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PLEASE HELP - New Potential Duck Owner!

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by zchryjmsbnntt, Apr 25, 2016.

  1. zchryjmsbnntt

    zchryjmsbnntt Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 25, 2016
    Hey there everyone! Apologies for the long post ahead of time, lol.

    My name is Zachary and I recently got the brilliant idea that I want to raise my own backyard fowl. I thought chickens were the route to go since they are so readily available, but have recently been doing a ton of research on raising ducks instead. I think I have made my mind up and am wanting to go the duck route as they seem to be a better fit for my overall purposes and situation. The only issue I am having with all my research is the coop itself. I'm quite surprised on how little information there is out there on duck coops in general. I have been able to find literally hundreds of thousands of websites on chicken coops, but information on duck coops seems to be very limited (or at least the answers to the questions I have anyways lol).

    Here's my plan/problem: I wanting three female Pekin ducks. Space in the yard is not an issue as I live on a 1/2 acre plot of land so they will have plenty of room to roam when we are home. However, both me and my partner each work a full-time job. Personally, I work four 10-hr shifts and have a three day weekend every week. I work nights so I will be able to let the ducks roam the yard when I am home in the mornings. My partner works your typical Monday through Friday 8-5 job and will be able to let them roam when he is home in the evening. On average, there will be about a 6-hr span of time Monday-Wednesday that the ducks will need to be cooped up (in addition to any time we will not be home for errands, life in general, etc etc). I am planning on creating a 6' x 6' wire enclosure that houses the sleeping house, kiddie pool, food, etc. I've read that ducks need to have an average of four square feet per bird but no site I have read clarifies whether this is the amount of area that the ducks sleep in, or the area of their run.

    So really my questions have multiple layers to them:
    a)
    What kind of pin do you keep your ducks in?
    b) The overall square footage of my planned enclosure is 36 sq ft. Will this be big enough for my birds to be happy during the times that we are not home to let them out?
    c) The house where they will sleep/lay their eggs, does the square footage need to be 4 per duck?

    The images below/attached are a part of a presentation I made for myself that kind of gives you an idea of what the planned enclosure will look like:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Again apologies for the long post but any help, opinions, advice, feedback etc that anyone can offer would be more than greatly appreciated. I just want to make sure that whatever I plan on doing is going to have the greatest interest at heart for my new family members!

    Thanks in advance everyone! [​IMG]
     
  2. zchryjmsbnntt

    zchryjmsbnntt Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 25, 2016
    Sorry all, follow-up question I just thought of: do ducks even need to have a "run" like chickens? lol.
     
  3. ChicagoDucks

    ChicagoDucks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    A big run is a good idea beacause of your schedule. A good secure run will keep them protected even if noone can put them in their coop each night. I would recommend a bigger run and i would recommend making sure the pen has good drainage.

    You will be emptying your pool daily or every other day. Your pool is probably between 5 and 10 gallons, right? Thats a lot of water for 36sf of run, and you dont want your run to be a mud puddle all the time.

    Many people get more ducks once they have a few, it is hard to resist. 36sf may be just adequate for 3, but cramped for 5. I would say go ahead and tripple the size of your run. Aim for 100sf and give yourself a little more head room so you can walk in and clean it, retrieve eggs, or whatever elae you need to do.

    Oh, and :welcome
     
  4. zchryjmsbnntt

    zchryjmsbnntt Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 25, 2016
    Thanks for the welcome and the advice! [​IMG]

    The pool I was planning on getting was just a 36" plastic one from toys'r'us. I'm not sure of the gallons it holds as it doesn't say on their website; maybe 15-20? I was planning on building a small platform for the pool (with ramp access for the ducks), that way the pool is elevated off the ground and I can outfit the pool with a drain and pvc pipe that leads outside of the run for easier cleaning. Will that be too much for three ducks? Should I go smaller with the water area?

    I know it's going to be hard to resist but I really am going to limit myself to just three. Though I've seen many warnings that they are like potato chips, once you have a few you'll go back for more lol.
     
  5. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

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    For water management, remember the run needs to have a slight slope - 2 to 3 percent - so that water runs off and does not pool in the pen.

