help predator proofing our pen after loss of our beloved Dafney Duck

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by feather and mountain man, Jul 26, 2011.

  1. feather and mountain man

    feather and mountain man Corn fed Indiana farmgirl

    Jan 17, 2010
    We had a breeding pair of Pekin Ducks. They were housed with the chickens for about 8 months until it seemed to not work when the Chickens bothered Dafney while setting on her nest. So I built the 2 ducks (Dafney and Donald) their own pen. It is a woven wire pen covers snuggly with 1/4" chicken wire at about 4ft tall. The pen is about 20' x15' in size. However 3 weeks after Dafney began to set on another clutch of eggs something began to raid her nest, stealing eggs and taking newly hatched babies. One morning while feeding and watering I decided to wrap her duck box in chicken wire to protect her and the babies. Two days later I found her with only one baby duck and it was near the end of her time to hatch any more eggs. We decided to bring the baby into the house to keep it safe. there were 4 eggs left in the nest. Over the next few days she quit sitting and the eggs were all gone but one. I left the egg because she does not like me in her duck box especially after i stole her baby.

    A couple days ago my son goes out to feed the ducks and discovers Dafney half eaten in the corner of the pen. He was devistated they are actually his ducks. So I put Donald in a rabbit hutch and set traps all around the duck pen and Dafney's remains. the next morning all the traps were sprung but empty. The rest of Dafney was eaten. We are not willing to put Donald back unprotected nor our 2 week old baby Curly duck.

    So as this is our first time raising ducks I am looking for help. What type of pen do we need to use and how can I make this pen safe for my son's ducks? We really enjoy having the ducks and love to watch them splash in their pool. Curly thinks he is a person I don't thing he knows he is a duck and as much fun as it is having a duck in the house he is growing up fast and will have to go outside pretty soon.

    I don't want to see my son greive like that again and I feel like I let him down by not building a better pen the first time. Can anyone give me the info I need to have happy, healthy, and safe ducks.
  2. destinduck

    destinduck obsessed with "ducks"

    Mar 20, 2008
    Sorry for your loss. A cheap low voltage electric fence will cure most problems, also try to figure where the predator is getting in your pen anyways.You say sprung traps. Have you tried live traps baited with eggs orsomething?Havahart makes these in various sizes but I prefer the bigger ones. Most likely possum or coon.Or mink even. Either or both of these options should solve your problems.
  3. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 30, 2009
    Charlotte, NC
    Oh, soo sorry. [​IMG] [​IMG]

    It's hard to say what is going on without a little more information. It sounds like raccoon to me, but again, hard to say. Raccoons will eat eggs and will attack ducks. They are very clever at getting in and out of things, and they won't always eat the entire animal (because they are smallish themselves). So that's my best guess. If it were just the eggs, I would have said either rats or snakes, but neither of those will attack and half-eat a grown duck.

    Are the losses occurring at night? Is there any sign of how the creature is getting in and out? Could it be digging under? Is it pushing through a gap that may not be visible unless you pull it open (such as a joint between two pieces of wire)?

    If the losses are occurring at night (and they usually will), simply locking them in an enclosed house at night will solve your problem. Dog houses with a door securely attached are a good choice for this. Be sure to cover the bottom with wire, or make a wire skirt, to prevent digging under. For only two ducks, you could use one of those plastic dog houses and just attach a SECURE door (make sure it has a lock or a latch that requires strength to open--raccoons are VERY clever and can often unlatch things). If you really want their entire pen to be predator proof, you could go with a dog kennel (chain link) and attach 1/4" wire around the bottom two feet to prevent raccoons from reaching through and grabbing a sleeping duck. Line the bottom (under mulch or similar) with wire, or build a wire skirt to prevent digging. Cover the top with thick-guage wire or 1/4" hardware wire, making sure to close all gaps securely (plastic zip ties are wonderful for this, spaced about four inches apart to hold the joints tight). Raccoons will climb.

    As already suggested, electric fencing can be a great adjunct for security. If it hurts to get close to the fence, the predator won't take the time to look for weaknesses in the fence. However, you still have to make it at least *look* like it would be challenging to get through the fence, or they may try leaping past the electric or otherwise getting around it.

    So sorry for your losses. I think it's happened to most of us at least once, so you're not alone. I hope you're able to find a solution that works well for you.
  4. Going Quackers

    Going Quackers Overrun With Chickens

    May 24, 2011
    On, Canada
    aw, that is so sad. I admit to just taking the locking the ducks up at night approach, i don't think i trust nor can afford to predator proof a run properly. There just seems to be way to many they can get hurt.
  5. ChristineR

    ChristineR Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 15, 2011
    WA state
    It could also be a bird of prey. Eagles love ducks. I looked them up in our wild bird guide and ducks are one of their natural food sources. Hawks and owls will also eat ducks.

