Ducky Drama - Disappearing Ducks

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by CedarbrookWren, Jan 20, 2012.

  1. CedarbrookWren

    CedarbrookWren New Egg

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    I had 6 muscovy ducks about 8 months old. They free ranged on my 19 acre farm which is well away from the road and enjoyed the stream running through it. At night I shut them in a shed. They were very cooperative with this arrangement aside from the hens who decided to start nesting in hidden locations in December. I eventually talked the one out of it but taking her eggs but I never found the location of the other one's nest.

    Two weeks ago I saw all but the one who was nesting in the afternoon. I was 2 hours late putting them to bed and only two were there. I left the door open so all could get out of the cold if they wanted too. That was Sunday night and the last time I saw Rosemary.

    Monday night 4 were there to be put to bed but they refused to go in the shed. I spent 45 minutes trying to herd them in and eventually got three in. That was the last I say Mrs. Dash.

    Wednesday I put the three remaining away. Thursday I saw the three in the afternoon. I was a little late to put them away and there was only one. That was the last I saw Paprika and Cilantro.

    Friday night I put Dill away. Saturday he didn't turn up. Sunday I searched the farm and found him by the bridge at the end of my driveway. No sign of the others. Even looked in the pen where a neighbor has some ducks in case mine had gone visiting. My other neighbor said she's seen a hawk after he chickens so I guess that is my theory. Dill was the largest and would be the hardest for a hawk to carry off. But I couldn't talk him into coming home. So he was wild for a week until I finally caught him yesterday. I lured him out of the stream with food lept on him and carried him the 1/4 mile home. He was very heavy by the time I made it!

    I had constructed a small pen around the entrance of the shed. I put him in there with water and food. This morning I saw him when I went out to get a bucket. I filled it with warm water in the kitchen and brought it out so he could have a warm bath an water for longer until it froze. But he was gone. When I realized he wasn't hiding in the shed I looked down the hill and there he was swimming down the stream. Yes, one wing is clipped, but I guess he was desperate!

    SO any advice on what to do? Do I attempt to catch him again - if I can even get near him again after a memory of me leaping and carrying him? If I catch him to I clip the other wing? Do I just let him go wild? If I got more ducks would he return to join the flock? My plan was to keep him penned up until I found a girlfriend for him. Long term i don't think I want ducks unless I let them free range most of the time, I already have to clean up daily after four horses I like how easy free ranging ducks are but I don't want to be a hawk food factory either...

    Then there is that one hen who could be still nesting. Her ducklings would be born any day. I plan on putting ducklings and mama in the barn if they show up. I'm in south central PA, would I need to put a heat lamp in there with them or would a bed of hay and their mama be enough to keep the babies warm.

    Hope you enjoyed the saga of my ducky drama![​IMG]
    Dill with Rosemary back during the Halloween snowstorm
     
  2. Iain Utah

    Iain Utah Overrun With Chickens

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    I have no advice for you. I just want to say I'm sorry to hear about your losses. Hope someone else chimes in with advice about your remaining duck.
     
  3. kimb

    kimb Chillin' With My Peeps

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    First off - I'm very sorry for the missing ducks... I hope perhaps that they're all nesting with the hidden lady.

    In the mean time - please do not let your Drake go wild. If you must clip his wings then please do so. But letting him go wild is exactly the reason we've been facing legislation against being able to keep Muscovies as pets.

    If a few more days go by and still no sign of anyone else, then I would try to find him a new lady (or ladies) as it must be very lonely for him, as I'm sure it is for you.

    I don't believe they were all taken by a hawk - a Hawk isn't going to eat that much bird in even a weeks time. But it very well could be other predators like foxes or coyotes etc. and they'll come out in daylight. so I'd keep him locked up tight in the shed for a few days (turn a light on in there during the day time so he's not in the dark) and perhaps set up a small pen (a dog crate works well) outside with some hay - in case anyone does come home - they have a place to nestle into that you can quickly and easily lock them into to move them in the shed.

    You won't need a heat lamp - if the duck does hatch ducklings. If she kept them warm enough to hatch on her own - she'll be able to keep them warm enough to live on her own also. Just make sure to provide fresh water that they can't fall into or climb into.
     
