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Floating Duck Fence for paddock shift around a pond?

 
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I'm thinking of raising ducks for eggs/meat and don't like the idea of having to refill a kiddie pool constantly because of the poop and then it freezing in the winter; and I also don't like the idea of just free ranging them and letting them make our pond super gross and over grazing/hunting the plants and aquatic life.
Was wondering if anyone knows of or has made a fence that floats (probably just like a foot high and then with some way of going a foot under the water so they don't swim under it) and fences off three sides and then could connect up to poultry netting on the land side. This way I could paddock shift them around our 1/2 acre pond. Our pond is 20 feet deep so even when all our livestock water buckets and troughs freeze the pond stays thawed pretty much all the time because of the thermal heat storage (we are in zone 6b Oklahoma). We have tons of minnows and tadpoles and bugs in the water to where I think it could be a signifcant food source while allowing a lot of the fish and frogs to escape to the sides the ducks aren't on so the ducks don't completely eliminate that resource over time.
 
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Not sure where you are, Braden, but your pond is likely a nighttime home for the native ducks/birds that fly in at dusk and out again at daybreak.   Larger predatory animals have probably been coming to it for water, and then for your ducks.   Because you won't be raising ducks that can fly and save themselves, the very clever local predators will likely take a real chunk out of their numbers.  Ducks and chickens need a serious building to be in at night, at the very least, something with a roof on it that can support the weight of 2 mountain lions = 300 lbs, and have a foundation that is secure enough so digging predators can't go underneath, and raccoons can't reach through 1" chicken wire and kill the ducks.

If you have a flotilla of ducks on a pond it will change the ecological balance of the critters in it, on it and around it.  It will have a very high proportion of nitrogen (poop) which will cause large amounts of algae to form.  Algae kills a lot of things, including pond critters that keep away mosquitoes.  And is not good for the ducks to eat/swallow, which they won't have much choice but to do.   During drought years when our pond is low, algae forms despite our efforts, and the native birds do not come to it, they stay away.

Even hawks, turkey vultures, and peregrine falcons who hunt at night, will be thrilled at their addition.  Weasels, raccoons, foxes are good swimmers and will just love a duck dinner.

You will be bringing in a lot more predators, which could put your pets/small children/other animals at risk.  

They can't be in the water 24/7, so when they are out of the water, different protections need to be in place.

The best arrangement I ever saw was an old cotton gin up on tires that was fitted inside with perches and places to nest, had a solid frame and roof, and they could all be inside it at night.  It had ramps underneath it for them to walk up into.  It could be towed from location to location so they could feed on different parts of the property.  A cotton gin is just a big metal frame, like a small semi trailer with metal mesh siding, a solid floor and ceiling, and a hitch.
 
Braden Pickard
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Cristo Balete wrote:Not sure where you are, Braden, but your pond is likely a nighttime home for the native ducks/birds that fly in at dusk and out again at daybreak.   Larger predatory animals have probably been coming to it for water, and then for your ducks.   Because you won't be raising ducks that can fly and save themselves, the very clever local predators will likely take a real chunk out of their numbers.  Ducks and chickens need a serious building to be in at night, at the very least, something with a roof on it that can support the weight of 2 mountain lions = 300 lbs, and have a foundation that is secure enough so digging predators can't go underneath, and raccoons can't reach through 1" chicken wire and kill the ducks.

If you have a flotilla of ducks on a pond it will change the ecological balance of the critters in it, on it and around it.  It will have a very high proportion of nitrogen (poop) which will cause large amounts of algae to form.  Algae kills a lot of things, including pond critters that keep away mosquitoes.  And is not good for the ducks to eat/swallow, which they won't have much choice but to do.   During drought years when our pond is low, algae forms despite our efforts, and the native birds do not come to it, they stay away.

Even hawks, turkey vultures, and peregrine falcons who hunt at night, will be thrilled at their addition.  Weasels, raccoons, foxes are good swimmers and will just love a duck dinner.

You will be bringing in a lot more predators, which could put your pets/small children/other animals at risk.  

They can't be in the water 24/7, so when they are out of the water, different protections need to be in place.

The best arrangement I ever saw was an old cotton gin up on tires that was fitted inside with perches and places to nest, had a solid frame and roof, and they could all be inside it at night.  It had ramps underneath it for them to walk up into.  It could be towed from location to location so they could feed on different parts of the property.  A cotton gin is just a big metal frame, like a small semi trailer with metal mesh siding, a solid floor and ceiling, and a hitch.





Thanks for the response. We have experience with housing our flock of 50 laying hens in a portable coop (Justin Rhodes ChickShaw) at night and have premier 1 electric poultry netting around that, which we rotate around our property once a week. That's eliminated all our former predator problems. I was wanting to implement a similar plan to that with ducks but with a small section of the pond temporarily fenced in and rotate around from there so the nitrogen build up is never too much and they won't come back to that point for 4-6 months. We already have ducks and have observed the different wildlife that comes to our pond and just wanted to start rotating them around to help enhance the ecosystem rather than make a mess of it.


 
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Braden Pickard wrote:

probably just like a foot high and then with some way of going a foot under the water so they don't swim under it

Are you sure your ducks won't swim under 1 ft deep fence? I know mallards are considered "dabbling ducks" but I've certainly seem them digging in the mud on shallow ponds and I'm just not sure how deep domestic ducks will go if the motivation is food ( http://www.jl-studio.com/articles/mallards/home.htm).

Also, although my Khaki Campbells are considered "flight-less" they can definitely helicopter over 3 ft fence and occasionally higher.

What kind of fencing are you thinking of? What if you used something soft which you could weight at the bottom so it would collapse against the mud in the shallows, but hang deeper in deep water? What if in the shallows you used something like portable electric fence posts that you could hook the fencing to? Then in deeper areas, use some sort of floating post? Water polo goals have no under water component, but you could think of ways to adapt that concept.

I do agree that kiddie pools are a lot of work. I use short Rubbermaid stock tanks in the summer and one has a valve leading to two 1 1/4" pipes with holes drilled in them so it becomes a "shower" that waters the grass when I open the valve. Not all the water drains, so I tip the rest out, rinse, move the tank and refill and it is part of my grass watering system. The second tank is in a fixed run which is going to be rehabilitated to have multiple paddocks as time allows. That tank has a very long ABS pipe that I move around my dulcis bamboo patch. This spring I had extremely happy bamboo. Something similar could be done if you had fruit trees to water, although I wouldn't use it on leaf crops. I only use the tank in the summer as we've just got too much water in the winter. Then they get a bucket or two and one larger rubbery feed "bucket" that is big enough for them to get into.

Have you considered extending your pond with a duck specific shallow end? Fence it securely, then plant lots of cattails on the outside of the fence so that they will soak up any nitrogen the ducks are adding? Harvest the cattail greens for mulching?
 
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Jay Angler wrote:Braden Pickard wrote:

probably just like a foot high and then with some way of going a foot under the water so they don't swim under it

Are you sure your ducks won't swim under 1 ft deep fence? I know mallards are considered "dabbling ducks" but I've certainly seem them digging in the mud on shallow ponds and I'm just not sure how deep domestic ducks will go if the motivation is food ( http://www.jl-studio.com/articles/mallards/home.htm).

Also, although my Khaki Campbells are considered "flight-less" they can definitely helicopter over 3 ft fence and occasionally higher.

What kind of fencing are you thinking of? What if you used something soft which you could weight at the bottom so it would collapse against the mud in the shallows, but hang deeper in deep water? What if in the shallows you used something like portable electric fence posts that you could hook the fencing to? Then in deeper areas, use some sort of floating post? Water polo goals have no under water component, but you could think of ways to adapt that concept.

