My family has a pair of Ducks and a half dozen Chickens. They are still very young and live in makeshift broodery. I am constructing temporary housing outside and will then construct a permanent structure for winter. I have a couple questions which need answering before I can design them. But first a question regarding the Ducks nursery pen.... I use an old mattress pad for the floor (on top of an old chicken coop pan). I have material for two floors and wash/replace daily. It's time effecient and the Ducks are far drier than with the chips and straw. But they are exposed to their feces more. I read that wood chips can mortally block a ducks digestion. So I stopped using them. But I notice that the ducks pull at the fluffing in the mattress pads and likely injest a little of it. Can this be a problem for them? Should I use the straw? Or is there something better? My other questions invloves what makes a ducks lodgings a happy home. What dimensions should their nesting box be? And will they be happy living in their nesting box under a hen pen for the next 6 months? They've been brooded in very close quarters to the chickens, and so they are used to the sight and sounds of them. (proximity pictures at very bottom of post). But a chicken once flew ontop of the chicken wire covering the ducks pen, and one of the ducks tried to attack it. I have a feeling they can be close but not together. At least for now since cramped quarters might make them terratorial? So I intend to build adjoining but seperate structures for them. For the temporary pens I'd like to nest the ducks directly under the hen nest but with no access to the hen yard. Instead the ducks would have their own yard.... Do you think the ducks will be comfortable nesting there for the next 6 months or so? I'm planning on raising the hen house to whatever height would be needed to give the ducks the proper ceiling height. And I will trench the entire structure including both yards, then lay chicken wire down and backfill so that they have floors of dirt and straw vs a chicken wire floor. I will provide them a small pond and leave them in here for a short time until I feel comfortable that they've settled in. Then I will open the gate and give them access to our fenced in back yard during the day and herd them home at night. Eventually I hope to let them totally free range the land like the chickens will. By that time the permanent structure will be built in that same location. I'll start with a storage shed in the corner which will include space for a proper brooding room. To the right of that will begin the aviaries. I'd like to raise a pair of Wood Ducks next year and would like to raise up some chickens for eating. And since I've removed two trees and a large shrub from along that wall of windows, it looks rather ugly now... I think a large avery will be a nice visual improvement. And it will be cool to look out the windows of the garage and the office and see the birds. On the inside of that cinder wall on the left of the windows is where the birds live now. Just to the right of that is the first two banks of windows which I am facing right now as I type this. Everything to follow is just me sharing my birds and the projects (I picked BYC just because of the sharing of this friendly community :~) The backyard as seen from the avery site.... Along the wall will be a raised planting bed with a rose arbor center. In the back corner will be a duck pond, and a waterfall will cascade down from behind the wall. The roll of fencing sits where my Brother and I carved out a fish pond for my Mother a few Mothers Days back. We ran out of money and its been overgrown. This is serendipitous since I can now design the water feature with ducks in mind! I've yet still, have a ways to go to get to that project, but a few years back the wall was covered in Ivy and the hill was dominated by old growth Blackberry. I beat back the berry and then the Stinging Nettle took over. So I'm making progress lol. And now I know what this particular chunk of land was meant for! The Brood Room aka Rest Room Walk in... Look down... Turn right... Look down... The chickens sit on the toilet and the ducks live under the sink. The bathroom has a heat light and the room is a near constat 80 degrees. Not the ideal situation for all invovled, but the best I could do with what I had at the time.