  4. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Running over with Blessings Premium Member

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    Good advise, and if you already clipped one wing then perhaps he climbed out, they have those claws you know. Put somekind of netting across the top or a tarp just anything that will keep him from climbing out. secure it too. He will need a mate or 2 so maybe start looking around for him some company. I am so sorry you lost so many. Mine free range and that is the price we pay for giving them some freedom but it is part of life. Possibly the creek and them following it is where the rest may be, can you follow it till it ends?
     
  5. EmAbTo48

    EmAbTo48 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Wow sorry about that :( Thing is about any predator that be a hawk or even a fox once they find food they continue to look in the same place over and over again. I would try to catch your duck because even though he might "act" wild NO domesticated ducks are actually wild they are sitting prey unless carefully taken care of and watched over by a human.

    If I were you try to lure him back with food, keep his shelter open, they are creatures of habit. Your female may or may not be nesting, it be a happy ending for you if she came home with a bunch of ducklings but since so many keep disappearing I wouldn't keep my hopes up on that.

    How big is the stream? Does it go into a large pond anywhere? Could they have floated down and just kept going lol?! We have free range ducks all the time, but during the winter they stay close to there shelter since its usually negatives here! Anyways, maybe if you plan to have more ducks keep there food and water in the pen, and treats, never feed them anywhere else. You could always pay for a sensor that shuts the coops door for the night its on a timer we have one which makes it much easier and I have never had any not go into the pen before the timer was up to shut the door. Could the stream hold a floating duck house? or is it to small?
     
  6. CedarbrookWren

    CedarbrookWren New Egg

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    Dec 17, 2011
    SO do we think clipping his other wing would help? I will see what I can do about putting a roof of some sort on the pen - but it would make it very difficult to clean because I'll have to bend over anytime I go in there. Not that one duck will make it too messy thank goodness. I don't think he could have climbed out, I think he must of somehow got off the ground just enough to get over the fence.

    If I keep him penned up for a few weeks do we think he will stick closer to home? I think the main problem is him not having his women, he always followed them in just fine, it will just take me a bit to find a new woman for him. Yes they could have just kept floating down the stream...the only reason I don't buy that theory is that the whole week Dill was "wild" he stayed very close to the bridge, left to do some foraging but almost every time I drove in or out he was right there by the bridge...his new home. They stream goes on and on, I don't think me following it is an option. I'll see what I can do about recatching him but I may have to take a few days to rebuild his trust. I think that stream is the joy of his life!

    I think that there are spots a floating home could work but wouldn't that make them less likely to come in at night and lay eggs where I can get to them? Not sure how they work.
     
  7. duckdad

    duckdad Chillin' With My Peeps

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    First of all, I am sorry for your losses, but I have to ask, what you said about not wanting ducks in the future, is this a good time to go ahead and let go of the ducks altogether?

    I ask because you mention a full plate as far as having other animals to care for. Ducks are lots of work and free ranging ducks ARE food for every predator in the area. Like someone else stated, once these predators find a food source they will keep coming back until there is nothing there anymore. They will kill them all one at a time. If you cannot control the free-ranging area then the ducks are just going to get killed.

    Now IF you want to keep a couple and manage them in a pen with a house at nite, then yes, clip wings and construct a taller fencing. Ducks don;t need to fly well....they can jump 3 ft up and with some flapping they can easily clear a 3-4ft fence. The walls need to get taller as the ducks grow older and stronger. Your ducks need to be motivated to come "home". If they are running off they obviously see the pond or the woods as being more fun. They need to feel secure at home, they need to get adequate feed at the same time everyday and nite, and they need attention. A drake needs a hen thats he was raised with as a pair or a couple hens if hes lost his mate.

    Ducks are work to keep them happy. Ducks that are not happy will take off and go explore and usually get themselves killed or lost. I'm certainly not trying to be harsh or critical but I do want to make it clear that keeping ducks is work and they have needs that have to be met. Its too much for some folks and that is why there are so many laws pending and already in effect regarding ducks since people get blinded by the "cute" part then dump their domestic birds (when they figure out how much work they can be) in places where the poor creature has no idea how to survive. It shouldn't be such a problem that state and federal gov has to get involved with the keeping and handling of ducks....