I do agree that kiddie pools are a lot of work. I use short Rubbermaid stock tanks in the summer and one has a valve leading to two 1 1/4" pipes with holes drilled in them so it becomes a "shower" that waters the grass when I open the valve. Not all the water drains, so I tip the rest out, rinse, move the tank and refill and it is part of my grass watering system. The second tank is in a fixed run which is going to be rehabilitated to have multiple paddocks as time allows. That tank has a very long ABS pipe that I move around my dulcis bamboo patch. This spring I had extremely happy bamboo. Something similar could be done if you had fruit trees to water, although I wouldn't use it on leaf crops. I only use the tank in the summer as we've just got too much water in the winter. Then they get a bucket or two and one larger rubbery feed "bucket" that is big enough for them to get into.

Have you considered extending your pond with a duck specific shallow end? Fence it securely, then plant lots of cattails on the outside of the fence so that they will soak up any nitrogen the ducks are adding? Harvest the cattail greens for mulching?




Hi, thanks for your reply! I just looked it up and I think you're right that they can swim much deeper, I didn't realize that! I like those ideas a lot, thanks for the input!
 
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A local pond in my area of NC has a large, metal fence/kennel type box anchored to the land and stretches into the water almost halfway. It is open at the water so the ducks can swim in. Sometimes the opening is submerged; sometimes it's above waterline, depending on the rainfall. Waterfowl swim in or under, to get inside. It's really quite amusing to watch. There is a man-sized gate on the rear land side for feeding and occasional cleaning, I presume.
 
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Any updates?
 
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Maybe rethink the kiddies pool.
Stock troughs are available, poly ones can be readily drained and moved.
By using one, you can spread the poop all over .
mt45-2-300x300.jpg
poly stock trough
poly stock trough
 
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John C Daley wrote:Maybe rethink the kiddies pool.
Stock troughs are available, poly ones can be readily drained and moved.
By using one, you can spread the poop all over .



I wonder about an automated, daily drain system for such a poly-trough duck pond.  Perhaps automation could be accomplished in a similar manner to aquaponic systems using energy free bell siphons coupled with a trickle feed of fresh water coming in (spring fed, perhaps?)  Or perhaps a modified sump pump runs at a certain time each day, followed by a fresh water refill of the tank via a pond pump.  The discharged nutrients of course would go to some kind of useful plants, as Jay previously mentioned.  So that system would cover:
-The annoyance of draining the pool
-The need to get the ducks clean water
-The waste management of the duck waste
However, the trough (though nice and safe and manageable) isn't much of a "natural" playground for ducks and doesn't  seem to scale well.

Paula wrote:A local pond in my area of NC has a large, metal fence/kennel type box anchored to the land and stretches into the water almost halfway. It is open at the water so the ducks can swim in. Sometimes the opening is submerged; sometimes it's above waterline, depending on the rainfall. Waterfowl swim in or under, to get inside. It's really quite amusing to watch. There is a man-sized gate on the rear land side for feeding and occasional cleaning, I presume.



I love the simplicity!   I'm still thinking about scaling upwards, though.

As far as scaling duck paddocks to a greater area, there is some charm to the "Aqua-paddock" concept the OP is curious about.  The picture attached below is how I would go about it.  I would use PVC T-posts from the "Timeless Fence System" with jugs for buoyancy, cinder block for ballast, and cheap netting to prototype, with yellow poly-rope or 550 cord keeping it all together.  All the heights and depths of material would be easily adjustable.  Of course Cristo's concerns about aerial predators still remains if there is no tree cover for the ducks.  
Aquapaddock.png
[Thumbnail for Aquapaddock.png]
 
George Yacus
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Goals:
-Raising ducks for eggs/meat.
-Paddock shift.
-Leverage minnow and tadpoles as food source.

Constraints:
1) Don't like the idea of having to refill a kiddie pool constantly.
2) Manure management.
3) Freezing in the winter.
4) Don't want ducks to overharvest fish or frogs or plants.
5) Don't want to disturb the ecology of the 1/2 acre pond with too much manure.

