General coop cleaning and duck questions

CoriM

Songster
Jun 6, 2019
987
1,804
218
My ducks are almost 4.5 months old and have been in their coop for the last couple of months. I have a few questions and am looking forward to any advice anyone can offer. I live in the Pacific NW, so rainy winters, rarely snow or freezing. Attaching a picture of the coop and run my husband built. He installed a little pond in it but the ducks won't swim in it, except occasionally for a few minutes when it's fresh water, and I do change it once a day. They mostly view it as a giant water dish, which is frustrating. At first I thought it was because they couldn't touch the bottom, though there are two elevated portions along the edge where they can stand on a paver and hop out easily. So, I filled the whole thing with rounded pebbles. That just serves to trap all their food sediment and make it really stinky. I think I should go ahead and take all those out, since it didn't improve the swimming situation anyway. That's my first issue.

Secondly, I'm just not knowing for sure how everyone is keeping their coop clean. I have 6 ducks, and they poop a lot, as everyone knows. I was going to try to do the deep litter method. There is bare dirt beneath the run portion, and linoleum tiles in the enclosed coop portion. So I've been piling on straw and a tiny bit of pine shavings. A couple times a day I rake it around and sprinkle some fresh straw to cover up the wettest or poopiest areas. I'm shoveling out loads of yucky straw every week and I don't really know the best way to dispose of so much straw. Right now I'm stashing it in the woods surrounding my yard, but I just don't know what's best. Up until a few weeks ago I did have the rounded pebbles around my pond, but when one of my ducks got bumblefoot I became afraid about that surface and covered that area with straw. *Bumblefoot almost completely gone!
Would love any advice on how to keep things clean and what to do with so much straw!!

And finally, after building such a lovely coop, we realized that the ducks mostly want to come and hang out in the backyard and be by us and forage around. And swim in their blue kiddie pool, which they adore so much more than the nice little pond we put in their run. In the good weather this has worked out fine, but I feel like we're in for a really long and boring winter of them being stuck in the coop with no foraging. We have lots of predators in the woods surrounding my house, so free-range is not an option. Anyone else in a similar situation have a creative solution? I get nervous leaving them in my backyard unsupervised and I know hanging out outside with the ducks isn't going to work very often in the winter. Are they okay being contained in their run and coop area during the wet and cold months?

Thanks for bearing with me on this long email, and thanks in advance for any advice! IMG_0709.JPG IMG_0712.JPG IMG_0713.JPG
 

MerryMeridional

Songster
Jan 17, 2019
218
583
186
97838
So I can't speak to all your questions. But maybe I can help a little. And your mileage may vary a little.... I'm in the PNW but on the dry side, so in general my area has an easier time of staying dry due to very little rain and low humidity. I wanted to do deep litter also, but ended up doing kind of a hybrid so that I don't have to constantly clean it out. I have lower back issues and can't deal with that kind of constant maintenance. I have 5 ducks so the amount of waste is similar to yours.

I don't actually have dirt in the coop, just straw. And there is a mix of shavings and straw in the nest boxes. I buy a product called Sweet PDZ, which is mainly to keep horse stalls fresh, but can be used for all animals. It is totally nontoxic and will not hurt your birds if they ingest it. So to start, on my bare floor (plastic), I sprinkled a nice layer of it. It's like dust. If you've ever used diatomaceous earth, it's kind of the same consistency. I sprinkled about 1/8" on the entire floor, then put a layer of straw. The PDZ seems to keep everything super dry with minimal smells. I keep a metal rake inside the coop for daily "stirring." Every few days you can use your rake to mix the poo on top with the straw, also exposing it more to the PDZ which dries it out. On about a weekly or less basic I sprinkle more straw from a bale. I occasionally will sprinkle more PDZ on top, too, if it seems a little wet. Once you have a really thick layer of straw in there, I've found that I just need to keep it turned/stirred with the rake with occasional treatment of PDZ. I got my ducks in March and have only totally cleaned out the coop once, and to be honest it was not necessary. I did it because I needed the poopy straw to use as mulch on my veggie garden (this is a GREAT use for your straw). I could probably get away with an annual clean out but will probably end up doing it twice a year because I need the straw for the garden.

Hope this helps!
 
Last edited:

DuckyDonna

Crossing the Road
Aug 26, 2018
5,374
17,153
816
Dallas, Georgia
I use hay because I get beautiful round bales for free and it's clean and smells so good. I am a bit more picky in the summer time with my clean up because it's just so hot here and I don't want a bunch of flies.

I have 11 runners and 2 pens so every morning I take a garden fork and just barely get under the flattened poopie pancakes that they make with their little webbies. I get a bit of hay with it but that's fine and I just throw it out into their run. I make a pile of it and every day I turn it and boy do they love foraging through that! In the wintertime, I'm more likely to just turn the hay over and add more to it. I think it was about 2' deep this spring when I did the spring cleaning.

