Raising Ducklings and Goslings


raising ducks and geese

My Teenager (Acting) Mallards


I bought my 8 mallards when they were less then a week old from a local feed store. My thought was I would raise these ducks so I could give back to the earth what my husband (a avid duck hunter) has taken away. The store had only 8 left so I bought all 8 expecting some of them not to make it since in mid to late March it still gets rather chilly here in Arkansas. To my surprise they all did fine with a heat lamp and wood shavings in the homemade wood box on my back deck and grew as they should (as far as what I was able to find out from the Internet).

I put a pie pan in the box for them to play in. All 8 could get in at one time and they thought it was great! After they were done playing in the water they would all return to underneath the heating lamp to dry off and warm up. As they grew so did their source of water to play in, first the pie pan with about a half an inch of water, on and into a cat's litter box, when they were to big for all of them to enjoy that I would take them out and let them play in a small kiddie pool for about 20 minutes while I cleaned their box everyday. Finally when they were big enough to escape the kiddie pool we built them a enclosure and put a larger kiddie pool in there (that has turned out to be the biggest headache to keep clean, like you said on your FAQs page), but worth the extra effort when I see how much they enjoy it. I had a little bit off a hands off approach to raising them. I would care and provide for them, but I wouldn't handle or allow others to handle them much. My intent was for them to go to and live at my pond when they were mature and maybe only returning to the cage in the evening for safety from predators.

We would walk behind them and guide them in the direction of the pond daily so they could learn the route. When we were able to coax them into the water they would swim a little while, but as soon as the first duck would feel the slightest fish nibble on it's feet they would all scurry across the water and back to the house to seek refuge. After a few weeks of this we gave up and allowed them to be the "yard ducks" they wanted to be. They haven't ever entered our swimming pool and don't seem interested in it at all. On the days when the temps would reach over 100 degrees we would turn on the sprinkler and they played under that.

Until recently they have stayed in the yard (the 3 acres with a barbed wire fence to keep the horses in the pasture), searched for bugs, and played in any little puddle they found. Their favorite spot is where the condensation from the air conditioner drips. In the last week or so I have seen them go under the fence and walk the path as if they were finally going to the pond. To my disappointment within 5-10 minutes they would all run (yes, I said run rather then fly) back to the yard. If they are to spot the hawk that has taken up residence out by the pond or the horses they will fly back and huddle together in front of the enclosure until they are certain the coast is clear.

All of them got their feathers and begin to fly at the time expected. The learning to land was very entertaining for me, but I suspect wasn't very pleasant for them. After a week or so of crash landings (into the side of the house or a few head over tail tumbles) they finally got it perfected. In the mornings we open the door and feed them outside of their cage. After they get a little feed in their tummies they take a morning flight that I would guess doesn't exceed a mile radius. The rest of the day they remain in the yard and spend a lot of time under the vehicles to get shade. In the evenings just before the sun starts to set they will set out on what we have named their "evening flight", then back home to enjoy a little more feed, and then they will happily waddle into the cage to be kept up for the night.

Where I certainly do not consider these ducks to be wild I don't consider them to be tame either. They always keep a 4' to 5' distance from us, but they do talk to us and when we walk in the direction of where the feed is kept it gets their attention. More then wild or tame, I refer to them as rebellious teenagers. They would rather be left alone, only seek us out when they want something, and if they don't want to do what we want or need them to they know we can't make them.

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