Do your ducks free range?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by JosieR, May 16, 2010.

  1. JosieR

    JosieR Songster

    Apr 24, 2010
    Orange County, NY
    I'm getting a shed for my ducks and will probably put some fencing around the front, not much but enough that they can hang out outside overnight in the warm weather if they want to.

    My questions is about daytime. The woman I bought them from lets her ducks roam freely during the day and they go in (on their own, the fencing she has on the goat pen is big enough that the ducks go in and out with no problem) with the goats at night. She said predators don't go in there because the goats are so big.

    I live on 6 acres, mostly wooded but have about 2 acres clear and I'm trying to strike a balance between keeping them safe and making them so safe that they're not free to do ducky things [​IMG] They get to go out now when I can sit and keep an eye on them since they're still very young and they are clearly most happy being allowed to wander and forage and play. I live in NY so I'm sure we have some aerial predators, A friend of hours who lives just a few miles away had a problem with a hawk going after his little dog. I've seen turkey vultures (I think that's what my neighbor called them LOL) pick up a dead rabbit from the road although I'm not sure if they will only go after road kill or live animals as well.

    Do I make the fenced area larger and just keep them in there? Do I keep them in until they're fully grown and then let them free range?

    Would love to know what you do. My husband is terrified that I'll be buying a goat or two to keep the ducks safe [​IMG]
  2. duckielove

    duckielove In the Brooder

    Aug 31, 2008
    New Hampshire
    I let mine free range or forage only when I am home. I live on 3 acres and only 3 other houses who are all in front of me and no one can build behind me but one neighbor has a dog and as well as ourselves. We strike a balance between when the dogs can go out and when the ducks can. I usually let mine out for about 3-4 hours in the afternoon after I get home from work and the dogs have had their play time. They go in and out of their pen several times during that time to get water and swim in their pond. I usually end up scooting them back in because I am afraid that as it gets darker something will get them. We have had issues with fisher cats late night early morning hanging around the back yard.
    Yours sounds like the ultimate set up with that much free land, and there are plenty of people on here that let theirs go from dawn to dusk and hardly have a problem at all, so I guess it would just be a trial and error sort of thing. If you feel that something is threatening them then keep them out only certain times would be my advice.

    Good luck
  3. LittleSquidgenHome

    LittleSquidgenHome Songster

    Aug 21, 2009
    We have an acre and a half that is fenced in with a 4 ft fence. Our ducks free range over this pasture and small pond all day and then we pen them in a secure pen at night. We have 20 Ancona and 18 Muscovy that all hang out together during the day. We have had one problem with predators during the day. Last winter we had an injured hawk desperate for a meal attack one of our scovie hens. In the end the hen is just fine and the injured hawk went to a rehaber. We have loads of nighttime predators, skunks, raccoons, opossums, coyotes, owls, fox, but with secure pens they have not been a problem. They have tried to get in with no success. I have only ever seen hawks and once a fox during the day, well and neighboring dogs, but they haven't ever gotten past the fence.

    We are often outside in or near the pasture during our ducks "play" time and OUR dog is usually patrolling the perimeter on the outside of the pasture. We dont worry too much about predation, and this may seem cold, but we have so many ducks that if even 20 would happen to be taken out in one day we still have 18 left. We do our best to make it safe, within reason. We set a budget and did not go over it.

    We do not let our ducklings out to free range in the main pasture until they are at least 6 or 8 weeks old and can, for the most part, hold their own with the weather and the big ducks. This way if a rain storm comes up they will typically be alright. Until then we have a smaller fenced area right off their pen so it is easier to monitor them and keep them safe but they can still get to be in the grass and outdoors.

    Good luck and my husband is also terrified I am going to bring home some goats, but not for duck protection, I just really want goats. Ha!
  4. chickboss

    chickboss Songster

    Mar 23, 2010
    Goats are awesome! And sooooo easy!

    I have 3 big dogs that have already demonstrated that they have a healthy love for chasing poultry. I have no doubt, If I let mine free range, they would be gone the first time the dogs were let out. And since I do not have the time to round up 30 ducks in order for my dogs to roam and play, I have tried to strike a compromise. We have bought the electric netting, solar charger, and are providing housing that can be moved at the first sign that the area is getting worn. Since we are seperating the birds by breed, I am hoping that the groups are small enough to only have to be moved every 2-3 weeks. The netting is 164 ft. So I guess mine would be considered pastured, not free range. If it wasn't for my own dogs, I would totally let them free range, bring them in at night, and would consider local predators an acceptable risk for quality of life. Maybe someday....
  5. Red Maple Farms

    Red Maple Farms Wish Granted

    Feb 25, 2010
    NE Wisconsin
    Yes. That is a three acre wooded pond they are headed off to.

  6. AmberH

    AmberH Songster

    Apr 21, 2010
    Mine are out with the chickens during the day and put up with the chickens at night. I think they think they are chickens. lol I've yet to have a problem with this routine.

    However, my two Muscovies were free ranging all the time, day and night. That resulted in both of them getting killed. Not good.... I think I learned my lesson.
  7. headred

    headred Songster

    Feb 28, 2009
    Seems no matter what we all do, there are predators out there! I live in the middle of town with virtually nothing but cats and dogs in neighboring yards. My ducks roam my fenced yard, but I have been outside when a hawk has swooped down after them. They are pretty smart and run like the dickens to get under the deck. I make sure they have plenty of shelters to run to at different parts of the yard. On a daily basis they never go willingly inside anything!! I guess do your best. Mine have survived a year free ranging my backyard and I feel pretty lucky they are still here.
  8. PlumTuckered

    PlumTuckered Songster

    Jun 27, 2007
    My ducks free range all day long, they do come up from the pasture or pond frequently to grab a bite to eat in their pen or just to visit me if they see me outside. At 3 every afternoon they automatically come up to their pen, I give treats and shut the pen and then at 8 pm they waddle into their house and I close it up shortly afterwards. I have 4 dogs that are loose on our property at all times and they're awesome at chasing predators away, they never mess with our ducks or our chickens who also free range for about 3 hours every evening.

  9. chickboss

    chickboss Songster

    Mar 23, 2010
    Quote:Did you train your dogs, or are they just like that? Mine chase the poultry. Can this be worked on, because they totally lose their heads and all other training goes right out the window the second there is a loose bird. Short of a shock collar, I can't figure how to "fix" them.....[​IMG]
  10. AmyinNC

    AmyinNC In the Brooder

    Apr 20, 2010
    Eastern, NC
    Dh is in the process of building a much larger coop, so right now our ducks are in the dog kennel which is enclosed in a chain link fence. I allow them to free range when I am home (we have soooo many cats in the neighborhood) and only when I'm outside with them. While I'm out working in the garden, I let them free range. I also make multiple trips out there during the day to check on them, play with them, etc and let them free range then as well.

    Here is a pic of what they are in now...this pic was taken before we moved them to the kennel.

    When we first got the babies, dh built the temporary coop you see to the right the evening after getting them. He didn't have time to build the top that night (hence the kiddie pool blocking the sun), and the ducks were kept in the shed at night with the light on them.


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