Duck pen location

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by JosieR, Jun 12, 2010.

  1. JosieR

    JosieR Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 24, 2010
    Orange County, NY
    Where do most of you set up your duck house? In the open or in a wooded/shaded area.

    I'm going to let the ducks free range during the day and just lock them up at night. When you come out of our house, to the left is a pond, with a wide path around it. Beyond that is most of our property, 6 acres, wooded. . I can put the duck house just off of the path, probably midway down the pond, in a small clearing in the woods. It means they will be shaded and have to walk to access most of the cleared area of the yard but only a couple hundred feet or so. They'll be nearer to the pond and our house.

    The other option is putting the pen at the back of the yard. It would be under a tree and have a line of trees behind it, then a clearing that leads to our neighbor's yard. Our wooded area starts 50 feet or so on each side of the house. Still close to the woods but not IN them. However, I worry that I won't be able to hear any problems, especially in the colder months when the windows are closed.

    I would prefer near the pond, simply because it's easier to carry their food and water, etc., especially in the winter. However I'm concerned that it may be more dangerous for their house to be located there.

    Is one place better than the other? Do they need to be in a large clearing?

    Thanks [​IMG]
     
  2. ChickenToes

    ChickenToes Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 14, 2008
    NE Wisconsin
    My duck coop and pen is surrounded by trees. Only the back end is technically 'in the woods', but it's nice and shady. I've actually had less predator problems with the coop in the trees than when it was back behind the house. This is just my opinion, but I think ducks like a more natural environment than being in an open area. My duck pen has rocks and logs and trees in it, and they enjoy exploring everything.

    Don't underestimate convenience, either. It's a pain in the butt having to haul water halfway around the moon when you could only be hauling it a short distance. I
     
  3. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    To help you sort it out, I would like to share some of our siting criteria and how they have worked out. How lovely to have a pond right there!!

    My first planned site for the duck house and yard was about 30 or 40 feet away from the house, in a little clearing in the woodland, and about 20 feet downhill. It was lovely, and roomy. And something seemed wrong.

    DH and I realized that we were not comfortable with the ducks so far from the house, even though the sight lines were excellent - we could see them from any back window.

    We also realized that wildlife activity is definitely higher back there. The closest faucet would have been fifty feet away, closest electric more like 75. And then we thought about up and down that hill x number of times a day after an ice storm . . . . .

    We put them in what is technically the front yard, about ten feet from our living room window, about ten feet from electric, and less than ten to a water source. Permaculturists would call this Zone 1, a place we go to every day. Because we are on the side of a hill, you cannot see the duck yard from the street unless you come about ten feet onto our property.

    We have a large sugar maple in the front yard, and it protects the duck yard (we have an arborist check the maple regularly, so we are not worried about falling limbs). It provides shade and slows down heavy rainfall. So far, no predators have climbed the tree to drop onto the roof (one of my nightmare scenarios). But we have a fairly sturdy roof and any openings are covered with hardware cloth.

    May I say that this week, with my first sprained ankle of my life, I appreciate how close my dear runners are! I can hear them, quickly check on them through a window or by walking out the front door. The house and pen look nice, and I will be painting the house a green color that should blend in well with the junipers and ferns and yews, etc.

    So perhaps my suggestion would be to consider how much energy you have for going to the farther site. Predators, I think, watch us and figure out our behavior patterns before going after our animals. How often would you be seen near the ducks? If the power went out and the hoses didn't work (you may have a UPS so this would not necessarily apply), how far would you want to tote water? If the ducks are walking a couple hundred feet, are they a breed that is happy to walk that distance? My runners would probably love it! But some of the heavier breeds, I do not know.
     
  4. JosieR

    JosieR Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 24, 2010
    Orange County, NY
    Quote:Oh, that's right, you posted those pics from me of your awesome duck house. I wish I could just hire you and fly you in to build it for me!!! I love yours [​IMG]

    Such good questions! I hadn't thought of them! I was all set to pick the spot further from the house. The pond isn't really all that great. It's VERY overgrown at the moment. I'm hoping once everything dies off over the winter they will get in there next spring and keep it from getting too out of control.

    I don't know that I would be in either spot all that often now that you mention it. I am creeped out now at the thought of a predator watching me though, thanks a lot!! [​IMG] Oddly, the spot closet to the house I have less of a view of because it's wooded.

    We have well water so if the power goes out, there is no water!

