Runner Ducks Auxilary Space

I took pictures of everything and every detail that I thought might help others to build a functional and easy to live with environment for their ducks.  There are more than 30 pictures here, so get comfortable.


When I set out to build our first fence here, the house was merely a foundation.  I had never dreamed of keeping poultry of any kind.  I had 4 dogs and the cleared space over the septic field seemed like the obvious place for the dog yard.  Past that, I didn't give the future use of the land another thought.
Our house is located to the west of the H duck yard.  That yard was originally another dog yard where a tiny corner next to the house is still used for the house dog.  Woods come right up to the northern side of the H duck yard and the current dog yard because we have neighbors very close to us on that side.  The rest of the duck yards are at least 20 feet from the woods' edge, with the eastern and southern sides bordering the rest of our little 1/2 acre meadow.
I believe the close proximity of my dogs to the duck night pen is the greatest factor in the safety of my birds.  Additionally, any predator would first have to get past my outer 4 foot high perimeter fence.  It also doesn't hurt to have a husband who not only works at home, but also always has an ear tuned to the sound of the birds.  He investigates all cries for help.  Having a goose in the flock who believes most of the ducks are her children has also worked out well.  More than once, my husband has found the goose sounding the arlarm over a cat trying to figure out the best mode of entry into the yard.  She had sent her children into the night pen in the process.  So I guess my Dad's military background rubbed off on me and gave me an appreciation for multiple lines of defense.  My only real fear now is hawks.  We have had as many as 4 circling and screaming this year.  I have the utmost respect for birds of prey, so I will be crushed if they steal a duck.  Hopefully, it won't come to that.  Hopefully, they'll get a taste for cat and help keep my birds safe.
(Don't get me wrong, cats are fine as long as they're not stalking and killing birds.  I have one of my own.  IN THE HOUSE - ALWAYS.)
OK - you do need to know your local predators and build accordingly.
  Let's get on with the tour . . .


I'm standing out in the BF yard looking west back across the dog yard and the OD yard.  You can see where last year's grass growing efforts quit just in front of me.  I had originally planned the BF yard to be only half the size it is.  Wisdom prevailed and I enclosed that whole corner of the meadow.  Now I can just use 2 foot high fencing to move the ducks around when I get back to planting grass.  Meanwhile, they have that much more space, even if it's weeds.  They don't mind, bugs are everywhere.  And runners need plenty of space to get exercise and forage.


Approaching the duck night pen building from the house side.  Both pen doors are open here.  That allows the ducks access to their food all day.  The gate nearest me that is latched on the side of the pen, has 3 positions to help direct traffic.  Closed as it is now, it keeps ducks in the N yard.  Open completely lets everybody run everywhere.  But it can also be latched to block the walkway.


Standing in the N yard looking uphill at the back of the duck night pen.  This is the nursery yard because it has immediate access to the pen by way of a small door to the middle room.  And it has plenty of trees for nap-time camouflage.  It even has a small pool.  Notice the 4 foot fence to your left and the 2 foot fence to your right.  The black pipe heading for your feet is to prevent the pool water from gushing out and ruining the grass.  The lower half is the slotted kind of pipe, so most of the water gently seeps out as it goes.  I move it around a little to let more grass get it's benefits.


Standing in the P yard looking back at the night pen.  I have a temporary panel blocking the walkway because there is a pair of ducks in the OD yard for the day and they get access to the pen.  The ducks in the P yard have food out in the yard.  Note the fence around my corkscrew willow so the ducks can't rumage through the mulch and expose its roots.


A duck's eye view of the one of the rooms in the night pen.  The nest box has an opening on each side - divided into 2 sections.  The bins on top are for feed, but they also add height when I have the pens divided for planned parenthood.  And they serve to keep Double Spot from jumping on top of the box.  She made herself lame when jumping down in the past.  With the nest box in the middle of the floor, the lower ranking ducks have something to hide behind if they get chased by the upper ones.  Unfortunately, they can also evade humans who wish to capture them.  Runners are quick when they know you want to catch them.  Best to block off their escape first.  Also, remove obstacles like the water buckets.  They will flail right over them if you don't and may injure themselves.  At night, most of the ducks can be found laying beside the wall or bellied up to the water buckets.


My basic night pen layout.  In case of really bad weather, they stay inside, but they have all basic needs met.  A note on cleaning the pen:  I follow a little routine to try to maximize the life of the bedding.  The wet bedding around the water buckets gets removed.  Any spilled food is removed.  Then I lightly rake up the droppings on the surface of the entire pen floor and remove that.  Then I stir and rake everything, pulling the semi-used bedding towards the water area so that next week the oldest bedding will also be the wet/removed bedding.  Then the bedding from the nest boxes gets pulled out and any big globs of poop removed.  (My birds live year-round with their nest boxes, so they sleep in them as well as lay eggs in them.)  Since I have "handled" every inch of bedding at this point, it is unlikely that there will be any overlooked eggs in the pen.  Now I bring in clean bedding for the nest boxes and the bare areas furtherest from the water.  I also put new bedding in any corner they have ever used to lay eggs in.  This way, my eggs are as clean as possible no matter where they get desposited. 
One other thing, keep an eye out for any bedding that might show signs of mold and remove it promptly.  If in doubt - throw it out!  Molds and fungi can be life-threatening.


Here's how I control the flow of traffic between rooms.  There are 2 of these in each divider wall.  With all lift-doors open, the ducks have free passage within the entire night pen.  If I want to split things up, it only takes a second.  I used 1/2 inch plywood for the door.  Then 5/8 inch plywood as spacers behind the 2 x 4's that form the tracks.  The weight of the wood itself keeps it closed.  Again, several rooms makes it possible for the lower ranking birds to hide from the uppers.  It also gives me more wall space to hang feeders.  So, most of the year, all lift-doors are open.



Just something you might want to think about.  How will YOU get out of the pen if the door blows closed?  The gate latches are really great until you're on the inside with no way to reach them.  The picture on the left is a piece of copper wire threaded through a hole in the 2 x 4.  The one on the right is a piece of good strong contactor's stringline.  I threaded it through the 2 x 4  and then used a poultry netting staple to route the string up where the birds can't reach it.  Could get pretty cold or hungry waiting for someone to rescue you . . .

MUCH more to come, so please check back later.  I'm uploading and typing as fast as I can!!

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This page last updated April 13, 2004.

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