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Cheap DIY Duck Brooder

We recently got our first livestock: 45 Pekin ducklings!

A few things we've learned in our first week of duck ownership:

  1. They are truly messy animals. Although they are much tougher and healthier than baby chicks, they make an enormous mess with water. And their baby poops are quite large! We opted to try a hardware cloth floor to let poop fall through the holes...which worked for a few days, but then their poops got too big to fit 1/4" hardware cloth. They have been upgraded to 1/2" because our local store doesn't have 1" size.

  2. Hardware cloth floor is definitely the way to go (sawdust/woodchips they will eat), but you need to scrape poop off of it pretty regularly 1-2 times per day.

  3. We made our own waterers from scrap lumber, and they work much better than chicken waterers from a feed store. With the store-bought version, ducks make a mess, and the water is gone in minutes. With our design, they can't spill the water - their beaks just barely fit in it so there's less splashing. Plus, it's basically free!

  4. Our brooder was almost free, since we made it from scrap lumber. The vapor barrier and tape cost a small amount, but compared to the $300-500 brooder you can buy, we're pretty happy with ours. If you are only brooding 3 or 4 ducks then a plastic tote is probably the best brooder, but we are doing a significant amount of ducks.

  5. They will grow out of their first brooder (3 foot by 3 foot) within 4-7 days. All the credit for this DIY project goes to my hard-working husband, who spent many late nights building new brooders when they outgrew their old one. We were shocked at the speed of their growth!

  6. They need to have sufficient space or they will start to peck each other.

  7. Pekin ducks can be a little skittish at first, but they now run to us and allow us to hold them without squawking (for the most part). They are sweet and funny to watch. It is such a joy to have poultry, and has been a dream of this city girl for a long time!

The above photo was before we made custom feeders and waterers. The waterer we bought made a mess within minutes so we got creative. Using our custom smaller feeders around the perimeter- they had more space! We had to transition slowly to the wooden waterers as they had trouble finding them after we took away the white and red store-bought feeders. But by day 3 they loved the custom wooden waterer and feeders!

I love sharing our homesteading adventures, and I do it entirely for free. I would be very grateful if you supported our family of five by buying a monthly membership to my site (psst: tasty recipes & all my books!) or by purchasing one of my books! Grow a Salad in Your City Apartment is my newbie gardener book, and it will give you specific sources for pots, advice on organic potting soil, and my favorite easy plants to grow. I also interviewed a fruit gleaner who shares her wisdom on approaching folks to let you harvest their fruit for free!

Thank you for following along in our imperfect journey 🙏

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