Enclosure questions

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by billw, Oct 25, 2011.

  1. billw

    billw Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 25, 2011
    WA Coast
    Hi all. I am a new member with new ducks. We have nine black swedish that are now about a week and a half old.

    That means I need to get my butt in gear and finish their enclosure. [​IMG]

    I have built a 16' x 16' (by 6' high) pen, fenced all around, including the top. The fencing is welded wire (I guess it is about 2" x 4" mesh), but I have overlaid it with 1/2" hardware cloth the bottom four feet.

    In one corner, I have framed out an 8' x 8' (5' high inside) shelter with a dirt floor.

    So far, so good, but I have questions about some of the final details.

    We are on the coast of WA, about a half mile from the ocean. So, the climate is pretty mild - at least from a temperature perspective - we don't get below freezing for much of the year on average. Everything I have read indicates that the ducks will probably want to be outside most of the time in our weather.

    So, I was thinking about finishing out the shelter as a three sided structure with a wind-break in front of the open side. I could close it up like a chicken coop, but I think we've done a good enough job securing the pen that locking them into the shelter at night won't be necessary. Having an open side would make maintenance a snap.

    Does that seem like a reasonable plan, or am I overestimating the security of a wire fence or the cold tolerance of the ducks?

    The other matter is ground cover - both in the pen and in the shelter. I figured on leaving a dirt floor in the shelter and putting straw on the ground. The rest of the pen is grass, but will quickly become mud with ducks tromping around. We have a lot of river rock I could use to cover it, but I don't know how the ducks would like that. Is rock a suitable substrate for ducks?

  2. CelticOaksFarm

    CelticOaksFarm Family owned, family run

    Sep 7, 2009
    Florida - Space Coast
    Good plan, how about the ourth side have a door opening (no door) they can come and go through. It would create a wind break and allow you to put down straw bedding and keep it contained. As far as the pen, the only addition would be burried wire around the outsiders stop diggers from going under. Otherwise I think you have a great set up.

    Pea gravel (smooth rounded) makes a great flooring when all you have left is mud. I would make it atleast 2-3" deep though so when you rake or spray with the hose you don't expose the dirt below.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 26, 2011
  3. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Loving this country life Premium Member

  4. billw

    billw Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 25, 2011
    WA Coast
    Quote:We live in a pretty windy spot and the wind can come from any direction in the winter, so I figure I need to build a break no matter which side has the opening.

    As far as diggers go, I put 6" x 6" chunks of concrete from a busted up foundation along the inside and the outside of the fence. That means diggers would have to tunnel under about a foot of concrete to get in. I figure that will stop most things, but if anyone has experience to the contrary, please speak up.
  5. CT

    CT Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 19, 2010
    Great Lakes
    Don't know about diggers from experience, but I think a foot of digging is not a big deal to a fox, or weasel, or whatever you've got burrowing in your area. The usual recommendation I see here is 2' of buried wire (more or less vertical) or 2-3' of horizontal barrier. I suspect that part of what makes wire an effective barrier is that it's hard to see, and so a digger may try many strategies and still keep hitting walls. Concrete on the surface might be too easy to figure out visually, and only requires a small vertical dig. I'd suggest mowing the lawn short as you can (maybe scalp it with a weed wacker) for a few feet around the outside of the pen, getting 36" wide hardware cloth or utility fence, wiring it securely to the bottom edge of your fence so that you have a skirt all around the ground outside the enclosure, cutting the outermost wire off to leave a jagged edge, and pushing the end wires into the ground. You can weigh it down with your concrete pieces or use stakes to secure it (which would allow you to mow over it as the grass grows through).

    But my real reason for responding was to suggest a short length of tunnel at your door opening as a wind baffle, like an igloo entrance. Of course a winter igloo entrance would also lead down and up again as a vertical wind baffle, but I don't think that would be necessary or practical for ducks.
  6. oneofseven

    oneofseven Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 27, 2011
    Augusta, Ga
  7. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    Your design sounds really good. Some thoughts I had:

    I rolled coated chain link across the bottom of the day pen, and secured it between two six inch wide boards all around the edges. Digging a trench was not an option, due to tree roots and stones (New England). The only thing that gets through the day pen is the occasional rodent, and I am considering getting a couple of muscovy girls as enforcers. Just a thought for now.

    Love that you have the hardware cloth four feet high around the perimeter. Are there weasels or mink out your way? The 2"x4" wire won't keep them out.

    The house sounds good, I agree about a wind break. My solution for the ducks wanting fresh air at night is a 4'x8' veranda - wrapped with half inch hardware cloth top, bottom and sides, attached snugly to the duckhouse. I also surround the night shelter with two strands of electric fence (fox, coyote, raccoon, and reports nearby of black bear, bobcat and fisher).

    Last winter I discovered that at least two of my darling ducks HATE cold weather. As in, I was worried they would perish. So for the deepest parts of winter, they have their own "room" in the walkout basement.


    Yup. And what a blessing that was last winter with three feet of snow on the ground!

    I don't recommend it, really, but for us, it has worked out very well. I don't worry about Sieben and Funfie perishing from hypothermia. No, friends, they don't snuggle up even in winter, they sleep at most head to tail around the outside of the house.

    For your dirt floor house, I'd put half inch hardware cloth a few inches below the soil surface. That might discourage rodents from going for eggs. I cover the veranda floor with a little sand and then sawdust on top of that. I use a cultivator to fluff the sawdust, and that keeps it right fresh for several weeks most of the year. When it gets full of nutrients, I shovel out a few buckets full and put that on the compost or around shrubs, and refresh the sawdust layer.

    Our duckhouse has double walls insulated with vermiculite and perlite, which don't mold, burn or melt and have a decent R value. The ventilation is above - there is a gap between the roof and the house which is covered with half inch hardware cloth. I added a plexiglass drop ceiling - three panels so I can open it up or close it depending on the weather.

    Please send pics when you can!

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