Seeking advice regarding Duck lodging... plus some project sharing

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by White Elk, Jun 19, 2008.

  1. White Elk

    White Elk Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 19, 2008
    Pacific Northwest USA
    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....

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    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....

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    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....

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    Along the wall will be a raised planting bed with a rose arbor center.


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    In the back corner will be a duck pond, and a waterfall will cascade down from behind the wall.

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    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

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    Walk in...

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    Look down...


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    Turn right...


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    Look down...


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    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.
     
  2. SueNH

    SueNH Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 24, 2007
    Save yourself some money and turn the heat lamp off. The little house and yards look fine for a small holding pen. Bigger digs are in order.
    Ducks do fine in just a dog house with a predator proof pen.

    Ducks will foul up the water in a water garden and eat a good deal of the landscape plants. Waterlilies are very tasty, roots and all. Honestly a kiddie pool is easier and you can dump the duck water on your roses for a boost. If you have to do it design an easy to use drainage system. You'll be changing things every couple days. Make it big and fast because they will import their own mud along with lots of poop.

    Peking ducks? They get big fast and suddenly.
     
  3. conny63malies

    conny63malies Overrun With Chickens

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    Annetta Kentucky
    Ducks really dont care too much about their housing. My three live under a few pieces of siding thats between my Ac unit and a fence. they are perfectlly happy with that.
     
  4. flakey chick

    flakey chick Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 3, 2007
    Florida
    I have got to ask about the frog in the brooder room. What's up with that?
     
  5. White Elk

    White Elk Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 19, 2008
    Pacific Northwest USA
    Quote:It will likely drop to around 60 degrees if I do. And perhaps lower on the concrete floor. Right now its mid 60's under the sink and in the 80's at chick height. Will that be ok for them? I have been turning it off for a couple hours a day and leaving the door open when I'm around in the hopes that this may help with their acclimation to being outside. I've been a little worried about a drastic change in temp.



    Quote:Good points and I now understand from brooding them that ducks are especially messy! We've wanted a natural looking pond and waterfall for many years now. That location just begs for it I think. Since I don't imagine we will be able to keep the ducks out of it, I will have to design it with the ducks in mind. I'm wondering now if the waterfall will have to be recirculated from a seperate mini-pool? Ideally I will create a micro ecosystem which takes care of Some of the maintenance for me. Such as bottom feeding fish and proper plants, but for that I think it would need circulation which the waterfall would provide. I have a LOT to learn about that and this will likely be a project for next summer.

    For now I will drop a kiddie pool in it (but on a platform ~ I have recycled pressure treated wood from job sites and need to find some use for them lol). I'll build a small french drain in the center and backfill the sides with rock and pea gravel. The pool will be just a few inches above ground level but the gravel and rock layer will be a few feet deep. Hopefully this will drain alot of the water from around the pool so that mud won't replace the grass. I've got a portable sump pump designed for 'chunky water'. It will rapidly pump most of the water directly where I need it, and then I can lift the pool out and drain the remainder into a bucket for easy transport to the compost pile.

    For the waterplants I am hoping that maybe I can farm them in an old cast iron tub that was inherited when my folks bought this land. I can enclose it to keep the ducks out but I don't know how rapidly the plants will grow. I don't know that I will be able to keep ahead of their appetite. But its better than nothing. And besides the look of the plants in the pond, I also want them to enrich the ducks lives.



    Quote:I don't know what they are. The down is yellow and their feathers are coming in light brown. Mom just said they were farm ducks. They've been out of town for a little more than a week so I haven't bothered them by asking. In that time the ducks have outgrown two pens and this one is just as big as I can make it within that small room. My folks will be back tomorrow and then I will present my plans for the temporary pens and for enclosing the back yard. Hopefully by the beginning of the week they can all move outside. I can't wait.. for reasons both personal and compassionate!!
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2008
  6. White Elk

    White Elk Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 19, 2008
    Pacific Northwest USA
    Quote:So they don't seem distressed by the sound of it in any way? Some of those AC units can make quiet a racket! That gives me confidence that they will be content enough with the noise of the hens living upstairs. I want to provide the ducks the best I can. I'm thinking that a slightly elevated box with thick walls which sits just high enough to keep them away from the groundwater (but still very close to the ground), will keep them happy enough to want to come home at night. It would be great if I don't have to herd them home every night!!



