Constructive criticism on muscovy pen/house plans?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by LaurelC, Jan 28, 2014.

  1. LaurelC

    LaurelC Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 22, 2013
    Bothell, WA
    I haven't had ducks as an adult, so I'm kind of flying blind here. Please let me know where I need to improve upon my plan, what I should scrap, and what is on point!

    *We're planning on getting 3 females to start off with, and next year may get a drake to hatch some ducklings out for meat.
    *12x12' enclosure (144sq ft)
    *Enclosure will be situated on a slope which should help with drainage
    *Enclosure will be 6' tall, with half of it covered in clear corrugated plastic, the other half covered in wire mesh - covered portion is the area that gets more shade, open portion is the area that gets more sun
    *I intend to sink a pool of some sort into the hill and surround the whole area with smooth rocks/pea gravel, and run a drain out the bottom and out the pen to fill watering cans for my veggie garden
    *House will be similar to, or a doghouse that has a hinged lid for easy cleanup - interior will be painted and the bottom lined with peel & stick vinyl tiles
    *Waterer will be a 5 gallon bucket with holes cut in the side for heads to be inserted, Feeder will be a PVC hopper style. I'll make something similar but smaller for oyster shell
    *Soil in the run is a fine sand, I figure I'll leave it as is until I determine how messy it gets. If it gets bad, I'll probably do gravel on the side that'll be getting rained on, and straw on the side that stays relatively dry (makes great compost or garden mulch)
    *Primary wire will be 2x4 welded mesh. We do not have predators to speak of, and we have (primarily indoor) dogs so things tend to steer clear of our yard. I will see how the 2x4 works, and if it's not sufficient for the bottom portions, I will add something like 1x1" to the bottom 2' of the walls. The 2x4 welded mesh will be buried about 1' into the soil to help prevent anything from getting in there.
    *We're in the Seattle area, so are used to moisture and drainage.
    *The pen will be their primary home. We will free range them when we're out in the yard, but we both work full time jobs, so this will be the exception, not the rule.

    Other things I'm considering:
    *Eventually trying to figure out some sort of biological filtration system for the pond. This is not high on my list at this point, but it'd be nice eventually when I run out of projects
    *Sprouted fodder feeding
    *Some sort of water catchment from the roofed area to fill the pond



    Questions that I have:
    *How much oyster shell do females generally consume?
    *Am I going to need nesting boxes or just see where the ladies start laying and go from there?
    *It doesn't ever get into single digits here, am I likely to need a light/heater of any kind this coming winter?
    *Are tumbled concrete pavers (the decorative ones with rounded edges that people use for patios) likely to cause bumblefoot? Should I stick with river rock/pea gravel?
    *What am I missing?
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2014
  2. Going Quackers

    Going Quackers Overrun With Chickens

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    The 5 Gal bucket cut out thing makes me nervous.. skip that and use a rubber livestock bowl.. not to be critical i just don't see it working and i swear i could see mine getting stuck or taking it down...

    [​IMG]
    12 x 12? to me that sounds small, but i keep a 1/3 of an acre fenced around my main duck barn and secondary coop so it's hard for me to relate, hopefully those that pen scovies can comment on their dimensions. Ducks make a mudhole fast, i recall having 1 duck and her brood penned in my dog run a 13 x 7-8ft wide... something like that for 2 wks and they trashed it.

    You do know scovie girls fly and well right? mine clear a 5ft fence like it was a Popsicle stick [​IMG] so keep that in mind, you can certainly clip wings if you feel more comfortable, just cautioning. My birds free range, the fenced area is for bad weather and dusk/night... so i keep all birds full flight here.

    Housing... hmm... scovies girls are still pretty big, according to Storey's guide to ducks for med-large ducks housed only at night 2.5-6sq ft. so IMO you'd need a roomy doghouse lol plus venting is extremely important.

    Sand i cannot comment on at all, i don't use that here whatsoever being how wet ducks are i see it being nothing but a hot mess lol but perhaps i am just not geared for it here, and others who use it can comment.