    Either is down a little hill, although one is just down the hill and the other is down the hill and at the back of the yard.

    When you say distance from electric, do you run power out to the duck house for anything? The only thing I thought I might need it for would be a base to keep their water from freezing but am not sure how comfortable I would be running an extension cord through snow. Is that what everyone else does?

    I have 2 runners and 3 cayugas. They don't seem to travel far as it is, mostly hanging around the back door of the house and under the deck LOL anytime they hear my voice out the window they honk at me! [​IMG] The kennel where I have their pool and a covered area for them now is just in front of the spot further from the house. So they do make it up here from there. I just don't want them set up over by the pond and never making their way out into the open areas of the yard.

    My husband is thoroughly annoyed that I'm taking this long to make a decision!
     
  5. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    The time you took to decide may well be forgotten. You will need to live with the results of your decision, Lord willing, for years. It took me months, by the way. Sorry, J's DH.

    For us, the final site came like a flash out of the blue. We just looked at each other, and said, "under the maple tree."

    At the time we sited the duck area, I did not know for sure whether and how often I would want house current. I knew I did not want to wire their house. I wanted to have some options, though. Looks like I will be running electric (probably through a buried pipe) to their night pen (the hardware cloth-encased pen attached to the house) to supply energy to their waterer heater. So, not having far to go is a nice feature. Their roof is see-through polycarbonate, so I leave the front porch light on and they have a night light that also discourages night time predators. I plan to switch to a solar powered path light top for them, but I need to get into the rhythm. The first (and only) time I tried putting that on their roof, it was already dark and they went berserk - must have thought it was a UFO! [​IMG]

    I felt really bad. I hate scaring them. Anyway, next time I will try putting the light on the roof well before they go in for the night. Then it is a matter of setting it where it will get more sun during the day, and putting it back on the roof in the p.m. No more complicated than remembering to take their food tray indoors when I lock them in for the night. Just part of the routine.

    We also have well water, and that is why I am glad one of my rainbarrels is about ten feet from their yard. If I need it, it should be no big deal - the barrel is even uphill slightly from their yard. Another feature I plan to add is their own rainbarrels. But I have many more plans that time and energy right now. It gets done if it is needed, though.

    Eventually I also plan to try some kind of thermal mass heater for winter water. That just means putting the water in something or on something that holds heat naturally, keeping the water just above freezing. Since our water is not distilled, it freezes at something below 32F. Another project. Meanwhile I plan to use the electric heater.

    With the runners I take Holderread's advice that above 70F, they need shade. The maple tree provides it except between 2:30 and 5 p.m. I have checked the temperature in their little house, and with the insulation and location, it stays comfortably cool so far. We have only hit 90F a few times, though.

    I have a shade cloth I hang on their pen. Often they do not use it, but it is there. When I build the fence for their yard (now only temporary poultry fence with netting above), I need to incorporate some kind of shade cloth for about half the area. They will have time in the gardens, under supervision, so I don't feel that they will suffer terribly with a bit better than ten square feet per bird in their secure yard.

    By the way, their house is four feet tall because I use the deep litter method, and the tallest ducks already, at sixteen weeks, stand two feet tall.

    Perhaps if you think of the things you will need to do to care for the ducks and their environment, then work from there on the location and size details that may help. One thing friends kept telling me was to make the house at least six feet tall so I would not have to stoop. That hasn't been an issue. I am only 5'4", and rarely even need to go into their house because I have that double door. I reach in through the top door to do the daily bedding management, to check in on them when they are in there, and inspect for wasp nests and such. Even with my short reach, I can reach all around the inside of their house easily. Their night pen requires me to lower my head a few inches, but not so much. I do have to crawl through the sliding door if I need to go in that way. Makes me feel like a kid!

    Enjoy the planning - you can change anything in the blink of an eye! Once it's built, it is more difficult to change. I also understand, though, the pressure I felt trying to get the house and pen done so that the ducks could move outside. It worked out that night temperatures stayed so low. The house was ready days before the weather cooperated.
     
  6. Bryanccfshr

    Bryanccfshr Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 29, 2010
    Farmington , NM
    My location criteria included shade and location(being close to the house with water and electricityu convinient. I have plenty of juniper groves but few places close enough to the house that I would think would be safe or convininet when I have alot of sno on my hilly terrain. Thier house is about 30-40 feet from my master bedroom door.
     

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