Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Best Bedding Materials For Waterfowl

Ducks and geese use more bedding (or litter) than chickens as their droppings are wetter and they make more of a mess with their drinking water.  Therefore, you may be adding bedding on a daily basis if you have a high concentration of birds in your pens.  Bedding can become an expensive part of your hobby or business due to the cost of the material and the labor to add and remove it.

No matter what type of bedding you use, you must ensure it has no mold in it and it stays dry before use.  The moisture from ducks and geese can produce a perfect environment for mold growth in your bedding.  Aspergillosis, the most common mold, can be devastating in a flock of poultry if it starts growing in your bedding.


Shavings
Shavings is a very good bedding.  If it is dry, it does an excellent job of absorbing moisture.  It is also easy to clean out of your building - whether with a shovel or a tractor.  Unfortunately it is fairly expensive.  It can be purchased in bulk (loose) if you use large quantities or in bundles if you don't.  There are different qualities of shavings - the best is dry and in thin slices.  Thicker chunks of wood do not absorb moisture as well and do not break down in the soil as fast either.  We have used a variety of woods with no apparent difference among them.   We have even used redwood with our laying ducks - though that tends to stain the eggs which is not good if you are selling the eggs for eating!

You do not want to use shavings with large amounts of sawdust if it is for day old birds.  They may eat the shavings which does not provide them any needed nutrients and may kill them if it swells in their gut and blocks all passage.  This is rarely a problem with ducklings or goslings over one week of age.  If shavings are expensive and straw is cheap, put the shavings in the nests and straw in the pen as clean eggs are critical whether you are eating them or hatching them.


Straw
Straw is the most common type of bedding used.  The advantage of straw is that is is typically inexpensive and available almost everywhere.  Ducks and geese also love to dig through freshly spread  straw looking for unharvested grain and other tidbits.  The two main disadvantages of straw are that it is more difficult to remove from a building and it does not absorb moisture well.  We have chopped it in the past and this helps with both of these problems (see the picture above).  By chopping the straw, you are exposing more cut stem which can better absorb moisture and by making smaller pieces it easier to remove from your pen.

In our outdoor goose nests, we use a combination of straw and wood shavings.  If we only use straw, it does not absorb moisture well.  If we use shavings only, the geese dig through it to make their nest and the eggs end up being laid on dirt and all the shavings are outside the nest.


Rice Hulls
The use of rice hulls is common wherever rice is grown.  It is also typically inexpensive but does not absorb moisture well and can be difficult to use because it blows easily.  In my opinion, the critical necessity of rice hulls is that it is clean and mold free.  Of course all bedding must be mold free but the two times we have tried rice hulls (because wood shavings were not available in the winter) we have experienced mold problems in our duck eggs.  As soon as we started bedding with rice hulls, we were candling out an additional 10-15% of our eggs due to mortality form mold growing in the eggs.  However, many people use rice hulls so it all depends on the cleanliness of your rice hull suppy.


Newspaper
Some feed stores sell bales of chopped or shredded newspaper.  The advantage of processed newspaper is that it absorbs moisture very well.  The disadvantage is that it does not hold its form when it gets wet.  It can become a very slick, wet surface with excess moisture.  When we were chopping our straw before for our duck buildings, we would chop a bale of straw and then a stack of newspaper.  The straw provided a fluffy structure and the newspaper did a good job of absorbing moisture. It was an excellent combination.


Ground Corn Cobs
Though we have not tried this product, we have read it can be used successfully for poultry bedding.  As this is ground into a variety of sizes, it has been recommended that you use the smaller sized pieces, 1/4" or less.  It has been shown that ground corn cobs will absorb more moisture per pound than shavings, straw, leaves or newspaper.


Other Products
We sell our manure/bedding to a composter and he suggested we try a product he gets from municipal green waste sites.  After branches and leaves and other plant materials are chopped, the material is screened by size.  We are now trying the smallest sized material.  The sample we received is dry but heavy.  He hopes we can use it as the pieces are smaller than shavings and break down more completely in his composting process - enabling him to make a more salable product.  In addition, it is much less expensive for us than wood shavings.  We will let you know how this product works.

Research has been done on cotton milling waste and leaves, with both showing promise as a poultry litter, too. 

Final Bedding Criteria
Absorbs moisture
Must be free of molds
Keep dry before use
Easy to handle and use
Is not harmful to the birds if it is eaten
Will decompose once it is removed from your pens

What works well for you and why?

83 comments:

  1. We use corn cobs and shavings for our bedding. The cobs help keep our Ducks cleaner, but it also works very well with soaking up water. Ducks may be very messy, but they are so worth all the effort.

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    1. I use dog crate trays in my ducks coop under their feeding area..and wood shavings in their nesting area..the trays keep the water contained to the one area inside their coop easy to clean up also I use a tank style dog watering dish which allows the ducks to get their beaks under the water alot easier..they also have a filter which is easy to replace that keeps the water fresher and the dish isn't big enough for them to swim in lol

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  2. We use peat moss for our bedding, topped with a thin layer of hay or straw for easy cleanup. I haven't found anything as absorbant as peat and there several other qualities to recommend it. We get more bang for our buck with it than anything else we've tried. If this new media that you are trying works as well as peat moss, you will be very pleased with it. I am interested in how well it performs and guestimate on the ph of the soiled litter.

