I was always fond of playing with geese and ducks that we kept when I was a kid. I never really thought about it much then, but there were a lot of things that we had to have to give the birds a good home. Upon contemplating what it would be like to raise them as an adult I discovered that there are some very useful items that make keeping a duck safe, practical and comfortable. Here are some of the most important kinds of equipment and aspects of land that you want for your duck’s environment.
Adequate Land and Space
After you have decided that you would like to keep a duck or more likely multiple ducks the first thing you should consider is if you have adequate land. Depending if the ducks will be roaming free indefinitely or housed in an animal shelter in the evening and night, you will have to make sure that you have enough space for them to live healthy and comfortably. If you are planning on having them in a fenced area indefinitely to protect them from predators 24 hours a day then make sure that you can fence in enough space of quality land for your ducks to have a quality life. A green area will be best with potential for a water area.
Most likely you at least plan to restrict your ducks from certain areas, such as your garden, or more likely you want to restrict other animals from your ducks. Thus you will have to have some fenced area. When designing your fenced area consider the length of time the duck are in there and determine how big it needs to be based on that. When placing the fence build it tall to keep predators from jumping over it, avoid using large wooden poles as many predators can climb them as if they were tree trunks, and when placing the fence dig into the ground so you can place fence underground to deter weasels from getting in. Likewise make sure predators cannot fit through the gaps in the fence.
Animal Building or Barn
To get out of the sun on blistering hot days or to refrain from standing in the pouring rain ducks need a shelter of some kind. This is typically a designated area in a barn or chicken coop, or a small coop all to themselves. Some people prefer to let their animals roam free until nightfall at which time they are placed in a comfortable out building where they can seek shelter from predators, cold nights and uncomfortable weather. Some people will have such a building fenced off with an open gate during the day so the ducks are free to come and go if they please.
Water Containers or Troughs for Fresh Drinking
Equally important to have are water containers. Water containers for ducks are not your typical water dish for an animal. Unlike the common dog water dish ducks need a dish that can cater to multiple fowl being able to submerge their heads as well as necks into the dish, or rather bucket. Water containers for birds’ drinking water also need to be heavy enough that they will not be tipped over by wind or the animals themselves. When filling up the water containers or troughs for your ducks remember to give them plenty of fresh water throughout the day and allow them to access fresh drinking water through the night. Farms with many ducks find success in use of an animal trough full of fresh water.
Since a pet duck or rather domestic duck is depending on its owners for its entire food supply it is crucial that you get the right kind of feed to keep your ducks healthy. It is very important that when feeding a duck the animal has access to water or that its food has been mixed with water. If a duck eats too much dry food and it later drinks water the food can swell causing the duck pain and discomfort and in extreme cases death. Duck food can be purchased at most feed stores and as long as it is made of natural, and ideally organic, ingredients and is fresh it will be fine for your ducks to eat. Feed bags are labeled with fresh dates so make sure you watch out for that. Also read the label to make sure the feed you are using is best for the ducks you have. Ducks who are laying eggs may require slightly different feed than what you normally give them. Inquire if you should mix the feed with water before offering it to your birds from the feed company or feed store where you got it.
These are just some of the key things to keep in mind when planning to raise ducks. By assessing what goes into raising ducks you can determine how you should prepare for them. By being prepared for their arrival you can begin providing them a safe home from the start. In the event that you do not have what it will take to accommodate the ducks’ needs you will be glad you assessed their needs. For more useful information on equipment and aspects of land that you want for your duck’s environment continue reading in part 2.