Free Range Ducks? (help/advice)

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by goathugger, Feb 1, 2017.

  1. goathugger

    goathugger New Egg

    Feb 1, 2017
    Hey Y'all! [​IMG]

    I'm planning to raise ducks and chickens once I move (from one acre to four) sometime this year. [​IMG]
    I have raised chickens before, and it was a great experience. I have never raised ducks though, so I have a lot of questions! My new property will have a pond, so I am planning to let the ducks free range. The plan is to have one coop for the ducks and chickens, but let the ducks free range during the day and come home at night. I don't need them for eggs, but more eggs would be nice. Here are some of my questions:
    -How much protection do ducks require/like? My property has a lot of trees and area around the pond where the ducks can live, do they need a coop? Or would they be much happier by the pond all the time? (I'll be on four acres, but the property is actually right in the city and surrounded by houses so I don't think there will be many stray dogs or other predators.)
    -Could I train the ducks to lay their eggs in a nesting box somewhere near the pond? (or is that highly impossible?)
    -Could I train the ducks to go to the coop at night? (I've read a few threads discussing this.)
    -Can ducks and chickens live happily together?
    -Can ducks and chickens eat the same feed?
    -What are the best duck breeds? (I want a breed that is friendly and smart.)

    I really have no clue when it comes to raising ducks, but I want them to be as happy and as healthy as possible. I appreciate any advice or tips for a new duck owner!

    Thanks y'all! [​IMG]

  2. purslanegarden

    purslanegarden Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 10, 2016
    1. Protection - you'll have to determine that once you see the animals around you. When I was a kid, we let our chickens out all day and night. But as an adult living 30 minutes away, the area we are in, has raccoons and possums. Those guys love chickens and ducks! I'm amazed now how many years we went without a predator attacking those chickens (when I was a kid)

    2. You can create good places that the ducks will favor for laying eggs, and put it near the pond. It could be as simple as creating a wooden nest box, or using a tote container.

    3. Training ducks to go to the coop -- Yea you know the story on this, so I'll just add that if you want them to nest near the pond but also go to the coop, you'll have some conflict. Maybe you should put the nest box in the coop, so the female at least, will go to the coop often.

    4. Ducks and chickens can live together, even in the same coop, but just need a little more caution . Ducks like it wet and muddy, whereas chickens don't. They can eat most of the same feed as adults, but as babies, ducks should not eat medicated chick feed. However, if they are free-ranging even as babies, that shouldn't be a problem.

    5. Duck breed - you'll get all sorts of answers for friendly and smart. But for more quantifiable specs, you should also consider things like -- do you want them as possible meat and egg source, broody types, etc
  3. QuackSpeak

    QuackSpeak Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 1, 2017
    Welcome To BYC, @goathugger !

    1) I agree with the information given above. I do recommend a coop, at least to start - it's better to have safe, annoyed ducks than free ducks who end up hurt.
    2) Ducks could lay in nesting boxes, or they could choose for themselves. I had ducks who laid one egg in a nesting box every day at the same time, without fail. Other times, it's an easter egg hunt. If you had a pen/coop, and the nesting box was inside it, it would be easier, I think.
    3) Agree with purslanegarden on this one, so there's nothing else to add [​IMG]
    4) Ducks and chickens can live together - however, if you have a male chicken, he may try to mate your female ducks, and if you have a male duck, he may try to mate your female chickens. This is not recommended for either species - ducks have sexual organs, chickens do not - so if you already have a male rooster, this could be a problem. If you don't have a roo, then get all girl ducks, or keep chickens and ducks separate.
    5) Lol yeah, a lot of ducks are friendly and smart. Pekins are very easily tamed, but have some leg problems because of their weight. Call ducks are cute and small - but they can fly, and are loud. Runners are beautiful, but are a bit shy when it comes to people.
    All ducks are 'smart' - excluding some individuals - but how tame they are depends on you. Spend a lot of time with them when they are ducklings and adults, give them treats, talk to them, show them that you are not a threat: then they will be tamer than ducks that have never been exposed to humans. Treats = A Duck's Heart [​IMG]
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2017
  4. goathugger

    goathugger New Egg

    Feb 1, 2017
    Thanks so much guys! I appreciate y'alls input. [​IMG]
    @purslanegarden I'm not looking for anything in particular, because I mainly want the ducks for fun and not for eggs, but like I said more eggs would be nice, so I'll probably go with one that produces regularly (and I want chicks) so a breed that tends to go broody.
  5. Taralynnludwig

    Taralynnludwig Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 1, 2016
    I have 8 ducks free ranging on 1/3 acre. We did basically a big dog kennel with a coop inside it. I walk out at night and they go in their coop and i close the kennel door. They then get let out at 8 am to do whatever they want. It took a while to hit this routine, like a month, but they are pretty smart!! We have a variety so we could figuee out what we liked best. And i actually love having a mixed flock :) good luck!!! They are so entertaining!
  6. plottster

    plottster Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 10, 2016
    Deerfield NH

    Our Khaki Campbells are friendly ducks, have great predator awareness and they lay 300+ eggs a year. They do find their way to the coop each night and lay their eggs in the coop, chickens even use their nest now and don't lay in the boxes. However, we do not have a lake so I'm sure that could change their behaviors.

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