Questions for those of you who range ducks 24/7!

louis

In the Brooder
10 Years
Feb 20, 2009
51
0
39
Texas Hill Country
Hi all. I have 5 healthy, seemingly happy 1 week-old buff ducklings. I want to range them 24/7 on a pond here but wonder about housing and introduction. Housing first I suppose. I'm in Texas and everything I read says they're pretty hardy so I'm not worried about winters and I guess they sleep on the water so I'm not too worried about predators. Anyone recommend building a small coup/large bird-house thing next to the water? And to those of you who've done it, when (how old) and how did you introduce them to the 'wild' from a brooder? Just toss them in the pond one day and come back now and again to watch and give feed or treats?
 

DuckLady

Administrator
BYC Staff
Premium Feather Member
14 Years
Jan 11, 2007
35,247
11,004
1,031
NE Washington State
Buff ducks are not wild and to "release" them is to provide a buffet for a predator. Is the pond on your property?

Most domestic ducks can't fly and are low on the food chain.

Especially straight from the brooder. They need heat for several weeks. To just toss them out is cruel and not safe for them. They will depend on you for food and predator protection. They are not equipped to survive on their own in a safe and healthy manner.

I hope you reconsider and provide a predator proof night pen and lock them in it at night.
 

BantyHugger

Songster
11 Years
May 23, 2008
1,011
6
171
Ponder
I live in Texas too and i free range my ducks 24/7. First i would recommend keeping them out of the pond until they are maybe 1 or 2 months old. From what i understand snapping turtles like to eat ducklings.
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My Ducks (1 is buff) HATE the house. They almost never use it (the exception being in the winter, which involves the hens coming in, laying an egg and getting back out.) You might build them a lean too for shade if you don't have trees but otherwise they should be fine. You shouldn't just dump them in the pond to forage for themselves. If you want birds that do that get Mallards or non-clipped muscovies. You can force them to forage maybe 1/2 thier diet but your going to have to feed them daily. After a month in their baby pen they will have no objections to a bigger, pond-filled yard.
 

Trenary Duck Farm

In the Brooder
10 Years
May 21, 2009
92
0
29
Michigan UP
We free range our muscovy breeders 24/7 on a very large wooded pond. They love to rest at night on the stumps and fallen logs scattered throughout the pond. They are very keen observers of potential threats, and we have seen them outsmart foxes and coyotes many a time. These birds are almost feral in their ways. Like the previous poster, our ducks do not like using the coop until winter time.

If you read this board, you will see that most birds are killed while inside their coop or run. A bear can rip through almost anything. You rarely read about how wiley coyote swam out to the middle of the pond to snatch a duck.
 

kycowgirl78

Songster
10 Years
Apr 12, 2009
126
0
119
Morgantown, Ky
We have a pond on our property, just up the hill from our chickens for our ducks. We keep them penned until they are about 2 months old to ensure they are too big for turtles and large fish to make a snack out of. Then when they're old enough we take them up, toss them in and that's that. Our only problem is that the pond is not enclosed 100% so that our horses have access to it for water so they have the option of coming back down to the chicken pens where they may also meet with foul play if they wonder too close to the coon dogs. They are almost completely dependant on me for their feed and expect it daily. I've tried skipping a day so as to "wean" them off of feed being brought to them but they just get out of the pond and head down to the chicken pens where the feed building is and as soon as they see me, I'm swarmed with not so happy birds. lol Since going to the pond a week ago, we've lost one to the dogs but have otherwise had no problems. There's also a large female goose that has been a resident to the pond for several years that acts as a bit of a mentor for the little ones and helps keep them in line. When they wonder out of the pond, I grab some feed and make them follow me back to the pond before being fed. I'm hoping they'll learn that the food will be given at the pond and no where else so they'd be just as well off to stay in it. But the goose and her now deceased grown drake duck companion never stayed at the pond 100% of the time either.
In my opinion, I'd keep them up for about two months, then turn them loose into the pond. But you'll still have to give them some food every day.
 

louis

In the Brooder
10 Years
Feb 20, 2009
51
0
39
Texas Hill Country
Thanks so much for the replies all. I love the sound of those muscovies being so intelligent and near-feral. I'll keep them at the top of my list if and when I buy more.

Just to clarify for a anyone concerned, the welfare of these ducks is important to me (hence asking this question in the first place). Feeding them and providing shelter is no problem at all but I've read they're not too keen on shelter anyways (as reiterated here). And I certainly don't mind having to feed less often. The pond is on our property. I was using the term 'release' kind of figuratively. The pond is actually a man-made tank with the water having the surface area of roughly a basketball court. I'm pretty sure there's no snappers or large fish but I'll certainly wait until 1-2 months just in case.
 
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Trenary Duck Farm

In the Brooder
10 Years
May 21, 2009
92
0
29
Michigan UP
Just want to clarify that the wooded pond that we were refering to is close to five acres in size. This allows them room to perform evasive maneuvers. Furthermore, our animals are not pets, and we feel this helps them to maintain their feral qualities. Our animals are provided supplemental food, not only for nutritional purposes but also to help maintain the idea that this is their home.

At no time did we question your concern for the welfare of these animals. Farmers talk differently from pet owners.
 

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