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How messy/appropriate are ducks?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Ameisen, Mar 31, 2016.

  1. Ameisen

    Ameisen Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 16, 2016
    Chicagoland
    Hi there. My wife and I have been looking into buying a house in one of two towns right now in Chicagoland.

    Town A is a further commute for us, and allows us to have 6 chickens and has no regulations on ducks (I've asked, they told me that I can have them as nothing prohibits it). Town B is a much closer commute, and allows us to have 8 fowl total. Town A's house is nicer but Town B's neighborhood is nicer (but the house would require substantial internal reconstruction to fit us), but I digress.

    Now, our family eats a lot of eggs. A lot. Especially me - I love eggs. Thus, I am attracted to keeping ducks - good layer breeds apparently lay longer (2-3 years vs 1-2 years), more often, and lay larger eggs. Town A intrigues me in this case as when the ducks/chickens get older and stop laying, I can bring in 'newer' ducks/chickens, and let the old ones die off as pets of old age. This is impractical in Town B where there is a hard limit.

    Both Town A and Town B put these laws into effect in the last 5 years. Prior to this, neither had any restrictions. The laws were put into place due to complaints (and Town A told me that if there were complaints about ducks, similar laws would likely be put into effect).

    I've also read that keeping ducks is insanely messy. Most of these towns have restrictions on smell/cleanliness. How bad can I expect ducks to be if I provide them nipple waterers in the coop, and provide food and dunking water in the run? They would be kept in coop at night, and would be in an entirely enclosed run (as required both by law and the fact that we have a lot of hawks and other fun predators around here). Both yards are kind of small, so we can't have massive runs. I could potentially build a duckpond enclosed, but filtering duck poop (which would basically be sludge) would be difficult.

    If we were to get ducks, we would probably go with something like Golden or White Layers.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2016
  2. Jujubeans2008

    Jujubeans2008 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 20, 2016
    Molino, Florida
    Egg laying depends on which breed of duck you get. Some ducks only lay 50 eggs a year. Some lay up to 250. I got this information from reading "Storey's Guide to Raising Ducks." It's a great book, you should get it if you are interested in ducks.

    Ducks are VERY messy. You will have to dump their water bowl for dunking their head everyday, as they poop a lot. They will poop in the water. My husband and I are going to install a drain in our pond with a pipe that runs to our compost bin because duck poop is good fertilizer. Ducks are extremely messy, but they are totally worth it. They always chirp when they see me because they are excited. They are so cute! My ducklings talk back to me, when I chirp at them and they follow me around. They can also be housed with chickens and eat chicken feed as long as it is non-medicated and you add niacin into their food as they need it to have healthy feet.
     
  3. Ameisen

    Ameisen Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 16, 2016
    Chicagoland
    If we were in a suburban house with not a huge backyard (relatively small, even) what would be an appropriate way to keep ducks while also not irritating the neighbors with smell/messiness? This backyard is roughly 5,600 sqft, and it's not a regular shape - it's on a neighborhood cul-de-sac.

    I've read that people don't like keeping ducks with chickens as the ducks foul the coop much faster.

    My wife has stated that while she doesn't mind cleaning the coop fully every week or so (removing the litter and replacing it entirely, and possibly hosing down), so ducks make me wary if they will foul the coop even more.

    Also, I've read that ducks can eat medicated chicken feed once they're adults, they just can't eat it as ducklings or juveniles as it will overwhelm them.

    When we say 'very messy', what is that relative to chickens?
     
  4. Richb353

    Richb353 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Awesome post,
    My first suspicion with town A is that they would have a restriction on chickens but not ducks. I would double check they specifically said "chickens" and not "poultry". Sorry to be cynical, but it seems too easy for code enforcement to pencil in "ducks" next to the chicken restriction.

    Now that the buzzkill is over, how many ducks were you looking at? I have 7 girls (Cayuga & Welsh Harlequin) currently and I find 5-6 eggs in their pen each morning. It may slow to a couple of eggs, but I haven't had to buy eggs for years now. About the messiness, I built a 10x10 pen with wheels on one end I roll to a fresh patch of grass once a week. The 5' round kiddie pool gets refilled once a week as well, but is "dirty" within 3 days. If your entire yard is fenced in, I would call a large pen the "required run", but let them roam the rest of the yard by day like walking lawn ornaments. By the way, mine wander my acreage regularly and I have not lost any to airborne predators. I think ducklings are most susceptible to the hawks, but they are only let out unsupervised when full size. I've lost too many ducks to coyote though, the most effective prevention has been to secure them in their pen (aka Quack Shack) at dusk.

