Duck pen ground cover / duck house bedding

SLH

In the Brooder
Oct 23, 2020
10
24
36
I’m reading that a lot of people are liking pea gravel on the ground of their duck pens. For my 3 ducks, I’m currently using pine shavings, which is proving to be a little smelly and a fair amount of work. I was hoping I could deep litter method the ground of the pen, but it’s not composting quite fast enough. Once a week I rake it to fluff it up, and add a layer of pine shavings. It’s getting so thick though that I had to haul a bunch of it out to the compost pile. I definitely don’t want to keep having to do that very often! Does anyone else use pine shavings in their pens and have suggestions?

I’m also using pine shavings inside the ducks house. That’s working pretty well, stirring it and adding fresh shavings once a week. But it’s not breaking down and composting at all, which I thought it would from what I read about deep litter method. The ammonia smell builds up really quickly too. Am I missing something?
 

SolarDuck

Crowing
Jan 31, 2020
1,092
2,436
311
I’m reading that a lot of people are liking pea gravel on the ground of their duck pens.
I'm not sure about the deep litter questions but I don't think that gravel is a good idea as if they spend a lot of time on it, it could be bad for their feet.
 

DukesDucks

Songster
Premium Feather Member
Oct 6, 2019
299
1,020
196
Eastern Ontario, Canada
I'm also trying the deep shaving method in my coop this winter. I try to fluff it up but now it is a frozen mass. I keep adding more shaving once a week. Mine also doesn't seem to be breaking down but think it is just too cold. Certainly not as nice as in the warm weather when I can remove the wet parts, and every couple of weeks take it all out and start over. Ducks seem happy and healthy though.
 

Dux

Chirping
Dec 21, 2020
38
107
84
I'm using pine shavings too in my girls' outdoor run. I sprinkle with the thinnest layer possible (just enough to cover the poop) about every 3 days. I don't notice a smell but it's a pretty big area (16' x 32' run for 3 ducks). I don't notice any composting/breakdown in this cold weather and am planning to leave as much of the shaving buildup as possible where it is in the spring. I think it's going to improve the drainage, or at least keep the ducks' feet above any water that might accumulate below. If I need to remove some of the old shavings I'm looking forward to using them on my veggie garden paths to keep the weeds down.
 

LT71689

Chirping
Jul 5, 2020
283
487
93
Canada
deep litter doesnt seem to work in all locations/weather situations. Where are you located, whats your weather like, how big of an area with how many birds?
 

Ratchnick

Songster
Oct 13, 2019
1,829
1,967
228
Anchorage Alaska
I had ammonia in my duck house as well, i solved the problem by taking their food out of the coop. If your getting ammonia smell in your coop you have to much poop to not enough bedding.

In winter i fluff the bedding with a bedding fork and break up all the chunks. If i get really solid chunks i know they have ice in them and remove them.

Gravel In the run has its ups and downs. If your run gets sun and you have a hose you can spray the poops daily to clean the gravel. You can also manage it like a cat litter box. I would wash the gravel in a wheel barrel. Pea gravel is smooth and round and won't hurt their feet. In the winter cover the gravel with straw if you live somewhere that freezes.

Pro
Not muddy
Reduced bedding cost long term
Great garden fertilizer
No need to provide extra grit
Great if You have a pond/pool in the run


Con
Requires daily cleaning
Initial investment
 

3bird

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
Apr 2, 2017
1,270
2,901
296
Rockland, Maine
My Coop
My Coop
We use the deep litter method in our 4x8 duckhouse (no food or water in the house). We start with a couple bags of shavings and then add straw and shavings throughout the winter based on any ammonia smell or how it looks (e.g., are they able to make their nests). We spot clean 2x daily and just toss the biggest most obvious poops. We will clean out in the late spring after we empty our compost bins to the garden. The deep litter is not fully composed and will become the starter for next years compost.

In the run, we have a dirt run with the cobbles on the end by their water buckets. We add shavings periodically and then clean out in the spring.
 

3bird

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
Apr 2, 2017
1,270
2,901
296
Rockland, Maine
My Coop
My Coop
We use the deep litter method in our 4x8 duckhouse (no food or water in the house). We start with a couple bags of shavings and then add straw and shavings throughout the winter based on any ammonia smell or how it looks (e.g., are they able to make their nests). We spot clean 2x daily and just toss the biggest most obvious poops. We will clean out in the late spring after we empty our compost bins to the garden. The deep litter is not fully composed and will become the starter for next years compost.

In the run, we have a dirt run with the cobbles on the end by their water buckets. We add shavings periodically and then clean out in the spring.
I should have added that we have a COVERED run.
 

SLH

In the Brooder
Oct 23, 2020
10
24
36
deep litter doesnt seem to work in all locations/weather situations. Where are you located, whats your weather like, how big of an area with how many birds?
I have 3 ducks (2 Welsh Harlequins and 1 Silver Appleyard) in the Pacific Northwest where it rains a lot fall through spring, so it's soggy on the ground of their pen, but dry in their house.
 

SLH

In the Brooder
Oct 23, 2020
10
24
36
I had ammonia in my duck house as well, i solved the problem by taking their food out of the coop. If your getting ammonia smell in your coop you have to much poop to not enough bedding.

In winter i fluff the bedding with a bedding fork and break up all the chunks. If i get really solid chunks i know they have ice in them and remove them.

Gravel In the run has its ups and downs. If your run gets sun and you have a hose you can spray the poops daily to clean the gravel. You can also manage it like a cat litter box. I would wash the gravel in a wheel barrel. Pea gravel is smooth and round and won't hurt their feet. In the winter cover the gravel with straw if you live somewhere that freezes.

Pro
Not muddy
Reduced bedding cost long term
Great garden fertilizer
No need to provide extra grit
Great if You have a pond/pool in the run


Con
Requires daily cleaning
Initial investment

Thanks! I think the pea gravel sounds like it could be a good choice for us in our wet, moderate-temp climate.
 

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