Freaked out Runners!

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Cottage Rose, Jun 26, 2010.

  1. Cottage Rose

    Cottage Rose Songster

    Jun 24, 2008
    Mid west Michigan
    What happened to my Runners?!?
    Up until the time they were about 3 weeks old they seemed quite tame and unafraid of me.
    They would even come when I called them, nibbled on my feet when i sat around them
    but now around 4-5 weeks old, they can see me coming from 50 ft. away and they will start
    peeping and running away from me.
    If they are cornered they literally panic and freak out.
    Today I followed them around slowly to see what they would do and they actually ran
    into the tall weeds next to the woods and would not come out until I left!
    I'm totally dumbfounded.
    Nothing has changed with their routine...absolutley nothing!
    What could of possibly gone wrong??? [​IMG]

  2. katharinad

    katharinad Overrun with chickens

    I know how that is. They panic to the point that they run over each other. Time to bribe them with peas and other sweet treats. Mine started that phase too so I increased their treat times. Now they run after me.
  3. Cottage Rose

    Cottage Rose Songster

    Jun 24, 2008
    Mid west Michigan
    But why are they panicing when they didn't before?
    What "sweet treats" do you recommend?
  4. katharinad

    katharinad Overrun with chickens

    It's just a phase. They are just like toddlers or dogs. Going through phases and nobody knows why. I buy a lot of frozen peas and defrost them as needed. Corn and all kind of greens work. They do have a sweet tongue. Try watermelon (cut in half the scored with a knife) or soft ripe apple (chopped into small pieces). Or better cat kibbles. Nine even like koi fish pellets. They crunch them down like potato chips. I mean the noise it makes to eat potato chips, don't actually give them potato chips. Spinach leaves and even tomatoes are also a favorite of my ducks. Can't go wrong with the fruit and vegetable isle. Mine to not like tropical fruits like citrus, bananas and the like. Oh don't forget to always use the same bowl for treats. They learn really quick which is for food and which one for treats. Have a special call for treats, like whistling or calling the same words. I usually whistle and call "Who wants peas?". They get really loud and run when they hear me calling out peas.
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2010
  5. Cottage Rose

    Cottage Rose Songster

    Jun 24, 2008
    Mid west Michigan
    THANKS a bunch!
    Will give it a try. [​IMG]

    lol on crunching on the koi pellets. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2010
  6. CityChicker

    CityChicker Songster

    Mar 21, 2009
    Ducks are weird. You just never know what they are thinking (other than they are about to be duck stew!). They are such highly sensitive animals. It is easy to freak them out. I agree with the advice to just pry them with treats. The more they associate you with goodies, the better! Sometimes you will have a group though that just turns on a dime and go overnight from sweet and lovable to completely nutso and sometimes back again. I have a group of Appleyards right now that did the same thing. The groups hatched the weeks before and after them are just fine, sweet as can be. This one group though flipped from sweet to crazed literally overnight and have never calmed back down! I think sometimes something frightens them (sometimes unknown to us) and it just takes a while for them to forget about it). LOL.
  7. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners 8 Years

    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    Cottage Rose,

    I had the same experience with my runners. At three weeks, they began to act as if I were an axe murderer when I came into the brooder room to fix up their digs. I think it is a developmental stage, and there are some things that helped with mine (they are now lovely and sweet and more than half of them come up for attention every time I go into their yard).

    Duckyfromoz clued me in that anything approaching from above was scary, so I got low whenever I approached them. Looks silly to other human beings, but we are trying to prevent trauma here!

    I also turned up this tidbit elsewhere - that runners HATE to feel cornered. So I began letting them out into the hall (an old sheet over the wood floor) while I worked in the brooder. That helped so much!

    And I increased the frequency of treats. I also fed them from a half-closed hand, so they would need to work at it a bit to get the peas. I tossed some peas back to the really shy ones, and offered peas in my hand to the rest. I made sure that they had room to move away from me at least ten feet or so if they began to feel nervous.

    Within a week or so, life was much happier! It took about three weeks, though, for them to stop doing the Alfred Hitchcock screams completely.

    Heartbreaking to have one's little fuzzkins acting so fearful.
  8. katharinad

    katharinad Overrun with chickens

    We started to sit down in the yard with a bowl full of peas. Hand feeding them one pea at a time. They even started to climb onto out legs just to get closer to the peas. They loved my husband's leg in particular. Nothing better then ducks trying to plug out your leg hair. He was giggling the entire time, because they tickled him half way to death. I don't have leg hair, but they liked my shoes. I remember him telling me their are my ducks. Now he sits outside quacking at them. [​IMG]
  9. Violet22

    Violet22 Songster

    Jul 3, 2009
    Central Coast, CA
    It is sad when they do that! I raised 6 last year from babies (my first ducks) and they did the same thing. It took weeks and weeks of going in their enclosure and giving them treats for them to not run from me. Well...........the queen and the second in command will hang around me and come to me, the rest still come for their treats then bolt. I added some new adults last year, and they still are skitterish of me, they will come to their treat bowl while I am there, but will run if I make a move. I think if I spent more time in there, they would all be better. I saw a pic here recently of a lounger inside the pen.............I am going to do that and start taking my breaks in will drive my dogs bonkers, but I think it will be fun, and I will bring peas with me then too. I wish I could find a place that sold peas in bulk cheap! My 10 get a 1lb pound bag of defrosted peas every night, but now with 9 little ones and more to be hatched, it's going to be hard to afford to give them even more........I'll find a way for them tho! If anyone has a suggestion where to get peas cheap, let me know! I thought about buying dried peas in bulk, but they don't seem much cheaper, esp for the work of having to soak them. They like corn too, I alternate with those. I should have planted corn this year!
  10. chickboss

    chickboss Songster

    Mar 23, 2010
    What everyone else said...! LOL. I think of it like this, if they were wild ducks, and living with mom, and if you look at their size and development at about 4-5 weeks, I am pretty sure that they have to become quite a bit more independent and take more responsibility for their own safety. I think that is why they hit that fear stage where everything is a likely threat and act accordingly. My first Kahkis pulled through it pretty quickly, my others, who were by far more friendly overall, seem to be lingering in this stage for a longer period. Mine will come up for treats, but still act like I am a predator as soon as the food is gone. They'll get over it eventually though. I don't know if you have children, but mine always hit a little bit of a fear/clingy stage at the same time they were hitting a developmental milestone of some kind. Same deal, new skills, more independence and a big dose of fear to make sure that they don't go overboard... LOL. Gotta love nature.

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