new to ducks and excited! (also, ducks and dogs and chickens?)

erin_2121

In the Brooder
11 Years
Jul 12, 2008
10
4
24
What is the best way to make ducks friendly?

My husband has an autoimmune issue- so we are planning on doing a mixed flock in our very large suburban back yard so he can try duck eggs as an alternative to the inflammatory chicken egg. Plus we have a MAJOR slug and snail problem here in the pacific NW. They even crawl in through our sliding glass door and crawl all over our kitchen!

I have two 5 day old Ancona ducklings (one black and white drake and what breeder *thought* would be a lavender or blue/white hen) and two 6 day old chocolate indian runners. The Anconas seem inquisitive to my giant hand and soothing voice but the runners seem absolutely terrified. The lady at the feed store told me to fold a towel in half and sit down to watch a quiet movie with a duckling folded into the towel on my chest and to do that several times per duckling so they become accustomed to my sounds/smells. However, I really don't want to over stress them but I don't want skittish, a-hole duckies either! This person is widely known in my area to be "the" bird lady.

We have a large breed dog (he's good with cats and doesn't seem to notice my daughter's pet rat, definitely super low prey drive)
What is the best way to introduce the ducks to him? Should I wait a couple weeks until they are more sturdy or maybe wear him out at a dog park til he's a floppy sack of doberman and then just take the duckies out to sit with him?



They'll have a 7x10 permanent run and a 3x5 chicken coop and I'm building a "duck house" that will be attached to the other side of run... 4 chickens and 4 ducks total. I'm thinking the chickens will likely stay in the run most of the time and the ducks will be 'free range' during the day- leaving a good amount of space for 4 hens. I've had chickens in a smaller backyard before and I really would not like my entire yard to get scratched to smithereens. We have two very big cement patios, one of which will have a raised kiddie pool for the ducks- never liked the cement in the back yard, but now that we have the ducks I'm excited at having a fairly mud-free zone since that seems to be the messiest aspect of ducks.

Is there anything major I'm missing here?
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cityfarmer12

Songster
5 Years
Oct 18, 2014
1,249
118
181
Missouri
well, runners are a more flighty breed, and if you want them friendly, you will have to work very hard. I have had friendly ones, but if you don't work with them they will keep to themselves. The advice that the "bird" lady told you is great advice. I would do that, and it shouldn't be too stressful. After a bit they will fall asleep.

To introduce to your doberman, i would do it while they are young but in a very controlled environment...have someone hold both the doberman and the ducks and let the see and sniff each other.

Ducks will destroy your yard if they have their tubs in a main area or if you let them out after a heavy rain.
 

erin_2121

In the Brooder
11 Years
Jul 12, 2008
10
4
24
We do get rain here - lots of it. I suppose they'll be stuck shacking it up with the chickens when it's super wet out. Thanks for the advice!
 

cityfarmer12

Songster
5 Years
Oct 18, 2014
1,249
118
181
Missouri
We do get rain here - lots of it. I suppose they'll be stuck shacking it up with the chickens when it's super wet out. Thanks for the advice!
yes, that is the only thing i can think of that messes the yard up...they love to dabble in the mud puddles!!

Just as a comparison though, i had 7 ducks in a normal sized backyard, and it took 3 years before the yard look really bad. When it rains they made some large puddles, but the rest of the yard stayed ok for a while. The same amount of chickens on the same land later, those chickens killed the entire yard in a little over 6 months...everything was ripped up and bad. Ducks are totally easier on the land.
 

erin_2121

In the Brooder
11 Years
Jul 12, 2008
10
4
24
we have a pretty sizable backyard - maybe 4-5000sq ft, and only 4 ducks, so I am hoping it'll be ok considering their pool will be on cement... That's a great comparison though - I've had chickens before so I'm well aware...that's why those suckers can stay in the coop!
 

erin_2121

In the Brooder
11 Years
Jul 12, 2008
10
4
24
edit: not the coop, their run <3 I do love them too, but husband got maaaaad at them last time when they turned our entire downtown backyard into chicken-land.
 

cityfarmer12

Songster
5 Years
Oct 18, 2014
1,249
118
181
Missouri
we have a pretty sizable backyard - maybe 4-5000sq ft, and only 4 ducks, so I am hoping it'll be ok considering their pool will be on cement... That's a great comparison though - I've had chickens before so I'm well aware...that's why those suckers can stay in the coop!
yes, having the pools on cement will help a great deal...its all the waters fault!

edit: not the coop, their run <3 I do love them too, but husband got maaaaad at them last time when they turned our entire downtown backyard into chicken-land.
lol, yes, my mom was not too happy either :p We now are doing moveable pastures (we moved from the normal backyard and now have a couple acres in the city...its incredible!) and they stay in those, not our yard :)
 

TLWR

Crowing
10 Years
Jul 10, 2010
2,892
302
286
southern AL
I spent a lot of time with my first trio of ducklings. Brought them in to run in the bathroom and sat on the floor while they did that and they climbed all over me. Sat with them every night for about an hour with my hand in their kennel just hanging out.
I had a friendly runner, a eh take it or leave it runner and a chicken of a runner.
My friendly runner died at around 9 months. My chicken of a runner took over the lead of the pack. I can still easily pick up "eh" runner. She doesn't like it, but she doesn't flip out either.

Batch 2 of a trio of ducklings. I was working a good bit, so I still hung out with them at night, but they didn't quite get the attention the first batch did. They will now eat out of my hand, but they stick to the back.

Last 2 ducklings came in with me each night and watched tv and just hung out. When the fox got my male duck, my female looked to me for solace for a bit and then started hanging out with the other ducks more. She even decided one day she wanted to climb in my lap and then decided to just cuddle up against me and laid her head in my lap. After that, she hung more with the other girls.


As for introducing to the dogs.
My dogs know "Mine" means it isn't theirs. I showed them the ducks in the kennel and then when I would put them from kennel to somewhere else, I cupped the duckling and let whatever dog was around check them out. Then the dogs would just walk off. They watched through the bathroom door when the ducklets would get some inside running time.
They would also stick their noses up to the edge of the kennel (I had it raised up off the floor) and every now and then, when their nose was stuffed to the edge, a ducklet would peck them LOL
After the 2nd or 3rd time, dogs decided ducks weren't worth it and just ignored them lol

Checking out ducklings in the kennel - this is how they would get pecked through the kennel


watching through the bathroom door


more watching - allowed the ducklets to check out the dogs too without worry of being snacks


still watching
 

erin_2121

In the Brooder
11 Years
Jul 12, 2008
10
4
24
thanks so much! We have a doberman and although he looks tough, he's a giant pansy and of course doberdummies don't have much of a prey drive, mostly "guardian" type behavior. Mostly I just don't want him to startle them and cause them to run away and injure themselves. I am glad to see I need to quit worrying about stressing out the ducklings and just handle them much more than I am... They're 7 days today I think and it's about time for their first cuddle session.

Also, I think I am going to run them a lukewarm bath tonight to play in...they're a bit mucky from the brooder. Although the lasagna pan/baking rack situation has helped *immensely* with the water mess
 

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