Having ducks in your backyard will not only save you money from groceries, but duck eggs are generally better than chicken eggs. Compared to chickens, ducks are a lot healthier, more heat-tolerant, lay more eggs regularly, and are quieter and easier on the grass.
Not all ducks can fly, but if you have one species that can fly, there are a couple of ways to ensure that your backyard ducks will stay right where they are.
Some safe ways to keep your ducks from flying away are clipping their wings, training them, securing your area, and bonding with your ducks.
If you’re worried that your pet ducks will fly away from your backyard at any moment, knowing the different techniques to “disable” them to fly would not be enough. It’s also crucial to understand the many reasons why ducks fly away in the first place.
In this article, we will tackle which breed of ducks can and cannot fly, the safe ways to ensure that they won’t fly too far away, and why they fly away in the first place. Additionally, we will answer the most common questions, including whether or not you should allow your ducks to fly once in a while, and the best practices to keep them from fleeting.
Can Ducks Fly Away?
Throughout years of reproducing ducks, humans were able to create breeds that provide full and high-quality meat. Such breeds of ducks tend to be larger and heavier, and therefore, incapable of flying. However, not all ducks are bred this way.
You may wonder, “Can ducks fly away?” It’s important to always check what type of breed are the ducks you’re looking at. Some can fly for a long time, and even migrate when seasons change. Whereas some others cannot fly or can be airborne only for a couple of seconds.
Here’s a list of all duck breeds that can’t fly or can only fly for a short period without gaining sustained flight:
- Silver Appleyard
- Buff Orpington
If you have one of the types of birds listed below, note that these can fly:
- East Indies
- Welsh Harlequin
- Miniature Silver Appleyards
- Australian Spotted
- Bantam Hybrids
- Other game and wild breeds like Mallards
If you own breeds of ducks that can’t fly for a long period, you don’t need to worry about them trying to fly away, as long as your backyard is secure. However, if you have garden ducks that can fly, you must ensure that you keep them safe in your backyard.
Aside from cats and dogs, there are tons of other animals that you can keep as pets in your backyard. If you are looking for an animal that is generally calm, hardy, and produces excellent eggs, you should consider getting ducks. Here are 10 reasons why ducks make great backyard pets.
5 Safe Methods to Keep Your Backyard Ducks from Flying Away
If your pet ducks’ breeds are listed among those that can fly, it’s time to consider the safe ways to keep them from flying away. With the following five methods, you can rest assured that you’re not illegally hurting your pet.
- Train them with treats
Like dogs, you can train your garden ducks with treats, but you’ll be more limited in terms of training as you’ll be teaching them to return to the shelter you provided them. While they are still ducklings, give them treats specifically for ducks every evening, as to “reward” them for being there at night.
As they mature, you can give them treats every time they return to their shelter in the evening to reinforce the behavior properly. During this time, you can opt to reduce the treats that you give them.
Once their behavior has been established, you can give them fewer treats. Although, you have to make sure that you give them treats once in a while, when they return early to their shelters, for example.
- Create a strong bonding with your backyard ducks
Like other animals, you can bond with your pet ducks to ensure that they don’t fly away. The more they feel safe, well-cared of, and engaged, the less likely they are to leave you. Also, it instills in them that you’re the one who’s feeding and caring for them.
So, how do you bond with your ducks? Like every animal, all you have to do is spend time with them, cuddle them, and give them treats. By doing so, they can connect with you and not leave you when you’re not looking.
- Secure your backyard
Of course, the best thing to do to ensure that your ducks won’t fly away is to secure your backyard. If you set up a high fence with little to no spaces in between, you can be sure that they won’t be able to fly away.
Additionally, securing your backyard entails prevents unnecessary predators from attacking your ducks. This also allows you to better control their habitat for them to be more comfortable in your area.
- Tie a small and heavy item on their wing
Tying a small and heavy item on one of the wings of your garden ducks is an effective way to prevent them from gaining balance or equilibrium. Using a zip tie or any small and heavy material is enough to apply this method.
Although, it’s important to ensure that the material that you’re using does not harm your duck, even after many years.
- Clip their wings
Wing clipping is considered the most difficult yet most common method. Although it will hurt your duck, many breeders choose this technique because it is the easiest and fastest action to take, and it can ensure that your ducks will never fly away.
Clipping one wing only is enough. This ensures that your backyard duck won’t be able to gain balance or equilibrium. Here are the simple steps to follow to clip your garden duck’s wing:
- Choose a wing to clip.
- Choose the longest feather (flight feather), that is closest to the edges outside the wing.
- Clip the chosen feather at mid-point. Make sure that you do not clip too close to the edges or to the wing.
While it seems that this method and steps are easy, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Wing clipping hurts and injures your duck. This means that you can expect them to bleed, as with this method, you are clipping blood vessels.
- Never shave your duck’s feathers because flying is not their only purpose. The feathers are also there to create better insulation for your ducks and are beautiful.
- If you clip the feather that you chose too close to the edge, your duck will still be able to fly.
5 Reasons Why Ducks Fly Away
Wild and backyard ducks fly away for similar reasons. Like any animal, ducks will try to escape if they feel that they are in danger or if they are hungry enough to look for food. Now that you have an idea of how to prevent your pet ducks from flying away, let’s take a look at why they try to do so in the first place.
Here are the common reasons why your pet garden might fly away.
