New to Ducks: need advice & help

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Milkweed, Aug 6, 2011.

  1. Milkweed

    Milkweed In the Brooder

    Aug 6, 2011
    Swannanoa, NC
    Hello Duck People,

    We just brought our ducks home to the farm yesterday: 8 Khaki Campbells, 2 Silver Appleyards, and a pair that is a beautiful Welsh Harlequin x Rouen cross.

    We have a super-secure duck house near our 1/4 acre pond and plenty of forage around the pond. We are on 5 acres with fenced in areas for our goats and chickens, and have been planning to let our ducks free-range during the day and come in at night.

    The people we bought them from said they were trained and in a routine of coming to get fed in the evening and going inside, and that they wouldn't be surprised if they just showed up at the shelter at dusk ready to go in. Oh, if only.

    We spent hours last night trying to coax them in, and then trying to catch and capture them (lots of predators here, including coyotes). We caught two, who spent the night in the shelter; the other 10 spent the night out on the pond after we gave up at 11pm. Of course I was super-worried about them, but when I went out early this morning all 10 who had spent the night outside were fine. Catching them on land is one thing, but when they have all that water to escape to, it is a losing battle.

    Here are my questions:

    1) The ducks are super-skittish of us. How can we tame them/train them not to be afraid of us?
    2) How can we get them to come inside in the evening?
    3) What is the best way to catch them given that they have access to the pond and now seem to only want to hang out in the water or on the bank?

    Are there tools (nets?) that you experienced people would recommend? Do we need to keep them in a pen (assuming we can catch them all) for a period of time until they acclimate? How long?

    HELP! We are so excited to have our ducks at last, and they seem to love their new home, but they do not love us and we are having a heckuva time trying to keep them safe!

    Thanks in advance...

  2. good morning! I am new to ducks also and have 9. I bet yours are LOVING their new home! Try training with frozen peas (I thaw mine a bit in warm water) They LOVE LOVE LOVE peas! I started by throwing a small handful where they could see them and come get them, and then hold out your hand with a handful. If they see the peas they'll come I bet. I use a rubber feed pan at nite, those Fortex ones from tractor supply and put peas with water at nite time treat. They see that pan and they beat me to the duck house. Don't worry you'll get it. Congrats on duckies! Oh and slow and steady herding works best too. My dog taught me how. lol. I look like an airtraffic controller with one arm out then the other (steering them as they go) but if you use peas they should soon follow you.

    and can't WAIT for pictures!!! oxoxox

    to add: if you feed alot of the frozen peas today at several intervals getting them closer and closer (obviously ending up near the duck house) I bet you'll make great progress today! I like to sit in a chair with a big plastic cup of peas. Get a handful and close your fist lightly and let them bill into your hand by your thumb and forefinger... Pretty soon they will frisk you for peas when you run out! You can never have too many bags of frozen peas in the freezer. No one eats peas here anymore for fear they will get reprimanded for eating the ducks food. lol!
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2011
  3. duck15

    duck15 Chirping

    Jul 12, 2011
    Philippines Makati
  4. bayyjayy

    bayyjayy Songster

    Jul 5, 2011
    Peas! I still can't believe how my ducks freak over them.

    Funny story....I told hubby yesterday, "I have to run to the store and get some more peas for my babies." Hubby says, with an act of disgruntlement, "I like peas, too, ya know!" I laughed about it all day.
  5. gretchenhau

    gretchenhau Songster

    May 15, 2008
    Lebanon Ohio
    my 10 ducks come up to the shed at night sometimes for food and the go in nestled down un what used to be floor nesting boxes, now duck compartments as the kids call them and go to bed.

    Before when they wouldn't come in and stayed on the pond, lost several as bait. Once they get the hang of it they are somewhat trained.

    Sometimes they won't go in, I think they want extra snacks, give it to them and in the go on their own. Even my mallards to nite nite in the chicken coop too.

    It took a bit, but they are safer there.

  6. duckyfromoz

    duckyfromoz Quackaholic

    Jan 11, 2010
    Welcome to BYC - and to duck ownership Milkweed.

    Often people will keep the ducks locked up in the pen for a week so they learn thats their new home before allowing them to freerange and wander. It can help to get them back in at night if they know where they are supposed to sleep. Food can help- if they are hungry in the evening and only get fed in the shelter they will learn to be there and go in for their dinner.
  7. Milkweed

    Milkweed In the Brooder

    Aug 6, 2011
    Swannanoa, NC
    Thanks everyone,

    I will try peas.

    We have had a sorely trying morning trying to herd them out of the pond, including me getting soaked with pond water. The 10 renegades are still on the loose, and the poor two captives (in a small pen attached to the duck house) are very upset about being separated from everyone else.

    Any more tips would be greatly appreciated. They have figured out that if they swim out away from the shore we can't get to them, and they're still very spooked by us. I'm sure all of our attempts to herd/capture them aren't helping.

  8. I'd let them all out together and relax in a chair with their feed pan nearby and some peas to throw to them to coax them closer to you. Or even leave the pan with peas and walk away. They'll get used to seeing that pan and the peas. They need to settle down no doubt.
  9. TLWR

    TLWR Songster

    Jul 10, 2010
    southern AL
    A mix of things - don't expect much right out of the gate. They are new to you, you are new to them.
    Bring out a dish of peas. Set it near the pond. Make sure they see you with the dish of peas and tell them you have peas and set it down and walk away.
    Do it again later, but don't walk away as far, maybe they can still see you off in the distance.
    Then do it again and stay a bit closer.
    Repeat, until you are able to be nearish to them and they know you are provider of peas (or other yummy snack - watermelon goes over great too)

    When you aren't dishing out peas, bring a chair to the pond and a book and some sunscreen and some cold beverage of choice. Sit and read for a while. Once they start seeing you as food provider, put some treats next/near to you while you read.

    It will take time. It will take patience.

    Once you are able to get them out with peas, it shouldn't be too hard to herd them to their night house. And provide snacks in there. Make it a routine. Eventually, they'll likely put themselves to bed.

  10. Bookworms

    Bookworms Hatching

    Jul 26, 2011
    Peas worked sometimes for me, other times they weren't in the mood. I resorted to taking the kayak out and getting behind them and herding them out. Took at least a month of doing this, but now when it starts getting twilight they just head to the barn. It'll work out, just takes perseverance and as must patience as you can muster.

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