    My next duck endeavor will be to build a pond with solar powered pump and filter system. I've been told to be cautious how deep I dig because at some point it will qualify as a pool and require permits and meet code, blah, blah. I'm going to keep it as DIY as I can and I've seen online a bunch of homemade filters made from large rubbermaid 55 gallon garbage cans. I also plan on being able to run a temporary fence around it to keep the ducks out as needed to let the bio-filter catch up to what the ducks are depositing.

    Hope I helped, enjoy
    Rich
     
  5. Ameisen

    Ameisen Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 16, 2016
    Chicagoland
    When contacting Town A, I specifically asked about ducks. They stated that chickens were regulated due to complaints, but as there are no regulations about ducks, they would be allowed unless future regulations were added. The code doesn't mention ducks at all, and the chicken regulations explicit state chickens.

    Town B's regulation just says "fowl", and doesn't specifically state chickens anywhere.

    We aren't sure how many chickens or ducks we'd want. I was thinking 4 ducks 4 chickens in Town B, and 6 chickens 4 ducks in Town A. We have a lot of coyotes, cats, and hawks around. One of my friends lost his rooster to a hawk, though he's about 10 miles further out from Chicago than these houses are (though I still see hawks quite regularly).

    Town B's code:

    Fowl: Any domesticated birds, poultry or water fowl.
    ...
    .
    No pen, coop, building or other enclosure used for the purpose of housing fowl (with the exception of homing pigeons) shall be erected or maintained within thirty (30) feet of any occupied residence other than that of the owner.
    Any pen, coop, or other structure used for the purpose of housing fowl that is not fully-enclosed shall be screened to a height of six (6) feet. Said screening shall be comprised of fences or walls six (6) feet in height, landscaping of at least seventy-five percent (75%) opacity, such as non-deciduous plantings, or equivalent screening and shall be located either along the perimeter of the lot where the pen, coop, building or other enclosure used for the purpose of housing fowl is located, or around the perimeter of the pen, coop, or enclosure itself.

    Basically, neighbors aren't supposed to be allowed to see them. Either way, I'd need 6' fencing.

    Town A on the other hand requires that any run or coop (though not a barn-style coop - I checked with them - as it looks like a shed) not be visible from any adjacent lot or the street from a viewing height of 5'.

    Town B, however, is a rather wealthy town. They've been described as 'snobbish', so I worry any filtration/etc would need to be out of sight, otherwise it would be deemed an eyesore.
     
  6. Jujubeans2008

    Jujubeans2008 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 20, 2016
    Molino, Florida
    I'm not really sure about those questions. I'm a new duck owner myself. My babies aren't even outside yet. However, my coop and run are conjoined, but not to the point where the ducks will be able to "mess it up." But we will see how it goes. My husband and I are working on a transition pen, and if for some reason they are too messy, that is where they will stay.

    They are messy with water. Water is ALL OVER my brooder. Haha. However, I would think as long as there is no food or water in your actual coop you would be fine. Our water and food is under the coop, in the run. It is protected from rain.
     
  7. BigWeenMachine

    BigWeenMachine Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 6, 2015
    I just built a duck pond for my ducks. It's 12x8 feet and holds 675 gallons of water. Rather than digging, I would suggest bringing in a loader and building an above ground pond. Just pile dirt up to make your edges and pack it down. Make sure to put a drainage pipe at the bottom. Since it is above ground, just open the valve on the drain pipe to empty it and rinse it out with a hose before refilling. I bought a vinyl pond liner for 50 bucks that I put in it. Works great and the ducks love it. This would save you from getting digging permits and being easy to drain you may not even need to install a pump; just drain it and refill it once or twice a week. The one thing I know from ducks is that they will poop a lot in your pond so without a way to drain it I would be worried about a filtration system plugging up eventually. Unless you're planning on making a huge pond, this may be a good option for you.
     
  8. Jujubeans2008

    Jujubeans2008 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 20, 2016
    Molino, Florida
    Does your drain pipe go down into the ground, or does it drain off somewhere? My husband and I are trying to figure out the best way to do our pond. We have a liner, and we were going to cut a hole in the bottom and use a sink plug to keep the water in. We haven't figured out the rest though.
     
  9. BigWeenMachine

    BigWeenMachine Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 6, 2015
    My drain pipe just comes out the side of the pond and drains into a little pasture behind the pond. The drain is at ground level and I just open a valve I put on the end of the pipe and it drains in about 5 minutes. I get to water and fertilize the grass behind the pond so it's a win win for me.
     
  10. BigWeenMachine

    BigWeenMachine Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 6, 2015
    I also got some pond foam that I used to seal the liner around the drain pipe I put in. It comes in a spray can and after I cut a hole in the liner and fit it around the pipe I sprayed that pond foam around the pipe to seal it. It's used to seal cracks on backyard ponds and waterfalls so it has worked really well for me. I just filled the pond on Sunday for the first time and it hasn't leaked a bit.
     

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