Free Ranging questions


In the Brooder
12 Years
Oct 14, 2007
Catawba, SC
I have searched the forum and haven't found any posts that answer my questions. My 4 Khaki Campbells are 10 months old. They have been in a 10x20 dog kennel (covered with netting) with a good sized pool and an attached coop since they were 3 weeks old before that they were in the house. I have not let them out of the pen because I have been scared to. They are very skittish when you try to handle them and are next to impossible to catch even in their pen. We have a relatively small pond about 50 feet or so from my coops. If I let them out to free range, will they automatically go back to their pen at night? Are they easy to herd like my chickens or will they freak out and scatter? They do not sleep in the coop, but prefer to sleep on the ground even when we have had snow. I am afraid that once they discover the pond, I may not get them back in to the pen. I was planning on continuing to keep their feed in the coop and still fill their kiddie pool and waterer. We have raccoons, skunks, owls, hawks, foxes, coyotes, and frequent stray dogs to contend with so that is why I have not let them out yet. I am scared of losing one or all of them. Or would I just be better off keeping them confined since that is all they know? They seem perfectly content being confined digging in the mud. It is me that feels bad that they can't go out to free range when the chickens and guineas do.

Thank you in advance for your help.
Hello ,
We have ducks and all we do is open the pen let them out durring the daylight hours and then they return back to their pen before dark , then we close them in.

I don't know that all ducks will do that though but would give it a try if you want.
They are also fine kept in their pen and run to if you think that would be best , either way would be ok.
My rouens free range during the day and usually go back to the barn at night. Sometimes we need to herd them, but this isn't hard - just walk behind them with our arms out. They also only get fed in the barn (and added incentive to go to bed).
i would bet that they will go back to the pin on there own. that has been there home and i would be shocked if thay didnt return at night.
wish you luck
They don't like sleeping in their coop. It is plenty big, but they prefer to sleep outside in their pen no matter what the weather is. The pen is built like a fortress, so I am not too worried. I used to make them go in at night, but they get really stressed from chasing around in circles and then finally having to catch each one to put them up. The only thing they go in for is their food really. There are 2 nest boxes, but sometimes they lay inside, and most of the time they lay outside in a corner that they dug out. One of they just lays right in the middle of the pen or wherever she feels it needs to come out. I may try it soon, but it probably won't be this weekend because it is supposed to rain all weekend. I don't want to have to be out chasing them around in the rain. One good thing though is that they seem to go to "bed" much earlier than my chickens. At least if I let them out, it wouldn't be almost dark if I had to chase them around to get them back home.
Believe me - if you feed them in the coop they will go back.
They are probably already food trained and know your routine as far as feeding goes. You need to readjust them to new cues - cues that say food is only served at night in the coop. My geese are absolutely trianed - they see me come out of the house at night and literally run their little legs off to beat me to the barn door. I shake the container I use to feed and then scatter it on the ground in the same place every night. My ducks get fed in the same place in their aviary too, they stand there waiting for the food to appear.

If they don't have a regular feeding pan or dish - get one. Then ONLY feed them in that dish, in the coop, in the evening. Make sure if you have other animals to feed - you feed the ducks LAST - that way they have even more cues telling them that it is time to go back into the coop for food. Thye will hear the other animals getting excited for food and pay attention to what is going on. Eventually they will understand and learn to expect food to appear in that pan, in that coop, at that time - every night.

It might take a few days for them to adjust to the new schedule so on the first evening they are out make sure you have plenty of time before dark to round them up.

Good luck!
I agree, feed them in the pen at night. Use the same dish. Mine come when I whistle.
I have a pond, and if I wait too long to get them they will be "in bed" on the pond and will not come off to get dinner/get locked up.
I also find that I have to adjust their food as the seasons change. In the spring when there are many bugs to eat, they aren't always as motivated to come back. If I feed the less that night (after herding then in), the next night they are waiting by the food dish!

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom