No more free ranging because of eagle, what should I feed him?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by littleduckfl, Sep 16, 2010.

  1. littleduckfl

    littleduckfl Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 20, 2010
    The other day I had two visits from an juvenile American bald Eagle. Luckily, the eagle is very, very loud and I was able to get to the duck in time. The eagle was quite bold on the second visit and didn't seem to care that I was on the porch about 10 feet from the duck. My little drake was so brave and tried to scare the eagle off. So I did the only logical thing a duck owner would do and spent a small fortune on making a covered pen for him.

    Now, for the problem. CL, the duck, has been free ranging for about 4 months now and absolutely refuses to eat duck food of any kind. The crows, wild ducks, and mockingbirds have been eating it. What should I do? He will eat dog food though and he gets peas at night. I have tried several different feeds including scratch and he still sticks his beak up at it. He has really gotten used to eating frogs, toads, and locusts. I really don't want to take my chances letting him free range but I don't want him to be hungry.
  2. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    My runners prefer fresh food, too, and due to predators, their garden time is limited. So . . . I encourage worms to come into the pen (dastardly, I know - I like worms, but I tell myself it is a cycle of life situation). I give them weedings, sometimes chopped lettuce, thawed peas.

    This morning I tried moistened oatmeal and they really enjoyed it.

    I have planted alfalfa and clover seed and such and they like to eat the sprouts.

    There are mealworm incubators - perhaps you could install one and have fresh mealworms available. Or you could try vermicomposting.

    I have read (and mean to try) leaving a small plywood board or something similar in the pen, then turning it over to reveal the invertebrates that will go under it.

    Mine will pick dry oatmeal and cat kibble out of their pellets. They do eventually eat the pellets, especially after they have dampened them (I don't leave the damp pellets available for more than 24 hours, and I give it a sniff test to prevent mold poisoning).

    Good for you, for taking care of your duck!
  3. keeperofthehearth

    keeperofthehearth Chillin' With My Peeps

    If it's a good quality dry dog food it should do for now. Try mixing the dog chow into some duck chow and slowly put less dog food in till he is switched over. Be sure to give him some dog food as a treat though. I put out one small bowl of salmon and rice cat chow for my Scovies every day back under a overhang and a few of the adult Scovies bee line it over there & scarf it up within a few minutes of coming out of there houses each morning. [​IMG] You can also give him more garden greens like fresh spinich or kale torn into pieces and floated on his water bowl.
  4. treldib

    treldib Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 5, 2010
    Southern California
    There is debate about whether or not spinach should be given to ducks. Spinach can reduce the amount of calcium absorbed by ducks bodies, which can cause egg binding issues in females. Even if you feed your ducks calcium, like oyster shells, eating spinach in large amounts or often, can hinder calcium absorption, and cause your ducks to have very little or no shells are their eggs. If a duck has little or no shells on their eggs, they get stuck inside, usually resulting in death. If you decide to give your ducks spinach, it should be limited to small amounts on rare occasions. (perhaps this would be better to do during the non-laying season).

    Careful with that stuff LOL
  5. katharinad

    katharinad Overrun with chickens

    It's the iron in the spinach is what prevents the calcium absorption. Ironically this also happens in the human body. So don't take iron supplements with your calcium supplement. Or have calcium supplements for lunch with your spinach. Take them 2 hours apart and it will be ok. Not sure, if this time frame also applies to ducks. Iron is still important in a ducks nutrition, but it only needs very small amounts. The occasional leaf will be fine, or better give it to them while they are molting. That way you don't have to worry about egg issues.
  6. littleduckfl

    littleduckfl Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 20, 2010
    Maybe I will try all these things except for the spinach because I got kidney stones from eating too much spinach. It really wouldn't hurt him to loose a little weight as he is pretty chubby (6 1/2 lb KC). He won't eat cat food just dog food.

    Is there any nutritional value for domestic ducks in the wild duck feed? The neighbor fed him some and he seemed to like it or maybe because it came from someone else.

    I have tried the board in the dirt and it attracts a lot of rolly polly bugs and other creepy crawlies.

    I will let him free range if I am out with him and the others birds are around. The other birds disappear when the eagle is near.

    He actually seems to prefer to be in his covered area. The only time he complains is when he is hungry. I think he knows that there is danger, so I don't feel guilty about locking him up. Well, maybe just a little. I would bring him in the house but he just doesn't seem to like it during the day but he sleeps inside at night. Yes, he is very spoiled.

    Thanks to all.
  7. L0rraine

    L0rraine Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 20, 2009
    Whidbey Island
    You guys always have such helpful suggestions (especially Amiga who is almost like having our own personal living book).

    I don't know if this is a bad thing to do or not, but I've noticed that my ducks are always much more excited about their food when I put a little cracked corn in it.

    We do have a long piece of plywood our chicken run and and there is usually a real treasure trove of bugs under it (when we remember to turn it over), but the chickens always seem a bit slow to react and most of those appetizing little buggers quickly disappear back into the soil before they become a snack.

    littleduckfl - you are absolutely right to try to protect your little guy. I've lost more of my ducks to eagles here than any other predators. I've actually had them land on the ground and walk into the pen through an open gate that wasn't latching properly. The eagles seem to have no fear and seem to be most successful when they can corner my poor unsuspecting ducks. I've since fixed all the latches, so there is no question about whether the gates are closed tight or not, and put netting up over most all of pen areas. Every time the eagles have managed to get one of my ducks or chickens they hang out near the pens for days.

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