Integrating ducklings w existing flock - advice needed!

JayZee1054

Hatching
Apr 22, 2020
8
2
8
Hi everyone!! I need some opinions and advice on moving my 4 babies (2 runner, 2 khaki) outside with our 2 adult ducks (1 female pekin, 1 drake rouen). They are about 4 weeks now. I know some people say to wait until 6-8 weeks, but I’m in Houston so I am not worried about the weather (they haven’t had a heat lamp in a week at all), I just want to make sure they are safe and dry against any rain since they aren’t waterproof yet. Honestly my only concern is the existing ducks (mostly drake). I have been bringing the ducklings outside during the day to swim and forage for a couple weeks. The male used to ignore then but now will chase them around the yard and tries to yank out feathers. The female puts her head low and runs at them but even if she corners them so doesn’t touch them just walks away. I locked the drake in the coop by himself today because I had to play too much defense!

I am curious... is it cruel to move the ducklings outside into the coop at night (I still won’t want them out in the yard without my supervision due to hawks) separated in a pen or dog crate (I will add a roof for rain) so that the drake can’t get at them? My worry is they will be scared all the time if he is being mean but as long as he can’t get them and our coop is predator proof, is that OK?

the pictures I am attaching were just what I threw together this afternoon in the coop... I will have a real waterer, food, and add a plastic or wood roof on top of the ducklings if I were to move them. I also attached their dog crate set up where they live in our garage currently (however I have changed their waterer since and use the metal feeder for food now). I am thinking of just moving this whole thing into the coop plus roof.

thoughts?
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DuckyDonna

Crossing the Road
Aug 26, 2018
5,472
17,315
826
Dallas, Georgia
A raccoon or fox will rip through that chicken wire like butter. You need to put up 1/2" hardware cloth at least around the bottom half of the run. It's a nightmare to work with but its really the only thing that will keep bad things away from your babies.

I will also tell you that I lost a 4 week old runner to a huge king snake when I thought things were perfectly fine for them to be out in the run. It was horrible.

So now that we've got that out of the way. I do think they will be terrorized if the older ducks are with them now because you already know they are very aggressive toward them.

Do you not have another little pen that they could go in until they get big enough to fight back? Then if the drake tried to mate with them that will become a really big problem. We don't usually let young ones but with older ones, especially drakes, until they are at least 4 months old. They need to be in a separate run where they can see but not touch until then. You might have to buy some more fencing!
 

JayZee1054

Hatching
Apr 22, 2020
8
2
8
A raccoon or fox will rip through that chicken wire like butter. You need to put up 1/2" hardware cloth at least around the bottom half of the run. It's a nightmare to work with but its really the only thing that will keep bad things away from your babies.

I will also tell you that I lost a 4 week old runner to a huge king snake when I thought things were perfectly fine for them to be out in the run. It was horrible.

So now that we've got that out of the way. I do think they will be terrorized if the older ducks are with them now because you already know they are very aggressive toward them.

Do you not have another little pen that they could go in until they get big enough to fight back? Then if the drake tried to mate with them that will become a really big problem. We don't usually let young ones but with older ones, especially drakes, until they are at least 4 months old. They need to be in a separate run where they can see but not touch until then. You might have to buy some more fencing!
Thank you, DuckyDonna! Sounds like I may need to build a small separate pen for them.. we do have some hardware cloth and other fencing wire around. The coop was given to us along with the adult ducks in December (friends moved and had to rehome, we had been wanting ducks for a while though), so we have not raised ducklings before. We have actually not had any predator issues with the coop at night, only one hawk attack and bobcat attacks (one visit killing 5 ducks in one go😭) during the day. We don’t let our 2 adults free range as much anymore cause of the bobcat, but really try to get them out as much as possible. I can see that little ducklings may be more tempting for predators at night too though!

I am googling but anyone know of a simple DIY holding pen for the babies for the next few months? I have heard repurposed dog houses can work well, but of course I need to find a used one of those first! Trying to make it simple and effective. I assume just adding hardware cloth to the dog crate is not advised? I will look at what we have wood-wise in the garage and see what I can come up with..
 

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