We are in the process of redoing our run and making it much bigger so I've been taking the poop hay piles and spreading it around in the new section where we dug up to put the poles in. It really cuts down on the mud in the pools for sure.

If you've got predators I sure wouldn't let them out loose to forage. You could get some welded wire fencing at TSC (NOT chicken wire) but you definitely need protective netting or something overhead. I had a falcon kill my Daisy last year. I thought the ducks were too big to be attacked but I was wrong. They swoop down, kill them and eat them right in the run. That seriously sucked! Anyway, it looks like you have a nice area to set up a little fence for them conncecting it right to their coop. Doesn't have to be big, just something so they don't get bored and can move around a bit but do get the netting for the top. I got this green plastic stuff on amazon and it worked very well.
 

CoriM

Songster
Jun 6, 2019
987
1,804
218
I use hay because I get beautiful round bales for free and it's clean and smells so good. I am a bit more picky in the summer time with my clean up because it's just so hot here and I don't want a bunch of flies.

I have 11 runners and 2 pens so every morning I take a garden fork and just barely get under the flattened poopie pancakes that they make with their little webbies. I get a bit of hay with it but that's fine and I just throw it out into their run. I make a pile of it and every day I turn it and boy do they love foraging through that! In the wintertime, I'm more likely to just turn the hay over and add more to it. I think it was about 2' deep this spring when I did the spring cleaning.

We are in the process of redoing our run and making it much bigger so I've been taking the poop hay piles and spreading it around in the new section where we dug up to put the poles in. It really cuts down on the mud in the pools for sure.

If you've got predators I sure wouldn't let them out loose to forage. You could get some welded wire fencing at TSC (NOT chicken wire) but you definitely need protective netting or something overhead. I had a falcon kill my Daisy last year. I thought the ducks were too big to be attacked but I was wrong. They swoop down, kill them and eat them right in the run. That seriously sucked! Anyway, it looks like you have a nice area to set up a little fence for them conncecting it right to their coop. Doesn't have to be big, just something so they don't get bored and can move around a bit but do get the netting for the top. I got this green plastic stuff on amazon and it worked very well.

Thanks - do you have a big run? I'm just trying to figure out if in my little enclosed run I need to scoop up the wet and dirty straw constantly and add dry, or if I can turn it up with the rake and that will be fine.

So sorry to hear about the falcon. That's awful. We've had hawks perch above their coop, and last week an owl landed on it - yikes! We just started thinking about building a little fenced area and putting grass, outside of the run. Would definitely need a cover for it though.
 

CoriM

Songster
Jun 6, 2019
987
1,804
218
T
So I can't speak to all your questions. But maybe I can help a little. And your mileage may vary a little.... I'm in the PNW but on the dry side, so in general my area has an easier time of staying dry due to very little rain and low humidity. I wanted to do deep litter also, but ended up doing kind of a hybrid so that I don't have to constantly clean it out. I have lower back issues and can't deal with that kind of constant maintenance. I have 5 ducks so the amount of waste is similar to yours.

I don't actually have dirt in the coop, just straw. And there is a mix of shavings and straw in the nest boxes. I buy a product called Sweet PDZ, which is mainly to keep horse stalls fresh, but can be used for all animals. It is totally nontoxic and will not hurt your birds if they ingest it. So to start, on my bare floor (plastic), I sprinkled a nice layer of it. It's like dust. If you've ever used diatomaceous earth, it's kind of the same consistency. I sprinkled about 1/8" on the entire floor, then put a layer of straw. The PDZ seems to keep everything super dry with minimal smells. I keep a metal rake inside the coop for daily "stirring." Every few days you can use your rake to mix the poo on top with the straw, also exposing it more to the PDZ which dries it out. On about a weekly or less basic I sprinkle more straw from a bale. I occasionally will sprinkle more PDZ on top, too, if it seems a little wet. Once you have a really thick layer of straw in there, I've found that I just need to keep it turned/stirred with the rake with occasional treatment of PDZ. I got my ducks in March and have only totally cleaned out the coop once, and to be honest it was not necessary. I did it because I needed the poopy straw to use as mulch on my veggie garden (this is a GREAT use for your straw). I could probably get away with an annual clean out but will probably end up doing it twice a year because I need the straw for the garden.

Hope this helps!
hanks for the tip! I will try to locate a place to buy the PDZ - sounds amazing! I appreciate hearing the details of your method!
 

chickens really

Crazy Mother of Goats
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Sep 8, 2015
62,662
109,111
1,647
The Funny Farm....Alberta, Canada
How is the sand working out? Do you hose it down, or scoop poop off the top?
I have a hand tiller garden tool or use a rake to mix the poop into the sand. I refresh the sand once a year. I never remove any I just add new sand. I have pea gravel down with sand over top for better drainage.
 

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