Ducks hurting themselves because they think I am out to KILL them?!?!?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by bayyjayy, Sep 23, 2011.

  1. bayyjayy

    bayyjayy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 5, 2011
    So.....I have posted about this before, not directly, but in passing.

    My Ancona babies...they are 4 weeks old now. I KNOW their brains are about the size of this . but......I have fed them, sheltered them, watered them, gave them treats, loved on them, gave them swimming water, been a GREAT mom, if I do say so myself!!!! Never once have they been spanked or even put in time out. LOL And they STILL think I am Freddie Kruger. Well, they have ramps going in and out of their duck house, they have cinder blocks going in and out of their little swimming thing. They freak out when I come near and they try their dangest to get away from me as fast as they can....well, one of them is gonna get hurt falling over the side of the ramp or the cinder blocks. Or, when they fall between the ramp and a isn't a SMALL space, but they still try so hard to jump to the top of the ramp and they are still too little, so their chests are going to get the brunt of that. HOW do I prevent this from happening? I walk slow, I talk quietly and sweetly, I try so hard to make them feel safe, but one of these days I am going to have a problem leg, I JUST KNOW IT.

    I really think getting such a big number of babies all at once is the culprit. My other ones, in twos or fours....they were still skittish, but NOTHING like these guys. Though, I have to say, when they see me coming from across the yard, they still run, but once I stoop down and put my hand out with the little green balls of chocolate heaven for them, they DO come up and eat out of my hands, I can even reach out and rub their bills and chests and tummys, so they aren't ALWAYS little freaks, but I just know I am going to have an injured leg at least!

    Any advice??
  2. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England

    This is a stage that many ducklings go through. My eleven runners went through it. I felt so bad!

    But I took some good advice from forum friends, and we all got through it. The ducks eventually decided that I was again the bringer of good things.

    It took several weeks, though.

    Some of the good advice:

    Try to avoid coming in from above if possible.
    Give them some space - don't do anything (again if possible) that even remotely resembles cornering them.
    Bribes, bribes, bribes.

    I allowed the ducklings to go to the hallway (covered with old sheets) while I cleaned the brooder. That was the biggest help. I stopped sitting in the brooder with them. If I did have to pick them up, I tried to do it as quickly as possible.
  3. BallardDuck

    BallardDuck Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 18, 2011
    Ballard in Seattle
    This happened to me as well. I was really disappointed but read about similar behavior on here. Like Amiga said, I was really careful to move with slow steady movements and approached low, talking the whole time. It eventually passed and now I have cute girls that follow me around the yard and are fairly easy to pick up if I need to.
    Just takes lots of patience...and treats!
  4. grawg

    grawg Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 31, 2011
    East Tennessee
    I'm going through the same behavior, perhaps even more severe. My ducks ranged from 4-6weeks old when I got them and they started off terrified. My first though was to catch them and hold them until they calmed down...that didn't work at all [​IMG] Second thought was to check BYC and this is where I found out about peas, walking slowly, talking to them, and keeping low.

    I've had them about 4 months and they are starting to calm down now. One will come if I call her name (if she suspects I have a worm), and most will come if I quack(did I just admit that?). I'm still working on getting them to eat from my hands, even an 8" nightcrawler hasn't convinced them.
  5. ChickieBooBoo

    ChickieBooBoo Cold Canadian Chick

    Dec 2, 2009
    All young birds go through this stage, just keep your movements slow and unthreatening so they realize that you won't hurt them. I find adults are MUCH easier to tame then ducklings.
  6. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 14, 2011
    Central Oregon
    It makes a difference where you got them.

    I raised a batch of 20 this spring whose entire "panic stage" consisted of peeping and moving away at a fast walk. It didn't last long, either. Now they complain that I expect them to move when I am herding them. They don't like to be picked up, but I can pick them up without any worse reaction than loudly scolding me, and they aren't more afraid of me the next day.

