When can I put these birds OUT?! And...should I limit food intake, they are doubling in size almost

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by drydenjen, May 18, 2012.

  1. drydenjen

    drydenjen Hatching

    Mar 17, 2012
    Dryden, Ontario, Canada
    Hi there!

    Recent bird mom here.
    I have 3.5-4 week old ducks and geese (ten in total) as well as a similar number of chicks. I can't keep up with these ducks and geese!!

    They were in a brooder box for 2 days before I put them in a barn on straw (with a heat lamp) but now they are soaking that even, and ending up in a pile of poo pretty quickly. They have a full horse stall. I have an outdoor run where I try to swim them, but the chickens have pulled up all the grass, and these clumsy guys try to swim but climb out and roll in the mud from fear of me (trying to find gravel).

    And the amount they eat...OMG! They are bigger than my adult hens already. I think they're on track to power through a 50 lb bag of food in a week!

    I have an almost complete duck house for them on my 5 acre pond, with an enclosed screen area to go out during the day without free-ranging initially.

    My questions are....WHEN can I put them out down there? We had a fox stalking our chick cage outside yesterday, but I've seen families of geese on the pond for a while and those goslings seem to be doing just fine.

    My other concern is, these birds HATE me, and I just don't get it. Everyone talks of goslings and ducklings imprinting and being too friendly. Mine nearly kill themselves trying to get away from me, which I see being an issue since I'd like them to eventually free-range! My hubby's boss (vet) is an avid bird keeper and thought the geese were 3 days old when I got them, and the ducks were maybe 2 days. Is that the problem?

    Any guidance would be great. I'm doing great with our new chickens, but can't seem to figure these waterfowl out!
  2. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Loving this country life

    You said your seeing families of geese on the pond thats the difference in what you have. you have babies no parents to protect them. You are their parent. They have imprinted on each other more than you. Do you spend time just being with them? do you offer treats from your hand.? even if they won't take anything from you it is something you work towards, just being quitely with them they will begin to feel comfortable around you. They are beautiful by the way. At their young age they will be picked off in no time They aren't even completely feathered in yet. Ducks and geese are messy, they love to play in and around water it's their nature. It isn't their fault it's the way they are made. Sorry I forgot to say.. [​IMG]
    Last edited: May 18, 2012
  3. Mine were jumpy like that as young ones, but when they hit about 3 - 5 months old, they turned into funny curious friendly little personalities . . . followed me around, played with the things I put down, all that stuff. But the first couple months, whew, they were like schools of fish when you startle them. Mine were raised with ducks too . . .

    Make some time to go out and sit with the goslings - in a corner for at least a half hour. If you do that regularly it will help with the jumpy thing. I think partly it is from the ducklings -- they are more jumpy anyway than goslings and they all kind of mob together in a mass panic. I also had mine in a horse stall -- part of the issue is that they can't see I think -- so you appear suddenly out of nowhere.

    Some suggestions -- give them grass! They love grass - more than their food actually, and the sooner they eat it the less regular food they will eat. We have a lot of grass in patches all over our cement driveways and courtyards (we live on an old dairy farm) So I go out with a shovel once or twice a day and give them a couple big chunks of grass and dandilion greens. Plus, it is healthier for them to have the green stuff. Even if you only have a lawn, surely there's a patch where you want to put a flowerbed, or along the driveway or something? It will also give them something to do, and prevent them picking out feathers and things.

    The stall I had them in had a door directly to the outside. I used portable metal puppy fencing and made them a little area outside to come and go when I was home -- just left them in the barn when I had to be gone for the day - and I shut them up at night because they were young and the fence wasn't enough protection . . . If your stall doesn't open onto the outside world, just give them lots and lots of grass . . .

    I'd wait to put them out till they had most of their feathers . . . . it is hard - I know! I resigned myself to cleaning out the barn stall once a day or so. There's some good plans for brooder waterers that contain all that water on the duck and goose forums . . . that helps a lot. Especially with a fox around . . . I'd be afraid to put them out before they were at least 2 months old . . . especially because without a momma goose they don't have oils to keep them waterproof, and thus they'll go and play in the pond and get chilled . . .
  4. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    Please do not limit their food! Ducklings need food and water 24/7 for the first couple of months. They are supposed to grow quickly.

    Take a look on the forum for ideas for watering stations. It is usually (seems to me) the reason new duck people start asking when they can put the birds outside. tweetysvoice and 70%cocoa, among others, have nice brooder watering setups. For your crowd, something like what I have might work very well. I will see if I can remember how to upload photo's.

    Ditto Miss Lydia and larkflying, by the way.
  5. mominoz

    mominoz Songster

    Feb 17, 2009
    North Georgia
    I have had several breeds of geese, and there is some differences int he breeds personalities. But here is another possibility. Holderread mentions move slowly, and try to wear the same shoes and clothes with them> I personally have found that whenI wear different shoes than my outside boots some of the geese will bite my red crocs![​IMG] The ducks really freaked (we are talking runners I have had a couple years that get under my feet when I have a bucket.) when I put a Christmas apron on one day because it was all I had to cover my "going to town " clothes and you'd have thought i was a bear come to eat them. Sometimes I change hats. When my young geese saw my blue hat for the first time they 'bout trampled each other , until I took it off. Then there is the blue 'cleaning glove" my baby ducklings are afraid of, but not my naked hand.
    So it could be your clothes , movement, and if they are in a darkened area they dont' seem to see as well, (at least my ducks trip more in the dark going in, and run into fences.) Just like a horse, is they light changes quickly they may not see very well, so instinct sets in. I also chant the same thing when I pick them up and first come in like "wheat, wheat ,wheat" or "goose,goose"> I also say "dinnertime or 'Greens "when I feed" makes it much easier to get them to come in at night when you want them.
  6. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Crowing

    Apr 14, 2011
    Central Oregon
    You don't really like them and that is a big part of your problem. Animals can sense who likes them and who doesn't.

    If you put them out without very secure fencing, the foxes are going to eat them. Even when there are fierce parent geese, the foxes will get some of the goslings. Foxes will kill adult ducks, so there is no protection for ducklings. I suspect it is only luck that you haven't lost goslings or ducks off your pond. Or are those wild geese and wild ducks on your pond? Those are not the same as domestic poultry and they will still lose goslings to foxes.

    A drainage pit under the water will help immensely with the mess. As for the food, they are growing fast and they can't grow on air; they need their protein, vitamins, minerals, and carbs to grow at that rate.

    They are prey animals and everybody eats them. You are looming over them with hands that look like claws. These aren't puppies. You must convince them that you won't hurt them. Move carefully, talk to them, don't pick them up.

    Don't expect them to be lap pets. the goal is to have them unconcerned when you move amongst them so that they are easy to care for and easy to observe.
  7. Gagirly

    Gagirly Songster

    Nov 1, 2011
    Perry, GA
    Oregonblues-your first comment was unhelpful and unnecessary. I'm sure all of us has had chicks and/or ducklings that were frightened of us at first. I know I have and it wasn't because I didn't like them. Some breeds are more flighty and will warm up in time. Some individuals won't no matter what you do. I think spending time and being patient is the best advice.
    1 person likes this.

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