Need help with setup

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by mrbstephens, Jan 8, 2012.

  1. mrbstephens

    mrbstephens Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have this wooden house that I used for chicks to introduce them to the flock. It measures 4 feet wide, 3 feet deep and 2 feet high. It has an access door, pop door and three windows covered with hardware cloth. It's built well.

    First, is it big enough for 3 ducks? I'm thinking of getting runners.

    Second, what are the pros and cons of letting them share a run with chickens?

    Third, will they be OK like the chickens in the winter?

    Fourth, I know they can eat the same layer pellets as the chickens, but I read that they should not eat seeds. I give my chickens sunflower seeds. Please advise.

    Fifth, How often will I have to change their water. I understand they make a mess of their water. I thought I'd get one of those black rubber tubs. Maybe it will stay warm longer in the winter and freeze less often and last longer than one of those cheap baby pools.

    Mmmmm, I think that's it for now, but I"m sure I'll have more questions.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2012
  2. mrbstephens

    mrbstephens Chillin' With My Peeps

    [​IMG]
     
  3. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    Quote:[​IMG] Greetings:

    Love those Runners!

    My tallest Runners are about 24 inches tall. So it might be a bit low for them. Others use fairly short shelters, though, only for nighttime. Any way to raise the roof? Another way of looking at it is that for most of their ducklinghood, it might be just the right size, and only too short once they reach full height, at about ten weeks of age. Hmmmm.

    Square footage wise, it's a bit tiny for anything more than overnight, and if we (I'm across the Sound from you) get a serious Nor'easter, it might be way too cramped for a day or four at a time. You may need a Plan B for extended weather events, like letting them move into the house with you . . . . [​IMG]

    Pros of sharing run with chickens - might be less management effort on your part to have one run. Cons? Drakes mating with chicken hens - very bad for the hens. Chickens fail to appreciate ducks' approach to the enjoyment of water. The former get disgusted with the latter's habit of making a muddy murky mess of water. And, again, many people keep their chickens and ducks together much if not all the time. It really depends on the flock dynamics and individual personalities of ducks and people. You might try it, again with a Plan B in mind.

    Okay in winter? In my experience, the Runners did not thrive in temperatures below 30F. And . . . (you see this coming, yes?) many on the BYC Duck Forum declare that Runners have no problems out in the cold. A number of them, though, when I asked, indicated that the shelters they use stay around 40F minimum. I decided not to try to prove anything, and in the cold weather the ducks sleep in a pen in the walkout unfinished basement. Easier on me, too, remember last year's snow? Over here we had three feet of snow for weeks.

    There are people on the forum who supplement with black oil sunflower seeds. See if a search of the forum turns up the details. I add wheat berries and rolled oats and millet as extras sometimes, and that seems to be no trouble. There are seeds with little hairs on them. Awns, I think they're called by botanists. Those can definitely give you trouble. Nettie's Runner had an awful time with them once.

    For swim pans, I use concrete mixing pans (black tubs) and a puppy pool someone gave me. They work fine, and it does seem to me that in a sunny place, the black pans do stay a little warmer, and ice up a little less. I change drinking water two or three times per 24 hours (it's a nice deep, flat bottomed soup pot), and swim pans every other day unless it's well below freezing at night, in which case I dump the water in the evening after the ducks are in to prevent dealing with a solid mass of ice in the morning. I drain the hoses, too, so I can use them in the a.m.

    In the summer I change the water daily most days. When it's in the mid 90s and above, I refresh swim water around 1 or 2 p.m. just to give them a break from the heat.

    Hope this helps!
     
  4. mrbstephens

    mrbstephens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:[​IMG] Greetings:

    Love those Runners!

    My tallest Runners are about 24 inches tall. So it might be a bit low for them. Others use fairly short shelters, though, only for nighttime. Any way to raise the roof? Another way of looking at it is that for most of their ducklinghood, it might be just the right size, and only too short once they reach full height, at about ten weeks of age. Hmmmm.

    Square footage wise, it's a bit tiny for anything more than overnight, and if we (I'm across the Sound from you) get a serious Nor'easter, it might be way too cramped for a day or four at a time. You may need a Plan B for extended weather events, like letting them move into the house with you . . . . [​IMG]

    Pros of sharing run with chickens - might be less management effort on your part to have one run. Cons? Drakes mating with chicken hens - very bad for the hens. Chickens fail to appreciate ducks' approach to the enjoyment of water. The former get disgusted with the latter's habit of making a muddy murky mess of water. And, again, many people keep their chickens and ducks together much if not all the time. It really depends on the flock dynamics and individual personalities of ducks and people. You might try it, again with a Plan B in mind.

    Okay in winter? In my experience, the Runners did not thrive in temperatures below 30F. And . . . (you see this coming, yes?) many on the BYC Duck Forum declare that Runners have no problems out in the cold. A number of them, though, when I asked, indicated that the shelters they use stay around 40F minimum. I decided not to try to prove anything, and in the cold weather the ducks sleep in a pen in the walkout unfinished basement. Easier on me, too, remember last year's snow? Over here we had three feet of snow for weeks.

    There are people on the forum who supplement with black oil sunflower seeds. See if a search of the forum turns up the details. I add wheat berries and rolled oats and millet as extras sometimes, and that seems to be no trouble. There are seeds with little hairs on them. Awns, I think they're called by botanists. Those can definitely give you trouble. Nettie's Runner had an awful time with them once.

