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fencing height, covering?

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kimlasavio
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« on: November 09, 2009, 04:13:56 pm »

Hi all, I have just been given 13 muscovies about two weeks old.  Grin  I have put them in a dog exercise pen about 3 feet high with a chicken waterer and feeder and a plastic storage box turned on its side with shavings inside.  At night I have been putting them in a smaller box on the back porch with a heat lamp.  They seem to be doing well.  I plan to start leaving them in the exercise pen at night in about another week and then gradually release them into a large enclosure about 50 x 50 ft where I would like them to live permanently.  My question is whether they will fly out and away from this larger enclosure.  The fencing is nonclimb I think 2 x 2 in. and 5 ft. high.  There is a large elevated wooden dog house in this enclosure with a dug out area underneath, and I will put a kiddie pool in there, too.  Does this sound okay?  We have a large pond about 100 yards from the house, but I really would like to keep them with our other livestock (we have 100 laying hens, two dairy goats, and four horses, plus hopefully sheep in the future).  Our main predator problem is with hawks and owls that will nab baby chicks from the brooder/adolescent pen if we don't keep it covered, but they don't bother the adult chickens.  I hope to use the muscovies for table fare and also for enjoyment of a flock of lovely ducks.    

Any advice gratefully appreciated.  I am glad to have found this forum!  

Kim in Ione, California
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Kats
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« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2009, 10:29:30 am »

Yes, they will learn in a few months that they can fly out of your enclosure.

The main way  to predator-proof them is to shut them up at night. They are very unlikely to get taken during the day with all the other livestock you have around. They get quite big and tough. We've lost chickens and guineas (at night), but never a duck, even when they don't all come to be locked up. Main thing is to teach them there will be food in the shed every night.

I just lock them in at night by rattling dog food in a can and calling them about the same time every night. They come to their shed, get the dog food, and I shut it up.

I don't know whether your pond will be so attractive that they will spend their time there. We don't have one. Someone else needs to chip in on this.
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kimlasavio
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« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2009, 05:01:28 pm »

I don't mind if they leave the enclosure during the day and free range around the place, but I am wondering if they will return to it at night to roost if they get used to it being "home" with extra food treats in the evening to lure them back to it.  There is not an actual enclosed shed, just perimeter fencing and a large open dog house.  We don't let the chickens free range because they prefer hanging out on the porch surrounding our house and the mess is just too much, so we built a big yard with 6 ft chain link fencing that they stay in all day.  I let them out for a little while every afternoon to scavenge, but they go back in at night and roost and nest there.  Will the Muscovies hang around the house or stay in the fields more?  Are they easy to catch at night like chickens?  They are already very interesting birds, and I am very excited about adding them to the farm!  Kim 
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Cathy
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« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2009, 04:43:35 am »

They're nothing like chickens, ducks are active at night and they get stressed quite easily if you try to herd or catch them I think because they're programmed to watch for predators at night.

As Kats said, yes, the ducks will probably be able to fly over the 5' fencing and might for awhile.  As to whether they'll return to the pen depends on how inviting the outside world is to them and how stressful the pen is inside.  If you have a lot of birds in there and they feel crowded then that could cause them to seek space outside.  If they find a comfy place or a tasty foodstuff outside the pen they might decide to stay outside the pen & only come back for food/water.  Generally, though, if a bird is content in their pen then they'll choose to stay there and come back there after their little forays. 

You can clip a wing to prevent flying if you'd like, although this does diminish their ability to escape predators.  Sometimes getting out of their pen is more dangerous than clipping a wing, though.
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The information I have provided in this message is based on my own personal experiences, the experiences of others who have shared their experiences and knowledge with me, and a dash of opinion thrown in for extra flavor.  Your mileage may vary! Shocked)
Songbird
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« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2009, 05:39:40 pm »

I'm new to Moscovys also, but we've had ours since June when they were 5 weeks old.  We enclosed a pen 35 x 8 foot, 6 feet tall. (6 feet since it's easier to stand up in it to work.)  We have 5 ft. 4 x 4 fencing, then chicken wire on top and along the bottom sides, 3 ft high,  to keep them in (we were able to purchase it in 6 ft x 50 ft rolls) and predators out. (we have roosting branches for them in the pen for nights) Also, a couple of large dog houses with bedding if they want cover.

We kept them in it for about a week, and I would call "Duck... Duck" then put their food out.  Then I let them out for short periods, then herded them back calling "Duck", etc... then throwing some feed, and once they were about 2 months old, we left them out all day, and now they come at about the same time at night to "Duck... Duck" flying in toward the pen, I feed them then.  And if I haven't been able to get home before dark, they usually bed themselves, and I just go close the gate/door. Mine free range during the day, but do walk all over our porch and leave their little messages behind. Also, fly over fences, into pastures, and up onto the roof of every building on the farm and roost.  We have a kiddy pool in their pen, but also one outside . But, they will play in any water, be it puddle, bucket or goat trough...
We have a lot of hawks, owls, etc. That's why we enclose the ducks at night in a smaller enclosure.  I have a dear friend loose a couple of full grown Pekings to Owls... so I won't take the chance.  Enjoy your birds. Sara
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