    As far as your duck with a nest and a hatch....shes not going to bring them home. They are near the water, and she will raise them by the water. They will be In the water within a day or two of hatching and she will keep them in the nest she made. The only way to get them home will be to collect them all and bring them together. Even then, she may try to relocate them or even abandon them if the nest is moved and shes unhappy with its location. I see hens walk away from nest full of eggs all the time because they get disturbed or some other reason. If You find the hatch and you take the ducklings to raise, you have 6-8 weeks of work ahead of you, inside where they can be protected and safe. They cannot be allowed to come near the drake that may try to kill them.

    I wish you the best, and hope for the best.
    If you want to continue to raise ducks then I'd definately clip wings and get the pen secured and let go of the full time free ranging idea...because all that is doing is feeding the local predators.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2012
  8. CedarbrookWren

    CedarbrookWren New Egg

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    Dec 17, 2011
    While these ducks were my first time owning anything with feathers I did do a good bit of research before getting them. I selected muscovies because my primary motivation was pest control and liked that they were also a meat bird and good mothers. I have been delighted with my experience (other than the disappearing part) I felt like they were, yes cute and funny, but also useful, pretty easy to care for, and was quickly fascinated by the color genetics. I was hoping to try some small scale breeding and see if I could sell ducklings and get any fun colors.

    The person I bought them from had chickens and ducks. His ducks were free ranging. He told me that he had no problems with them leaving his farm.

    Up to this point I would say the same thing. I thought my duckies were pretty happy with their little ducky life. They had a stream, we are pretty far away from the road so no danger there and every night they were waiting for me to put them to bed. Of course the women were hiding eggs on me but I was enjoying my daily Easter egg hunts.

    They were free ranging from 7:30 until dusk each day. From August until the middle of January they were happy to come in each night and go out each morning. At this point I do want more ducks but not if it means they have to be penned up all the time. I feel like that defeats my main goal of pest control. Putting them away earlier isn't an option because they wouldn't come in until dusk. The only way I can see to do less free ranging is to build a pen for them to be in during the day and let them out to free range at 4:30 when I get home from school. I would have to do more research into how to clean up this pen then. I assume I wouldn't cover the whole outdoor pen with hay...that sounds like a lot of hay.

    All of the ducks had one wing clipped. My question about clipping was do I need to clip his other wing or do I need to try and put a tarp or something over the pen I will keep him in until I find him friends and a more long term solution. I will feel so mean keeping him penned up all the time when he can hear that stream calling to him just down the hill. Again this is assumng I can catch him a second time, which I will try to do.
     
  9. Iain Utah

    Iain Utah Overrun With Chickens

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    Cedarbrook, I totally understand. I too want free ranging ducks by day for the primary purpose of pest control on my horse property. I have a 24/7 free ranging geese that do just fine, but sadly, losses are part of having free-ranging birds.
     
  10. EmAbTo48

    EmAbTo48 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Same here our ducks are free range 8am till dusk when the door is shut by a timer (which is changed through out each season) they never have eve left our property they have 2 ponds in the spring/summer/fall they use but they always come out for night.

    I suggested floating duck houses cause you had said you liked having them but would want them to be less work, with a house in the stream they would be protected by predators (if they learned to use it)

    I have lost 3 ducks in the last 3 years, death from predators is going to happen if they are free ranging, however what is taking yours sounds like a coyote/fox. So really its your descion you can get more and just know its possible something might get them or stop getting ducks all together try to find a home for Dill.

    I personally love ducks, and have made small tweeks ( I can now see there coop from our kitchen window) I make sure they are all in at night (chasing them in for 2 weeks straight at times) and I just know sometimes I can't always save them all :( but they had a good life! We have feral cats get some, and just one disappear! But I add another to the flock and they are still happy. Here's something I would recommend get mature ducks your 8 month olds seem to have become to brave and wondered to far they didn't know better, older ducks are more aware of dangers and to seek shelter.

    I only get adult ducks!
     

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