I sense a runner in the garden

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by TheResidentialFarm, Jun 13, 2017.

  1. TheResidentialFarm

    TheResidentialFarm Out Of The Brooder

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    in case you would like to enjoy a song with an opening line applicable to my topic :p

    I know this seems trivial, but I'm mentally stuck and would love to talk this out with someone experienced with ducks and chickens--

    I have 6 5-week old Indian Runner ducklings. My intention was to keep one drake and all resulting ducks in our 50'x100' garden for slug control and eggs, but I believe we have 3 drakes (too many for 3 ducks) and I loff them. The little ladies (despite identical upbringing, age, and pea-laden training sessions), completely panic when we are moving around them. The drakes are lovely little pets and run to me when they are called (with peas).

    I'm trying to decide whether everyone would be happier if we keep all the drakes in the garden, keep the ducks in the front room of the chicken coop, and let the ducks share a yard with the chickens (35'x35' for 15 hens and a rooster), or rehome a couple of my darling boy duckies and keep everyone in the garden. The downside to keeping two runner flocks is that I will have two kiddie pools to maintain and there might be complications in keeping the ducks with the chickens (eg the chickens like to be let out of the fenced yard to free-range but I don't really trust the ducks to safely range and return).

    My husband falls back to "whatever you want, dear" and no one else I know has ducks. It seems harder to maintain two duck flocks and we're already busy, but the little drakes are just so endearing! Are there other factors or experiences I'm not accounting for that could sway me?
     
  2. Ravynscroft

    Ravynscroft For the Love of Duck Premium Member

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    Many keep ducks with chickens, so there shouldn't be a big issue there... are you really wanting duck eggs, though? If that really isn't a deal breaker for you, you could rehome the girls (much easier than rehoming drakes) and just keep a bachelor flock...
     
  3. cheezenkwackers

    cheezenkwackers Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I like the song! Like you, I got ducks to keep in my garden. I have five, two boys and three girls and I was warned not to do it -but I didn't listen. Now I have two flocks.

    Just as kittens become cats, and puppies become dogs, duckling become ducks. I kept both boys because they were my favorite ducklings. They had so much personality and were so friendly. Then, hormones kicked in. My sweet boy ducklings became hormone driven, brutes. If allowed, they attack the other male's girls and will even goose the dog or me. My skittish female ducklings have become the friendly sweet ones. They will run to me and climb in my lap for mealworms.
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    My girls are perfectly happy to be separated from the boys, in fact, they seem to prefer it. But not my boys! They hate to be away from the girls and will spend the entire day running along the fence to watch the girls. I usually keep one pair separated from the other three. You could end up trying to keep three pairs apart. If I could go back and do it again I would have only kept one or no males! One of my boys still may end up in a pot of Gumbo soon.

    Good luck!

    PS -My girls are much better slug, snail, and bug hunters!
     
    Ravynscroft likes this.
  4. TheResidentialFarm

    TheResidentialFarm Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for the feedback!

    I really really do want duck eggs. Hubby bought me three dozen duck eggs (at $10 per dozen!! Ack!) to experiment with, and the cakes and custards are just too lovely. I want more.

    We are also questioning the accuracy of our sex attribution, however. One we thought was male started sounding female and one we thought was female is maybe a male, but last night when I sat down to really figure it out, I heard 5 honking ducks and one quiet duck. So I have lost all confidence.

    Before we got ducks, I would have sworn I knew what sounds a duck makes. Now after watching tons of youtube videos and reading descriptions of how to distinguish duck noises, I feel like I have absolutely no idea. They have quite the array of whistles, squeaks, chirps, honks, quacks, and grumbles.
     
  5. cheezenkwackers

    cheezenkwackers Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You might have 5 girls. That would be great! If you separate one at a time and listen for any honk, quack, or poot sound. Any voice change which is deeper should be a girl. Peeping, quiet, or hoarse should be boys.

    Are they a type of runner you can identify gender by color? If so, post pictures.

    And yes, duck eggs are wonderful!
     
  6. TheResidentialFarm

    TheResidentialFarm Out Of The Brooder

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    What on earth is a poot? lol I'm now thinking 4 girls and 2 drakes, but it seems like one of them makes both male and female noises based on how I'm categorizing their sounds, which still makes me feel like I have no idea what I'm doing.

    They are all fawn and white so no help there.

    I'm making a duck egg and fresh lemoncurd (with duck eggs of course) cake this weekend! They're such nice eggs.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2017
  7. cheezenkwackers

    cheezenkwackers Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That cake sounds wonderful!
    A "poot" is a southern word for a "fart". It just sounds a little nicer.
    Look at the shape of the back half of their bodies. You should notice one gender is longer than the other. You may be able to match that to the ones making girl noises. If one is making both it is probably a girl going through a voice change.
     
  8. TheResidentialFarm

    TheResidentialFarm Out Of The Brooder

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    The cake turned out great! My husband was impressed.

    I have been constantly thinking about your post and their sounds and they're body shapes, @cheezenwackers. I can't tell anything from the length of body alone, but two seem very stout, like duckie body builders, and those match the ones I feel fairly confident are male. Three of the others are very slender and I think those are female. One is in between and I just can't tell. There are still a good number of baby noises in the mix as well.

    The downside of ducks in the garden has become apparent. I took a chance and didn't fence off the red cabbage plants. The ducks went through and ate off all the baby cabbage heads! **sigh** At least they are very very happy and well fed little ducks.
     
  9. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Running over with Blessings Premium Member

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    How old are your Runners? My Runner drake is quiet a bit taller and slimmer than my females
     
  10. TheResidentialFarm

    TheResidentialFarm Out Of The Brooder

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    They're 6 weeks now.

    One of the slim ones was the littlest from hatch and spent extra time in the brooder (with a friend) eating scrambled eggs and greek yogurt to build strength before going out with the others. She has a pretty good quack, so I feel confident that one is female. The other could be a slim male.

    This is a frustrating exercise. I would separate them for noise inspection but I feel like that would be stressful on the duckies and only benefit my interest at this point in time.
     

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