Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Ducks are messy messy messy and how to combat it

Our children talked us into getting ducks. They begging and whined until we couldn't take it any longer.  I'm afraid it wasn't all that hard for them. We are total pushovers.

We were actually thinking of adding ducks to the farm next year so speeding up our plans a bit wasn't that big of a deal.  We originally planned to have them live in our chicken coop with the chickens so this new animal thing was going to be no big deal right?


Ducks are messy.  I know this has been said before. I didn't haphazardly get ducks, I did my research. "Ducks are messy" has been stated on countless poultry boards. But this is a terrible understatement. I felt lied to. Never once did someone actually say how messy ducks are.  I read plenty of times that ducks are messy.  But I never once read the truth about ducks and their messiness. We got 35 chicks and our brooder space worked fabulously. So four ducks should have no problem in the same space. 

Wrong again.

When I say ducks are messier than chickens please understand that I don't mean one duck is messier than one chicken. I don't even mean that one duck is messier than three chickens.

What I am trying to tell you is that one duck is about as messy as 100 chickens.

This is not an exaggeration. This is the truth.

Ducks poop on average 6,000 times more than a chicken (okay that might be an exaggeration). Our four sweet ducklings had a three gallon poultry waterer. I had to fill it twice a day.  And not because they were drinking it either.  They splashed it out.

Breakdown of facts:
4 duckling
6 gallons of water
24 hours

They are also messy eaters.  They just fling the stuff everywhere. No matter how hard I tried to keep the food on the dry end of the brooder they drug it down to the wet end.  Now you have mushy duck food to go with your tons of water and poop. And ducks do not eat mushy food.

We started herding the ducks to the pond on nice days and back to the garage at night just to give our stinky garage a break. Ducks are really smart and after a couple of days they knew where to go and it wasn't hard at all but it was silly to herd ducks!

After working our butts off on our chicken house there was no way I wanted the ducks to even go near it. I wasn't even sure I wanted to keep the ducks to be honest.

Clearly, the ducks needed their own space and they were not allowed to have water in it.  Ever.

After some research I found that many people where having good luck by only feed their ducks once or twice a day and not allowing them to access to food or water in the house.  Since the ducks are only shut in their house at night this isn't a big deal and our ducks are now happy and healthy and only being feed once a day.

Feeding them only once a day also forces them to get out of their pond area and go poop in other places in the yard, eat some grass, poop under the trampoline, and eat my flowers.

After some trail and error I have found what works for best for us and our ducks.

I tried feeding them twice a day once in the mornings and once in the early afternoon but it was a pain to get in the early afternoon feeding if we planed to be gone for the day and then they ended up being feed before they where put in their house and that increases the mess. They also never left their pond area to go find anything else to eat. And going out and eating plants and bugs is the best thing for them!

Now, I feed my ducks once a day. In the morning. It's important that they eat the bulk of their food in the morning so the bulk of their pooping is done during the day.  It took a while to figure out how much to feed them but now I feed them about a cup of food each.  They also can eat as much as they can forage all day.  I will have to change this in the winter time when there is less foraging and they will need more calories to stay warm.

I feed the ducks in a big wide dog food pan.  It's big enough for them all to get around it and too big for them to flip it over.  They also have access to water all day.

At night they go in their duck hut with no food and no water. They have a nice hut though and are let out first thing in the morning.

Now here is the inside of the duck hut after one month without cleaning it, without adding more straw, and without stiring the straw.  I have literally done nothing to it.

Not bad huh?  What are your tricks for dealing with the messiness of ducks?

And stay in touch! Coming soon is how to make that beauty I call the duck hut.

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