Ask the Swan Specialist

Re: Keeping swans
By:The Regal Swan
Date: 15 March 2014
In Response To: Keeping swans (Bob)

Hi Bob:
You will need to check with your state wildlife officials first. Many states are killing the Mute Swans because they want to reintroduce the larger Trumpeter Swans in the area for hunting purposes as a “Trophy Waterfowl”. You may need a special permit. Also, if you get a male and female swan, you may need another permit for breeding purposes as the cygnets will be need to be pinioned (rendered unable to fly) at 1-3 weeks of age. A pair of Mute Swans can produce 1-13 cygnets a year. Eventually, once the territory begins overrun with swans, the parent will chase the other swans from the area. Then, you will need to find a home for the cygnets which makes you a breeder.

If you are allowed to keep swans with or without a permit, we would strongly suggest having 2 males or 2 females. They will mate and nest. Males will obviously not produce eggs, but the females will produce non-fertile eggs. The birds will need to go about their normal mating/nesting season and the once the hormones settle, they will go back to non-breeding behavior.

Swans are kept on lakes by pinioning (amputating one side of the flight feathers at 1-3 weeks of age). This renders them unable to leave the area. Unfortunately, this poses several problems for the swans. You will need to provide supplemental food for them, especially during the winter months. If the lake freezes, you will need to bring the swans indoors for the winter as they cannot leave the area to find food for the winter or when times render the habitat scarce of vegetation. Since they cannot fly, the swans cannot seek shelter from extreme weather conditions or predators. Predators can access frozen ponds and lakes to attack the swans. You could invest in a de-icer/aerator to keep the lake from freezing. Also, an aerator moves the water because stagnant lakes can produce non-aerobic bacteria which the swans can access during extreme times of drought or rain. The toxin produced by these bacteria is a neurological toxin causing Botulism, which can produce paralysis, respiratory problems and death.

The bigger issue in this whole scenario is who is going to be responsible for the swans? Do you have a habitat suitable with no insecticides, pesticides, fertilizers and other run-off pollutants running into the lake? Are there any predators (wild and domestic), i.e., dogs, cats, foxes, coyotes, wolves, etc. in the area? Are there any human issues that can produce a problem for the swans, i.e., children, fishing, water skis or boating? Do you have an experienced avian (bird)/waterfowl veterinarian on-call that can treat the swans in the event that an emergency arises?

If all of these questions can be answered in favor of the swans, then we would suggest that you work with Bob Knox of Knox Swans and Dogs (847) 875-3947 as he can help you with procuring healthy swans that are pinioned and helping you set-up the habitat. The Regal Swan

Messages In This Thread

Keeping swans -- Bob -- 15 March 2014
Re: Keeping swans -- The Regal Swan -- 15 March 2014