- To look for food
If not properly fed, your ducks will try to look for a source of food. Indeed, if they cannot find any food within your area or backyard, they will fly away and look elsewhere. Additionally, if they get too far away, your ducks will have a hard time going back to your area and might even get lost.
One of the many tricks that breeders do is spread out some of their duck pellets around the backyard to ensure that the ducks can still find food while they are foraging.
- To escape predators
When your backyard is not secured, predators might get inside your vicinity and attack your ducks. If this happens, your ducks will naturally try to escape the predators and fly away. If they fly too far away, they might get lost.
Some of the most common predators you’ll find chasing your ducks are:
- To follow their instinct
Ever heard of animals trying to run away when they felt in danger? Ducks also have this instinct, which means that they will try to flee as soon as they feel unsafe. Many pet owners take this as a sign that there’s a danger coming into the area. These dangers might include earthquakes, fires, tsunamis, etc.
- To move on
Sometimes, tamed animals might get rescued or freed. Once this happens, even trained ducks might give in to their instincts and try to fly away. This typically happens when you stop providing them with shelter, food, treats, or attention.
- To play
Backyard ducks, like any animals, love to play with each other and may sometimes get carried away with their excitement. When this happens, your ducks might try to fly away, which is why you must ensure that they have a secure area.
Should You Allow Your Ducks to Fly Away?
Whether you let your backyard ducks fly or not ultimately depends on your choices. Many breeders tend to limit the flying capabilities of their ducks to ensure that they don’t get hurt or lost, and to save their investment. This is especially true if the area of the breeders is not secured with a high fence, in which case they usually choose to clip their ducks’ wings.
Other breeders, especially those with a secured backyard, tend to allow their ducks to fly around. Since there’s no need to worry about their pet ducks flying away, these breeders do not clip their ducks’ wings and let them roam around freely.
All in all, the decision to allow your ducks to fly freely is yours. If your ducks can fly, make sure that you have a secure area, have bonded with them, and provide them with everything they need to ensure that they come back to you.
Ducks love water, whether it’s for leisure or hygiene and nutrition purposes. If you are planning to raise ducks in your backyard, you will need to set up a water source for them, such as ponds or other water features. But, do backyard ducks really need a pond? Read our article to find out.
6 Best Practices to Keep Your Backyard Ducks from Flying Away
As we’ve mentioned earlier, you can keep your ducks from fleeing by providing them with everything they need. This includes food, shelter, attention, and even cuddling. By doing all these, you can become a better duck breeder by providing them with a better life.
In this section, we’ll further discuss the six best things to provide for your ducks.
Ducks are cold hardy, which means that you need to provide a shelter with great ventilation, that can keep them warm, and that protects them from unwanted predators. In most cases, backyard ducks’ shelters require spaces on the upper area of the housing to provide fresh air and ventilation to minimize odor buildup.
In the winter, make sure that you cover up the open windows or areas of the housing with something light, such as plastic, to provide better warmth for the ducks. If you want to extract clean eggs from your ducks, you can straw where the ducks can nest and lay their eggs on it.
Some people also suggest that you build a pen around your backyard ducks’ shelter to ensure that they are always safe, even when you’re not around. This provides better security, just in case there are predators around.
Everybody knows that ducks love water. Whether it’s for drinking, bathing, or playing around, all ducks live by the water. With that being said, it’s important to always provide enough water for your pet ducks to enable them to dip their entire bill on it.
If you have a large backyard, you can create a small pond or provide a swimming pool where your ducks can swim and splash water around. If you don’t have enough space or if it becomes too cold for them to stay in the pond or pool, you can provide them with a bowl of water in which they can take a quick bath or just play around.
Backyard ducks can forage for their food. While you provide them with the pellet for their scheduled meals, it’s good to spread our food pellets around your backyard so that they can still find food while foraging.
Unlike what we see in the movies, you should remember to never feed your ducks with bread. Ducks do not get any nutritional value from bread and it is not part of their regular diet. Feeding bread to your backyard ducks can actually cause them multiple health issues, which can include lameness, wing deformity, and bone growth issues.
Fencing is an effective way to keep your ducks from flying away. If you have backyard ducks that can’t fly for a long time, you might think that there’s no need to have any high fence. But, most breeders get this wrong.
In most cases, fences are not created to “cage” your ducks but to protect them from potential predators. Some breeders cover their fences with wires to make sure that their ducks are well-protected.
- Keep more than one duck
Ducks are sociable animals and can interact with almost any species. But if you want to keep your backyard ducks from fleeing, it’s worth considering adding another or more than two ducks to ensure that they are happy and won’t leave you.
Also, you might get surprised to see your duck trying to run away from you. Indeed, most ducks are not fond of human interactions, which is why, even if you bond with them, they will try to run away once you approach them.
If you have drakes (male ducks), it’s a good idea to have at least 12 hens in your backyard. Since drakes have extremely high sex drives, keeping them accompanied and satisfied will make them doublethink before flying away.
Also, if this is your first time seeing ducks mate, it’s best not to interfere or be overwhelmed by emotions. Because of evolution, ducks have created complicated sexual organs, which make their mating behavior a little harsh compared to that of other animals.
If you’re concerned about your backyard ducks flying away, then keeping them well-occupied and fed will surely make them want to stay. Make sure that you secure your area to minimize the threats of predators and allow your ducks to roam around freely.
Remember to always provide clean and accessible water to ensure that your ducks can drink, bathe, and enjoy it. If you have the luxury of time, then it’s also best to play with your ducks and cuddle them as much as you can.