I thought I’d share some detailed shots of our duck house for those of you who are contemplating backyard ducks and for those who are simply curious! As I mentioned yesterday, we found a cedar dog house kit at Home Depot recently and decided this was the easiest solution, especially since we also need to build a permanent abode for the chicks as well. We stained the exterior to protect the wood from the elements as we have snow and ice in the winters, hot dry desert heat in the summers, and some rain during the spring and fall. To protect the ducks, we need to lock them up at night. So, a door hinged at the floorboard of the house was constructed. It doubles as a short ramp when opened. We also have two different types of security latches on the door to impede those clever racoons. Its really important to know who your local predators are and to be as prepared as possible.
Unlike chickens, ducks are not pestered by the tiny mites that can hide in untreated wood (for those of you without chickens, these mites are known for infesting and biting chickens). That means that staining or painting their home interior isn’t really necessary. However, ducks do still poop and pee (from my observation it comes out in one package!) which means the flooring of a duck house needs to be somewhat waterproof in order to keep it as clean as possible. The easiest and most economical way to solve this problem is to purchase cheap vinyl tiles that already have an adhesive. We bought our tile at Home Depot for 79 cents a square foot. They were easily cut with a utility knife to fit inside the house. Not every inch is covered, but its good enough in my book! And, it was great to have our tiniest Sprout to install them. If I had it to do over again, I’d adhere the tiles before building the house!
Since our girls are free ranging on grass, dandelions, and bugs during the day there is really no need to keep food and water in the house during the night. They would probably knock everything over anyways as they can be quite clumsy. They are not really even eating the chicken layer feed (always use pellets as the mash can choke them) we leave out during the day right now. I’m sure their needs will change with the seasons, though, and we will make adjustments as needed. They will, however, snack on the wheat berries right now. We cover the bottom of a terracotta planter plate with the berries and then cover them with water. Ducks always need water with their food to aid with digestion. Never give them food without a water source nearby!
Once your house is ready, how do you get the ducks in there? Thankfully, a pair isn’t as difficult to herd as an entire badelynge. You need to have a vocal signal that they will come to recognize over time and use that only when putting them to bed at night. Sticking with our children’s literature theme for our feathered friends, we decided that the call used in Marjorie Flack’s The Story About Ping :” La-la-la-la-lei”. As we are calling them we “herd” them by walking behind them and sometimes waving our arms until they head in the right direction. They are getting the hang of it, but sometimes we still have to corner them and just pick them up, hold them football style, and take them to the house. As with most animals, the main objective is to train them by sticking to a routine they will learn to expect!