Solutions:
A) Floating duck aqua-paddocks.  (As originally discussed)
Benefits are that it would be inexpensive and wouldn't require modification of the pond.  Paddocks could be semi-permanently laid out in gridwork all around the pond's edge.  Ecologically, if it works, it solves constrains 1-4, and it provides a very natural environment compared to a kiddle pool.  Detracting from this though, is that it's likely an untested prototype, so all sorts of exciting problems may arise, like constraint 5.  So let us know if you try it out!  

B) Increasing pond edge.
Instead of bringing the paddock inside the pond, a more textbook permaculture solution is bringing the pond inside the paddock.   In other words, adding more water-earth harmony (see chapter 13 of Mollison's PADM for inspiration).  The world could use more ponds, I say.  

Options could include lobes, peninsulas, chinampas, floating structures, islands, tanks, and the like.  This requires more upfront cost, energy, and design work, and may not be feasible for your site.  

There would still need to be a small, aquatic gate, unless some form of an underground pipe system is instead used to sequence ponds to one another.  This gate would be sized to keep the birds out, and to allow fish of a certain size in for harvesting.

Ancient fish trap patterns (not depicted in my doodle, but they resemble an arrow head, an Overbeck jet, or the core model pattern) could be incorporated so that fish are gradually congregating to their doom where the ducks will be rotated to next.  Logs and tree branches and whatnot (not pictured) give them a sporting chance and help the ducks enjoy the hunt, or at least I imagine.  I noticed once at my favorite pond's edges that nearly a dozen wild ducks loved to hide out underneath a giant fallen tree.  Watching them fly away was like watching clowns exit a tiny car, they just kept coming out.  So fallen trees may provide aerial predator protection for ducks, and underwater duck protection for fish.

Such setups could introduce a lot of beauty for sure.  The drawings look bland absent trees, floating plants, benches along the peninsula for seating, bridges, trellises over the chinampa, etc.  Plants being key.  The best thing, is that plants along the pond's edge add the benefit of more rapidly taking up nutrients from the localized duck paddocks, mitigating constraint number 5.   In return the plants provide shading, fruit, protection from aerial predators, trellising opportunities, etc.  Additionally, the "choke points" of the lobes and pipes might also aid in constraint 5 by keeping nutrients from flooding throughout the whole pond area at once.
developing-edge.png
[Thumbnail for developing-edge.png]
 
George Yacus
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Paula Hall wrote:A local pond in my area of NC has a large, metal fence/kennel type box anchored to the land and stretches into the water almost halfway. It is open at the water so the ducks can swim in. Sometimes the opening is submerged; sometimes it's above waterline, depending on the rainfall. Waterfowl swim in or under, to get inside. It's really quite amusing to watch. There is a man-sized gate on the rear land side for feeding and occasional cleaning, I presume.



Forgot to say: Welcome to the forum, Paula!

C) Aqua-kennel.

The thing I like most about Paula's aqua-kennel idea, is how easily portable and reconfigurable it is.  It could be very easily modifiable (scaleable, even) if a dog kennel is too small, or if fancier shapes are desired (i.e. incorporating a fish trap shape to the aqua-kennel).  

To design an aqua-kennel prototype for ducks, I would use Makerpipe and conduit to form a sturdy cage, then I would surround it with appropriate netting using removable zip ties.  Lastly I would mount a series of buckets around the frame to achieve buoyancy.  The cage would be placed at pond's edge, and be connected directly to existing paddock infrastructure.  It may be necessary to have some kind of anchoring device to prevent it from drifting.

A "greener" alternative would be to use bamboo or wood to build this cage, with simple lashings and netting sized to allow fish to swim in, but if beavers are a concern, they might nom on the wood and use it to construct dams.  

There is also the question of enticing the fish to come to where their predators are hanging out.  This could be achieved with solar garden lights dangled above the cage's top.  Night comes, the light turns on, and swathes of bugs fly to the light.  Fish swim to the bugs.  The next morning, ducks eat the fish.  Such lighting would also add an element of beauty to the cage.
aqua-kennel.png
[Thumbnail for aqua-kennel.png]
 
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