Runners Free Ranging - Not

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by malndobe, Sep 16, 2013.

  1. malndobe

    malndobe Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have 17 Runners, about 5 months old. When I'm not around they have a large pen with a pond, food/water, shade, a large duck (dog) house, etc. When I am around I turn them loose to free range. If given a choice though, they don't/won't. When I go to let them out I use my dog to get them out of the pen, they won't leave voluntarily, and shut the gate. Sometimes we'll do a little herding practice right then, usually I just push them out of the pen, close the gate, and head off to do other chores. If we are going to do some herding, we do it later, before I put them back in the pen.

    If I don't close the gate, they will be back in the pen within 10 minutes of me walking away. Even with the gate closed they rarely go more than 30 feet from the pen, they have a little narrow area they have eaten down the vegetation on that's about 20 feet wide and 30 feet long, and they stay there 90% of the time. If I set up a kiddy pool 100 feet away and use my dog to push them into that area they will stay there as long as they are playing in the pool, then it's back to the area near their pen.

    Is this typical? Are they not good free rangers?
     
  2. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    Mine do not free range on purpose, though a couple of times they have taken some initiative and wandered a bit before I realized they had busted out.

    Based on what I have read and how we do things, I find that my runners won't try to go into an area unless we have been there together, first.

    So here is a suggestion: take them for a walk or walks where you want them to go so that they can learn these are safe places. They are safe, right?

    Then see if they are more willing to go there on their own after a supervised walk or two. Give them treats in the area you want them to forage, so they get the idea. Each flock is unique. Yours may just want your undeniable permission. Aren't they sweet?
     
  3. malndobe

    malndobe Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It is safe, they have 4.6 acres if they want it, fully fenced and no predators other than the occasional bird of prey. But the property is an old Avocado grove so plenty of cover from birds of prey. Plus when they are out my dog is out, she leaves them alone but predators aren't going to come around with her there.

    They aren't tame enough anymore to follow me around, the only way for me to get them from point A to point B is to use the dog. The property they currently live at right now doesn't have people full time. I originally had them at my house in town, expecting to move to my property before they were 2 months old, but my move was delayed, and theirs couldn't be. I had to move them out there early due to space/smell. When they lived with me they would follow me around, not big on being touched but they would hang near me. Now they are more interested in each other and doing their duck things. The chickens and turkeys are the ones who follow me around, especially the turkeys.
     
  4. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    They won't even follow you with the treat bowl?????[​IMG]
     
  5. malndobe

    malndobe Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Haven't tried it, didn't even think about it. They used to just follow me around, no bowl needed/used, so I've gotten more into the habit of just tossing any treats out in the free range areas, or I use them to get the chickens and turkeys back into their pens if I leave before dusk.
     
  6. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    We use the same kind of bowl for treats - red enameled stainless steel salad bowl. Sometimes I forget, and put something else in the bowl and then we have a minor problem.[​IMG] The ducks complain bitterly if the pea bowl contains anything but peas.

    So, it's an idea worth trying, maybe, walk around like Hansel and Gretel dropping goodies as you go, stand around with them for a few, see what happens. I have found that the runners and buffs make up their own minds, and I adapt as we go.
     
  7. Going Quackers

    Going Quackers Overrun With Chickens

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    Frankly, i'd give it time, give them the option of returning to the pen, yes that may mean they don't come out for awhile but in time when they mature they will. I have ducks here as young as 3mths into years, some of the wee one are only now starting to go further around the property BUT they have olders to watch and learn from, that matters a lot. Ducks being prey animals means they have strong instincts to stay where they feel safest.

    Each year, i watch young get more and more bold, but i always give the birds an opportunity to choose.. i keep 1/3 of acre fenced around my ducks barn, i keep all feed/water and pools there too, i open the gate and they go or stay, they frequently come in/out throughout the day and usually all return by dusk.

    I have no runners but i know they forage, a guy around here keeps some and his are loose, i think it's just their young and lack guidance on what and where they should go, time will fix that.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2013
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  8. Sandrachx

    Sandrachx Chillin' With My Peeps

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    i trained my runners to come to me at dusk by putting peas in their water - just a handful. once they found they liked them,
    i took peas out in a ziplock baggie and shook it before putting it in their water. eventually, i just had to shake the bag and they'd come running from wherever they are spending time.
     
  9. Frank Phinster

    Frank Phinster Chillin' With My Peeps

    Just let them decide whether they want to go out or not. If you force them out of their pen all the time, they will much likely connect the area outside their pen with stress. Luring them outside with treats might help, though. I never had the problem. Whenever I open the gate to their pen, they go foraging in the backyard and hunt for slugs.
     
  10. HollyDuckFarmer

    HollyDuckFarmer Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I agree. Last Spring, when some of my flock was new here and young, they started following me around wanting me to toss them bugs and worms from my garden work. ... Since then the flock has changed, some new in, some left, but ranging isn't really something that I actually had to teach. Entering thru the new doorway of the pen, that was a diff story! Runners should be some of your best foragers and rangers. Mine holler when I don't let them out early enough for their liking.
     

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