My main question is about my use of duck pondwater on a wood-chip/compost pile. Any foreseen drawbacks? Ideas on how to make this power free or gravity fed?
My wife and I have 7 south american muscovy ducks along with 5 chickens and two turkeys living in the back 1/10 acre plot of my pie shaped 1/2 acre property. They are free to roam away from the maples, plums, pears, apples and garden beds I have in that plot but stay within my 4-6' fences and always roost in the 300sq ft greenhouse I converted to a coop with an 120 sq ft outdoor aviary extension. We have a great pyrenees-akbash that grew up with the flock, and while I have allowed him to be quite the people dog we have had no predation beside 2 ducklings as of yet (knock on wood), despite apple orchards attracting black bears (we see scat next door) and lots of cougars and other predators in this area on the redwood coast of California. I also credit the turkeys with being wary of raptors and the ducks aren't wimpy either.
So, I started with two ducks and when the ducklings came(keeping 5 out of 13) along I improved their bath setup with an old 4'x4'x8"deep hydro bed/pool with a pondpump running into another 35 gallon tub (2ft deep) that overflows back into the wider pool. I had been using their bath water (inoculated with bokashi) as a starter for compost tea with great results so I expanded this around the garden by pumping/syphoning the 50gallons or so of pond water I was getting when I rinsed the tubs every 3 days or so. Any excess, and now with winter most of the pond water, goes to the 18cubic yardmulch pile I have out front (down slope next to where the main, full sun garden is with hugelculture beds). This pile, that started with evergreen and tanoak woodchips from a landscaper neighbor, also receives any compost my birds shouldn't eat in addition to spent potting soil from tomatoes etc. After 4-6 months of this I am now spreading it all over the property as much as I can with limited ability to use anything bigger than a wheelbarrow in most of the back. It has nice fungal roots and got pretty hot in the middle but still looks like broken down woodchips and should be great mulch in my estimation for anything that produces flowers or fruit (duck manure has an npk of .8-1.4-.5). I am avoiding using the hotter/more fertilized stuff on nasturtiums etc or seedlings, but otherwise it is going almost everywhere, especially my 3, soon to be 5 hugelkulture beds. One thing I love is how the mama duck has taught her young her trick of dropping any dried out food, fruit peels, or bread into the water to soak and then eat later, which makes for great tea!
I don't have any suggestions, but I'm going to BUMP this thread so I can follow it to find out more! My ducks poo in pine shavings, and I've been using those to build a lazagna/hugel garden bed, but I don't know how balanced it will be. I'd love to see more information about this!
Probably not the kind of drawback you were thinking of, but some dogs will gleefully roll around and coat themselves in duck excrement. I honestly have no idea why. But I suspect that this might be a primal instinct to cover themselves in the scent of their prey. Anyhow, you might want to keep the mulch away from any public spaces for the sake of your neighbors.
Location: Flathead, Montana
posted 2 years ago
Also, if it helps, this is how I manage mine. I use a deep litter system with pine shavings in my coop for a mixed flock of chickens, ducks, and geese. The waterfowl would pack it down into a brick, if not for the chickens, who happily turn it over, with a bribe of scratch grains. I'm not stingy; I don't enjoy part-timing as a chicken! Anyhow, the resulting mixture is already well on its way to compost by the time I remove it from the coop. It gets an additional use as part of the cover in the coop yard, supplemented with piles of straw, hay, grass clippings, trimmings, weeds, and/or whatever else is available. The flock doesn't spend much time in the yard, expect in the worst of winter, but they've still managed to denude the area around the coop :( Finally, it all gets used as mulch in the orchard and the garden. I have no concerns using it directly on the fruit trees, but I tend to be cautious and let it sit for a season before adding it to the vegetable beds. I also keep eight pools out on the pasture for the waterfowl. I move these daily and empty them in place. This has been nothing but a positive for the pasture. Of course, I am moving these pools around ten acres, so concentration has never even been a consideration for me.
Thanks all, I would have already posted pics but my most recent version would have the backdrop of a landscape that has gotten over 12" of rain in the past 14 days, and it is the middle of winter so it will look pretty downtrodden but nonetheless...I will add pics soon