    DO always remember what you think you have for preds changes when you have something they want, i don't know what animals could be there but do consider all any possibilities right down to neighbours dogs, cats... if you have coons they reach in so large openings are of particular concern.

    Oyster shell? not much, i leave it out free choice.. a large bag will last quite awhile, i also put out grit. Nesting boxes? i don't some do.. my girls often make nests under the shelf i have in their barn(they are roosting ducks)... they have brooded quite a few nests in there too.

    I am cold here.. i don't heat, unless extreme circumstances.. like i had one brood a nest last Feb... so i did heat her and the babies but otherwise no, i bed well, feed well... and use well vented housing.

    Can't help with pavers or gravel.. i do none of that here. the area surrounding my barns is mud/dirt and then grass surprisingly lol
     
  3. LaurelC

    LaurelC Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 22, 2013
    Bothell, WA
    Thanks for your input!

    Re: the waterer thing - I'd like to try to keep the water clean for as long as possible. According to the internet, the waterer works. Worst case scenario is that it doesn't, and I switch it out for something like the rubber bowls.

    Based on a question that I asked several weeks ago, the rec. was 10-25 sq ft per duck. If I have 4 ducks and 144 sq feet, it should be sufficient. If it ends up not being enough, we can address that in the future. This will definitely be a trial and error type of thing, but the current size is the most that I could get out of my husband! I'm sure he'll have an attitude adjustment once he gets to know the ducks.

    A 4x4 doghouse is 16 sq feet, that's 4 sq ft per duck, and based on what I've been reading, they don't usually even go into the houses if the weather isn't terrible. Am I off on this? I will not be locking them into it at night. There won't be a door, and I'll be sure to add some vents around the top.

    The sand drains well, but that's not to say that it won't get muddy with poo. It will be interesting to see how whatever we use for a substrate in the run evolves as we get more experience with the ducks!

    I haven't seen anything bigger than mice and a couple stray cats in the neighborhood (I'm having trouble imagining a stray cat attacking a duck that weighs as much as it does through a wire fence). We have a fully fenced back yard, so the only things getting into it are things that can climb.

    The entire run with either be roofed or covered in wire fencing, so the ladies shouldn't be able to fly away from inside the run, but we do intend to keep their wings clipped.

    Re: Roosts - What do you use for roosts? How high do the ducks like to go? Should I consider some sort of stair stepper arrangement to get up to the higher ones? I have a madrona tree that's in desperate need of some pruning and would make beautiful roosts... I just need to figure out a good way to affix it to the walls.
     
  4. Going Quackers

    Going Quackers Overrun With Chickens

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    May 24, 2011
    On, Canada
    No clue, never seen anything like with the exception of some being done for ducklings and brooding. Ducks mess up water, they have to have it in order to eat, that is why the simplifier the better to clean/refill etc.

    Sizing is hard for me to scale as i don't actually pen the scovies.. but i don't own 3 lol if you don't lock them in housing then it isn't as much of a concern, here my ducks haven't been out in two days, we're been horribly cold so there has been no point, so i need large, i lock all my birds too in housing as my fencing is NOT predator proof whatsoever, it's purely for containment.

    Well, cats can be bold so never underestimate. Domestic dogs, are probably the primary killer of poultry/waterfowl... and cats are right up there too. When i first started into ducks, i had one badly injured by a coon reaching into our run, it never got in the run(thank goodness) but blinded my one drake and did quite extensive physical injury.

    Then one year i lost two drakes, one of significant size to the neighbours loose dog, an Irish wolfhound(either pure or x) .....

    As for roosting, How high? lol um, the roof of my house? ... they love the kids old playground, also the 4ft chain link that leads into my dog yard. For in my barn it's just a shelf.. hmm 2ft or so off the ground... they like it, so do some of the drakes.

    Here some of the girls last year on our bench...

    [​IMG]
     

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