Ducks are pretty easy animals to add to your farm. They don’t need much in terms of shelter – just a secure, safe place to retreat to. It can be a sectioned off corner of your barn or you can even house them in your chicken coop if you want to. I gave my ducks their own house for a couple reasons. First, my chicken coop is already pretty full of chickens. Second, ducks don’t roost up high when sleeping, they just bed down on the ground. I don’t want the ducks nesting under the chicken roosts and getting pooped on all night. But third and most important to me, is that ducks are just really wet. Chickens hate being wet and in the winter that moisture can leave them susceptible to frost bite. When ducks come in the house, they are often wet and their poop is wetter than chickens. Like chickens, they expel a lot of moisture when they breath. So I decided it was best for the chickens and ducks to just have separate homes, but they would be sharing a run. We sectioned off part of the chicken run where the ducks can splash and make a big ducky mess and the chickens can stay dry and happy.
What do ducks need in a house?
Ducks don’t need anything fancy. They don’t tend to like or use nesting boxes and they just sleep on the floor. Their house can just be a wooden box or old dog house that is at least 3 feet high, with 4 square feet of floor space for each duck you plan to have. In addition to the inside area, ducks will need a minimum of 10 square feet of secure outside space per duck (but I think 20 square feet per duck is MUCH more realistic). Ducks are large and somewhat awkward on land so you want to have a decent size door – about 14 inches wide and 12-14 inches tall. The house should either be on the ground or have a low ramp. You might need to add traction strips or a mat on the ramp to help wet, webbed feet navigate. Fill the house with plenty of straw for them to snuggle down into and for making a nest out of. The most important thing the duck house needs is ventilation. All that moisture needs to escape somewhere so be sure to add plenty of ventilation at the top of the house.
How we made our duck house
We have a pretty big scrap wood pile out by our shed so we decided to save money and build our duck house entirely out of scrap wood. Is it the most beautiful duck house ever? No, but it was nearly free and it keeps our ducks warm & safe so it works for me! We only plan on raising two ducks. Famous last words right? We are making our house 2 feet x 4 feet and about 4 feet high. We started by cutting out the floor and then the framework for the walls. We didn’t have any big sheets of plywood in our scrap pile, so we had to piece together smaller pieces to cover the walls. We laid everything out on the ground before screwing it all together. EDITED: I was right, we ended up adding onto our duck flock after just a couple months! Word to the wise, always go bigger! The original house & run are in the process of getting an expansion including a pool lanai – the things I do for my animals lol.
Once the pieces were all cut, we assembled the frame and screwed on the plywood. We attached the bottom of the back wall to the floor with hinges so we could have a large, drop down access door for cleaning and collecting eggs. Don’t forget you need to have human access to the house! We used a window sash lock & a spring loaded eye hook to keep the door closed and predator proof.
The chickens thought it was perfect just the way it is – no ducks needed.
Before we covered up the two ends, we attached some hardware cloth over the roof and down about 6 inches on one side for ventilation. To cover the sides, it got really tricky as we ran out of plywood scraps. But we had some random boards and some wood from an old swingset we had dismantled so we cut those down to size.
When we build our chicken run, the roof panels came in 10 foot lengths and we only needed them to be 8 feet, so we have a bunch of 2 foot ends hanging around. We attached these over the hardware cloth roof. The hardware cloth keeps it predator proof and the panels keep the rain out. The great part is because the panels are ridged, air can be exchanged in each ridge so it provides tons of ventilation. Additional ventilation comes in that 6 inch side we left open at the top of the left end.
To cover up the horrible gaps and imperfections that come with using scrap wood, we added some 1x4s (also from our scrap pile – I wasn’t kidding when I said it was a big pile!) on all the corners as trim. Then we used exterior caulking to seal all the edges so the house wouldn’t be drafty. Before final installation, we had all our work verified by “official” home inspectors and got the all clear.
Before we attached the house to the run, we painted it all the same blue as the chicken coop. It amazes me how transformative a simple coat of paint can be. Once all the boards and random pieces of wood were painted the same color, it didn’t look all that bad.
Our chickens have a nice, secure and spacious run. We decided to take a little of that for the ducks. Using 2x4s and chicken wire, we constructed a wall inside the run to separate the ducks. The wall doesn’t have to be predator proof because it is inside the run, it just has to keep the chickens out. The wall is 6 feet high but doesn’t quite reach all the way to the roof, and there is a 3 foot wide human door for us to get into the duck run for maintenance. Ducks and chickens both have similar outdoor space requirements. 10 square feet per bird is recommended as a minimum, but I recommend 20 square feet per bird. The duck area we walled off will be 44 square feet, just right for two ducks.
Once the run was set, we leveled some cinder blocks for the house foundation, cut a hole in the exterior wall wire for the duck door and screwed the wire in several places to the front of the duck house. We added a little ramp and everyone was good to go! We decided not to have a door we can close on the duck house. Ducks actually like to sleep outside, or at least have access to the outside at night. They are much more cold hardy than chickens. To not have a door is not practical for everyone, but the run our ducks are living in has a solid roof and hardware cloth buried 2 feet in the ground to stop digging predators so I feel safe letting them have outside access all the time. We also bring their food dish in at night to discourage any rodent visitors.
This duck house is not going to win any prizes for being the most beautiful, but the price was certainly right! The only thing we had to buy for the house was the window sash lock and hinges. Everything else was scrap lumber & wire. For the run, we had to buy seven 2x4s and hinges for the access door. The chicken wire we already had in the shed. All together it cost us around $25. There are still a few things I want to add. We found a huge 100 gallon stock tank on a yard sale site for just $60 so we picked that up, but I think it’s a little too big to keep in the run all the time. We are going to build a little sun deck and ramp for it in the garden for them to use when they are out free ranging. I do still want them to have access to swimming in their run, so I want to get a little kiddie pool for them to splash around in. I also want to add paver stones to part of the run to keep the feed & water dishes on to *try* and keep the water a little cleaner. **EDITED: the best thing we ended up doing afterwards was laying down peel & stick vinyl tiles on the floor and about 1 foot up each wall. Between their poop and all the mud & water they track in, it makes clean up so much easier and will save the wood from rotting