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Duck eggmobile? and paddock system

 
Rj Ewing
Posts: 18
Location: Western Oregon
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I am looking into starting a flock of about 100 laying ducks. I am thinking of keeping them in some sort of paddock system. poultry netting? I am thinking of building some sort of egg mobile for them as well. I've been searching for info on duck housing and can't really find anything on an egg mobile type of house. I did a quick search of the forum and couldn't really find anything but if anyone has any ideas on how the housing should be or the paddock system, I would love to hear them. From what I've seen, ducks need about 2 sq ft of floor space per duck. Does this sound right? They will only be locked up at night. Any thought will be greatly appreciated. Thanks
 
Jami McBride
gardener
Posts: 1948
Location: PNW Oregon
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books chicken duck food preservation forest garden hugelkultur trees
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I saw a website where they were doing this, but I cannot find the link just now.

Anyway, with numbers like that you'll run into what they did on their farm, where all the vegetation soon is gone and only dirt and mud remain.... unless you rotate them as well as Joel Salatin does his cows.

Having said that I will add that ducks do not require housing. They do require predictor protection and housing is not the best way to do this, and here are my reasons; ducks are much messier than chickens, their poo is runny/stinky/dirty and they do not scratch so they really don't cover it even by accident. Bunching up a good amount of ducks creates a nasty place fast where as with free ranging there is no nasty. I have found this one factor (stink/mess when confined) to be the biggest reason people prefer chickens over ducks. This is not me, I prefer ducks myself, and have helped many to get started with them, but when done wrong they all back out in a season or two.

What am I saying.... think about duck keeping different than any other animal, you want to keep them moving, foraging, poo and go. They prefer to create nests inside bushy plants, and if you always leave one egg (the newest) they will continue to use that nest. Take all the eggs and they will move. If you would set up enough paddocks, that where large enough, with some kind of bush in one section preferably the middle of the paddock, and grasses, leaves and old rotten logs (short material) everywhere else. This could work. The ducks will use the brush for their eggs, and forage the rest. Being on the move would keep their droppings from overwhelming the soil and plant life, and proper fencing will keep their predators out. It is not perfect, and I feel this is why many don't keep ducks.

The website I was looking for uses electric netting only a couple of feet high and they move their large flock. Also, I do not remember the breed they were using, something heavy, but some breeds are prone to flying like Mallards and will fly away easily if spooked by you or predators.

Ducks are also more like cats, they take cat naps during the 24 hours cycle. They are more quite at night, but that is really to keep a low profile with the night predator population. They don't 'sleep' as we know it at night, they don't roost (unless raised by a chicken) they just quite down, move much less, sit and watch, then move then sit again. They do forage, but mostly during dusk and dawn and daylight hours. So you see locking them up at night is not very humane as they still want to move. And should it rain they want to be out in it, this is one of their joys in life.

The good news is this instinct to be on the move makes them great foragers, pest control/patrol and clean - if you don't close them up in a barn or house.



 
Rj Ewing
Posts: 18
Location: Western Oregon
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I don't think that I will have a problem with them ruining the vegetation as I have 320 acres (most of that pasture) to use, as long as I move them often enough. How often do you think they would need to be moved if they were in a 160' square electric netting paddock? Another possibility is that I can let them out around 10 (I believe that they are pretty much done laying by 9) to free range and then round them back up at night. This would definitely cut down on feed costs and allow me to not have to move the paddock as often.

Is there any type of trailer structure that can have just nest boxes or something for them to lay in? Could they be trained to lay in some type of mobile nest box that I could just move when I move the paddock? Will they come there to lay eggs but not hang out and get it too messy?

As far as predators, we have owls that like to get the chickens at night if we don't lock them up. I was thinking that they would go after the ducks if I don't lock them up. Any ideas on how to protect them from owls? maybe a LGD?

Thanks for the help
 
Jami McBride
gardener
Posts: 1948
Location: PNW Oregon
25
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I don't think that I will have a problem with them ruining the vegetation as I have 320 acres (most of that pasture) to use, as long as I move them often enough. How often do you think they would need to be moved if they were in a 160' square electric netting paddock? Another possibility is that I can let them out around 10 (I believe that they are pretty much done laying by 9) to free range and then round them back up at night. This would definitely cut down on feed costs and allow me to not have to move the paddock as often.


I have no idea how long you can leave them, it will depend on several things your weather being a big one. You can let them out, but without a Shepard I'd want a guardian dog around myself. Other dogs, foxes, even some crazy cats will go for your ducks. Mixing in some ganders couldn't hurt, but then you'd have to deal with them too, and they can be mean, unless you hand raised them.

Is there any type of trailer structure that can have just nest boxes or something for them to lay in? Could they be trained to lay in some type of mobile nest box that I could just move when I move the paddock? Will they come there to lay eggs but not hang out and get it too messy?


Last question first, after they rest sitting the first thing they do is stand up, stretch and poo - so any loitering will result in poo. They do not do this in their nest, but will just a few steps beyond.
First question, not that I know of. We hand raised two ducks because they hatched out away from their mother, one, the dumb one did use the nest I provided her, and she let a skunk take a couple of her eggs. The other would not no matter what I tried, and found her own very hidden spot (the skunk did not find her eggs). Later, when Percy's eggs started hatching, she let me move the eggs to a nest I set up in a large Igloo (dog house) behind chicken wire and under a roof. She continued to set them. This is very very unusual behavior, but she had imprinted on me.

Their instinct is to hide from all commotion, movement, light, noise, etc. I don't see movable, semi open, with other ducks near by in this equation, but you never know.

As far as predators, we have owls that like to get the chickens at night if we don't lock them up. I was thinking that they would go after the ducks if I don't lock them up. Any ideas on how to protect them from owls? maybe a LGD?


Definitely a LGD and if they have water that would help a lot. The ducks will learn to watch for the owls, you'll still loose some (the dumb ones) but not a total wipe out. They will sound an alarm, the gals will quack their heads off. It is louder than a penned up puppy yelp. Mine tell me when a raccoon is in the yard or in a near by tree sizing them up, and I come running. They are smart, not a peep when our cats are walking by, but let a stray cat look at them and they start honking.


 
Bull norris
Posts: 50
Location: Chanute Kansas
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Check out polyface farms if anyone can do it its them .
 
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