I’m pretty new to permaculture and this site, and I was hoping for some advice. A farmer friend is kindly supplying me with about 5-10 ducklings in the coming spring, and I want to prepare the best home I can for them. I have a choice of two areas: 1) a field with our donkeys that has a flowing stream (we live in zone 8 and the water never freezes), and a ‘swamp’ formed by a spring head on the other side of the field that would need to be cleaned up, but has been home to wild ducks and geese before. There is an open but covered shed-like structure that I could close in for their shelter. 2) a now vacant field with another flowing stream, that I could potentially dam up to have a little pond. There’s an established snake-proof stable that I had for my chickens, with nesting boxes, feeding/water stations, and bedding. Unfortunately, when my mother let out the hens in an attempt to “free range” them, they were devoured by coyotes.
Ideally, I would like my ducks to be able to forage and use the space we have, but I’m very scared that they will be vulnerable to predators. How can I best protect my flock while still taking advantage of our water sources? Which option do you think could be best? How can I best create a self-sustaining system for my duck habitat? Additionally, is there any duck fodder that can grow in running water?
Thank you very much in advance, any advice welcome!
Sounds like the donkey field might be a good place to start. Donkeys are used as guardian animals for sheep. Given predators have hit the second area previously I'd probably start them in with the donkeys.
The stream will also help keep your ducks clean. They soil stagnant water REALLY FAST. And then they don't have clean water to wash their feathers with, and can get really sick.
The ducks will also enjoy eating the flies and bugs that are in the donkey's poop. I would make sure to put them away at night (for a month or so, feed them in their house so that they have incentive to go there. This will train them to go home at night).
To predator proof the house, put hardware cloth all the way around the bottom foot of it, or make sure there are no gaps bigger than 1/4 inch. Also make sure there's no way for rodents to bury under and in. With our chicken coop, we stapled hardware cloth up the side and then ran it under and up the other side. We did the same with our goose house, covering the hardware cloth with earthcrete (you could also use cement).