Need bonding & imprinting help w/ new babies

Newfowler1

Songster
Jul 8, 2019
220
395
151
Purcellville Virginia
Hello I'm a newbie here I guess. I've had two little broods thus far, Pekin and Rouen. Then Cayuga Ducks afterward. I bonded with my injured female Pekin post raccoon incident (she lost her mate and her eye ) I couldnt even leave the room after she and I bonded. I bought two Rouen ducks (to give her company) from someone on craigslist which turned into a disaster. They wouldn't go in their pen at night and my littl gal followed suit in the evening chase. Eventually I gave up on late evening after 3 hrs of trying to catch the Rouens and went to bed, disaster followed with my sweetheart and one of the naughty rouens ending up raccoon fodder. I was heartbroken. I ordered 2 Cayuga ducks and a golden layer afterwards, imprinting seemed futile and I felt sorry for the surviving Rouen so I gave in and introduced the ducklings to her and they all seemed happy together. I can hand feed them but oh my NO touching allowed!

So more to the point I ordered 5 Welsh Harquins and a Saxony duckling and got them mail ordered on hatching day. No matter how much i handle them they still don't seem to want to bond with me and wail and holler to b put down. They are now 2 weeks old, kept indoors in a large clear brooder with heating pad and lamp.

I use meal worms of course but don't feel I'm getting a connection. No matter how I try to hold and handle them they just want to climb up my shoulder and get away. Like Montey Python & the Rabbit, "run away run away!!!!"

Any help would be greatly appreciated! I have duckling diapers for them but don't see the point if I'm going to traumatize them in the process.
 

LilyLoo

Songster
Sep 15, 2018
162
509
216
Arizona
I'm not sure more babies is the answer to the imprinting issue. More babies will just scream and scare each other. Patients with this little flock you have will be the best way. Sit with them, talk to them and use treats to get them where you need them to go. You will build great relationships and have fun with them as ducks are always entertaining.
I wanted sweet imprinted ducks. But I got 2 bossy, silly girls that I love dearly. I can not hold them or pet them. Touching is not allowed, lol. So we have worked out a great duck Mom relationship anyways. My ideas and their's was completely different. I love them anyway. I used peas to train them when they were young and now I can call them and they come running. So sorry my experience didn't help with imprinting but maybe there are other ways to build a bond you all can enjoy. Ducks are great no matter how they love us :)
 

PirateGirl

Chicken Lover, Duck Therapist
Mar 11, 2017
7,203
18,537
632
South Park, Colorado, USA
Ducks are not cats and dogs. Ducks all have different personalities. Normally ducks do not want to be held or pet or snuggled. This is akin to be captured by a predator and can be scary. It doesn’t mean your ducks don’t like you, it just means that they don’t like being held, which goes back to a survival instinct. Your ducks will trust you more if you don’t force them to do things. Walk don’t run. This is figurative and literal. The more I chase my ducks the more they get upset and run away, survival instinct. Approach slow and calm and test them kindly and they will grow to trust you. My ducks now put themselves to bed and come running to me begging for treats. I can easily grab one and pick one up, but they always try to get away. I guess what I’m saying is you gotta take it easy with behaviors thy have potential to freak your ducks out. You need to gain trust slowly and things will get better in time. Good luck.
 

Flyinbolts

Songster
Aug 20, 2019
208
329
111
West Michigan
Ducks are not cats and dogs. Ducks all have different personalities. Normally ducks do not want to be held or pet or snuggled. This is akin to be captured by a predator and can be scary. It doesn’t mean your ducks don’t like you, it just means that they don’t like being held, which goes back to a survival instinct. Your ducks will trust you more if you don’t force them to do things. Walk don’t run. This is figurative and literal. The more I chase my ducks the more they get upset and run away, survival instinct. Approach slow and calm and test them kindly and they will grow to trust you. My ducks now put themselves to bed and come running to me begging for treats. I can easily grab one and pick one up, but they always try to get away. I guess what I’m saying is you gotta take it easy with behaviors thy have potential to freak your ducks out. You need to gain trust slowly and things will get better in time. Good luck.
One hundred percent this post. You are a predator to them in their eye. It sucks but that's the way it is.

What I found to be VERY useful is during my for lack of better words - talking hours - I try to keep the ducklings very close and handle them. I have them inside until around week 6 if I can keep them clean and handle often, each and every one. Feed them mealworms or other treats individually. My Cayuga is still a super vocal hater of me but my black swedish and indian runner will practically come to me, esp with treats.
It takes time, love, and patience! You'll never get 100% like a dog.

As far as getting them in at night a few things:
1) SCHEDULE IS EVERYTHING - ducks LOVE routine.
2) Associate a phrase with it - call out something like 'all ducks go to bed' when you're telling them to get to their coop
3) Make a chute - some poultry fencing in a wide to narrow area leading into the coop door will help you herd them. DON'T jump at them, talk to them gently and walk. Spread your arms or something tan-colored etc... and try to be cool and collected. They will respond best to this and after a week of routine they'll likely WANT to go in.
4) feed them when they get in the coop, treat them for attention in the run/normal area - they'll be hungry and WANT to go in to the coop. It's not cruel, make sure they get food, but the hope is that they'll also forage during the day right?

