free range or run??

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by irf1983, Aug 28, 2011.

  1. irf1983

    irf1983 Songster

    May 7, 2009
    Brooksville, FL
    I'm thinking about raising ducks for meat, either pekins or muscovy. does anybody raise ducks in an enclosed run all the time? I'm trying to decide whether i should invest in making another permanent run to raise duck and turkey in, or risk free ranging them.
  2. njduck

    njduck Chirping

    Jul 15, 2011
    mine free range inside a pasture. I have muscovy and just about every other breed. If they can fly i clip their wings or pinion them. I loose some to predators. but I am rasieing over 100 ducks
  3. irf1983

    irf1983 Songster

    May 7, 2009
    Brooksville, FL
    Quote:do you lock them up at night? if so do they naturally go to their housing at night? thanks!
  4. FireTigeris

    FireTigeris Tyger! Tyger! burning bright

    What is the predator load in your area, what is seasonal and what is resident- what % is an acceptable loss, remember you might put money in and lose all of then 1 day before butcher to a feral dog pack or whatever else you have around.

    [Predator Load]
    1) I never heard of anything out here bigger then a cat - I can leave a can of opened tuna outside and attract nothing but ants (don't try this for real)
    2) I never see anything out here day or night, even when I look - "Wait what was that! Oh, its another paper bag in the wind, *sigh*"
    3) I seldom see things at night, never day - I see signs of scavengers - "And if they don't leave my garbage alone..."
    4) I seldom see things, but both at night and day - I have witnessed things that would eat chickens feeding
    5) I always see things at night and seldom at day - "Um... possum? I'm walking here... Hey you raccoon, move it- oh mister fox... scram!"
    6) I always see things at night and often at day - Somebody fence in those blasted dogs!
    7) I always see things night and day - "Dog, dog, cat, coon, fox, coon, hawk, owl, snake, coon, possum, coon, fox, cat, cat, coon"
    8) I think they live in/under my house - animal 'signs'? How about animal billboards! - "What ARE they DOING under there?"
    9) I think they call their friends over and live in/under my house - "Free food here"
    10) Help I'm being carried away. - "Somebody get a gun... no wait several guns - HELP!"

    [Acceptable Loss]

    If I have 100 birds and feed them x tons food and if they all survive and I lose none to predators my birds cost X.xx dressed.
  5. njduck

    njduck Chirping

    Jul 15, 2011
    mine do not get locked up, they can come and go as they please. I do feed them inside of the shed so when I want to catch them. they run right in for food
  6. irf1983

    irf1983 Songster

    May 7, 2009
    Brooksville, FL
    I have raccoons and foxes that prowl at night. They occasionally get some of my chickens. They do free range all day, but i only let them out after 8 and they go in at dusk. I'm worried about the ducks being confined in a "coop" until i let them out in the morning.
  7. mandelyn

    mandelyn Crowing

    Aug 30, 2009
    Mt Repose, OH
    My Coop
    Mine are locked in a run unless I'm out there with them. We separated our dogs out from their area and I can have everyone out at the same time... but hawks circle all day as if they're just waiting for a chance. Locked up tight at night, just in case the local coons get any ideas. I take piles of weeds that I pull from the yard and throw it on their baby pool, gives them something to do.

    Also put gravel in the run, about 5 inches deep, so that cleaning is a simple hose off once a day. The set up is easy to care for and everyone is safe. I have 2 trios should I decide to make some meatie boys and laying girls, I went with a dual purpose breed for that reason.

    Really you just need to either accept the risks of free range, or lock them up securely. Depends on what critters can do damage in your area... once every now and then by a hawk or owl, or stray/escape dogs on a rampage taking everything you have, or fearless coyote making an afternoon visit. At the bare minimum, a secure building for over night, since you will be relying on these birds for sustenance.

    I prefer low risk... I spent too much time raising them to throw caution to the wind. To replace them and start all over... hundreds of dollars at this point.
  8. m.kitchengirl

    m.kitchengirl Songster

    Jun 4, 2011
    I'm worried about the ducks being confined in a "coop" until i let them out in the morning.

    I just started ducks on my property this year. I have 5 Anconas now & am going to begin to breed them next year.
    My ducks free range for the better part of the day, but I would be concerned about them staying out all night. We have at minimum raccoons within 5 miles of us. I have read LOTS of scary info about raccoons & ducks. I have few enough ducks that any predation is a substantial problem.
    My ducks stay in all night. I let them out around 10:30 (I have heard that they lay in the morning, and want them in the habit of doing so inside so I don't have to play "find the egg" / "where's that egg smell coming from" too often.)Their "coop" is more of an enclosure.
    It has a lean-to type of section where they have bedding & some protection from the elements & a large "run" type of section with their food, water & a small pool. This area has a pea gravel floor over 1/4" hardware cloth. They have 10 sq. ft. each in the enclosure & can access the entire unit freely. They range outside, in a larger yard bordered by crab apple trees, raspberry bushes, grape vines, and a cherry tree. They stay pretty close to the coop & usually put themselves back in there around 6/6:30. I gave them peas 2 evenings in a row & then closed them in & now they just waltz in & look at me, "bring us the peas, lady". They are much easier to move about the garden & yard than the chickens in general.
    Next spring I plan to start taking any cull ducks & raising them separately, as meat birds - mostly so I don't get as attached. I plan to house them in something like this:

    only slightly larger. I figure I can build a few if needed. But, I also have all winter to plan, and knowing me, I will change my mind 10 times a day.

    I am going to follow this thread, because I am really interested in how to house a few turkeys next year. I am waiting, not so patiently, for my Storey's Guide to Raising Turkeys to come.​
  9. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Crowing

    Apr 14, 2011
    Central Oregon
    My opinion is that free range is a very good way to lose your birds.

    My ducks are out in a fenced orchard during the day. 7 1/2 foot tall fence, with a 3 ft tall and another 2 foot on the ground wire netting skirting on it. The fence was built to keep deer and rabbits out, but I hope it will also keep coyotes out. (touch wood, so far so good)

    At night, they have a very secure 20 ft X 5 foot night run, plus a secure coop. Nothing is getting into those without the use of a chainsaw or "the jaws of life".

    Coyotes are a really big problem around here. Hawks are fairly small, so a non-issue. There is a Great Horned Owl and a couple of raccoons that live 3 miles away, which is why the night run is so secure. The haven't been down this way yet. They prefer the area with more people.

    I've also got Bald Eagles about 3 miles away, at a lake. They rarely come this way, but if they locate the ducks, then everybody is going to have to live under cover full time.

    I have small dogs and they also live in high security housing. I prefer that they not become coyote snacks.
  10. 3Kids&2Ducks

    3Kids&2Ducks In the Brooder

    May 1, 2011
    We do both. During the day, they run loose. We have 2 big dogs that are good with the ducks, but would kill any other animal. So they run our property, sticking pretty close to the dogs. At night, they are in a chain link dog run, with 2 dog houses for sleeping. A predator could dig under the fence to get in, but our 2 dogs would let us know before they got too far. We have predator wise; owls, wolves, coyotes, feral dogs, feral cats, bald eagles, raccoons, possums, foxes and hawks. Turkey vultures too or some kind of vulture...they are opportunistic, might kill ducks.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: