Duck / geese housing - getting ready for next year!


5 Years
Oct 2, 2014
Ottawa, On
Hey everyone!

We are going through a lot of renovations on our farm. One of the things I've always wanted to add again was ducks, we used to have muscovy ducks - I had a Duck named Duckie (original eh?) that followed me everywhere and came when I called her.. good times.. Anyhow, that was almost 13 years ago.

We have this massive pond, used to be a manure lagoon back when it was a dairy farm - so 11 years ago. We emptied it one last time and then just left it to nature - water filled up, plants did stuff.. and nature did it's thing. We've now got I don't know how many turtles, and frogs up the wazoo. We made the area around it into a horse pasture, and our horses have been there for many year - but because our farm is on a hill/bedrock you can't really dig down, so what they had to do is build up levees to make the lagoon in the first place. However those are 20' high walls with a steep slope so our horses could never grasse/clear the area and weeds (i'm talking about the bad stuff here - burning nettle and thistles...) would grow. We couldn't cut the hill with the mower and it it was a whole bunch of surface area to clear with a trimmer (not to mention pretty dangerous - the hill is on a 50 degree angle) . Soooo this fall we took the shovel to it and lowered the wall by about 5 feet and using all that soil we were able to level everything out smoothly.

So there we where, my dad and I, looking at the 'new' pond when he turned to me and said "I want Geese" and I fired right back "I want Ducks", then we agreed maybe some Swans eventually. So we agreed we were going to get some water fowl.

Now here is my question - what are the housing needs for geese/ducks? As in this many square feet per bird..ect.. as in housing, inside - for winter. Not worried about the pasture/pond, it's a massive area that will be fenced in (trust me, it's going to be goat proof because my mom insists on getting 2 goats if we are getting water fowl) - but they will not have access to outside in the winter just because of how the roof is build (snow always slides down and we don't want them to get caught in an avalanche) so they will be inside bound and I would like to figure out what size of enclosure they will need, and also if there are any specific things I should include that I might not be aware of. Also things like number of males to females..ect..

As far as birds are concerned my father really doesn't care what type of geese we are getting, he just likes geese - especially guard type geese. So for the geese now I was thinking of Brown/White chinese geese. For ducks I really love Muscovy and miss them, but I was also thinking Pekins for meat production (well, both are good for meat).

So so, sorry about all the rambling but I am fairly excited to get started on this project! I've got some pictures of the pond before/after the wall drop. Also with some wild Canada geese on it (24 when I counted) just to give you an idea of the size. Any helpful tips/ advice/ breed suggestions welcome!

Zoom on wild geese

Bigger picture of pond with geese

Not the the edge of the pond vs tree hight in this pic compared to pic with geese

Here are some thoughts in response to your questions.

One is, are you sure there are no snapping turtles in the pond? Those are deadly. They kill and maim. So take care of that right away.

If I recall correctly, 25 sf minimum per duck is recommended if they don't have access to pasture (Storey's Guide to Raising Ducks - I recommend you get that book).

Muscovies roost, other breeds don't. Whether they'll use nesting boxes varies by duck. Muscovies seem pretty winter-hardy, with a few exceptions. First, there can be individuals who are less hardy. Also, those caruncles can frostbite, as can feet. Some folks put salve or other ointment on caruncles to protect them. And keeping them off of ice and snow as you plan to do helps quite a bit.

Still, if it's -20F and windy, some kind of heat source will be needed, whether that's a well-managed compost (they give off some heat) or deep litter, other larger animals, or other source of heat. Be very careful about heat due to fire risk.

Waterfowl need water and when you manage their water well, everybody is happier and healthier. I use a watering station in our night pen, and I have the outdoor swim pans on gravel that's on a 2% slope into a shallow channel that leads to garden beds. The watering station has sides, a low side for entry, sawdust pellets in the bottom, and a large flat-bottomed, straight-sided stewpot to prevent spills.

This keeps the rest of the bedding relatively dry! Big savings of time, money and aggravation.

Oh that is such a darn good idea, why did we never think of that *ponders* - the Muscovies always splashed water over their bedding and it would get soggy and you'd always have to clean it out.. this would solve that problem quite a bit I would imagine.

We do have snapping turtles on the pond, this might change once we fence in the perimeter / pasture as we plan on putting a wire fence that goes down to the ground (to prevent the ducks from wondering into our nearby creek - where the tree line is in the pond pics). Generally we would see mama snapping turtles come and lay eggs in the sand levee - as it's on the south side, close to water and warm - it was perfect for them and they generally would leave after though (trust me, if we had a snapper living in our pond we would know). Any the other turtles we have are paint turtles and they do no harm.

For heating, we plan on insulating the coop well, as well as including heat lamps/brooder lamps. It is not nearly as cold inside as outside, and we have beef animals in the barn during the winter that help keep temperatures up a bit. Not sure on what type of bedding to use yet though, we have loads of straw, but it's messy and hard to clean, however wood shavings are expensive and dusty - perhaps a mix?

And cool - so I should aim for 25 sf per bird? Awesome, I'll be sure to include some roosts for the Muscovy, I do remember them sitting on our wood fences and in the tree (low hanging branches). I'll try and get a pic of where I'm planning on putting the run tomorrow.

Thanks very much for the input!

Oh one more thing - how do you feed your ducks? I remember we just had the bottom of flower pots and put feed in it, but they always pooped in it or stepped in it - kinda gross! Would something that is used for chickens or rabbits work?
A guy I know made a feeder from a food barrel with some four inch holes near the bottom, and some four inch pipe - short sections - in the holes. I will see if I can find a photo or link to that, tomorrow.

One drake to three to six ducks is a general guideline.
Oh I think I've seen something like that for chickens - so they don't waste food.

Can ducks and geese be housed together for the winter or should I have separate runs for them?
Oh I think I've seen something like that for chickens - so they don't waste food.

Can ducks and geese be housed together for the winter or should I have separate runs for them?
I keep my geese and ducks apart simply because my gander, who is normally very sweet, is intent on killing my drakes. However I know people who have ducks and geese and chickens all together with no problem. Geese are unique in barnyard poultry in the they are very intelligent and have independent personalities. So what is good for the goose is not always good for the gander (sorry I could not resist that). You might have to play it by ear and be ready to keep them apart if needed.
Hmm, well we don't necessarily intend on breeding the geese, so we could just get girls - if that would help out. We do plan on breeding ducks, however, so I will need a drake.

I can actually remember when I was 7 years old I got tackled by our drake, he sliced my favourite pair of jeans clear from the belt line all the way down the leg and left me with a long lovely scratch all the way down my leg.. He was a mean bird... nobody ever told me they were mean... I was used to the females we had before we got a drake, they were all so tame! Although I must admit he was ridiculously huge, easily more then twice the size of the girls - and he was an odd fray colour, I've never seen a grey muscovy before - he wasn't blue/lavender, it was really a take black and mix with white grey... weird bird. We didn't have him for long.. he was a terrible with all the animals, including the girls *shrugs*
Hey guys I've been busy all weekend and didn't get to upload the pictures. The runs will be build both on the left and the right of the hallway, but only one will be in use during the summer.





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