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Do you free range your ducks? Why or Why not?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by One Acre Wonder Farm, Apr 22, 2009.

  1. One Acre Wonder Farm

    One Acre Wonder Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 20, 2009
    Vermont
    So, I recently got 8 ducks, approx 6 mos old. They are not very tame, but they've calmed down considerably since I've had them. I've kept them in a run. I would like to free range them during the day but I am really hesitant to try because if they don't come back before dark to their secure run then they will be fox food. Since they're not really tame I'm afraid herding them in the evening will be a nightmare.

    My question is how many of you free range? Are the benefits of free ranging (reduced grain consumption, less messy run) worth the risks (not getting them to go to their "home" in the evening)? My long term (summer) plan was to build a tiny duck pond and have them free range during the day...

    I've read posts of people who've trained their ducks to go to their houses at night, but I assume they've raised them from ducklings.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. sparkles2307

    sparkles2307 Terd of Hurtles

    We have only two, but we let them out during the day and it only took rounding them up twice for them to learn to come wait to be let in at night. THey LOVE roaming around!!!
     
  3. TheDuckCrew

    TheDuckCrew Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 21, 2009
    Connecticut
    I free range my ducks. why? because they like it. we have a huge pond right next door and they have so much fun! also, when it rains, they love to run around and catch the worms. Their house and pen are nearly not as messy since they are out all day.
    my ducks aren't tame, but they come home every night around 6 or 7. currently i can only free range two at a time (fighting) and the two that are normally out all day come home because one they are hungry and two they know that its safe here and nothing will get them. they hear the wild geese take off for the night and they normally come home. the other two that are normally in a nice big run a built are so well trained! i open the door from the night pen, and they walk right into the day pen. at night, i open the day pen and they walk nicely right into the night pen. they're adorable.
    herding really is not that hard. you just have to stay a comfortable distance behind them, and just move your arms (or in the case of my ducks, run) the opposite way you want them to go. raise your right arm (or walk right) and they will go left. sometimes using a stick for more drastic "scary" movements helps and then they learn to listen when you ask nicely unless they want to be scared. good luck with your ducks!

    also-put them to bed before it gets dark, its easier for all of you and safer for them. in the dark it can be really challenging.
     
  4. One Acre Wonder Farm

    One Acre Wonder Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 20, 2009
    Vermont
    good tips!

    do you think it might be a good idea if I start by letting just one out? as it is now, they don't even attempt to go near the run door/gate to get out. It would take considerable herding (and flipping out on their part) to even get them out of the run!
     
  5. TheDuckCrew

    TheDuckCrew Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 21, 2009
    Connecticut
    aha! mine were like that too. maybe just leave the door open and sit far enough away that they don't really notice you and see if they come wandering out. you might want to start with a certain word when you give them treats or food so when you say whatever it is you pick, they will know something yummy is on the way. the first day you let them out, don't let them out too long. try to put them in pretty early, it might take awhile on your first day!
     
  6. Chic-n-farmer

    Chic-n-farmer Showers of Blessings

    I free range all my ducks and geese except for the call ducks.

    So far they prefer the creek to the lake.... go figure.
     
  7. cyanne

    cyanne Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 19, 2008
    Cedar Creek, TX
    I currently have 3 adult free-ranging ducks and 7 babies that are still confined to the run. I was nervous when I first let the ducks out, but they LOVE to range with the chickens and they are very much creatures of habit so they were easy to train. I only had to herd them into the crate once or twice for them to get the idea that it is their bed.

    I have a wire dog crate with a tarp over it that they sleep in at night and if I leave the door open they are usually already inside when I go out to lock everybody up in the evening.

    Oh, and yes I know there is some risk that a raccoon or other predator could reach through the wire of the crate to grab them, so I put the crate against the fence of my goat pen where my giant LGD dog, Bear, lives. I guess that, technically, a coon could stand there and tear off the tarp and reach in to get a handful of duck, but he would have to be one nervy son-of-a-***** to do it while nearly 100 lbs of Great Pyr is attacking through a flimsy field fence from a few inches away. [​IMG]

    The crate only temporary, though, as we will be building a much larger and more secure duck and goose house for when the current babies are old enough to range and my Pilgrim geese arrive.
     
  8. One Acre Wonder Farm

    One Acre Wonder Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 20, 2009
    Vermont
    I am hearing/reading some very reassuring things here, thank you everyone for your help.

    At this point my poor duckies don't even respond to treats. They had strictly layer pellets where they lived before here. I've tried cracked corn and black oil sunflower seeds (my chickens gobble them up, but the ducks won't touch them) and even bread (it's still on the ground in the run). So I've been shaking the food can and saying "duckduckduckduck" while I feed them so they get used to hearing me call.

    Maybe I'll try leaving the door/gate open and see what they do? I have three of my 6 girls laying in the nesting box, faithfully. One who lays in the mud, and two other non-layers. Will they go back to the run to lay their eggs, or will I have to search high and low for eggs?
     
  9. NewHopePoultry

    NewHopePoultry Overrun With Chickens

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    Apr 9, 2007
    Troy,Missouri
    I havent free ranged the ones I currently have,but I have in the apst with very few problems.
    I only let them free range when I am home and havent seen any stray dogs that day.
    I keep them in a pen for a few weeks until they get the idea this is hme and usually after a few hard attempts to get them to go inside at night, they figure it out and usually beat me to their house.
     
  10. Wifezilla

    Wifezilla Positively Ducky

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    Oct 2, 2008
    Colorado
    When I first got my ducks, I left them locked in the pen for 2 weeks so they would identify the pen and hutch as "home". Then I started letting them out during the day. At night, when they saw me come in the back yard, they would run for the pen. Now they are used to me and some herding is required, but it still doesn't take long.
     

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