sand and gravel pen -- does this work to keep the smell down?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by calmhorizon, May 12, 2010.

  1. calmhorizon

    calmhorizon Hatching

    Mar 4, 2009

    I am planning to dig all the dirt out of my duck pen, down 6 to 8 inches to get rid of a winter of duckie poo mixed with dirt. My plan is to get 3-4 inches of pea gravel, covered with 3-4 inches of coarse sand. (I've been reading other people's posts about good drainage material for pens.)

    How well does this work? Does improved drainage help dry out the duck poo? Is it easy to rake up the duck poo? Will this help keep the smell down?

    I've got city ducks, and now that it's spring and getting warmer, I want to do what I can to keep my neighbours happy too.

    Thanks for your help!
  2. Funky Feathers

    Funky Feathers former Fattie

    Jan 15, 2009
    My Coop
    Probably if hosed off enough. It's great for drainage. [​IMG]
  3. T Hi

    T Hi Songster

    Mar 7, 2010
    Bonney Lake, WA
    I have wondered the same thing! I hope we get more responses!
  4. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners 8 Years

    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    Hello, T Hi, and calmhorizon (sorry I blanked out that it was your original post - sigh - duckbrains)

    Could you help me picture the land around the duck yard? If you are at the lowest place in the landscape, the duckyard will be a bowl that will catch and hold the duck waste. If what is under the pea gravel doesn't drain, you will have duck waste in pea gravel.

    (Please bear with me while I think "out loud.")

    Duck poop has quite a bit of nitrogen in it, which plants love. But if you have loads of nitrogen without air (like, in water), and especially with a high pH (low acidity), microbes will make ammonia and other gases. Not good for anyone.

    Duck waste becomes good fertilizer when it combines with something with loads of carbon (dry grass, straw, peat moss, sawdust, crushed corn cobs, etc.) if there is enough air (like a compost pile that is turned sometimes). When this process is working properly, it doesn't smell much, and it doesn't smell bad.

    So I think you have the beginnings of a good idea here. The pea gravel and sand will not become moldy, and they allow duck waste dissolved in water to move downhill, if there is a downhill to move to. What I think would be needed is a destination for the runoff that has loads of carbon and gets enough attention (turning) to become compost.

    or . . .

    Some people plant plants that are really good at taking up nitrogen (the grasses - and there are thousands of kinds of grasses - do this). They establish beds of plants that love nitrogen where the runoff will directly enrich the garden. That saves labor and expense.

    Just some ideas for your consideration (I used to work with manure management on a large scale . . . .)
    Last edited: May 13, 2010
  5. Scott

    Scott Ozark Bantams

    Apr 11, 2007
    Southeast Missouri
    I agree with Amiga... I dont think youd want to dig down as youd be creating a place for water to gather. Instead, youd want to build the area up. Sand works great for drainage. I use it myself and add new sand each spring, but the area where it is put down shouldnt be dug out first. Instead, fill in low areas that can turn into puddles.

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