Duck enclosure advice

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Bobbiw2, Aug 3, 2016.

  1. Bobbiw2

    Bobbiw2 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 7, 2014
    Madison County, Indiana
    I am getting ready to build a new duck enclosure. I was wondering if you good folks would be willing to share some advice with me. I am looking for things such as tips, tricks, your favorite features as well as your biggest mistakes and regrets. If you were starting over with your enclosure, what would you do differently and what would you do the same. I guess that I am just trying to [​IMG]"pick your brains", so to speak!
    Any and all information will be greatly appreciated. And of course, pictures would be wonderful.
    Thanks to all for your time and consideration.
    May you have a blessed day!

  2. Cherib603

    Cherib603 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2016
    New Hampshire
    My advice.... When you believe you have added every bit of protection to your enclosure - add some more. Seriously. Don't leave any opening greater than 1/4 inch. That goes for walls, roof, floor, windows, vent holes, door jams etc. and don't rely on weak hardware - such as staples (stapled hardware cloth can be pushed in or torn off - use screws and washers), zip ties (can be chewed thru), tarps (might as well be tissue paper), cheap hinges with short screws or easily opened locks (raccoons can open anything you can).

    Make it tall enough for you to get into with a rake for easy clean out.

    Figure out if you want to run electricity to it for any reason and build it in now instead of adding it later and compromising the integrity of your security.

    Make it easily hose-outable.

    Other than that - have fun & good luck!
  3. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    Good question, and I agree with most of what Cherib603 minimum gap is 1/2 inch square - so if it's wider than half an inch, yes, I'd reduce the height of the gap to 1/4 inch. In other words, I think half inch by half inch metal hardware cloth is good. But if I have a seam, say a gap between two 2x4s - I would not want more than a quarter inch between them.

    I used a combination of screws with washers to attach the hardware cloth, but then in between them I put the U shaped nails for extra attachment. And I spent hours trying to think like a predator as I was designing and building. When all was said and done it did not take me that long to build the pen and it has lasted over 6 years so far. We are in the process of building the second pen.

    We have saved up and will be using mostly pvc-coated half inch metal hardware cloth, 16 gauge. Including across the bottom.

    Pen I has coated chain link across the bottom to prevent larger animals from digging under and in (in New England there are so many stones that digging a deep trench around the pen was not going to happen). I fastened the edges of the chain link between two one by sixes that frame the bottom edge of the pen. Vertical posts (3 sistered 2x4s) are attached to that frame, and across the tops of the verticals are 2x8s. There is a distance of 4 to 5 feet between verticals. I accounted for snow load.

    That's not the entire set of details, but what I felt you might find most helpful.

    What I plan to do differently this time - Taller pen. Pen I is a meter tall. Not a problem for me - I am 5'3" and very agile for a junior senior citizen. So I go into the pen, and duckwalk around, dumping swim pans, gathering the occasional egg, scooping up a duck who needs to see the vet, etc. But try to get help for that! hah!

    So, next one will be about 6 feet tall. It's going to be 6 feet at one side, dropping a foot on the other so that if I decide to cover the pen, snow and rain will drop off (always thinking snow load here - we can get 3 feet of snow in a day).

    Something I love about Pen I, that I got right, is making sure there is a 2% slope across the whole pen. Rain and swim pan water will not sit in a puddle. We are also blessed with a fine sandy loam soil that drains moderately well.

    The night pen is in the "barn" in the walkout basement. I have two flocks. One flock has access to a shelter when they are in their day pen. The other only has a small area with roofing over it (the two flock thing came up after I built the pen, so that was not incorporated into the design and we ar making do.)

    New Pen will have shelters in each section. I am still designing this, and trying to decide between small plywood A-Frames or mini greenhouses.

    Pen I is under a sturdy sugar maple. It provides shade, absorbs water and manure, and shields from hail and heavy rains.

    Pen II is partly under a hickory, so we'll have some shade and shelter, but we'll have hickory nuts in late summer - the pen will have fence across the top so that won't be a problem. Pen II is also on a slope, a bit more than 2%, and also has a nice loam underneath.

    Improvement - I am figuring out how to change the swim pan dumping situation not so much for the water runoff, but for the feathers and muck that get stuck in the fence. So far my plan is to put drains in the swim pans so that rather than lifting and dumping, I can turn a valve and empty them that way. The pipe will be large enough and short enough to avoid clogs.

    Some polywire electric fence is something to seriously consider. There are solar chargers, and small battery or home electric powered chargers, and electric fence is not difficult to install. I did it. I was crazy nervous at first - but I had worked with folks who know how it's done so I chatted with a couple of people first, then got the materials I needed and set up a fine fence. At least two raccoons can attest that it worked.

