Today many people are raising backyard chickens and some are branching out into backyard ducks as well. Ducks and chickens obviously need somewhat different housing. In this article, we will discuss the steps necessary to build the best duck houses. Read on to learn more.
There are many options for building good duck housing. You can do something simple such as repurposing a pre-built dog house, or start from scratch by building a customized shed. Whatever you do, the most important thing to keep in mind is security. Unlike wild ducks, farm ducks are not able to fly and cannot move very quickly. Even in daylight, they are an easy mark for predators. At night, when they are asleep, they are literally “sitting ducks”.
Anything you build must provide protection against hawks, owls, raccoons, skunks, possums, weasels, foxes and even domestic cats and dogs. Ducks do not roost at night, so a duck house does not need a roosting bar. Nor does it need a nest box. In the wild, ducks nest in a hidden space on the ground. Domestic ducks nest on the floor of their house. For this reason, an open structure such as a shed, playhouse or dog house is a good starting point for building a duck house. Make it secure by adding a door and covering openings with hardware cloth.
Windows and other openings should also have hinged shutters that can be closed against inclement weather. Be sure to include vents covered with hardware cloth just under the edge of the roof. When your ducks are sleeping their breath will make the air very humid so ventilation is very important. If the moisture is allowed to collect, it can lead to mold problems and cause illness.
The entrance and exit door to your duck house should be large enough that two ducks can go through at once. If your duck house is elevated, you should also provide a ramp for easy access. It should also have a very secure cover and latch to keep clever predators out. Raccoons are very handy and can figure out simple latches and slide bolts. Be sure the latch you choose locks securely.
Wild ducks nest right on the ground, but your domestic ducks should have solid flooring to keep them up off the damp ground and to protect them against burrowing predators. You can pour a concrete foundation or build a wood floor. Use a stall mat or other rubber mat specially cut to fit the space so that you can clean up quickly and easily.
Ducks usually sleep on a pile of bedding such as straw, wood chips or leaves. For this reason, they need more space than chickens. Any structure you choose or build for your ducks should provide four square feet of space for each duck.
Straw is inexpensive and truly ideal for duck bedding. Be sure to store your straw in a dry location so that it does not get moldy. Change the bedding regularly (weekly) to keep it clean and dry. Put used bedding in your compost heap to create rich soil for your garden or to fertilize trees and bushes.
You can also use fallen leaves or wood shavings as bedding; however, be sure not to use pine or other coniferous tree products because the oil they contain can cause breathing and lung problems for animals that are kept in close proximity with these products.
Ducks can be delightful pets, and their eggs are very good for eating and baking. Additionally, unlike chickens, ducks tend to lay eggs all year round. Investing in a secure duck environment will ensure that your ducks are safe against predators and have a healthy, comfortable setting to enjoy a long, happy life.
To see our other posts on wild birds see here.