Hi everyone! I have three 43-day old Pekin's...wow, do they grow fast!! One drake & 2 'hens'. Sorry, can you tell I was 1st a chicken person? LOL! Anyway, this next spring I'm planning to add 2 or 3 Runner female ducklings to join my small herd. So. Here are my issues/questions...tee hee... 1). My Pekin's have been living at night in my chicken coop...in a separate area underneath my raised Silkie Crib. They currently have about 5' x 6' of floor space with FRP board as the flooring, layers of hay & a grate their feed & water sit on. OK. So we all know how extremely messy ducks are. This is seriously a pain to keep clean. I'm building them their own structure today. About 4'x8' and 3 or 4' tall. My plan is to use skids, covered with plywood & FRP board for the floor. The walls will be 2x4 construction with exterior wood siding...and a roof probably made from either metal or fiberglass roofing panels. I want to hinge the top for easy catching of the ducks when necessary. I also want to hinge an entire wall for easy clean-up...ie: Hose it out!! And, of course, their ducky door. Do I need to be concerned about nest boxes for Pekin's and/or Runner's?? I have found all kinds of info regarding Wood, Muscovy, Mandarin's, etc. If I make them a side of their house with 'cubbies' in it, will they use them to lay their eggs? We are keeping ducks for eggs & amusement only...not food. 2.). I am putting in a 1,000 gallon pond for them...approximately 6'x10', 2' deep. I'm purchasing an industrial skimmer, waterfall bio-filter & pump that is for up to 3,000 GPH. A fish & duck friendly 'natural' water soluble anti-algaecide. No plants. Will this help prevent me from needing to change water as often?? Right now I'm using several storage totes - I have to dump them & refill at least once per day. Their favorite one, a small clear one that was originally meant for under the bed storage (LOL), I have to change as much as 5 times a day!! They take turns, literally, getting in & out of this little tote. Of course, these are just totes filled with water. Anyone have any experience with a system like I'm going to be using? Please tell me this will drastically cut down on my changing of the water!! LOL! 3). I've read a lot about using sand around their housing and pond to help with drainage of their messy poo. Basically you're supposed to be able to hose it down & the ick returns to the earth...correct? What about pea gravel or something along those lines? Is sand the best way to go?? 4). I was planning to use natural mulch for my raised garden beds...the ducks will have access to this area. Should I reconsider the mulch? If so, what would be recommended? Obviously, I'll be using poopy straw & hay from the chickens & ducks also. But, I mean for around the beds. The ground. LOL! I take care of my 'bird & garden' yard - mostly because I don't want my family to be burdened with my little farmetting hobby. However, it would be very nice if I didn't need to worry about mowing between beds!! I can't afford that much sand...it's a very large area. The duck yard is about half an acre all-together. It is separated from our German Shorthaired Pointer's by field fencing with electric fencing run both along the top and about 1' above ground level. The dogs have completely lost interest in my ducks & chickens. LOL! The chickens have their own runs inside this larger yard. Between our garage/house & the chicken yards is where the duck house & pond will be. Behind my coop is where the garden & small fruit orchard is located. So far the ducks haven't even ventured back there yet, prefering to stay closer to the chickens for some reason. They will, however, undoubtedly make their way around to the back, which I want to help with insect control. What do I cover the ground with that is economical, but will help control the weeds & grass from growing while still being duck-friendly? What about construction gravel/grit with weed block underneath? 5). Currently, the ducks are using those large, round, rubber bowls for water in the coop. I want something less messy in their duck house. Keep in mind, they will have free access to plenty of water during daylight...this is only for at night when they're locked up. I'm considering purchasing a heated plastic poultry waterer with a deep base...and probably putting it on patio bricks to raise it so they aren't trying to splash around in it. Will this work well for them? I want to make sure there is no chance of their water freezing at night...but obviously have to take into consideration their propensity for extreme muck. Will a plug-in be safe as long as I'm sure it's secured so no water gets to the plug? Also, is it better to hang the waterer or put it on something for ducks? I don't know whether I want to use a galvanized waterer with an overturned bucket (or cinder blocks with the holes) & light bulb underneath...or the plug-in variety? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!