    Quote:LoL, My father repainted the bathroom and was going to do more work in it, but other priorities took over. Mom knows that Dad likes the sound of the neighboring frogs and has been gifting him with various froggy things. I suppose thats where they came from. Sort of a quick cheap and temporary way to brighten up the room? The frogs were there before the broodery came about. The chickens from time to time peck at that one on their upper deck. It seems to have enriched their lives a little lol.
     
  7. dixygirl

    dixygirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Do you really think the cat and dog are going to get along with the birds ? :| I have to keep my dog away from all my birds because he ate one.

    I don't know how you are going to keep them separated.
     
  8. White Elk

    White Elk Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 19, 2008
    Pacific Northwest USA
    Wooky and Autumn are unusual in many ways. We've had chickens before and they got along fine. Autumn did try to stalk them at first but I told her it wasn't cool and I've never seen the behaivor again. And Wooky once got a hold of Penny after he spooked her soon after her release. His instincts took over and he snatched her out of the air. But he didn't bite her, just grabbed her, and she was fine. I was right there monitering his behaivor when the chicks first left the coop. So I was able to correct the behaivor and it never happened again. I spent some prep time with both Autumn and Wooky while the chicks were in the coop. And then I spent time with them over the first days of the chicks free range release until I was fully comfortable. They became good friends and Autumn tried rubbing nose to beak with Penny a few times. In tight quarters they'd all squeeze right past each other.

    The only one I worry about is my sisters dog who comes over sometimes. She doesn't relate to him like I relate to Wooky and Autumn. So her dog isn't as wise nor obediantly understanding of things as my best friend Autumn, and my good buddy Wooky are. I've also taken time to bring Autumn into the broodery (she rides my shoulder) and tell her these are "our friend friends". And Wooky loves to go in and check out the new additions to our family. They are all getting used to each other and that goes a long way towards reducing the flight/chase response. And when/if it ever happens Autumn and Wooky are wise and understand that these are members of the family. But to be certain I will be there to moniter the situation when the birds first begin mingling freely.


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    Last edited: Jun 21, 2008
  9. dixygirl

    dixygirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 14, 2008
    Wow that picture is pretty amazing with the dog, cat and hen side by side. My dog would have pounced on the chicken and pulled its head off. Even though he follows voice commands, he has a strong predator instinct.

    Now previously i had a toy poodle i could leave on the bed with my parrot and come back and both would be laying there together. But dogs and cats like that are rare.

    Do you plan to enclose the waterfall you want to build or just leave it open in the enclosed yard? They sell the pond liners and heavy duty pump with filter at home depot. You need the stongest pump they have to pull the water up that height. A bilge pump that has a strong pull would probably be your best bet, but you would have to fit your own filter on it somehow. Maybe wrap some thick foam around the part where the water is sucked in with a rubber band. So you would dig a pond on the bottom and cover it with one liner. And dig out like steps above and cover that with another liner and overlap. Route the hose from the pump up to the top and hide it in the ground.

    I know you will be glad to get them out of the house and can't wait to see.
    Good luck


    PS Regarding the brooding material, try a carpet remnant like a door mat. Not plush at all. Hose it off and hang it up to dry while you use another one. Either that or just wash towels.
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2008
  10. White Elk

    White Elk Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 19, 2008
    Pacific Northwest USA
    I'm proud of them :~)

    Wooky loves chasing Squirells. We just say that word and he transforms into a wolf lol. And Autumn is very much a hunter. In recent years shes stopped eating her catches (as far as I can tell). But she still gets mice and the rare garden snake.


    I don't think I will enclose the waterfall. And the fence which will run along the back wall to the side of the house will hopefully be removed by winter. I'm thinking it will just be there till the ducks fully mature. Then they can free range like the chickens. We did just loose our good friend Penny to some daytime predator a couple months ago (or one of the wandering dogs, or a hungry neighbor). A few months before we lost the little white one. As for the Pollocks.. they both turned out to be roo's and crowed ALL day long and through the night... so we gave them to a local petting zoo. It's important to me that the birds have free ranged happy lives. So I will argue for it. Though I understand keeping them in a contained proptected space as well, and can see how they can be happy. We all miss Penny very much. But she had a happy life. Unfortunatly though, Penny and Whitey would often roam many properties away. Hopefully the ducks and new chickens will stay on our land under the protection of Wooky.
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2008

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