I'd highly recommend checking out these videos:


As for raccoons - live traps will help you find and relocate or otherwise remove the troublemakers (but not all of them)
Make sure you have a secure duck coop at night. hardware cloth 1/4", closed sides, good roof, raccoon proof latch

Also having a light on (non incandescent for the ducks' sake) can help immensely with any predator.
 

Newfowler1

Songster
Jul 8, 2019
220
395
151
Purcellville Virginia
Thank you very much for taking the time to read my post and respond with very good advice. I can see this is a nice online community from the many posts and threads I’ve read through last year and this summer especially.

While I am new to ducks and fowl as a caretaker I am not new to the outdoors and various animals mostly domesticated ones but a number of others. My goal is to have as manageable a flock as possible. Animals that are friendly enough myself maybe if I have company but mainly to be handled if necessary for essential treatment (medical) and of course being able to herd them indoors to safety at night. Anything beyond being able to approach like hand-feeding is good and I am able to with all but 1. Being able to pick them up without creating a ruckus (scaring other animals) is the ultimate goal.

I had few expectations with the ducks being able to trust me enough to handle them, but even my guineas I can easily handle in low light/evening. If need be I can walk right up (even kinda pet) to one on a low perch and easily pick one up (using proper 2 hand technique until I have both legs fully secured and the bird safe from injury. Not as easy as a tame hen but my point being I feel I should be able to safely handle them w/o injury or trauma.

I know my poor Pekin “Quackers” was rather an anomaly. I don’t ever want to loose an animal over poor judgement and bad animal husbandry.

I want to make sure I have the best advice and skills I can learn from people willing to share their experiences with me. I read a lot of material but find the best advice comes from people with years of experience.

My ultimate goal was to have 8-10 seasonal or occasional egg laying ducks with 2 males at most. A happy health flock to add some diversity and enjoyment to my new life. I find the birds very entertaining to watch forge around, swim and play and interact with each other. They are very entertaining that’s for sure!

I look very forward to your advice and input as well as the videos posted.
 

Jpat

Life’s a garden: dig it.
Apr 30, 2018
4,491
20,542
832
Nova scotia
i had the apsalute most sweet pair of pekins. Check this little fella out, He fell right in love with me

i wish i had advice to get every duckling that loving but very rarely did any of my ducklings turn out that nice. And the boys were all waaay nicer than the girls


The biggest mistake is picking them up quickly... As it if you reach for it and it runs and screems just walk away. Try again slower and calmer...

Another thing, and mabye its in my head but i think their first pin feathers are painfull and being held hurts
 

katiebrock

Songster
Apr 7, 2019
474
1,107
206
Milledgeville, Georgia
This has pretty much already been said, but what helped with my ducks was just hanging out with them, not necessarily trying to touch them. They will eventually wander up and see what your toes, fingers, shoe strings, and whatever taste like! I try to reach down and pet mine when they are distracted by eating, and although it only lasts a second, it makes me happy!
 

PirateGirl

Chicken Lover, Duck Therapist
Mar 11, 2017
7,203
18,537
632
South Park, Colorado, USA
This has pretty much already been said, but what helped with my ducks was just hanging out with them, not necessarily trying to touch them. They will eventually wander up and see what your toes, fingers, shoe strings, and whatever taste like! I try to reach down and pet mine when they are distracted by eating, and although it only lasts a second, it makes me happy!


Yes. This too help builds trust. If you can occupy the same space as your ducks without being scary, without direct contact or approaching them or sudden movements or loud noises. Allow them to do what they want to do and set the terms. Ignore them and they are more likely to approach you ;)
 

LilyLoo

Songster
Sep 15, 2018
162
509
216
Arizona
i had the apsalute most sweet pair of pekins. Check this little fella out, He fell right in love with me

i wish i had advice to get every duckling that loving but very rarely did any of my ducklings turn out that nice. And the boys were all waaay nicer than the girls


The biggest mistake is picking them up quickly... As it if you reach for it and it runs and screems just walk away. Try again slower and calmer...

Another thing, and mabye its in my head but i think their first pin feathers are painfull and being held hurts
What about Pickl
i had the apsalute most sweet pair of pekins. Check this little fella out, He fell right in love with me

i wish i had advice to get every duckling that loving but very rarely did any of my ducklings turn out that nice. And the boys were all waaay nicer than the girls


The biggest mistake is picking them up quickly... As it if you reach for it and it runs and screems just walk away. Try again slower and calmer...

Another thing, and mabye its in my head but i think their first pin feathers are painfull and being held hurts
How is Mr.Pickles? Is He still as sweet?
 

Jpat

Life’s a garden: dig it.
Apr 30, 2018
4,491
20,542
832
Nova scotia
What about Pickl

How is Mr.Pickles? Is He still as sweet?
Ooh i got a new drake (by mistake) and someone from a country baught pickles


New one is half Silver appleyard (pickles) half kahki campbell

Screenshot_20190827-172722_Gallery.jpg
 

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