    We lost our favorite Pekin drake a few weeks ago to a bald eagle. I suspected some sort of bird because of the way Fluffy was killed. I know it was an bald eagle because I caught him trying to get in again after I had strung wire over the top of the pen. He was really determined. My husband heard the ducks quacking and looked out the window to see the eagle on the ground, shaking the door to the pen, trying to get in. When he saw my husband through the window, he walked away and then flew up on our arbor. I haven't seen him since.

    I felt really bad because I had meant to get the cover back on their pen a few days before this happened, but I'd been lulled into a false sense of security by the 3 previous years with no incidents with predators. [​IMG]

    As previously mentioned, a good clue is the time of day that this happened. Also, how was your duck killed? Did she look chewed on around the neck and face or did it look like something landed on her back and started eating. Sorry, I know, not really something you want to think about, but it might help you to figure out what got her.

    I don't know if this helps you at all, but I keep my ducks penned in a chain link dog kennel that's reinforced with chicken wire around the bottom and now over the top (I used to just have a tarp over the top, but I had to remove it at times when it was really windy). I move the pen around the grass every day or two, so I never have to clean anything. They have the top half of a big dog house to use as a shelter. They eat my dandelions and fertilize the grass for me, too! I don't know if this would work for you or not. I do think part of the reason that I don't have problems with raccoons, opossums, etc can be credited to my big dogs that are outside a lot. Our property probably reaks of dog to the little critters.
  6. Kschwartz

    Kschwartz Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 15, 2011
    Make sure they are locked up a night, not only in their pen, but in a safe shelter inside the pen also. Look around your pen for any holes that the predator could have dug or gotten in to.
  7. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    Sad to read of your loss.

    While I cannot say they will never be harmed, so far my ducks do well in Little Fort Knox at night. Perhaps you can use some of these methods.

    There is a house - plywood, double-walled (that's due to New England winters, not predators), with a people door (padlocked) and a sliding duck door onto their veranda. The Veranda is attached to the house - no gaps greater than half an inch - and wrapped top, bottom and sides with half inch hardware cloth. The people door to the veranda is hardware cloth, padlocked. Three sides of the veranda sit on concrete blocks sunk six inches into the ground. The fourth side, due to tree roots, has an apron (of concrete block at 10 pound stones) about two feet wide alongside it.

    The ventilation area at the top of the house is covered with half inch hardware cloth.

    Two strands of equine electric wire (looks like white ribbon) run around the house and veranda, and even the day pen which is adjacent to the veranda, to keep as many critters as I can away from the ducks at night. I have a Pioneer charger hooked to a 12 volt battery.

    The day pen has coated chain link fence on the bottom, clamped between 6" wide boards along the outside perimeter to prevent things from digging under and in. The sides are 2"x3" coated woven wire fence. The top is covered in that fence material too, since we have foxes in the area that could jump the fence during the day. The bottom two feet of the sides of the day pen are also covered with 1" coated chicken wire.

    These are just some techniques I picked up from Storey's Guide to Raising Ducks and the people on this Duck forum.

    The other night a raccoon literally tried to push open our storm door. Then it wandered over to check on the ducks. They quietly and quickly ran from the veranda into their house, out of sight. Moments later, while walking around the back of the duck house, the raccoon took off like a shot up the hill - most likely it touched the electric fence. I have not seen it since. Of course it or another will be back, it's just what they do.
  8. feather and mountain man

    feather and mountain man Corn fed Indiana farmgirl

    Jan 17, 2010
    The box trap didn't work at all. Last night I sat on the porch with the Dogs for a long while in the dark. Then suddenly the dogs went crazy I never heard anything. I turned the flashlight on and saw eyes and something running from the yard. It was dark colored, to large to be a tabby cat but could leap pretty high but I don't know what it was. The dogs barked but did not try to chase it so I still don't know if it was what killed the duck or even what that was.

    I have started to add an electric fence with a wire at the bottom and top of the fence I am wondering if it is a coon if it is living in the trees that are inside the fence. So I am not sure what to do to find out for sure. Any thoughts??

    I would close them up at night but Donald is not very tame and wont go in the box he sets on the outside of the duck box and I can't catch him very easy. [​IMG]
    Curly follows me anywhere I go but not big enough to go outside until we are sure he will be safe.

    Thanks for the help.
  9. ChristineR

    ChristineR Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 15, 2011
    WA state
    Quote:I'd start training him to come to you by using food.
  10. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 30, 2009
    Charlotte, NC
    Yup, sounds like a coon. Dark, larger than a big tabby cat. Did it kind of lope when it ran away? Raccoons live EVERYWHERE, and they eat everything. And they're vicious and smart. Can you leave your dog outside with the ducks until you figure something else out? And you should be able to funnel your duck into its shelter somehow--make it the only place it can get away from you, and herd it in. Also, if you start feeding him in the shelter only, he'll start going in there regularly. I feed mine ONLY at night and only in their pen, and they go in happily every night.

    Good luck!

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by