If you are short of trouble, take a goat. ~Finnish Proverb
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Apr 06

How to Build a Duck or Chicken Run

  • Posted by Jo Allison

A guest post from our workcamper, Jo!

As always, building the duck enclosure was a learning experience. And, as grandma said, education isnt free. We made several mistakes that cost us money and time. While it is completed and we are quite happy with it now, there are a few things I would do differently if I was building another pen.

  • Don’t be in a hurry. Who new that pekin ducks grow faster than Gremlins in the shower and smell just as bad? Needless to say we were very eager to relocate the ducklings to an outside facility. As a result we didn’t spend much time planning and often were frustrated because we were rushing to get things done.

  • Build in stardard shapes like a square or rectangle. This is so clear in hindsight. However at the time we were excited to find a use for an oddly shaped corner of the backyard. Since we wanted to have as much duck space as possible, we conformed the pen to the space. It ended up being sort of teardrop shaped. This resulted in weird angles, overlapping wire and extra supplies. It cost both time and money.
  • The floor is important. We decided that the floor of the pen would remain dirt in an effort to reduce the amount of time spent cleaning poop. Its also better for the ducks as wire can cut their feet. That said, no floor means that all of our teardrop pen’s sides had to extend at least a foot under ground. Otherwise predators will just dig under the sides and eat your flock. I dug a trench for the wire once and then we moved things a bit, so the trench had to be moved as well. Did I mention that this corner of the yard is full of oak trees with ginormous root systems? We ended up burying wire in spots and using concrete and rebar in others. Effective I think but a lot of work.
  • To save yourself some trouble space your posts at 8 or 10 foot intervals. Because of our odd shape we had to cut every single board.
  • Smaller bags of concrete are easier to work with. Also, if you are just using concrete to set posts, you can pour the dry concrete around the post and then wet it. Premixing in a tub is not necessary.
  • Add a little extra to your budget because you will either forget something, break something or need more of something.
  • Inside doors are made for inside. I decided to save us some time by using a premade door instead of building one. I figured if I painted it everything would be fine. Didnt work and Tom had to build a door anyway.
  • Working with wire, particularly overhead is challenging to say the least. We used 1 inch wire for the sides and roof of the pen. We stapled and nailed it to the wood frame. It makes for a secure pen but its hard work and tiring to hang.

Was it worth it? Yes. We now have a safe and secure pen that allows plenty of room for the ducks and their house. It is larger and far sturdier than anything we would have bought at the store. I’m actually quite proud of it. There are just a few things I would do differently. Hopefully you can benefit from our experience.

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