Free ranging my ducks?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by TMNfarm, Aug 21, 2014.

  1. TMNfarm

    TMNfarm Songster

    Apr 23, 2012
    Northern MN
    My kids and I decided to try again with ducks this summer. Last year, we hatched out 3, and lost them when they were about 4 weeks old to some sort on infection, all within 24 hours of each other.

    We now have 1 mixed breed drake that we hatched out this spring, and the rest we purchased from the local feed store as babies in May... 4 Mallards (2 drakes, 2 hens - my daughter is currently at the MN State Fair showing a 1 of the drakes and the hens there for 4H after taking Grand Champion at our county fair!), 4 Blue Swedish (1 drake, 3 hens), and 7 Pekins (3 drakes, 4 hens). We also have a large and varied flock of chickens that free range, as well as 6 young turkeys that are also free range. Most everyone (except a handful of chickens that live in the barn) are locked up for the night. The ducks have not yet been allowed to free range. They all live together in a large coop that used to be an outdoor dog run. We really want to free range the ducks, but I am nervous because we have never had ducks before.

    Will they stick around or will they fly away? Should I clip their wings? I don't really want to if I don't have to. Will they feel the instinctual urge to migrate this fall?? Will they return to their coop in the evening like the chickens do, or will I be chasing them around the yard like we have to with the turkeys? 6 turkeys, I can handle... 16 ducks is another story! We do intend to thin out the flock a bit, probably later this fall. We are thinking of keeping 1 drake and 2 hens of each breed, and the mix breed drake. Then in the spring, we may separate them into breeding pens. I have a friend who butchers his ducks, but he has Runners... Are any of these ducks considered meat ducks? We really didn't get them to eat, but I don't want to have more than one drake of each breed if I can help it. So far, everyone has gotten along well, but they are young.

    Thanks for any words of wisdom anyone can impart to us!!
  2. Richb353

    Richb353 Chirping

    I can't give much advice on your breeds, but my Cayugas and Welsh Harlequin do not fly. What I can say is that ducks stick together making them easy to herd to their pen at the end of the day. I'm on 5 acres, but my flock doesn't wander too far (a few hundred feet) from their pen and the spot where I always feed them.

  3. Going Quackers

    Going Quackers Crowing

    May 24, 2011
    On, Canada
    I free range the majority of my flock that said ducks are not like chickens, they don't come home to roost most of the time my ducks return to the fenced area surrounding their barn and coops at dusk but that doesn't mean i don't do a head count, i also ensure all the ducks know how to herd so i can move them if need be.

    As for you breeds.. i know Pekin don't fly, Mallards do. Blue Swedish.. i don't think so? but am not super familiar with the breed. Most domestic ducks don't fly. Now that said i do own 2 flying breeds, Muscovy and call.. i clip neither but my calls are penned.

    My drakes don't fly in Muscovy but the females do but for the most part do not fly away more fly up on stuff or a quick flap.. that said clipping wings is always an option. Ideally, 2-3 ducks per drake to keep harmony. You are very drake heavy while young no they likely will have not much trouble but when sexual maturity comes trouble starts, and the drakes can go after chicken hens and they are not compatible and can harm(even kill) hens.

    I know Pekin are mainly meat ducks.. after that not sure... i know some even eat calls, so really any duck could be butchered if your desired. I will add all my ducks are locked into pred proof housing overnight i sleep better knowing they are safe, ducks have predator problems just like chickens do.
  4. Quacking Mad

    Quacking Mad In the Brooder

    Jul 1, 2014
    I have Swedish they don't fly and they are a decent meat bird. Mine are pets so I myself haven't had any. They free range and they put themselves in at dusk I just close the door after a head count.

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