Duck Disaster

Funkhaus Farm

5 Years
May 2, 2016
I just wrapped up my first attempt at raising ducks and it was pretty pathetic. If you are very sensitive you might want to stop reading now. Near the end of May I was in Rural King and saw that they had ducks. I'd been thinking about raising up a half dozen or so for butchering. I read that they can be ready in as little as 6 to 8 weeks. I figured I could put up with anything for 6 or 8 weeks.
The sign on the brooder said White Pekins and Indian Runners. I asked the clerk for 6 Pekins. Long story short, after about 6 weeks I figured out I had runners. I didn't want to butcher Runners. You could tell by looking at them that they were just scrawny. But they were also super high strung. They were afraid of me and my wife. They were afraid of the chickens and wouldn't go in the coop. It got to the point where I couldn't get them to go in anywhere, not even the garage I'd had their brooder. They'd just hang out in the kiddie pool and if I even came out the back door they'd go hide in the bushes. We got quite a lot of rain over the course of a couple days, and they found the flooded ditch behind the property. After that they didn't even have any interest in the pool. Then one morning I counted bills and only had five. The next morning it was four. Two days later I was down to two ducks. Something was getting them but no matter what I did they were still too stubborn to go in anywhere at night. It took the better part of a day but my wife eventually wrangled the last two into a dog kennel and, well, we don't have ducks anymore.
So what does kind of facilities does one need to properly raise and keep half a dozen ducks? Do they need to be penned in at all times? I believe my predator was some sort of terrestrial animal, a coyote or a mink perhaps, and not a bird of prey, but does the pen need some sort of roof as well? I don't have problems with predation on my chickens even though they free range during the day, but I've built a stout coop for them and they go in on their own every night.
It was your mindset that was the intial problem... Research should have been done BEFORE the ducks were chosen.
You need to have a coop with 3sqft/duck or more, and a run space with 10 sqft/duk or more. They need water deep enough to wash their bills, and must have a shelter at least 3 feet tall.
They don't need to be penned in at all times, but you should or somethig will get your ducks. 4-5 ft high fence with the bottom buried or an 10-18" apron will do you well. If you want something for meat that works well as a free ranging duck, try a Muscovy; their meat is a delicacy. They are better as free rangers.
During the day you can get away with no roof, but the night pen must be very secure. No animals can get in, they must be locked in tightly. All ventilation windows (lots of ventilation is needed) should be covered. Similiar to a chicken coop, but without roosts and not as high unless ylu want it high.

Also, as ducklings, they shukd not be allowed to free range or be outside in an uncovered pen for the first 4-6 weeks of their life. They need 18-20% protein duck starter the first 2 weeks, and onward until 10 weeks, 16-18% grower. Niacin requirements for ducklings are different from chicks, so ducklings need a niacin supplement if fed a chicken starter/grower (unless it's broiler grower).

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