What to grow in duck run?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by treldib, Aug 1, 2010.

  1. treldib

    treldib Chillin' With My Peeps

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    While we aren't supervising the ducks they stay in their run and seem pretty bored. What can we plant in their run that they can munch on so they are essentially "free-ranging" while they can't truly be free-ranging (while we aren't home etc.)?
     
  2. ranchhand

    ranchhand Rest in Peace 1956-2011

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    That's a very tough question. They will decimate anything the very first day. What they don't eat will be buried in mud.

    I toss lettuce, frozen peas, corn in with them and it lasts for a few minutes.
     
  3. katharinad

    katharinad Overrun with chickens

    I would say grains like oats. Mine are free ranging and I have tons of wild grasses and grains. They jump up to pull them down and eat them.
     
  4. treldib

    treldib Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:True...we have a bunch of crab grass growing in there and they only eat the little bugs that they find crawling in it.
    Ours don't seem to like corn...hmmm...but they LOVE peas! When they free range while we are home they eat all sorts of stuff.
     
  5. CityChicker

    CityChicker Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I agree with what has already been said. It is hard really to keep anything growing in a normal duck run. You have to have a fairly huge area or they will destroy the vegetation. If you *do* have a big area, you can get seed and seed mixes specifically made for pasture/forage areas. The other option is to have a dual run where you keep the birds on one side while you grow out the other and basically move them back and forth. Again though, they pretty much destroy any vegetation fairly quickly so to me this sometimes seems pointless with waterfowl unless you can keep them in a very large area (or else you will basically spend 6-8 weeks growing out an area that will be destroyed in two days, LOL). For us, we have found that about the best thing is to do runs with gravel topped with sand and just feed chopped greens.
     
  6. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    How about things you can plant right outside their run that grow a little into or over, and either drop things into the run or provide a tantalizing taste through the fence? Sort of like one of those dog toys where you stuff the treat down inside the chew, so it takes hours to get it all out?

    Grape vines or other vines that produce small, soft fruits could be grown up over the run and drop fruits at irregular intervals to provide a sort of hide-and-seek game for them. Grains or soft fruit bushes (like blueberries) could be grown around the edges, and the plants would send some branches through the wire for the ducks to play with. Anything just over their head would provide entertainment as well as yummies.

    Oh, and at night if you provide a bare lightbulb just over their heads, it will attract insects for them to hunt.
     
  7. CityChicker

    CityChicker Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That's a good idea about the light bulb. We don't do that, but it is a cool idea if you can. I know some people do that to encourage laying. There is another really old time method of attracting bugs for the birds that my grandparents and others used to do. You take a large metal coffee can (or other container) and make a lid out of hardware cloth. You put old fruit in the coffee can so that bugs can get in, but the birds cannot get into the rotting fruit. The fruit attracts all sorts of bugs for the birds to feast on.
     
  8. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oo--a bunch of great ideas were posted while I was in the middle of posting. The dual-run option reminds me of what Holderread suggests for a triplex run--you have the secure house for nighttime and winter, surrounded by a well-drained pen, surrounded with a planted area that the ducks have only part-time access to. He recommends that they never use the outer area when it's wet, and I would add that you'd want to monitor the plants for excessive damage and let them recover when they're struggling. It would be kind of a pain to set up, but seems like it would be great once it's set up.
     
  9. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    I have something along the lines of the triplex run. There is Little Fort Knox, a secure house and porch for nighttime and rough weather, attached to a day run with water pans (on pea gravel), a compost-mulch pile they can noodle around in looking for worms, and a door that leads toward some garden areas that they visit with supervision from time to time.

    I am still refining things, so in the works are some planting of comfrey and more Good King Henry and other perennials that can grow through the fence so that the ducks can nibble on the ends of the branches but not bother the main stem or roots. In the morning I gather tall stems of jewelweed, and hang them upside down over the fence. The ducks love browsing at head level, and will jump up to nab more leaves. I also provide what I call ladies thumb or ladies purse, a native smartweed. They like to nibble the seeds, and often grab a stem and swish it around in their water bowl.

    You can make vegetation available for the ducks, you just need to be creative about protecting the main stem and roots with fencing, or by rotating areas they can play in and replanting with fast growing plants. Buckwheat is a fast grower, and mine really like it when it is young and tender.
     
  10. acipolone

    acipolone Out Of The Brooder

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    I ordered some comfrey (Russian cultivar) from Horizon Herbs (who have some of the most amazing customer service ever). It was pretty cheap and they sent me 7 plants (well, root cuttings). We planted them along the outside of the duck pen -- since the comfrey loves constantly wet, high nitrogen soil it's the perfect spot. When we dump their water we just let it go right over the plants. They're penned off right now to give them a chance to grow, but comfrey is almost impossible to completely destroy (apparently takes 2 years to get rid of!) and is a good choice for livestock feed.

    Also, if you have a compost heap, it's supposedly amazing for it. Read up on it here:

    http://www.horizonherbs.com/pilot.asp?pg=comfrey_root

    And to order: https://www.horizonherbs.com/product.asp?specific=1603

    The
    roots they sell are the Russian cultivar*, which flowers but doesn't seed -- apparently this is good, as the true comfrey is super invasive. We've only had ours in the grown for a week and a half and they're already a foot high. I'm guessing in about a month we'll be able to let them pick at them. My plan is to let them get so large the ducks can pick through the pen at it. I have no clue how large these get, but hopefully pretty large. [​IMG]

    Hope that helps!

    * They also sell true comfrey, but that's the invasive one that easily spreads seeds. I'd not recommend it unless you want comfrey everywhere.
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2010

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