    For swim pans, I use concrete mixing pans (black tubs) and a puppy pool someone gave me. They work fine, and it does seem to me that in a sunny place, the black pans do stay a little warmer, and ice up a little less. I change drinking water two or three times per 24 hours (it's a nice deep, flat bottomed soup pot), and swim pans every other day unless it's well below freezing at night, in which case I dump the water in the evening after the ducks are in to prevent dealing with a solid mass of ice in the morning. I drain the hoses, too, so I can use them in the a.m.

    In the summer I change the water daily most days. When it's in the mid 90s and above, I refresh swim water around 1 or 2 p.m. just to give them a break from the heat.

    Hope this helps!

    I'd like to use the house just for the night. Yes, I could raise the roof, but would rather not have to. I suppose I could wait till they are big enough when it'll will most likely nag at me to raise it.d

    I have a shed right next to the chickens that I can use in case of an emergency like bad weather and I have a big dog crate.

    I'm put off a bit on how often I'd need to change the water. Once a day or every other is what I do for the chicken's drinking water. Maybe I need to set up a draining system and a hose right next to the pond. What if I'm gone for an entire day and can't clean the swimming water?

    Thanks for all your help!
     
  5. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    Regarding water, that seems to be one of the biggest hurdles for people new to ducks. In my case, it's just become part of the scenery. Not to talk you into duckdom, but having my Runners, and now my Buffs, has been delight upon delight, even factoring in the labor intensive brooding period and water management, which is very smooth once the bugs are worked out.

    I place the swim pans so that changing water is a simple dump, rinse, then refill from a hose. Every couple of weeks or so, I scrub the pan with a touch of vinegar before rinsing. Easy beans. When we lost power for six days, it became dump, rinse, pump into jerry can, carry to swim pan, fill, repeat eight times.[​IMG] But that was an extreme circumstance!

    The soup pot gets dumped outside, swished outside, rinsed and refilled. Every few days I take it in and wash it with dish soap and hot water.

    I think in comparison with chickens, it's more work. But the ducks are really good at eating slugs and japanese beetles and squash bugs, and their used straw is amazing mulch and compost feeder! Their personalities are delightful (as I may have mentioned, ahem), they are beautiful and have a joie de vivre that is difficult to overstate (edited to fix that word!).

    They are just such fun! And they appreciate the work I do for them. They tip very well![​IMG]

    If you're away for a day it's not going to hurt to go a day without a swim water refresh, just a drinking water refresh. Besides, to a duck, there's no difference. They'll swim in their drinking water and drink their bathwater.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2012
  6. mrbstephens

    mrbstephens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:OK. So the water thing, I'd have to get used to. So, a container for swimming and a bucket for drinking? Not a waterer like the chickens use.......I think they'd dump it.

    Is there a shorter duck that might do better in a 2 foot high house? Just wondering aloud. Kahkis?
     
  7. EmAbTo48

    EmAbTo48 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I also agree its a bit small when they are full grown for a shelter, but like you said it will work for them while they are young

    All my chickens/ducks free range during the day and our locked up in seperate coops at night. During the day they run into each on ocassion and at first their was some bickering (chasing each other around) but that ended quickly. They now are jsut fine sharing everything including food dishes. My chickens have heated waters for winter and that stays in there coop, my ducks also have a 5 gallon heated horse bucket for winter that is a life saver!

    I change there drinking water once daily. I also give them a kiddie pool each morning of fresh water, even during the winter [​IMG] they love that! I did have a heat lamp at night on them because it dropped down to -15 here (in the states). Otherwise there enclosure is draft free and has hay to keep them warm.

    I do not have runners, but pekins and rouens so can't say runners would be fine in harsh weather. Mine are very hearty and don't seem to mind the cold/snow!

    Ducks are very messy with water and if your run is dirt it will become mud in a matter of hours from them that would be my only con of sharing a run.
     
  8. TLWR

    TLWR Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Is it 2 foot high with the roof? My 2 runners are shorter than 2 feet tall. DH put them in the garden bed today and that's about 18" tall and that's about how tall they are, maybe a bit taller.
     
  9. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    Khaki Campbells or Buff Orpingtons are similar in size (Buffs a pound or so heavier) but don't stand as tall as Runners.

    Many hatchery Runners do not stand as tall as the characteristic almost straight-up Runners. But you may not find out till they're grown. Mine range in height from about 18" tall to 24", maybe a tad taller.

    The duckhouse was built to be 4' high because I use thick (1.5 feet) bedding for lots of insulation and comfort, and wanted to leave room for the ducks! [​IMG]

    Runners, if they're close to standards, can be very slender. I've found my slender ducks get cold quite quickly. Oh, and this flock does not huddle together no matter how cold it gets. They might sit nose to nose or tail to tail, but they don't keep each other warm. As I say regularly, they never read the book! [​IMG]

    The Buffs we adopted are heavier set and have the typical duck posture, so they stand inches below the Runners. Incidentally this morning, at about 18F, even the Buffs got chilly right away. Anyone have a BRRRRR smiley?
     
  10. Smiles-N-Sunshine

    Smiles-N-Sunshine Chillin' With My Peeps

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