    We have a shallow channel at the downhill side of the pen - it carries the dumped pool water away from the pen, and into a garden area. This waters and fertilizes the plants!

    I use a base of sand and smooth pea gravel around the pools. I also use dried oak leaves sometimes - it reduces odor in summer.

    For the rest of the pen, I use a base of chopped straw and leaves that mix with the duck manure and produce an excellent base - it naturally composts, and attracts earthworms. The ducks can then forage for worms in the base. Once or twice a year I rake out the compost and use it in the garden.

    The bottom of the pen is coated chain link fence, so that larger predators cannot dig under and into the pen. They will try - they have all night, and all day to get to the ducks.

    Even one inch gap between the fence and the ground is enough for a raccoon to reach in, and pull a sleeping duck out, piece by piece. Gruesome, but it happens.

    Half inch metal hardware cloth really helps prevent that, as does making sure there are no gaps where fence meets ground, or fence meets fence, or fence meets shed.

    At some point you may want to consider a small fence charger and run two or three strands of poly wire or equine tape around the outside of the pen as well.
     
  6. zchryjmsbnntt

    zchryjmsbnntt Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 25, 2016
    That sounds awesome! Any pictures of your coop by chance?

    My plan was to have hardware cloth on all sides, the entire bottom, and extend it out a foot out on each side of the coop. My neighbor (who once had chickens) said he had real issue with a neighborhood raccoon pulling apart his entire flock, so I'm not taking any chances.

    Are oak leaves toxic at all to ducks? I thought someone once told me that oak leaves in general are toxic but I don't know if that only applies to plants lol. I never took chances using it in my compost pile or garden just in case. But I do have about 8 very large oak trees in my yard so I'll always have a constant supply of leaves if I can actually use them. Better than raking and bagging them up lol.
     
  7. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

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    Southern New England
    [​IMG]
    Veranda (above)
    [​IMG]
    Day Pen I

    [​IMG]
    Day Pen I initial (before a good layer of compost developed)

    [​IMG]
    Day Pen I early on

    [​IMG]
    Duck Shelter I - I want to paint it . . . but you can see the construction
    [​IMG]
    Outdoor Complex I in snow
    [​IMG]
    Current base - chopped straw, leaves, composting naturally with manure and turning by ducks.
    [​IMG]
    Swim pan area - sand, smooth pea gravel, leaves, all gummed together with mud and manure

    [​IMG]
    This is what it looks like months after tidying up. I mean, like, nine months later.
    And I took the photo of the backside of the duck in the foreground to show that under certain conditions, female ducks get curly tail feathers.

    Tannins in oak leaves would not be good for ducks to eat much of. But thir eggs ey occasionally eat acorns, to no ill effect. I am told if they eat too many, the yolks of their eggs turn olive green. Mmmmm mmmmm.

    They eat dried birch leaves like they're candy. But they don't eat oak leaves at all - they rifle through them looking for slugs and bugs and other yummies.

    I thought about a hardware cloth apron around the pen, decided to go with the coated chain link under the whole thing, because it seems to me that our coyotes and foxes would be able to tunnel under a foot of fence in a pretty short time....
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2016
  8. zchryjmsbnntt

    zchryjmsbnntt Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 25, 2016
    Your coop looks awesome. I'm definitely going to be exploring the oak leaves idea as a way to line the coop. would defiantly save me a ton of work and time with raking. thanks for the tip!
     
  9. TLWR

    TLWR Chillin' With My Peeps

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    the 4 sq ft per bird is what is suggested for night time sleeping area
    10 sq ft per bird is suggested for a pen. My ducks do not go in their house during the day. Even when they are confined to their pen.

    But the more the better, especially if they spend a good bit of time penned up.
     
    1 person likes this.
  10. zchryjmsbnntt

    zchryjmsbnntt Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 25, 2016
    Awesome TLWR, this is exactly the information i was looking for! [​IMG]

    I think i'll go with an 8' by 8' run and then have their house attached but outside the run to give them more room to roam. that should be more than enough for them
     

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