    I raised another batch of 20 from a different source and they were in full freaked out hysteria mode from the day I got them to the day they went into the freezer. They were always stampeding, screaming, and flapping for no reason at all. They also got everyone else all upset. The flock has settled down and is quiet now that they are gone.
  7. bayyjayy

    bayyjayy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 5, 2011
    I am just worried that they are going to hurt themselves when I am trying to herd them in at night and when I am letting them out in the morning. They run and fall off the ramps, and when they are trying to get back on the ramp from the middle.....seriously, gonna hurt themselves.

    When they are calm, they are great, but it is horrible when I put them to bed!!!! I get a tad frustrated in my head, not out loud to them!!!

    I found it interesting, ChickieBooBoo, your comment on finding adults a lot easier to tame than ducklings. I actually have two ducks I got as adults, they aren't as freakish, still have never touched one of them, the other I had to catch to take to a vet, but since then, I have never touched her either, but they are both SO much calmer than the babies when they are moving away from me. I am trying to get them to eat out of my far, no luck, but they come VERY close.

    I LOVED the comment about you admitting, grawg, that you QUACK to your ducks. I may have to come over, video that, post it on youtube and send the link to all your friends and family, along with the neighbors. I LOVE IT!

    Thanks for all the replies......I am SO worried that they are going to get hurt. Ugh.
  8. m.kitchengirl

    m.kitchengirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 4, 2011
    Do you have a way to separate the ducks in their brooder or pen so that they can still see one another but not get to one another?
    My friend broods her ducks in small groups in a big brooder that is separated by dividers. She puts a few of her nervous ducks in with her more self assured ducks and she thinks it helps to calm the nervous ones. They see the mellow ducks not freaking out and peer pressure keeps them calmer.
    I bought three ducks from one breeder at 4 weeks old. They were SO scared of me. I was heartbroken, but I brought them around pretty well over time. Then I got 2 ducklings from a woman here on BYC. They have never really had that 4 week fear that so many ducks get, and when I put them in with the older ducks their happy go lucky disposition seemed to transfer to the older ducks. They have become much friendlier.

    Something else I do that seems to help - I have a little song I sang to the ducks while I was trying to get them to like me*. I sat in their yard for WEEKS just sitting there, and I would sing this little made up duck song. Now, I sing it before I get to their yard, and they quack back at me. The drake gives me his loud "huack" (I think it means the water bearer/pea giver is coming) and they all chatter at me and are lined up waiting for me at the door when I round the corner to their little house.

    *Yes, I know that this makes me sound like a lunatic. I am admitting it in hopes it will help you. [​IMG]
    Ducks seem to love music. When I am outside playing mandolin they follow me all over, quacking along. If I have the band over for band practice I have to put them in their pen because they love to nibble on my friend's stand up bass which I find really entertaining, but she is less pleased about. They typically don't socialize with visitors but when the visitors come to play music with me on the porch they LOVE it. They really like cello, I think the bow is at perfect height for jumping at like so many moths or butterflies. It is hilarious.
  9. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 14, 2011
    Central Oregon
    Put a little safety rail up the sides of the ramp and then they can't push each other off.

    There is a possibility that you are herding too fast. There are several times while I am herding my ducks that I stand still and just move my arm with a stick to direct them.

    Also, until they are trained to go to bed, it helps to have some low movable fence sections set so they can't pass where they are supposed to turn.
  10. nivtup

    nivtup Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 24, 2008
    Shelton Washington
    Herding ducks is an art form.

    Too close and the panic instinct sets in.

    Too far away and they just ignore you.

    There is a sweet spot, just close enough to get them interested in you, they will slowly head away.

    All that, and I have to say that our Khaki Campbells have always viewed me as the axe murderer.

    The moscovies will lay there and get tripped over, the Appleyards will slowly waddle away, the Austrailian Spotteds will slowly stay away, but those Campbells are always freaking out.

    Good luck, it will all come together for you.

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