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Looking for Duck Expert help Please....  RSS feed

 
Hannah L Custer
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Looking For some Tried Proven Ground cover ideas to prevent BumbleFoot. I have a Few Ducks that have developed spots on their Feet, they are being treated. I think they are cutting themselves on some (new) Pit run dirt I put in to help with drainage in low soup spots in their (Clay) Yard. It worked Really well last year but I found some sharp crushed rocks, and don't know what else it could be. They eat very well, are kept clean(for ducks) I'm afraid putting straw, or mulch over those areas would create a mold problem, It can get moldy around pool area Quick, I have to stay on top of it. Have (Read) sand can create disease issues in smaller spaces,(not to mention won't break down if I have to haul it out) but not sure out in open how it would do for breeding bacteria? I mean Ducks live at beaches Right? They are fenced in For Their Safety, We live in North MN, and have Neighbor Dogs that wont stay out. However I Try To give them plenty of Run room, and am Expanding, they Own the Back yard, and Moving them is not an option. The thought that Came to mind is Ducks in the Wild don't get bumble so what Do We need to change to keep them healthy And Safe. Am looking For Someone Out there Who has experience With owning Ducks For a While, and what is used for your outdoor Ground cover without issues? Please and ThankYou!!
 
Libbie Hawker
Posts: 102
Location: Friday Harbor, WA
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chicken food preservation hugelkultur
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Hello! I'm a former zookeeper and I have worked with all kinds of waterfowl, including just about every duck species you can imagine, in the past.

It is true that ducks tend to live in swampy or riparian areas, with lots of mud underfoot...but in the wild, they are able to move around freely and stand on all kids of surfaces throughout the day. In an enclosure, they're limited to one or maybe two standing surfaces due to their dabbling behavior ("chomping" in shallow water/sloppy mud, which tends to quickly make more mud...and more mud...and more. I'm sure you've seen this first-hand!)

As you noted, adding straw and other vegetative matter to the muddy areas will most likely cause mold, which can be a health issue for them. (But they will enjoy playing with the occasional load of straw, so offer it now and then.) Instead, I'm going to recommend a not-very-organic solution. We used it all the time with captive waterfowl in zoos. Get some of that green plastic Astroturf-like "fake grass" stuff from the hardware store. They sell it in big rolls, and you can have them cut pieces to your specific size needs. Get two or three pieces at least, which you can rotate out of their enclosure every day or every other day. You can put down a mat in the most relatively dry spot you can find (maybe under a heat lamp, if you have one) and the ducks will stand on it. The little plastic "grass blades" are sturdy enough to keep their feet up out of the damp. This will give them some relief from standing in wet areas all day, every day, and it should allow any abrasions on their feet to heal so you don't get the infections that cause bumblefoot.

The "grass" mats are easy to take care of--you can just spray them with a high-pressure hose (your thumb over the nozzle, old zoo trick!) to remove feces and other debris. Pick the soaking-wet mat up and beat it against a sturdy structure of some kind (the side of a garden shed, maybe.) that will get most of the excess water out and knock out any debris the hose couldn't get. Then hang the wet mats over a fence or similar structure to dry in the sun. The UV rays from sun exposure will kill any excess bacteria or viruses hanging around in the mats. Let them dry thoroughly between uses, so you don't expose the ducks' feet to more bacteria--especially important if they have active infections or breaks in the skin. This hosing/sun-drying process is why you should get a few mats and rotate their use regularly.

Good luck!
 
Hannah L Custer
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Thank You!!! They are not completely Cured, But Looking MUCH better after Tricide Neo Soaks, no cutting. I hope to not have to use antibiotics in the future, (we were trying natural remedies) if we can prevent in the 1st place. Out of desperation I did lay some straw out over the rough areas in thin Layers so it can breath, and it seems to be breaking down, and lovely Grass and Weeds are pushing through the hard Surface I will take your advice, thinking even if have to use mats in 1st of spring every year when snow melts, but not quite ready for grass to pop up. I think that was the problem, going from soft wet snow to a Hard rough surface. They have plenty of grass in outer areas but rather hang out near their house. And I'm sure the hard area was nice and warm, holding heat from sun. You're the Best! Have a wonderful Weekend!
 
Libbie Hawker
Posts: 102
Location: Friday Harbor, WA
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chicken food preservation hugelkultur
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I'm glad to hear they're doing better!
 
Nicole Alderman
pollinator
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Location: Pacific Northwest
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duck forest garden hugelkultur
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Not an expert here (3 years of duck keeping), and my ducks have a pretty large enclosure (1,700sqft for the 11 of them) and get to free range sometimes, so I don't have the same pressures as you. But I found that my ducks do not eat daikon radishes or the herb plantain. They also don't seem to be able to destroy blackberries/salmonberriers/raspberries/thimbleberries. These plants also do really well in wet areas (I don't know about clay soil as I have gravely loam soil here). You could try planting some upright cane fruit around the wet areas to add soil stability, natural mulch when the leaves drop, microorganisms in the soil, and fruit from the berries (the plants seem to thrive on duck poo).

I'm glad your ducks seem to be doing better!
 
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