Q&A For Safe Duck Handling: How To Catch A Baby Duck

When you are keeping any type of fowl or livestock, including geese or ducks, safe, effective handling is key to success. If you don’t know how to handle your charges properly, you may end up injuring them. In this article, we provide smart tips that you are sure to find helpful when you need to catch baby ducks, handle mature birds, deliver medications, tend injuries and so on. Read on to learn more on how to catch a baby duck.

Q&A For Safe Duck Handling

are ducks hard to handle

1. Are ducks hard to handle?

Most types of ducks are fairly tame. Some breeds are a bit more fractious than others, but generally speaking, ducks that are used to being around people are pretty easy to manage. The key to easy duck handling is regular duck handling. Make a point of handling ducklings when they are young so that they will be tame and easy to manage when they mature.

2. How can you tame a mature duck?

If you have come into possession of unhandled, mature ducks, begin by simply getting them used to a regular routine. Settle them into a safe, quiet, contained environment and make a point of feeding and cleaning every day at the same time, in the same way. Speak quietly and move carefully so that your new ducks will learn that they have nothing to fear from you.

After a week or two, they should be comfortable around you, and you can add some petting and handling to your routine. When holding and taming ducks, don’t ruffle their feathers. Always stroke them in the direction the feathers grow. Continue talking quietly to accustom the birds to your voice and presence.

3. How do you catch a duck?

Whether you are trying to catch a baby duck or a mature duck, you should not try to chase the bird down. This is bound to make the duck skittish, and may cause injury.

If you are dealing with a fairly tame duck, try luring it with a food treat. If you are attempting to catch an unhandled duck, gently herd it into an enclosed area where it will be easier for you to corner it and pick it up.

4. How do you herd ducks?

To herd ducks, just amble along behind them holding your arms out and gently sidestepping as needed to block them from doubling back and slipping away.

Don’t rush, shout, wave your arms or do anything else alarming. Just walk along encouraging the duck to walk along ahead of you and into a small area where they can be caught.

5. Will ducks bite or scratch?

Most ducks will not aggress, but completely unhandled or wild ducks might. Male ducks may also be a bit more aggressive than females.

Additionally, if you are trying to catch multiple ducks for veterinary care, worming or other treatment, the birds may become skittish.

As with handling any animal, it’s always a good idea to protect yourself from nips, scratches, germs and vermin by wearing long sleeves, pants, gloves and solid shoes.

6. How do you pick up a duck?

Once you have your duck corralled in an area where it cannot get away, you can simply place a hand on either side near the top of the wings (toward the front of the bird).

This allows you to get a firm grip and hold the wings down to prevent flapping. Most ducks will settle down and surrender once you have a good hold, so it’s easy to pick the duck up.

Alternately, you can place a hand on the bird’s chest and another on its back to get it to settle. Then you can move your hands around to secure the wings.

How To Hold A Duck

7. How do you hold a duck?

Lift the duck toward you and hold its back against your chest for a secure hold. If the duck is very large, you may need to slide one arm around it to support it from beneath.

If the bird starts struggling or manages to star flapping one, or both, wings, just set it down gently. Let it calm down and try again.

Note that if a duck is very large or is injured or ill, it may not be safe to pick it up at all. In this case, you will want to secure the bird with its feet on the ground and then sit down cross-legged (tailor fashion) next to it and pull it onto your lap for treatment. You should secure the duck’s wings and have a helper perform whatever task you have at hand.

This is a good position any time you need to roll a duck over to check its vent for parasites. You can sit with the duck and stroke it until it becomes very calm then gently roll it over onto its back. Be sure to keep its wings held securely against its body with one hand as you may need the other hand to gently hold down the legs. Some ducks tend to kick when you roll them over.

8. How do you carry a duck?

For short distances, you can carry the animal against your chest, holding both wings down with a hand on either side. If you need to go a little farther, use one arm to secure the bird against your body and hold down the wings. Use the other hand to support the bird from beneath.

For smaller ducks, you can use a football hold, holding the bird under one arm. For larger ducks or to carry any duck a long distance or into a setting where escaping would be very problematic (e.g. a vet’s office) you may want to use a pet carrier.

9. How do you set a duck down?

Keep a firm grip on the bird’s wings to prevent flapping. Make sure its feet are securely on the ground. Wait a few moments to allow the duck to calm down and get its bearings before you release your hold.

10. How do you catch a baby duck?

If you are trying to catch baby ducks that are under the care of their mother, you are sure to find it easier to catch them if you herd the hen and ducklings into a small, enclosed space and then catch and separate the hen while you attend to the ducklings.

If you are trying to catch one, or a few loose baby ducks that have become separated from their mother or are out in the open, herding into a smaller, enclosed space is a good idea. If this is not possible, you can try approaching the duckling quietly and then gently tossing a light cloth (towel, small blanket, sweater or jacket) over the bird to quiet and contain it. Then you will be able to pick it up. Always handle ducklings gently. Remember that they are just babies and are easily injured.

Avoid These Unsafe Maneuvers

1. It is no safer to pick a duck up by its limbs or its neck than it would be to do so to a child. Wings and legs can be broken by this kind of irresponsible handling. Picking up any creature by its neck can result in strangulation.

2. Avoid letting a duck flail with its feet while you are holding it. Remember that they have webbed feet, which are subject to injury. If you are holding a duck while you are standing, use a football hold to secure both wings and feet. If you are holding a duck while sitting, allow the feet to be on the ground or on your lap while you secure the wings.

3. Use a firm grip, not a stranglehold. Remember that you want the duck to feel safe in your arms, not as if it’s being gripped by a predator. Hold the duck securely and avoid applying pressure that may be painful or even interfere with respiration.

4. If you are dealing with a duck that is very large or one that is ill, it may not be safe to turn it on its back. You may want to try turning it on its side, or simply working with it upright as well as you can.

5. Don’t let the duck jump out of your arms when you are finished. Always carry the duck to a safe place and set it down on the ground carefully to avoid injury to feet and legs.

6. Don’t be unsanitary! Remember to wash your hands after handling ducks or ducklings!

Nicky Ellis
Nicky has been an editor at Farm & Animals since 2019. Farm animals have been in her life from her earliest memories, and she learned to ride a horse when she was 5. She is a mom of three who spends all her free time with her family and friends, her mare Joy, or just sipping her favorite cup of tea.

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