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Help! We can't get our ducks to bed! Tips or tricks needed!

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by DuckAmateur, Nov 8, 2016.

  1. DuckAmateur

    DuckAmateur Hatching

    Nov 8, 2016
    So, I'll give you the low down.

    We recently hatched some ducklings who have now grown to adults (about 4-5 months old), we originally had 12 eggs but only 3 actually hatched. We are duck amateurs (kept chickens all our lives but obviously ducks are a bit different). We have a very large pond, it is about 82ft x 52ft (25m x 16m). We researched a little at how to introduce them to the water, the pond, their house etc and that has all gone swimmingly (no pun intended) except for getting them into bed.

    We began googling it and soon realised that ducks are not like chickens in that they will not put themselves in their house by themselves however they are quite good at being herded. Our first tactic was to try and herd them with a long rake (this was the only thing we could find which was long enough to have any effect) however, this was soon flawed when they would just sit in the middle of the pond.
    It has now escalated to throwing stones near them to try and spook them into the direction of their house, whilst saying 'bed time' repeatedly, hoping that this would be learnt. Low and behold, it hasn't been learnt and we are now a bit stuck throwing stones into the pond sounding like idiots. Our only method isn't working as the pond is so big, they just swim in the wrong direction.

    We also do have quite a lot of fish in the pond so the 'throwing' idea isn't exactly ideal. The only other thing we have tried is getting into waders, but obviously the pond is so cold now so it isn't really a great idea (English weather and all).
    We have had a couple of miraculous moments in the Summer where they went to bed themselves but that has only been a handful of times.

    Now the clocks have gone back, our entire household doesn't get home until 6pm or later, it's already pitch black before we have even tried to get them to go to bed. And when it's dark.... it's sooooo much harder!

    My question is, does anybody have any tips or tricks they are willing to share in order to get these ducks to go to bed? I have just spent 45 minutes trying to get them in bed, so I've come to see if any experts can help.
    We have one Saxony duck (we think is female) and two Cayuga ducks (one female, one male) attached some photos which aren't great but it kind of shows them in our giant pond (fyi, the pond has been cleared since these photos).

    Any items to use? Methods? Calls? Whistles? Dance moves?

    We are willing to try anything.

    Please help. Thank you!



  2. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    I would build a nice sized pen and keep them in that during the way with a swim pan, and keep them off the pond if it means that they won't come in at night.

    If you can find a treat that they absolutely cannot resist, and that you can give them only in their night shelter when they come in, that might be worth a try.

    Glad you know how important it is to keep them safe overnight.
  3. TLWR

    TLWR Songster

    Jul 10, 2010
    southern AL
    Since the pond is full of yummy goodies, it may not work as well, but try their favorite snack. Peas are a hit here and my birds will do anything for peas.

    You may need to temporarily confine them to a pen attached to their night house to get them into a new routine. Go out at dusk and herd them into their house using peas. If you go out and they are already in their house, give them peas anyway. After a while, you might not need peas every day. Once it is routine to them, let them roam again, but bring them back to their pen before dark (use peas). Then see you can see if they will come off the pond with a cup of peas as encouragement.

    My girls are currently in their house by dark waiting for me to close the door, no peas needed. But I still bring some out for them now and then to encourage their good habit as I'm sure one day they will decide it is much nicer to just sit on their pond and have to be bribed out to go to bed.

    Good luck.
  4. duckitup

    duckitup Chirping

    Jun 10, 2015
    I feel your pain! We have a pond around the size of yours as well and the ducks were so difficult at "night night" time...... in the beginning.

    Many nights we could spend an hour or more "fighting" with them. We never gave up though. We used kayaks and rakes and stones like you (I hate to scare them but when you are desperate you have to do what you have to do to keep them safe). I think the most important thing is to not give up. The first few weeks were the hardest but after that they sort of came to expect it. Not to say that they didn't give us troubles and play the, you go that way I'll go this way game, but it did slowly become easier. We started our process in April and it wasn't until about the last month or so that I can pretty confidently get then in all by my self with out help. (in the beginning it was def at least a 2 person job). They still don't put them selves to bed but they know that when I come down to the pond at dusk what the routine is and have become easier and easier to get moving towards their duck house. Thank god they shaped up before daylight savings because my other half isn't home until after 6 usually.

    Other ideas....

    One thing I started doing around mid summer is always giving them treats in their house at night. Lettuces, peas, some times meal worms etc. I think that helped a lot too. Just before I begin trying to get them to go in I would walk into their duck house and put their treat buckets down. I think they gradually got used to seeing me go in and come out and realized what I was doing so then they started looking forward to it in a way. Routine I think was key with ours. Once they got used to it they just started accepting it as part of their everyday.

    You could maybe try (we thought about doing this but never worked it all out), is to get a really long rope that will make it all the way across the pond. Have each person hold an end of the rope and one person go around one side of the pond and one on the other and just hover the rope above the water and walk towards where ever their house is to help herd them in.

    Flashlight. I almost forgot about this one. A flashlight saved our lives a few times. Once it gets dark enough flicking a flashlight on the water causes a reflection they see and move away from. Can help get them going in the right direction.

    Get more ducks! Sounds kind of funny but the more ducks you have the more herd like they will be and the better your chances of getting one of them to head in the direction you need so that the others will follow.

    If your duck house isn't pretty close to the pond and you can relocate it closer that would probably help too. Their instinct is to stay on the pond for safety. Sitting ducks on land so the less time they have to spend on land to get to their next "safe place" the better.

    Your pond is beautiful! Lucky ducks. I can understand why they don't want to leave it :)

    Good luck! I hope it starts to get a little easier for you. It is so so so important to lock them in at night. Keep it up and you will have happy and safe duckies at night!
  5. They do not need to be on the pond everyday.......Keep then penned and only out when your home......I trained mine so if I say bedtime they all wattle back to the run.....

  6. DancingWthDucks

    DancingWthDucks Songster

    Feb 21, 2016
    Cumbria, UK
    I would try shaking a bag of feed or tempting them out with their favourite treats (mealworms or peas normally work). I started calling "Bedtime" when I herded mine to their coop, and now all I have to do is shout the command and they race in to bed themselves. In fact now, as soon as it gets dark (5.00 o'clock in England :( ) they fly over the fence to get to their coop.

    Good luck with your ducks....

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