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Housing Ducks?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Scottyhorse, Nov 12, 2012.

  1. Scottyhorse

    Scottyhorse Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi :) I am hopefully going to be getting three ducklings here soon. We'll have them in a run in the backyard so they don't get into the horse trough. How much room will they need in the run? I have heard ten square feet per duck, and 4 square feet in the coop. The winters here get pretty cold, so would they need more space in the coop? I think I am going to get an Indian Runner, Blue Swedish, and a Cayuga. What height of fence will the need? We don't have any neighbor dogs or raccoons or foxes or anything that we know of. The only think we have is a hawk, but we have lived here since June, and it hasn't bothered the chickens, and they free range.

    The run would be on a hill, is that okay for the to be on all the time? We'll have sure they have a good size pool, because it gets pretty hot in the summer sometime 100 for a while [​IMG]

    What type of fencing is the best and cheapest? I saw someone use that green roll out stuff, would that work?

    Thanks! I know I'll have more questions about this!
     
  2. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    Welcome to the threshold of Duckdom!

    Have you read the stickies on the Duck forum yet? That will answer a number of your questions.

    Ducks are predator magnets, it seems. You may not have seen a raccoon or coyote or other predators, but they can start to show up for an easy duck dinner.

    Please please think long and hard about how you will keep them safe.
     
  3. Scottyhorse

    Scottyhorse Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yeah, I have. There is just soo much information and it seems a little mind boggling.... [​IMG]
     
  4. Scottyhorse

    Scottyhorse Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Any other help?
     
  5. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    I would go 25 sf for the run, that is what Storey's Guide recommends if the ducks don't have access to pasture during the day, so I would err on the side of roominess.

    Hillside is okay if not too steep. What is the slope?

    Text is an awful way to communicate, so please know my next question is meant kindly and gently. When you wrote "green roll out stuff," were you talking plastic? My answer to that is an emphatic NO.

    You may not think you have predators now. They will hear and smell the ducks, and they will come for them. I am very sensitive about this topic so bear with me. Take a look at this https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/...-it-is-and-what-it-is-not-duck-security-issue

    We get some severe weather here, too, and a larger coop will not make it warmer. I built a double-walled, insulated shelter with over a foot of bedding and it was not warm enough for my runners. They are now in a walkout basement pen where it gets no colder than 40F. Each flock is different. Since you only plan on three, you will need to watch carefully. Thermometers, especially min-max thermometers, are a great tool for managing the flock. It will track how cold the inside of the shelter gets at night and you can gauge the ducks' reactions. There is a difference, too, between surviving and thriving.

    If you make a shelter that is about four feet tall you can put up to two feet of dry bedding in it and that will help a great deal. Either double-walled with something like perlite or vermiculite for insulation (it cannot mold or catch fire), and that will be pretty cozy. Something that needs to be balanced with housing is insulation and ventilation. Ducks need a well ventilated space, or you will have potentially fatal problems with mold and moisture. Ducks can get pneumonia.

    They are also sensitive to ammonia, so minding the bedding is important. I have a porch area so that water is not in the shelter. That keeps the bedding dry. Sweet PDZ or dry peat moss can help prevent ammonia formation, as keeping the bedding fluffed.

    Fence height of three feet is fine for those ducks. But a secure area will have fence across the top. So the next question is, what fence height will be comfortable for you to do the pen cleaning? Mine is about a meter - just over three feet. But I am short and flexible. I did make a hatch door so that I can stand up and reach most of the pen area from that spot.

    Foxes jump, raccoons and other animals climb.

    Our Day Pen is 10'x16', with coated chain link all across the bottom, secured between to 6 inch wide boards around the perimeter of the fence. The sides are 2"x3" coated wire, with a strip of 2 ft tall coated 1" chicken wire along the sides. The top is covered with the 2"x3" coated wire also. The night shelter we used at first had half inch hardware cloth over every opening, top bottom and sides, what is not plywood or lumber is hardware cloth. All doors and gates have keyed locks. I have two strands of equine electric fence around the night shelter.
     
    2 people like this.
  6. Going Quackers

    Going Quackers Overrun With Chickens

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    I think leaning towards as large as possible is always best.. my ducks have a 1/3 of an acre and can fly out if they choose too and also go in the adjoining dog yard lol After months of those webbed feet and joy of water they take down grassy areas pretty quickly so ensuring you have the most room possible is best for long term viability.
     
  7. Scottyhorse

    Scottyhorse Chillin' With My Peeps

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    1. 25 sq ft sounds good! I could do that. And I got that book at the library today too.

    2. I have no idea what the slope of the hill is. It is not too difficult to walk on, and part of it is fairly flat. Of course, they would have their flat house and pool to go in, and maybe every once in a while, they could have a supervised 'escape' ever once in a while [​IMG]

    3. We have used that hardwhere cloth before on other progects, so as long as it's not super expensive, we'll use it again.

    4. My parents would never let my bring the ducks in long term, although my little brother brings his rooster in time to time. But we could get power out there. Even the goats like the heat lamp! So one more extension cord can't hurt, right? Hehehe.

    For the house, I am thinking of making it pretty simple. I'll have a lift off lid, or a back wall that opens for easy cleaning. Then for water and food, I am thinking of making a feeder and water-er out of pvc so that it will keep the bedding (hopefully) clean and dry.

    5. 3 feet high is fine for me. I am medium height, but also pretty flexible so I can get into really odd spots. In the outside pen, all I would have to clean is the pool, right? So I could make a hatch door thing to clean the pool. That way we can make a top for the pen.

