Duck Rustlin’

The ducks have been in their outdoor coop for about two weeks now. The coop sits in a 10 X 15 fenced enclosure, covered with hawk netting, to keep them safe during the day. Still, much of the reason we got ducks was because they make great pets and because they are such great garden helpers, eating up the things that might feast on garden plants. So last night, we finally let them out of the enclosure.

They were tentative leaving at first, but after we opened the door and left them alone for about five minutes, the first one got the idea that she could walk out, and the other three quickly followed.

They loved foraging around the yard; pickings had gotten pretty slim in their enclosure, and they were mainly eating their commercial duck food and whatever greens we brought them from the garden.

They practiced running and flapping their still-forming wings. For those who have asked, “Won’t they just fly away?,” we are going to clip their wings. And for those who have asked me, “Isn’t that cruel?,” thinking this is an operation like bobbing a Great Dane’s tail, clipping wings just involves trimming the mature outer feathers on one wing; it’s like a hair cut. And because they molt their wings annually, it’s not permanent.

After they were out for a bit and we remembered baths and homework and bedtime, we started the rather arduous process of teaching them to get back in their coop, which was a long lesson this first time. Eventually, Tommy and his best buddy from down the street herded three into the coop, after a lot of Three Stooges-type moves, and I picked up Anais and deposited her in the coop, since she was, of course, outside the coop but desperately wanting to get back to her friends.

That evening, when I came to lock them in their coop at night, there was no fanfare. They saw me, and they filed into the coop. It had been a very busy day.


5 thoughts on “Duck Rustlin’

    • Hi, there:

      They were only about five or six weeks old when we let them out on their own. Then we kept them in their enclosure, where they had some protection from predators. We now just let them out of the coop and enclosure every morning and put them back in at night. If we’re going to be gone for a long time (like all day), we close them in their enclosure, but not their coop.

  1. Hi….I found your blog via google search for a duck pen/coop design and im really liking the simplicity of it. Did you purchase your coop, work off plans or do you have a handy husband? I have 2 six week old Pekins plus 3 one wk old ducklings the i need to make an enclosed pen plus a nighttime coop, since having a few very low flying hawk sitings within the last week. Ive been keeping them inside with daytime, supervised outings but was really hoping for some advise from yourself. I would truly appreciate it. Truly….Sandy

    • Hi, Sandra:

      My brother-in-law, a carpenter, made the coop from a drawing in the book The Storey Guide to Raising Ducks, which is a wonderful resource. It can hold up to six ducks. Last fall we lost three of four of our ducks to predators — including a hawk around noon — so definitely keep those girls as safe as you can! Our lone duck went to live with another friend with ducks, and we have six ducklings in our basement right now, who will be making the move outdoors in about a week or two. Have fun with your ducks!

  2. Pingback: Let Them Eat Mealworms | The Christmas Plan

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