas this year & Harlequins next...and maybe a Silver Appleyard or two...)​
     
  4. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

    23,025
    2,029
    491
    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    I have found that animals do respond, and it takes a while with some. As lovesgliders wrote, this could take some time.

    As far as their influence on younger ducklings, I think if you get the new babies started with loads of attention, they will bond with you and then as you carefully incorporate the two groups together into one flock, there will be some settling out. I mean, I think some of the newer ducklings may be a little less cuddly toward you, but some of the older ones may gravitate toward you.

    I raised all my runners from day olds. Vier used to scream bloody murder when I got near the brooder. Now she comes up for pets and will sit in my lap. Elfie screamed just like Vier. Elfie to this day will not take food from my hand, but she will let me pet her and hug her. Zwei was always fairly friendly, a little standoffish, but now is a hugger. Acht changes her mind from day to day. Some days cuddly, some days aloof. Neun never did want any hugs, but would eat from my hand. etc. etc. etc.

    If you are consistently gentle and patient, I think after a few months you'll see some of them come around. They will very likely be much better than they are now. They need time to heal from their rough start. I don't think they'll ruin future ducklings for you.
     
  5. gofasterstripe

    gofasterstripe Chillin' With My Peeps

    I give my ducklings treats in the same bowl, so that they know what they are when I feed them, let them see the bowl, throw a few and in time they will all be trying to clamber into th bowl. Its going to take time, weeks, but you willget there in the end.
     
  6. m.kitchengirl

    m.kitchengirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    999
    17
    123
    Jun 4, 2011
    Maine
    I think if you get the new babies started with loads of attention, they will bond with you and then as you carefully incorporate the two groups together into one flock, there will be some settling out

    Thanks.
    I know they are all different, I have decided to stop worrying about it so much. I think I have a serious case of new mom nerves.
    I will watch combining the flock extra carefully, but I have brought all of my chickens around... even the stubborn ones ... to a certain degree.

    I think it was a rough morning. One fled the enclosure & ran straight into the brambles. I spent 2 hours in there in my pajama shorts trying to gently coax her into a spot I could get her & left the brambles bloody & beaten. She spent the rest of an hour frolicking in the pool. I think I just needed some reassuring words. Thanks all.

    I hate to use this is as support group, but it was one of those days. I have had so many idyllic days with my flock, I shouldn't cry over 2 tore up legs.​
     
  7. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

    23,025
    2,029
    491
    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    Hey, I'd be upset about being ripped up! But I'd be really happy to get the duck back to safety.

    And I think the Duck Forum is a bit of a support group sometimes. Yay for duckie support![​IMG]

    It's usually one of my cats that gets me ripped up and mosquito-eaten. [​IMG]

    Anconas. Lovely ducks. Enjoy them!
     
  8. m.kitchengirl

    m.kitchengirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    999
    17
    123
    Jun 4, 2011
    Maine
    Quote:They are lovely. Teenagers. I was VERY glad to get her back to safety. I would still be out there if I hadn't. Yay for duckie support! Thanks all. I feel a lot less like crying now.
     
  9. m.kitchengirl

    m.kitchengirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    999
    17
    123
    Jun 4, 2011
    Maine
    Well, I thought I would update all you lovely folks who made so many great suggestions.

    This morning I moved the ducks' enclosure up to the front garden. It is surrounded by a small yard, closed in by several very thick bushes, including a raspberry bush & a big crab apple tree & a very low hanging tree...
    They are A LOT happier. While they have not eaten from my hand they have come REALLY close & are much more active & vocal & generally, duckier.
    Whew. They seem to want to come near me, but I have just sat there & talked to them & they keep inching closer.
    Also, the mucky hay can go straight onto the garden I am pulling up til next year, and their pool water will water my remaining veg. garden without lugging bucket after bucket up hill. So, it is an improvement for all. The only down side, I can't look out the window when I am doing dishes or making dinner & see their antics. But, they did a real number on the Japanese beetles that I noted on the raspberries this a.m., so I think we are on our way to being real friends & partners.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by