    6. For the outdoor pen material, what would be the safest, most cost efective way? The pen is going to be in the backward, so hopefully it can look nice!

    Amiga, you are like a god in the duck world! Thank you so much for your help and help to come!!!
     
  8. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    So far, we have done well with a combination of the 2"x3" coated woven wire on the day pen with that bottom two feet around the sides also covered by coated 1" chicken wire. The chicken wire serves two purposes. At least, here is the idea: The ducks love to press their little heads as far through the fence as they can, to grab . . . well, whatever they think they are doing. One side of the Day Pen is along a path. Our nightmare: someone walking along the path decapitates a duck. Not pretty. Tragic.

    The other nightmare is that some critter (stray cat, perhaps? escaped monkey?) reaches through the 2"x3" wire during the day and grabs a napping duck. Why they must lay right against the fence for their naps is something only the duckies know. But they do. The height of the pen is such that no critter of which I am aware in these parts can reach down through and nab a duck.

    For pen cleaning, it depends on the weather and the number of ducks. I periodically rake out the pen. I don't really have to more than a few times a year, as long as I fluff the material and add fresh chopped straw or dry (preferably oak) leaves. But I have a nefarious plan. The ducks make the substrate very, very rich and fertile. It's compost. It's manure. And I am a gardener. So I rake out what I want to put on the gardens. If I never raked it out, the bottom of the pen would rise and I would be bumping my head against the top.

    A few times, as I have experimented with pen materials, and when the weather was very wet, I have had to rake out moldy straw. Yuck. But now that I have had the pen for a few years, I have this nice composting action going on, and there are very few fuzzies, ever. I just spot clean if something looks suspicious.

    So, that was long-winded. Duck poop is full of nitrogen and other goodies. The nitrogen will stink if you don't provide carbon (dry brown stuff like straw or dry leaves) and air (raking, fluffing, cultivating, whatever you want to call it). Around and under the swim pan I have pea gravel. Nice and smooth, not the sharp stuff. Sharp stones cause more bumblefoot. So does uncoated wire underneath.

    I have the pans set up so that I can easily dump them, and the enriched water goes to a shallow channel into the garden beds. So I water and fertilize the garden as I clean the swim pan. Please think hard about where the water will go. Especially if you have clay or compacted soil underneath, you want to prevent the water sitting somewhere. That will breed trouble also, bumblefoot, botulism, parasites . . . .ick.

    My ducks don't seem to mind gentle slopes, as long as they have a nice flat spot for resting. And they sometimes rest on the slope outside their pen when I am there to watch over them.

    Our Day Pen is in the front yard (long story), so appearance matters. That is one reason we went with a lower profile. And the black or green coating looks very nice. In fact it helps the pen be less noticeable. We have had no complaints and many compliments from neighbors and visitors. I still want to milk paint the lumber . . . some day.

    Spend some brain power on your waterer setup. Really, it seems that is something that many people stumble over, and getting it right makes a tremendous difference in how much you enjoy your ducks. I will point you back to the stickies to read up on waterers, and ask you to do a search of the archives using keyword phrases like "duck waterer" "duckling water" or "duck water mess" or "duck water stink" you get the idea.

    Ducks need to splash. It does something good for them. Sometimes they need to take a mouthful of food or soil or mud, wet it, and fling it. In the basement pen the water is in a deep, straight-sided stew pot. That sits in the bottom half of a large plastic dog crate, on top of sawdust pellets. We have absolutely no problem with wet bedding, with thirteen ducks. For the outdoor shelter, we have an attached porch, covered all over with half inch metal hardware cloth. The porch is where the water is, not inside the duck house.

    The Duck Forum is where I have received many good ideas, better understanding of ducks in general and how different each flock and each duck is. So thank all the good folks here for any information I can offer. I am just sharing what I have been given, and tossing in bits of my own experience.
     
  9. Scottyhorse

    Scottyhorse Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 26, 2012
    Eastern Wa
    The hardware cloth that we have used have small openings, just so you can stick your fingers through. Would that work? The only down side to that is that you can't stick your hand through, but it would be pretty safe! No beheaded ducks, or (escaped mokeys, really?) getting ducks.

    I was thinking of of using the water and used bedding in the garden that we are going to have next year, if I can make the pen where I want, that is. Since we will only have three or four ducks, hopefully, I can put it by the garden.

    This is what I am thinking for the waterer for the adults and juvies: It will be pvc about the diameter of a can of soup. Near the bottem, I will have a U shape peice, and that is where the food and whater will be held, or, where they will get it. At the top I will have a cap that I can take off to refill it. But I will take a look at the duck stickies and archives!! So, is it okay to not have any water in the duck house if they are just in there at night? I read that somewhere, but it doesn't seem safe to me.....
     
  10. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    For ducklings, they need water and food 24/7. I keep it that way with my adults. It is okay for ducks ten weeks old or so to go without food for about eight hours (up to ten hours, according to Storey's Guide).

    Wherever the drinking water is, the ducks will splash it. It's what they are good at. And wet bedding causes problems for everyone.

    As far as the hardware cloth goes, I use the half inch metal stuff, because nothing around here can reach or squeeze through it. According to unitedwildlife.com, to keep weasels out:


    Damage Prevention and Control Methods
    Exclusion
    Block all entrances 1 inch (2.5 cm) or larger with 1/2-inch (1.3-cm) hail screen or similar materials.
     

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