    I use keyed locks on the gates. Raccoons aren't the only ones up to mischief at night.

    The base for Pen I is a nice compost. Made from duck manure and chopped straw. I don't have to add straw very often, and it becomes beautiful stuff for the garden. Under the swim pans is sand, smooth pea gravel, and sometimes oak leaves to reduce odor in summer.

    I am switching to hardware cloth underneath because occasionally burrowing rodents come in from underneath, at night through the chain link. I don't want ducks turning their ankles in the holes, so I have to fill those in. One more maintenance chore I would rather not spend time on.
  4. Welshies

    Welshies Overrun With Chickens

    May 8, 2016
    Alberta, Canada
    There are a few essentials any duck house should have.
    -3-6 sq ft/duck in the duck house, 10+sqft/duck in the run.
    -Lots of ventilation, and windows you can shut. The more light, the better. Minimum openings should be 1/2".
    -At least 3 ft high with a hinged roof or wall, or 4+ft high so you can go inside (for cleaning)
    -Raised, with a ramp. A ton cleaner, and less mice and bugs!
    -A door at least 10" wide and 18" high for the ducks.

    My current setup is a 4 season duck tractor set permanently beside a horse shelter (3 sided "run in" shed). The horse shelter and coop are fenced making the run 350 sq ft- good for up to 35 ducks, if needed. They have shallow rubber feeding pans for bathing and at night do not get food or water. The coop has a 24sqft outdoor area (this is kept open when I am away flr weekends so nobody has to care for them), and a 24 sq ft inside- good for 10 ducks, preferably only 8 ducks. The ground is gravel because it is so cramped over weekends, and the inside has shavings (I use the deep litter method). It is covered on every side and the gate latches with two latches- spring loaded bolts. It works well, and keeps down the smell. In their run they have lots of access to clover and free choice food, so they won't get slim from not being fed at night- or watered.
    I would change a few things.
    a) Make the coop more than 4.5' high- make it about 6' high so I can walk in easily. I don't mind bending over, but it does get exhausting.
    b) Add windows on the coop, for removable and addable ventilation.
    c) Add one nesting box for broodies, which they HOPEFULLY will use.
    d) Make the run part in the coop (for weekends) covered.

    My fencing is 5' high chicken wire (the bottom 3' is double layered) strung tight with high tensile wire in the top, middle, and bottom. It is only 4' high, though- I have a 1' apron sitting on top of the ground, held down with landscapers (or garden) stakes pounded down. You can't see the apron anymore, and nothing has or will get in. It's super secure.
  5. TLWR

    TLWR Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 10, 2010
    southern AL
    I live in an area where I can hose daily about 350 days a year.
    We have some nights below freezing where the hose doesn't exactly thaw as it stays cold for the day as well. But I can usually go out mid day and clean if needed. Otherwise, they go a few days without having things hosed out.

    Both ends of my duck house open for easy hosing.
    I have a bin with pine straw that they lay in.
    They have steps to get in.
    House is raised a bit so they can get under it for shade or playing in the water I've hosed through the house.

    upstairs is chickens
    downstairs is ducks

  6. Bobbiw2

    Bobbiw2 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 7, 2014
    Madison County, Indiana
    Thank you Cherib603, Amiga, Welshies, and TLWR for all of the wonderful information. I have learned much from your input.

    I am considering building my enclosure in a stable that currently houses two flocks (in converted stalls) of chickens and a couple of goats that have their own area of the stable. The stable has an attached large metal run in shed that we are in the process of converting to an "inside" run for the winter months. It has concrete floors that will be covered with sand. It is the same system that we are currently using in the stall coops. I am thinking that I could use a part of this run in to build the duck enclosure that would have a house for night time and maybe a small kiddie pool. I could let the ducks out with the chickens during the day and they would have more than enough space between the inside and outside runs.

    I have in mind a house with a dog kennel/run attached for the small pool. This would keep the chickens away from the pool.

    What is your opinion of housing ducks and chickens together? They will not be sharing food and water, just playtime/space.
  7. Welshies

    Welshies Overrun With Chickens

    May 8, 2016
    Alberta, Canada
    People usually have great success with it, however the drake and rooster each have to have enough hens (go towards the greater end of the scale for hen to male ratio). Otherwise, they can and migjt rape each other. With proper management, this rarely happens. The biggest problem, aside from that, is when the two species share night quarters. If this isn't going to be done, you will be more than fine. :D

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