Duck pond, housing/ bedding and pen-ADDED PICTURES

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by moenmitz, Jun 23, 2008.

  1. moenmitz

    moenmitz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hoping this might be of use to some of you. I struggled for several weeks to find a good solution to keeping my ducks and geese, warm, dry, clean, non-stinky and HAPPY. Here is what I finally ended up with.

    First they have a modified dog house surrounded by a small pen of hardware cloth. this is where they are locked at night. In the dog house, I used to use shavings, straw, grass clippings-everything ended up a stinky mess by morning and was a real chore to clean out. Finally, it occurred to me that since they are no longer tiny babies, they don't need to "burrow" in at night, just need a comfortable sleeping surface that is easily cleaned. I had one of those indoor/outdoor mats like you use in garages- rubber back, soft fuzzy cloth on the front, about an inch thick and very heavy. Stiff, but flexible enough to bend to put into the dog house. This works great. The fabric is just enough to absorb the wetness of duck poop, and the rubber back keeps the dog house floor dry underneath. It makes a soft, slightly padded surface for the birds to lay on at night. In the morning, I take it out, hose it off and hang it on the fence to dry. Usually is dry in about 20 minutes if the sun is out as it does not soak up too much water. I can slip it back in the dog house when I "tuck them in" at night! I can't believe I didn't think of this sooner. BTW, I am now using this method with my chicks in their pet carrier/brooder/chicken tractor-easier to take in and out every day then the trays were-it is flexible so I can slide it right under their little feet without worrying about trapping them or pinching them like I did with the trays. Also is working well in the turkey pen instead of the stinky shavings that needed to be changed daily. (Deep litter doesn't work so hot with turkeys) The mats come in sizes up to 4' x 6', so you can do a nice sized pen easily.


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    In case you didn't know what kind of mat I was referring to.



    Ok, so that is the house flooring/ bedding problem solved. Next came their pen. A grass pen quickly became a dirt one, which quickly became a poopy wet disgusting muddy mess that was impossible to clean. Someone on here suggested river rock (Thank you thank you!) Great idea!


    First, the ducks house and pen sits slightly higher in the garden area. I dug a 10" diameter hole in the downward sloping corner of the pen. From this hole, I dug a trench to where I wanted a pond. I placed a long piece of field tile in the trench and covered it over with dirt. Then we put several inches of river rock in the pen area, including over the top of and in front of the tile entrance. This keeps the pipe from filling up with mud, but water can still drain around the rocks easily. The rock in the pen is in layers, gradually increasing the grade as it gets closer to the duck house. Now, where the "culvert" comes out, I dug my pond. The pond slopes gradually so that the ducks can get in and out easily, and the culvert end is about 2.5 feet above the deepest part of the pond. The pond surface was then covered with river rock. The pond itself is comparable to the size of a kiddie pool.

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    This is their large pen looking in from the entrance-they get locked into the small pen by their house at night. That is where the big drainage issues were before. Just to clarify, that isn't scum on the pond surface, just a reflection of that pathetic little tree-well, what the geese left of it anyway!
    Here is how it works. In the morning, I hose down the rock in the duck pen. This water drains through the river rock and flows down the culvert into the pond. Now, it might seem icky that technically I am washing duck poop into the pond, but realistically, it is pretty diluted by the time it gets there because I hose the pen really, really well, and since they are going to poop in the pond five seconds after they get in anyway, I decided not to stress over it. By the time the rocks in the pen have been thoroughly hosed off, the pond is about half full. Since this is water I would be using to hose the pen every day anyway, at least it isn't wasted.

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    This is the floor of their small pen-just finished hosing it down and the water is still draining out.



