I plan on getting two ducks soon. A lot of my friends have ducks of their own and one of them doesn't have an area to keep his duck and brings it in his house every night, but the others basically let their ducks have free range in their enclosure. And I have heard there are some pretty dangerous animals that have been let loose around where I live and it makes me kind of worried to put my ducks sort of out in the open where the animals could see them. But I was wondering, could you put your ducks in their duck house at night?
Ducks, all the ducks I have ever had anyway, put themselves in at night. As soon as it gets dusk out, they waddle towards their enclosure and it is just my job to go out and shut the door to keep out predators. Another great thing is, if you can refrain from letting them out before 8 AM, they will lay their eggs inside the enclosure. Ducks lay their eggs from 6-8AM and so you don't have to run around and try and find where they have laid them.
I think you will like having ducks. I prefer their silly antics over our chickens, and only have the chickens because we like their eggs better than duck eggs. However, duck eggs sell better (and for higher prices).
I have an automatic coop door and just trained them to go in before dark. It works great and I don’t have to go open and close it. Just Check at dark to make sure they are in and if not open the big door and they always run right in
We made a predator proof duck house, and I herd/lure them into their duck house every night. It takes a while to get them trained, but now they come when I sing. I trained them by (1) Keeping them in their house for a few days so they knew it as home, (2) Not feeding them in the day, but only when I went to put them away, so they had insentive and reward for going away, and (3) Having a song we sing when puting them away. You could also ring a bell or shake the bucket of feed or other noise that's the same each time.
If it gets really dark, they generally put themselves away, or stand right in front of their door. But, I've noticed that we have predators about earlier than that, so I try to put them away an hour before sunset. They generally still want to forage then, so I have to do a little bit of herding to get them to go home, but it's not that hard--they generally know what's up and will go home once I hold my arms out to herd them toward their home and sing their song.
We have had runner ducks and welsh harlequins over the years and have a mixed flock now. I built them a raised enclosed duck house (6 inches off the ground) that is 4 feet long by 3 feet wide out of wood and hardware cloth with a drawbridge door that comes down as a ladder for them to walk up. They have to be trained, but it only took us about 3 days for them to get the hint that they sleep in the house at night. The house sits in a big enclosure about 20 feet in diameter and has their pool and food and such. I made the mistake of having my first pair of ducks sleep in their pool at night, at the advice of a farmer friend, and since we lived in a neighborhood then, with a big 6 foot fence around our yard, I thought it would be okay. Raccoons got them in about 3 months. I felt so ashamed and heartbroken at my mistake that I now always have them living at night in a solid wood house. I still feel bad about it to this day.
I think it may depend on breed, as well. Runner ducks are so trainable and welsh harlequins are so amiable, that we haven't ever had trouble getting accustomed to their house at night. But I can't speak for cayugas or pekins.
I have seen, over the years, that if a dog, a raccoon, a coyote or a weasel wants your livestock, they are gonna get it, and the only thing to stop them is having them penned up tight in a wood house. Enclosures are great for daytime, and if you have a good dog on your property, they will keep most of the varmints away. I built our duck house out of salvaged wood from our property. Duck houses don't have to be state of the art - just built tight!
Good luck! I LOVE keeping ducks - I feel like we will always have them around. Just like the hens.
Just like most everyone else here, our job is only to go shut the door after they waddle in for the night. In summer, they sometimes prefer to sleep in their big pool (waterbed? ) so we have to roust them out of the water and make them go in, but usually, it only takes the sun going down to send them to bed. We made a safe nighttime enclosure for ours from a 10' metal-tubing playground climbing-dome covered with chicken wire and a tarp. (It will get a cement coating over the wire in spring to make a ferro-cement dome that should keep them safe from predators and the elements, but we didn't have time to do that this year. Even with just the wire and tarp, it works pretty well so far though. We just keep lots of clean straw in there for bedding. They seem to like it.)
Side-note: We got ducks for their eggs (mostly to feed to our dogs) and I have to say that I am very impressed with their productivity. They actually seem to out-lay our chickens. We have 40 chickens (all but 5 are laying hens) and 19 ducks (with 5 of them drakes) but we get about a dozen eggs from each species every day. In fairness, I think something may be getting to our hen eggs sometimes (especially in summer when black snakes are out) AND our Americana hens like to hide their eggs, but still ... Too bad I discovered that I am violently allergic to duck eggs!!! I never had one until this year, and it only took twice eating them followed by projectile vomiting (by someone who has not thrown up in over 30 years!) to figure out that I simply cannot eat them. Oh well, I can still eat chicken eggs.
At sunset tonight I went to herd the ducks into their house for the night, and for the very first time they had all put themselves away. This was day 9. It’s been easier each evening but I didn’t expect this leap. Huzzah!
Work like you were living in the early days of a better nation. --Oysterband
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