Friday, March 6, 2015

Duck Hutch Tutorial

Our friends have a farm that we visit often. And one day I was discussing with Becky, the farmer's wife, about how we were thinking about getting ducklings. She mentioned how her neighbors have a good set up for the ducks using hutches kind of like rabbit hutches. I asked her if she could set up a time for us to go over to see everything. And I'm so thankful that she did!

We went there the next week and met her neighbor, Heather. She was an older lady who was going through the process of learning to raise ducks and although she would tell you right away she wasn't an expert on them she was quick and willing to share what she had learned already. 

She took us to two pairs of ducks first. Each pair was in their own hutch. The pictures below are of the hutches themselves. She had two hutches on either side of a small garden. And I thought it was brilliant how she had a tub that had a plug to drain as their pool. Then whenever their water was dirty she just pulled the plug and the tub drained down a tube into the garden next to the cages. The best fertilized water ever!! 

She also showed us her brooder box for her ducklings, which were quickly growing. She did it all on plastic grate as well so that the poop falls right below and then every once in a while she just scoops it up and uses it as fertilizer for the garden. For the ducklings she did add a box on one side which had wood chips in it so they could keep warm. There were covers on the top of the box that she would put down at night so the lamp in the cafe would keep its warmth in. Otherwise, during the day she would keep them open for fresh air and sunshine.


We had a great time and even saw lots of her chickens too! We walked away with a dozen eggs and lots of knowledge about what our ducklings would need. Thank you Mrs. Heather for all your help!

Needless to say, we went and bought some ducks the next week. We kept them temporarily in the house for two weeks in an old dog crate but the smell started to get pretty bad. So, I pushed my husband a bit and he was able to make us a similar hutch. We still don't have a nesting box for them and since the weather has been a bit chilly we have been keeping them in the dog crate in the garage at night (no water to keep it from getting as smelly) but they are outdoors in their hutch all day. 

I'm writing this a couple weeks after we've had the hutch in effect and I have to say I love it! The only thing we did differently is that because of distance we just have a bucket under the drain to catch the water so no tube is necessary. But the ducks LOVE the water to swim in and their poops falls through pretty good. We used the 1/2 inch plastic fencing as the base and the door cover. We had some old table legs lying around and used those for the legs. The hardest part has been the latches for the door. We used they little key and eye hooks and they seem to work okay, but Ryan had to bend them a little bit to make sure they wouldn't come undone too easily. 

Now, as the ducks are getting older we let them out during the day to walk in the backyard and then we just put them back in their hutch when we go inside. This has been the best and easiest way I have seen to raise ducks in a small area. Hope you have enjoyed seeing what we do here on our residential household farm, ha!

Here are just some pictures of how my awesome husband made the hutch. It's pretty self explanatory but if you have questions just ask below in the comments.




 (Putting the door on. It's laying on it's side right now and the door is being placed on the top. We later had to reinforce the beams of the door to help them hold up to all the opening and closing with metal braces.)

 (Here it is right side up)

(Added legs on)

 (Drilling hole for the drain)

 (Added the sides of wood.)

 (All set up right by our garden.)

*Update: It's been about 5 months since we've had our ducks. Our hutch is holding up good. The thin wood we used has warped a little but we kind of knew that was going to happen. Also, we are trying to be consistent to wash off the table legs because their poop is sticking and looking gross on it. But otherwise, the ducks are doing well. They're trained now that when we open the cage in the morning they fly out for the day and we have a pool they can play in in our backyard. They stay out all day and we put them back in at night.

Heather Joy