Duck housing---need opinions on my plan

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by bigtrout, Mar 31, 2011.

  1. bigtrout

    bigtrout Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 24, 2011
    NW PA
    Hi everyone,
    Proud owner of six pekin ducklings...three weeks old and healthy...wow are they growing fast...they need a house. I started a 4'x4' framed house for them...and my wife announced she wants to add four khakis to the flock...well now the house I started is already too small...so here is my plan.
    I will keep going with the 4x4 but add some nest boxes to the back...and to give them more space...right beside the house I plan on giving them a 4'x8' semi-enclosed run open to the house at all times. It will have roof and three sides covered with metal corrugated roofing...and the front open to air covered with hardware cloth. The floor will be 2x2 patio blocks( I have alot of these just sitting around). The roof will hinge so I can get in and clean...the water and.food will of course sit out in the run so they don't muck the house up. The house itself is 2x3 framing...metal roof and openable venting for summer. The whole thing will be predator proofed with hardware cloth because I live.next to the allegheny national forest in Northwest PA and have to deal with hawks, eagles, coyotes, skunks, opossums, foxes, bobcats, bears and racoons, and fishers. I will be building a seperate portable pvc hoophouse pen 12' x 16' to protect them when they forage during the day and I can't be outside.

    My questions are...is the permanent pen enough space for 10 ducks even in a cold snowy northwest PA winter? I know the whole thing isn't fully enclosed but they have a total of 48 square feet of space and will only be in there at.night and during extremely bad weather. I was going to use straw on the flooring of both the house and enclosed run. When im home and can be.outside they will free range and I am damming up a.natural spring to make them a 10'x10' mini pond with a sluice gate for easy washout. If some is home and not outside they will forage in the hoophouse. The ducks will only.be in the house nights and when no one is home(rarely) and when it gets brutal in winter.

    Is this a feasible plan? Opinions please!!!
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2011
  2. zippy3

    zippy3 Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 10, 2010
    Dave Holderread's "Storey's Guide to Raising Ducks" suggests 3-5 square feet per bird once full grown plus an outside pen that allows 10 square feet per bird, minimum. So the question of whether you have enough space depends on how big the nest boxes you add are going to be (my ducks just lay their eggs in their own duckie foot-made nest in the hay and sleep on the floor and don't give a darn about nest boxes) and if you really will have to shut them into a 4 x 4 space in really bad weather. If you asume they will go into the 4' x 8' space in really lousy weather, you just about have enough regular housing if you take the 5 square feet per bird number...which I would, considering you have Pekings and Khaki's...but you are a bit short on the outdoor run for the winter. Obviously when they are free ranging in the summer in a 12' x 16' area, they will be fine.

    I live in Vermont and my 8 ducks (India Runners and one Cayuga) and 1 goose (White Chinese) spent quite a few days "confined to quarters" during this winter. Their duck house is 9' x 7' and they have an outdoor run that is 110 square feet, so they have a little more than the minimum requirements. They don't really like being in the 9' x 7' house all day and night on really cold/windy/blizzard days but they do have enough space for me to feel like they are OK.

    Your pond idea sounds great.
     
  3. bigtrout

    bigtrout Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 24, 2011
    NW PA
    With as many predators as I have around...has anyone ever done total electric fence around a run...hardware.cloth is expensive...another idea I had was to run an electric fence around the spring pond with cheap netting over the top for the aerial predators and put the house inside.
    Can I predator proof a run with electric only? Has anyone done this?
     
  4. zippy3

    zippy3 Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 10, 2010
    Well...there are a lot of ways to handle predators and fencing..lots of pros and cons...
    Permanant or movable...
    Different set-up/needs in summer and winter...
    Cost of wire, posts, time spent installing posts, stretching, bracing, maintainance...or up-front costs of fence and energizer but very simple installation and little maintanace
    Predator control with strength and height or... shock avoidance

    Putting the house inside with a tallish electro-net fence around would probably do the job for anything but the kind of predator that might just barge on through the electric fence... like bears. But one thing you might have trouble with is how well any electric fence will work in the dead of winter in your location.

    Yes, hardware cloth is expensive, but electric fencing that will keep out coyotes, foxes, dogs and racoons isn't all that cheap either. The company "Premier1" has a good line of electric net fencing and quite a bit of info on all types of fencing. I have a 48' electric-net fence that I move around the yard, but Premeir 1 makes heavier semi-permant types also, if you don't plan to move it much.

    Personally, I have found the money I invested in my electric fence and my solar energizer well worth it and I have not had a predator breach the defenses yet, but again, I want to be able to move my fence around to give the ducks and geese access to new grass and minimize pests. I put my electric fence away in the winter...the ducks and geese only have access to their chicken wire fenced in, covered run then, but as it is 110 square feet, it is enough for winter on nice days.

    I think you may find the most successful set-ups use a mixture of types of fencing/predator proofing...good luck and do plenty of research...
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2011

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