Hand taming ducks?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by eve789, Aug 26, 2014.

  1. eve789

    eve789 In the Brooder

    Jan 28, 2013
    My chickens are *incredibly* friendly and bold. In other words, they associate me with food. In fact, they probably associate all humans with food (and don't draw much of a distinction between us). The ones I hand-tamed as chicks are the friendliest, but even our more recent hatch (now about four months old) will eat out of my hand if I am still and patient, even if they have never had the experience of doing so before.

    I have ten ducks. Eight are also about four months old. Two are 1 year+ adults that I bought from someone a few towns over. They are all terrified of me.

    The adult ducks, their former owner says, are very bold and are hand tame, but unlike chickens, they definitely distinguish between humans (i.e., just because they would eat of his hand, doesn't mean they'll trust me enough to eat of mine). They are still adjusting to their environment and seem to be skittish not only around me but all the other birds!

    The juvenile ducklings are definitely getting calmer as they grow older, but unless I pen them up (which they won't like), I am not quite sure how to get them comfortable eating either from my hand or near me. Whatever I did with my chickens just isn't working for my ducks. I tried hand taming them as ducklings and one duck was brave enough to eat of my hand. The others were just constantly flipping out and it seemed like I was causing them more stress than it would ever be worth (again, sooo different from chickens!).

    One of the issues with chickens v. ducks is that they all free range together, so if I try to feed the ducks, the chickens come running and the ducks really aren't ones to get caught up in that drama. If I throw food in their direction, they don't even recognize it as food and don't seem particularly interested in eating it. This is true even of salmon, which my chickens go nuts over.

    Is this a problem of keeping ducks and chickens together? Are ducks just more standoffish / less brave than chickens as a general rule? Or am I just particularly bad at speaking duck?

  2. Going Quackers

    Going Quackers Crowing

    May 24, 2011
    On, Canada
    My first flock of chickens was/is very tame my ducks generally are not, quite a few have been brooded by me but once they go off with the big flock they resort to more normal behaviours.

    I do have some right now, whom were imprinted on us..(bad call hatch lol) so they will come right up to me, but that is an extreme. Ducks being prey animals are more hesitant to get close, they HATE change, seriously you should have seen the day i add a new feeder they rubber neck before even attempting to get close lol

    I have had the most success with taming my calls due to their size and the fact all with the exception of 5(they were raised by their mama duck) were hand raised by me. We also still need to handle them to move them about for housing and pens.

    None of my large flock is this way, i can handle them if need be but otherwise they are pretty natural. Basically, treats and time some breeds are more skittish than others and some birds just don't want much to do with people.

    Last edited: Aug 26, 2014
  3. smonkeySK

    smonkeySK Chirping

    Dec 20, 2013
    wigan uk
    As stated, ducks don't do well with change - not only has their habitat been changed but their guardian as well.

    I'd be surprised if you can get them back to where the old owner had them in terms of friendliness within 6 months.

    That's not to say they won't take to you; but it will take a while.
    Having a bunch of boisterous chickens getting in the way won't help either, especially if they are new to chickens!

    You'll have to spend more time with the flock, stoop low and talk softly- curiosity will get the better of them eventually and as long as you don't force yourself on to them, then they will come round.
    You'll probably have to feed the chucks first and once they have moved away from you, begin to focus on the ducks.
    Try watercress as a duck treat (they love mealworm too but good luck sneaking that past the chucks! ) - pop it in a water bowl to start with and stay near enough that you are challenging their comfort zone. As they become more comfortable around you; move closer and before long you'll have a few of them hand feeding.

    Given enough time even the prickliest of ducks will come round - trust won't come along overnight.

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