broken leg & predators

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by slymama, Aug 18, 2014.

  1. slymama

    slymama Hatching

    May 5, 2014
    Hi All,

    This is only my second post, so bear with me if i sound like a newbie, i am.

    I have 9 welsh harlequins that are about 4 months old. they live in our barn in a predator proofed room at night, but free range down to the creek during the day. We had 10 ducks until 2 days ago. we went down to put them up and i noticed one was missing, plus they were extra skittish. there are some high weeds near our creek and barn, and we live in the country so it is likely there was a predator in the brush/weeds. we decided to try and check on them more and make sure to put them up a little earlier. then, yesterday, when we went down to put them to bed we noticed one of the ladies has a twisted leg, bent backwards up to her side and she isn't using it. we are worried!

    it seems like a predator maybe came back and attacked/pulled on this other ducks leg, though we aren't positive. today she is moving even less and the other ducks are picking on her a bit. i want to separate her so that she can at least get food and water, as they are preventing it. is there anything we can do to help her leg if it is broken? if not, should we cull her? it would be a lot of work just to cull one duck (we did 4 at a time a few weeks ago because we had too many males). i appreciate your thoughts about this!

    my other questions revolve around predator management. i expect most people will say we are playing with fire having them free range out in the country like this. we felt confidant doing it because our neighbors also have ducks that they free range with no problems... yet. we don't want to limit their creek access, but can't logistically fence in the creek too. our options are to fence in around our garden and barn and have a gate that we can open and let them down to the creek when we are there, or to weed eat all brush and keep free ranging, or both. if we fenced around our garden and barn would it have to be electric to do any good? its a lot of work to build a fence and we can't afford to waste the time/energy if a raccoon or fox will just dig under or climb over.

    thank you for your thoughts!!
  2. Onlyducks

    Onlyducks Chirping

    Apr 16, 2014
    Yes, separate the injured duck or the other ducks will beat it up. Don't know if you can splint a duck leg or not. If you confine her to a small space and see how she does, she might recover. Otherwise, culling her would be an option (yes, one duck is a pain to butcher, I agree). We also culled males and did them 3 at a time. I guess if it were my duck, I'd isolate her and see if she seems to be recovering at all.

    As to predators—that's kind of a personal choice thing. Free-ranging ducks can fall victim to predators as can ducks housed in enclosures that turn out to be not as predator proof as the owners think. One option may be a game cam to see what is attacking the ducks. If it's in the tall grass, you may not be able to tell. You could try a live trap and see what you catch (be aware skunks are easily trapped in said traps—check cautiously!). Raccoons and foxes will dig under and reach through most types of fences. Foxes and dogs will just go over the top if the fence is not high enough. To really predator-proof, it's a great deal of work. The pen may need to be covered, the fence has to have small openings and be very sturdy, etc.

    If you fence the yard and only let the ducks down to the creek when supervised, be aware that predators can grab a duck in 2 or 3 seconds while you are standing there. It's better than unsupervised, but not completely safe. It's a risk some are willing to take, some are not. My ducks free-range in the daytime and are penned at night. My worst predator was a neighbor dog. I still let them free-range, but watch for stray dogs in the neighborhood.

    Hope that gives you some ideas of what you can do.
  3. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    You can splint a duck's leg. This may help at least give you some ideas.

    Once predators find food, they come back till they get it all - there may be exceptions, but based on what I have read here and seen in person at another's farm, that is how it works.

    I have a safe Day Pen for when I am not in the yard with the ducks, and they can run around a little more when I am here. There is always some risk when they are not in a pen, but if they are accompanied, it helps usually. Predators watch us, they know when our backs are turned.

    I have used electric fence for the night pen. It does seem to help.

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