Ducks free ranging... how to get them back inside at night

tull14

Songster
7 Years
Mar 28, 2013
118
3
116
Delaware
We have 2 Pekin 11 mallard and 1 black swedish my Pekin's are about 4 1/2 weeks old and my mallard/black swedish are about 3 1/2 weeks old. I'm wondering at what age do you start letting them out to wander in the yard and I'm really wondering how in the heck do you get them back into the safety of their home at night or when I'm not around to supervise. I will have to walk them through my barn and up their little ramp to get them back into the barn every night but I am wondering with so many how do I do this? Also at what age do you think it's ok to keep the outside area available to them, right now I open it up to them during the day, it's attached to our barn and at night when it gets cooler I block off the door so they can not go outside and freeze. Sorry for so many questions I'm new to duckies if you can't tell
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ducklover87

Songster
7 Years
Aug 7, 2012
1,166
46
141
Well first where do u live and about what is your current temps? Getting them back in really isn't hard unless they are all stubborn. I say this because my 4 one yr old Pekins still to this day will not go inside until I come herd them in. The put themselves to bed but outside not inside. However they do know that when I walk outside and say duckies to start heading to their coop. On the other hand I have 15 almost 7 week old ducklings that I've herded about 3 times into their coop and every other time I've gone out to put them away and they are already in their I just make sure they have feed and water then I say goodnight and lock it up. Herding for 15 ducklings is slightly different then just 4. When I herd the 4 I just walk behind them and if they start to wonder a different way I run to cut them off then steer them the way I want. Usually walking behind is good enough though. The ducklings is basically the same thing but I open my arms wide and kinda crouch/bend down and that seems to work really well with them. I only have to use that when they don't feel like following me as I call them. Do you have heat in your barn? I think giving them the option of being able to go outside is wonderful as long as its not to cold inside and isn't really drafty.
 

Going Quackers

Crowing
10 Years
May 24, 2011
7,847
989
381
On, Canada
I can only share my experience. Mine have an area fenced around their mini barn, they return to this area often as it has their water/feed and kiddy pools. Come before dusk, we go about and herd them in(many a time though most are there already, ducks are BIG routine animals) then i shut the gate... i leave them in this area till it's almost dark then they go into the barn overnight, i refuse to trust ANY fence over night.

I have taught them to herd OR they follow their mama, or they watch the other ducks lol... even my 5wk olds are learning how to already... all that said, without adults already 'in the know' it would be awhile before i'd trust young ones out on their own. I am fortunate with having an established flock, i can let younger birds free range as they follow the grown ups who are well versed in how things work here.

I think creating an area they want to return to is key, they want their food and they love to bathe so they come back.
 
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tull14

Songster
7 Years
Mar 28, 2013
118
3
116
Delaware
Thanks! We are in Delaware and temps are in the 70's during the day and mid 50's at night. I turn their lamp off in the day and on at night. Maybe I can start with small #s to train them to herd.
 

ducklover87

Songster
7 Years
Aug 7, 2012
1,166
46
141
It sounds so warm there! I'm in NY and we still are in 30s and 40s at night and 40s to 60s during the days :/ small numbers might be easier but if they have a favorite treat maybe you could entice them with that? Feed them a few then make them follow you or even make a trail of treats that could help to :)
 

cmoore333

Chirping
6 Years
Jan 28, 2013
105
3
71
Mine just started freeranging this week, so we are on day four of letting them out and tonight was the first night it wasnt a night that i spend an hour gathering up the five and putting them in the run (although it was raining so they where ready to go in as soon as the chickens went up in the coopL) The first night my teenage son and i spend an hour running around trying to gather them up, of course i was laughing so hard, i was no help, and my poor son fell in the little kiddy pool with the ducks water, when he was tring to herd them in the direction of the coop (they did the five ducklings run in five different ways, he didnt know who to go after..."_
 

Going Quackers

Crowing
10 Years
May 24, 2011
7,847
989
381
On, Canada
Thanks! We are in Delaware and temps are in the 70's during the day and mid 50's at night. I turn their lamp off in the day and on at night. Maybe I can start with small #s to train them to herd.

You can try that, generally though as flock animals they follow the flock lol To give an idea, we had a horrible storm blow through yesterday, when i shot into town, it was coming but stable so i left them out by the time i had returned it had gone awful, down pouring rain, heavy darkness thunder coming, they had all come back to the penned area around their barn, they knew it was safe there and that was where they should be. Them learning and knowing this is very important to the free ranging process to work, chasing down ducks scattered all over can result in loses, they need a 'home base' and know when to return to it.
 
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thomasboyle

Songster
7 Years
Feb 28, 2013
935
320
186
NW Hills of CT
I have 18 mallard ducks, and they all come back to the coop at night, but won't go inside until I go outside and tell them to get inside. Then they line up (keeping my ducks in a row) and march inside one by one. Its like they are scared to enter a door for fear of what is on the other side. But once I coax one or two in, the rest follow the flock. It would be nice if they would learn from the chickens, and go inside on their own at dusk, but my ducks aren't that smart!
 

cmoore333

Chirping
6 Years
Jan 28, 2013
105
3
71
The past three nights, we have found our five in the run of the chicken coop, where we had been putting them at night... Yaaaaa, makes it alot easier then chasing five ducklings every night...
 

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