Help with change in behaviour...

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Duck Rogers, Aug 11, 2013.

  1. Duck Rogers

    Duck Rogers New Egg

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    Aug 11, 2013
    Hi there!
    First time posting, and first time duck owner!

    We have 3 pekins which are now about 3 months old; we got them at about 6 weeks. I built a 5x3 plywood house for them, which is located in a pen ~ 18x18ft. We use straw for bedding and layer it for about a week before cleaning it out. There is also a small, round pool for them ~ 3x3 feet across, and the water gets changed every 2-3 days. Our feeding habits are to give a snack in the morning (some cracked corn in water with peas or other goodies), leave a bowl of dry duck pellets in their house, and another snack in the late afternoon ~5:30pm. They have also been let out to free-range in the yard for a couple of hours each day for the last 2 weeks.

    They were first raised with chickens (one of the hens acted as a mother to them), and every night they would follow them in to the coop to be locked up. When we first got them, we had to catch them and put them into their new home. Following that, they always put themselves to bed at dusk, and we would go and lock the door behind them. The last 4 nights, though, they have not gone into their house and I cannot, for the life of me, herd them into it neither...I'm probably waiting until it's too late and dark...

    They trust us, but are not into letting us get close enough to touch them, so trying to herd them or catch them is incredibly stressful for all parties. I know that they don't like change, but I cannot figure out what could have turned them off of their house. That is where we keep their dry food, so we know that they are not eating much except for when we give them a morning snack and free-range for a couple of hours in the afternoon.

    My wife thinks that their bedding straw was a bit mouldy, so it was fully replaced after their first night out - it get's done almost twice a week as it is.

    We don't have that many predators around, but it's just weird that they would suddenly no longer like to go into their house. I have even added a small light to hopefully draw them in, but with no luck. I'm thinking about covering their pool with a tarp in the evening so they can't hang out in it all night long...Any advice would be appreciated!

    Also, how do you get ducks to trust you enough to pet them? Do you need to have them from hatching?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Duck Rogers

    Duck Rogers New Egg

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    Aug 11, 2013
    Well, night 5 now, and still not going into their house. I've tried treats. I am now tarping their pool at night. I have a light inside the house. Herding doesn't work - it was too dark when I last tried it and it just stressed everyone out-including me! They've been inside to eat, at least, so they are ok with going in at times.

    If I tried it around 8:30pm, is that too early? Normally, they would go in around 10pm and I didn't usually let them out until 7am. Is that too long to leave them in the house? I have food in there and have just set up a chicken waterer.

    Any advice would be appreciated!

    Thanks!
     
  3. Jryxx

    Jryxx Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 7, 2013
    Central Ohio
    Try peas. Most ducks love peas. Start by throwing them the peas and gradually gain their trust until they're literally eating out of the palm of your hand. Then you should be able to pick them up and put them in their pen, but it may take awhile to get them to trust you. Work with them everyday with the peas and eventually you'll get it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2013
  4. duckins

    duckins Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 29, 2012
    Gladys, Va
    Welcome, ducks are such creatures of habit if you stick to same routine each day they'll eventually no it better than you. To better understand do you have drinking water for them in their pen if not this could be some of the reason they need water to help swallow their feed. Ducks do not roost like chickens they party all night light or not mine are way more active at night and take naps in the daytime in between foraging but for their own safety they needed to be penned up at dusk in predator proof pen you may not have preds now but trust me one day out of the blue you will. Three of my pekin drakes have 10x20 pen 1/2 shavings with a house 1/2 stepping stones with a smaller kiddie pool I spray down poop in that section also have two more same set up for my 17 hens as disappointing as it is they rarely use their house. If you make their pen comfy they'll love it (not saying yours isn't) but all 20 of mine love their home its their comfort/safety zone made it spacious b/c mine get 2 hour foraging in a.m. And 2 hours in the p.m. We have hawk issues so I'm with them during their foraging times. Mine head to their pen at dusk but will not go in till herd them in all 20 come up as a flock and split off to their pens. My trick I use small flashlight and shine it on their pens also I use same phrase since they were little we are going home its right cute some nights I whistle and say we are going home and all 20 go to their pen they are really trained. My point its not easy but persistence is key it may not seem like it but they do love/trust you. Try putting them up before its completely dark mine cant see very well in complete dark walk behind them calmly use a stick to herd or flashlight you could use peas or mealworms toss in front of them till y'all get home. Goodluck they'll get it. Btw at their age some call it teen age stage cause they act very hard headed and they do grow out of it this could be your problem.
     
    2 people like this.
  5. cosbackyard

    cosbackyard Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 20, 2013
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Mine are pea-tamed but it's still easier to herd them in than pick them up. I use a long stick in each hand and just wave them around while walking them towards the coop. It helps that I have a run attached to the coop so I only have to get them in the run through the man-sized door.

    Unfortunately you're going to have to get them in every night. No later than early dusk. Otherwise, sooner or later, they will be killed. Ducks are completely incapable of escaping predators or defending themselves.

    As for your coop setup - I don't keep a light on in mine. I don't think my birds would like it. And I have food outside only. You must keep water (at least a few inches deep) accessible anywhere there's food and I don't want the splashy mess inside my coop.

    Best of luck with your quackers!
     
    2 people like this.
  6. Duck Rogers

    Duck Rogers New Egg

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    Aug 11, 2013
    Thanks for the info and advice! I'm going to give "peas and patience" a try ;)

    By the way, we've named the ducks "Lucy," "Sweat-pea," and "Duck Rogers."

    We live on the west coast of Vancouver Island, and luckily there aren't too many nocturnal predators around (the odd raccoon, seasonal black bears, some raptors like eagles and owls. Our entire yard has a deer fence around it, and the ducks have an 18 X 18 foot fenced-in and net-covered enclosure with a house, a small 4x4 foot pool, and a lovely spot for mud in it. Their house is about 3x5ft with straw bedding, which we layer for a few days and change out once or twice a week, and the door is about 1 x 1.5 feet. They go into their own enclosed yard on their own just fine, but lately not the house

    Tonight, I actually had the two females in the house for a minute, but Duck just stood outside watching. He had no interest...and I was out of peas.

    I always have drinking water in their pen (changed a couple times a day), but have not kept any in the house until now; I've installed a chicken watering nipple into an upside-down bottle inside, and I hope that they'll learn to use it. Their food is inside the house so that it might not attract other critters quite so easily. Almost a week ago now was the last time they willingly went into their house at dusk. Hopefully it is just teenage rebellion!
     
  7. duckins

    duckins Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 29, 2012
    Gladys, Va
    Sounds like theyll be fine. Have fun with your ducks ours really bring us true joy.
     
    1 person likes this.

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