Duck pen substrate--experiences, tips?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by iamcuriositycat, Aug 13, 2010.

  1. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 30, 2009
    Charlotte, NC
    Okay, I am sick to death of the soggy mosquito-breeding marshland my duck pens become in the summer. I've been using a deep-litter method for their night pens, then they free range during the day. But I'm ready to install some drainage under the night pens. I've heard of folks doing gravel with sand over the top, and I have access to some inexpensive sand by the truckload... Can I just do the sand and skip the gravel? Or is there an issue with that?

    Also, how deep do I need to dig? How do you keep predators out (with the deep litter, there is wire under the pens that the bedding goes over)? Should I install some sort of french drains or similar under the gravel? What would happen if I just installed the gravel/sand over the wire at a raised level? I guess I'd need to put in retaining wall or something, right?

    What are you doing for drainage in your pens? All input welcome!
     
  2. katharinad

    katharinad Overrun with chickens

    First of all I must say I don't have this issue, because it is very dry in the Oregon mountain region. Its almost like Las Vegas with less heat. I would start off with the least work involved and that should be french drains. Make sue the pipes have the fabric type sleeves over it of the pipes will fill up with sand and stop working. Another option is to dig a ditch, fill it with rocks, cover with fabric and then sand. That way the sand does not go in between the rocks and defeat the water absorption. Adding height by topping your setup should also work. Just remember sand does hold moisture, so you need something below for the water to seep down.

    The deep litter method works well for many, but the issue is that it will trap moisture. I use rubber mats with pine shavings, which I sweep out each morning. It goes really fast and allows the duck house to stay totally dry. I also have a deep pan under the water and food bowls, so my floor stays dry.
     
  3. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 30, 2009
    Charlotte, NC
    Thank you--that is all very useful information. It sounds like sand is not what I need at all. I'll look into french drains, but I like the gravel-filled ditch idea too--I like cheap, and I can probably scare up gravel reasonably cheap if I shop around. I also like the idea of just putting the drainage under the water pans, so I don't have to dig out the whole area.

    Thank you!
     
  4. katharinad

    katharinad Overrun with chickens

    Yeah, all I can see is my husbands face when I tell him to dig. [​IMG]
     
  5. H04

    H04 Out Of The Brooder

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    What happened to ducks loving mosquitos???? I am going to be getting 2 muscovy ducklings and was loving this feature i heard about especially living in florida [​IMG]


    is it not good to just lay hay etc on top of dirt especially if the pen is under a tree shaded? We sure do have a BIG Pile of left over road base gravel from putting down a flagstone pathway. Should my husband did out some dirt first, then roadbase when building the pen??
     
  6. rebecky1305

    rebecky1305 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 19, 2009
    Lansing, MI
    I have about six inches of sand in my duck/chicken run. I guess it depends on how many ducks you have and what size your run is. I have a small pool for them to wade in and I put it on a pallet so the water drains when they splash.
     
  7. askjcm2005

    askjcm2005 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 9, 2010
    San Diego
    I live in San Diego and theres not much rain so I am not sure if thats why its not to hard for me to keep it dry or not but when we moved into our house we had a big chain link dog run on top of just earth (the regular old dirt/ground) I have water bowls all over the pen and when I come home each day there is a small puddle near each bowl but its not bad at all and by the next morning its soaked into the ground... At night I lock them up in these old dog houses we had that we added latching doors too and I dont give them any water at night. My local feed store said they could go all night without water with no problems and so far so good!
     
  8. T Hi

    T Hi Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 7, 2010
    Bonney Lake, WA
    I would put caution on the sand and gravel thing. I tried to do a layer filtration thing in my run. 7/8 washed rock, pea gravel then sand. I live in Washington State and we have had a wet summer. Unfortunately, my mix just turned into a serious concrete. No water would seep down at all! So I had to shovel it all back out and am starting over! This time using no sand!!

    In the house I used a rubber mat on top of a 1/4 inch hardware cloth grate. I'm now sprinkling a little bit of baking soda on the mat and then I use white shavings. I change the shaving once a week and pull out the mats every couple weeks and scrub them down with soap and water.
     
  9. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 30, 2009
    Charlotte, NC
    For those who are worrying about the wet--I live in the humid Southeast, we've had an especially wet summer, and the soil is CLAY, so it simply doesn't soak in. It sits on top and the deep litter bedding acts like a sponge to hold it all in.

    And yes, they do love mosquito larvae. And they also create lots of mosquito habitat--their own version of farming, I guess, lol. They found the drainage tube for the AC (the one that brings condensation from the unit out and drains it into the grass) and turned the lawn there into a huge mud puddle aka mosquito farm. Etc.

    Anyway, I think when I get a chance I'm going to get my hands on a truckload of gravel and dig the pens out in trenches and put in drainage that way. Then I think I'll get some stall mats and use those instead of straw--it will be easier and probably less expensive in the long run. I'll also need to dig trenches FROM the pens to wherever I want them to drain, because the run-off creates drainage issues elsewhere on the property.

    And for those who are new to ducks, I never had these issues when I only had a half dozen or ten ducks. Now I have about thirty, and that's three times as much muck, wet, and mud. Also, like I said, it's been a wet wet summer. So if you're just getting a few ducks, you will probably not face any of this. [​IMG]
     
  10. H04

    H04 Out Of The Brooder

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    May 7, 2009
    OOOH thanks for mentioning about the AC drainage. I didn't think of that as becoming a "Playground" HAHA. I plan on just having two muscovys however thankfully my husband was planning on adding an attachment to the drainage so it can water our trees in the backyard
     

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