my first missing flock member...

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by tmh1984, Oct 11, 2016.

  1. tmh1984

    tmh1984 New Egg

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    Oct 11, 2016
    I have 10 chickens and 3 ducks, and they share a 1250 square foot run when I am not home. If I am home through the day I let them free range. I was out and checked on them this morning then came in for a shower. After my shower, maybe 25 minutes later, I went out and they all came out of the woods, but one duck was missing. The rest of the flock all seemed calm, so I looked around and didn't find her. Normally the ducks seem to share one brain, and if one is three steps behind the others it is panicking to catch up, so a wandering duck does not seem normal. I am worried a fox may have gotten her... but would it seem weird that a fox would only get one of the 13 birds, and that the rest would seem to calm? I don't see any trace of the duck, but the woods where they hand out is dense and I could have missed it. I called for her, and she usually quacks loudly all the time.... nothing.

    Now I am second guessing my letting them free range while I am home! But they seem so much happier when they are out! They have a large run but they have devoured every speck of grass in it... is it wrong to feel like the risk of predators is worth the happier life with days outside the fence? I'm conflicted!

    Also, my ducks are Indian Runners. I am new to raising both chickens and ducks, so I don't have much experience. However I was under the impression that runners are unlikely to be hiding somewhere sitting on a nest. My ducks haven't even laid any eggs yet that I know of, they are 18 weeks old.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2016
  2. redsoxs

    redsoxs Chicken Obsessed

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    North Central Kansas
    Greetings from ask Kansas and :welcome. Pleased you joined us but sorry it's under these circumstances. :(. Yes, a daylight raid by a fox or coyote is usually a grab and run so it's not surprising it was only a single bird. (A stray dog will kill everything it can catch.) That's the good news. The bad news is that now whatever it was will keep coming back now that it knows where to get a poultry dinner. You might set up trail cams if possible to see what you're dealing with. Then make a plan to eliminate it. You have a huge run so it's not like they won't get fresh air and exercise if they don't range for awhile. Free ranging is always a risk vs. reward scenario. I let mine range when I'm home. 99.9% of the time it's no issue. It's that other .1% that can be costly.
    As an aside, make sure you stop over and intro yourself at the New Members Forum here https://www.backyardchickens.com/f/44/new-member-introductions so we can give you a proper BYC welcome! Best wishes and thanks for joining! :)
     
  3. tmh1984

    tmh1984 New Egg

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    Oct 11, 2016
    Yes I will. Thanks for the insight! We are going to keep them in the pen for a while.... I suspect a fox, as we have seen them around.I hate to lock them up all the time, they all crowd at the pen door waiting to get out, but I don't want to lose them all either!

    Another concern I have now is for my remaining two ducks through the upcoming winter (I am in Canada, winters here are typically -20 F, and go as low as -40). The chickens and ducks have their own houses. The ducks is 12 square feet... with the intention of them keeping each other warm through the winter. Should I try to get another duck or two before winter? I also am left with one drake and one female... that could get hard on the female..
     
  4. chickens really

    chickens really Overrun With Chickens

    I have Ducks and Chickens...My Ducks sleep in an insulated Dog house..I have 5 Ducks so have an extra large dog house...I have straw around it and straw down in the run. I put shavings in the dog house because the straw gets way to wet and smelly..I clean the house out once or twice a week. I have a door on it and lock them in at night. My Run is an enclosed 10x10 dog run with plastic around to keep out the wind. I use a heated bucket for water...It works great..We got snow last week and they still love to go out and free range.....

    Cheers!
     
  5. chickens really

    chickens really Overrun With Chickens

    Forgot to mention...I also have a Fox problem...Very hard to get rid of...My Husband shot the male last fall..Still the female haunting my Birds...

    Best of luck!
     
  6. tmh1984

    tmh1984 New Egg

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    Oct 11, 2016
    My duck out has insulated walls but not roof. I could probably insulate it fairly easily... but they may eat it! probably worth a shot. I called the only women within driving distance who breeds runners and she wont have any females for me until spring, she sold all her adults.
     
  7. chickens really

    chickens really Overrun With Chickens

    Throw a sheet of plywood over it and stack straw bales around it. Ducks can take the cold, its the wind that they can not handle..Cold feet is also an issue so straw down outside in the run is great....
     
  8. tmh1984

    tmh1984 New Egg

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    I didn't know about cold feet! Thanks! Good thing we just bought a big round bale of straw for the winter!
     
  9. tmh1984

    tmh1984 New Egg

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    Oct 11, 2016
    This actually brings up a question we have been struggling with for winter: do you keep their water out of their house at all times? I guess your experience will depend on where you live.

    We have found that letting them have water in their house just results in soaked shavings, which would kill them in the winter I would think. We are going to have to keep their water outside but what about snow & ice storms? I don't know that I would want to keep their house door open when snow is blowing sideways at 50 miles an hour. In that case we would have to give them water in their house...it still doesn't solve the problem of their soaking their bedding as they play in the water and freezing to death.
     
  10. ManawaGirl

    ManawaGirl Out Of The Brooder

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    TMH1984 Welcome!
    I have 25 chickens and 4 ducks. I had their coops and runs side by side until one winter I realized what a pain in the butt watering both was since they always hang out together, so we cut a door, and now the chickens and ducks go to both sides.
    Get yourself an electric waterer. They plug in a keep water for everyone all winter, which is awesome! I keep their water font in their run as the ducks are messy drinkers, which cuts down on water inside the coop. The floor of our coop is cement with shavings, so when I used to have the waterer inside the coop, it would be a wet nightmare. We are in Iowa, and typical Iowa winter nights are anywhere from 15' to -15' as mother nature here in Iowa never can make up its mind. Anyhow, I'm sooooo glad I switched the waterer to out in the run instead.
    I would think your male/female pair of ducks would be fine. We, too, had an animal attack us when my ducks and chickens were free ranging. The dog killed one of our girl ducks, so now I'm left with 3 male ducks to one female duck. Needless to say Peanut, our female Rouen gets lots of attention, but not to where it seems to bother her. I'd think your male/female pair should be fine thru the winter.
    Our chickens and ducks free range darn near every day once I get home, so 5-ish to around 8pm when they put themselves to bed. We had an attack from a weasel and I kept the animals penned up for a week or so until a neighbor caught the weasel. Same thing each March when the Bald Eagles return to the lake I live on. After I had a Bald Eagle swoop down and carry off one of my RIRs 4 years ago, they pretty much stay locked up through most of March. Losing a bird who is also a pet is a hard pill to swallow.
    Best of luck!
     

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