    Then I use the hose to fill the pond the rest of the way. We have a lot of clay in our soil, so the pond holds water well, but does drain out slowly. If I fill it and don't touch it, it takes about a day and a half to drain completely. If you don't have clay in your soil, I would imagine it would be easy enough to amend your soil with a bag or two. Because it is always slowly draining, the water doesn't get stagnant or too disgusting. Yes, it is always muddy looking, but I think that is just going to be a given with ducks and geese using it. No way to keep it clear that I can imagine-not a filter in the world that could realistically keep a duck pond clear I think. It was more important to me that it not become scummy, smelly, mosquito infested and overall disgusting! The pond itself is nice looking-the river rock is pretty, and extends several feet from the pond area. Around that I have wood mulch that I freshen with a new bag every couple of weeks. This keeps the mud down, keeps the area fairly clean, and the mulch smells nice too. it just works it's way into the ground and breaks down, so there is no need to rake it out to clean. All in all, it is a fairly attractive, natural looking pond area and clean duck pen. Very little smell and my ducks and geese are happy, happy, happy!

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    This is my friend's little girl, Jazzy, (and my future daughter in law [​IMG] The pic isn't really showing the pen concept, but she was too cute not to show off!


    I have found that I am wasting less water than when I was dumping their kiddie pool and refilling it every day, PLUS hosing down the duck pen. I have 8 ducks using this area now, (the geese are currently re-located to a barn stall and pasture area with a kiddie pool until I can build a similar area for them) so it really MUST be cleaned daily or the flies and stink are really awful. The water in the pond is about half fresh every day. Because the pond is NOT lined, all sorts of bugs and worms make there way up through the rocks in the sides (which are mostly mud as I couldn't get the rocks to "stay put"-durn gravity!) as the pond empties partway overnight. Every morning the ducks are delighted to go "fishing". It has been several weeks now, and I am amazed that they continue to find worms on a daily basis! Obviously, worms are not real bright. I do provide them with a clean drinking waterer every day as well-though I don't know that they really care or that it makes a difference-they turn the waterer into a nasty thing in a very short time. (I have it on a platform, but they STILL manage to poop in it. If anyone has a good idea for fixing that, I am all ears!)

    Anyway, sorry for this very long post, but since I had so many BAD ideas before figuring this system out, I thought others might be struggling with it as well. Hope it helps someone!
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2008
  2. yellowdragon

    yellowdragon Chillin' With My Peeps

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    WOW.. You have figured it out. I just gave up and haven't had ducks for a year. And I miss them..
     
  3. moenmitz

    moenmitz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 15, 2008
    Well no time like the present! They are a pain in the tush, but I just love them so much it is worth the extra effort. And now, things are finally getting easier. Another week or so and I think they will be ok free ranging the yard instead of just the fenced area. I have cats that have been eyeballing them, so I have been waiting until they get too big to take down. My cats are wussies fortunately! I forgot to say in my initial post-a few weeks ago, somebody was telling me about the concept of a french drain, which is how I ended up with this set-up. Just wanted to say THANKS! to whoever it was-can't take credit for someone else's brain! [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2008
  4. pixiechick

    pixiechick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 23, 2008
    Jonesborough, TN
    This sounds so well planned. I would love to see a picutre. (visual learner, sorry) [​IMG]
     
  5. Wildsky

    Wildsky Wild Egg!

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    Sounds really nice - I'd also love to see a picture!
     
  6. moenmitz

    moenmitz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 15, 2008
    Thanks! Love to show you one, just as soon as I find my camera! It is around here someplace, had it this weekend-I will post one when I find it.
     
  7. moenmitz

    moenmitz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 15, 2008
    Found it- pics have been added!
     
  8. Tuffoldhen

    Tuffoldhen Flock Mistress

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    This is great!..Saving this thread to build something like this for my Appleyard ducklings...Thank you!!...
     
  9. moenmitz

    moenmitz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Very welcome! I really went through some disastrous ideas before finding one that was actually practical and doable, so I would love to save someone else the trouble if I can!
     
  10. HenHaven

    HenHaven Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Coarsegold, CA
    Thank you! You did your homework! I would love to have ducks, but have been bamboozled as to how to do it without a huge muddy mess! I think you may have helped many of us find a workable solution. [​IMG]
     

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