is it normal for Pekins to dislike handling ?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by toowoombapekins, Jan 19, 2014.

  1. toowoombapekins

    toowoombapekins Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 26, 2013
    Toowoomba, Australia
    our Pekin ducklings loved being handled for the first 3 or 4 weeks.

    Now they are just over 6 weeks old and now they tend to run away and hide when we approach them and when we do actually pick them up often they will let out a big shreek like we are trying to kill them! One of them dived over a water container and smacked her head into the roof of the coop when I was trying to pick her up. They will eventually settle if we hang onto them long enough, and often still get excited and quite vocal when I get home from work, but then hide toward the back of the coop if I attempt to pick them up to put them in their pool outside or if to let them loose for a run around the yard.

    I suspect some of the problem is that for the first few weeks we were on holidays, the ducklings were in their box which sat in the loungeroom, always around us. And we handled them quite a bit. Now they are bigger their coop is in the backyard, we are both back at work, we only really get to see them briefly in the morning before we go to work and in the afternoons, evenings when we get home we usually spend about an hour with them, and of course on weekends we try to spend a fair bit of time with them. But they seem to becoming increasingly distant and scared of us when we approach them. But as said, they also still get excited to see us if we haven't seen them all day, they just don't like us touching them

    Is this normal ? Or do we just need to spend more time with them ?
    We usually still can hand feed them, but they are rather unpredictable in their behaviour. Instead of freaking them out trying to pick them up, I've been coaxing them back into their house after their swim or run around with peas. It does work, but it would be good to know we can pick them up on the occasion, give them a pat or even just to know we don't scare them!
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2014
  2. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    This is a normal phase, especially since you were on holiday. My runners got this way at 3 weeks of age.

    Here is the advice I received from Duckyfromoz and other very kind and helpful BYC members at the time.

    Come in low. Things that tower over them are frightening.

    Make sweet gentle noises as you approach, before they can see you. Things that appear suddenly with no noise are frightening.

    Try not to corner them - this is extremely stressful.

    (In my mind, all these things are instinctual predator avoidance behaviors. )

    Offer treats by placing them a little distance from you. Make time to sit near them, sing, read, chat.

    For me, it took weeks and weeks, but - tada! I have some of the sweetest, friendliest, least-skittery runners I know of. Not all are huggy. But depending on their mood, I can get hugs from half of them.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2014
  3. myfinefeatheredfriends

    myfinefeatheredfriends Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think it is just normal duck behavior. I have a Call duck I have had for 7 years who I held as a baby and now won't let me touch her with a ten foot pole. You would think after all this time she would learn to come around by now but nope! I have had over 60 ducks (not at the same time but in my lifetime) and none of them ever let me handle them past the baby stage.
     
  4. myfinefeatheredfriends

    myfinefeatheredfriends Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would suggest chickens or turkeys if you want friendly birds
     
  5. toowoombapekins

    toowoombapekins Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 26, 2013
    Toowoomba, Australia
    thanks for the tips
    no offense to chickens or turkeys, but I like ducks!
    I'm happy to persist in convincing my ducks that I'm friend not foe!

    they seem to settle down once I sit with them for a while
    I've taken the advice on board, and now approach them slowly and bribing them with peas. They have no problems eating out of my hand which is a good thing I think. This afternoon they were actually reasonably good, but tomorrow they'll probably act like I'm going to stick them on the dinner plate again or something lol

    I'll keep working on them, good to know it's not abnormal
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2014

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