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    1. Peat, however, is an ecologically iffy choice. It is not an easily renewable resource, just like oil. A more suitable alternative might be coir. Many people in the landscaping and plant growing industries are turning to it rather than peat, but I don't know how well it absorbs moisture.

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    2. There is a product that looks like it will be coming to market called pitmoss which is an eco-friendly alternative to peat moss that is derived from recycled newspaper and other organic materials. As of yet it's only available commercially but it's something to keep an eye out for in the future.

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  3. Raising my first batch of ducklings, I used shavings, but I was shocked at how much water the ducklings would splash from the waterer onto the floor. No way the shavings could absorb it all. I was changing litter twice a day! This was in a large cardboard box in my basement.

    After a few weeks, the birds were put outdoors into housing with straw bedding separate from the waterers. Straw seems to be working fine, and will be better in the compost pile than shavings.

    Bottom line for beginners, either provide drainage for waterers, or use some sort of nipple system, or you will have a real mess no matter what bedding you use.

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  4. Here in the northeast I use pine bedding pellets. I think they are without a doubt the best, most absorbent, and least expensive bedding I have ever used...and not just with poultry.

    Typically I fluff the bedding up once a day and change it once a week. As the pellets absorb moisture they break down and expand but still keep things dry. It also helps if your flooring has really good drainage and your waterer is outside.

    The pellets also compost down very quickly and do not take up much room in storage. I use a pellet designed as horse bedding however I know lots of people use pellet stove pellets with equal success. If they are available in your area it may be worth it to give them a try!

    www.sachemfarm.com

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    1. hiya lucas ime also from the north east where can i buy these pellets from and roughly how much are they? i have 4 very messy ducks so ide love to try these kind regards jacqui

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    2. I would check with your local feed store. As they are not sold near us, I do not know the cost.

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    3. Tractor Supply stores mostly all carry the pelleted bedding in the equine section. The bags run around $5.00 for 40 lbs.

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    4. I do cat & dog rescue, and have used these pellets for years as cat litter. They seem to be the same as the expensive pine cat litters, but the type sold as stable bedding is so much cheaper. I have not tried them with my ducks as I worry they will try to eat them -- I use a pelletized feed for my ducks as they are super messy with the crumble-textured feeds. Have you had a problem with your ducks trying to eat the pine pellets?

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    5. Typically birds only eat inappropriate things the first couple days of their life. After that they seem to know better what to eat and what to avoid. So I would not worry about using pine pellets for poultry bedding.

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    6. Hmm....Pine Shavings? I've always questioned using this because a lot of places treat it with chemicals, which is obviously a no no....the heat from the brooder lamp releases fumes = obviously not good for the ducks. Mr. Metzer, do you have any comment about this?

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    7. Our shavings are not treated with anything. I am not sure what your pine shavings would be treated with or why. I would want to find out what the chemical is before use.

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    8. I have 6 week old cayugas moved from the brooder into a pen in the garage until thier forever home is finished. We put pine shavings in and watched them and they are eating it i saw it dissapear so not just tasting it. I'm concerned thinking I should change thier bedding. There almost full grown most of thier adult feathers are in now. I thought it would be I'm nervous. And the feed says stay on starter grower feed until 10 weeks, but I read switch to lower protien until 4 to 6 weeks? Getting mixed reviews. Thier legs were wobbly I added brewers yeast and that straightened out. Do I continue the yeast for niacin or stop? So 3 questions, bedding, age to switch feed, and brewers yeast. These are my first cayugas unsure what to do I hear too many different opinions. I'm completely in love with them so I would hate to hurt them. So far no angel wing or splay legs. Fingers crossed. Only thing odd is the one guy has diarrhea. .. :/ I tried apple cider ginger but it didn't seem to help. Suggestions? Anything will be useful here thanks

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    9. Hi guys. I have cayugas. I'm new at this bear with me. I have a few questions. There 6 weeks old adult feathers almost completely in they moved today from the brooder into a pen in garage until there outdoor pen is completed. They are eating, not playing, with the pine shavings. I'm a nervous wreck there going to choke or die from it. That's my first issue. Second my one guy has has diarrhea for a bit off and on. I tried apple cider vinegar in the water, didn't help. Then they had shaky legs so I put twin lab brewers yeast powder mixed in starter grower feed and it stopped. Do I continue to brewers yeast for the niacin? Or do I stop now? I was told at 4 to 6 weeks due to protien to switch to next step up 16% protien crumbles but the bag (dumor) says to switch at 10weeks.. I get alot of mixed opinions. Unsure what to do about all of these issues. Any input helps. Thanks I'm lost I spend hours on the sites looking for help but there all different. ..

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    10. We feed a 21% protein starter for three weeks and then switch to a 16-17% protein grower feed until it is time for them to start laying. If your feed does not have at least 60ppm niacin, I would continue with the brewer's yeast. You will have to contact the mnfr to learn the level of niacin as it is rarely on the bag (the feed company does not want to put anything more on their bag than what is required). If they are eating the shavings they must be missing something in their diet or are extremely bored. I would give them hay or cut up vegetables or let them outside to better occupy them. I would also consider changing the source of your feed. The one with the diarrhea will probably heal itself.
      Enjoy!

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  5. I receive a poultry magazine from England, Practical Poultry, and in a recent issue was an ad for a litter made from chopped and pelletised straw. I don't know of a similar product in North America. Does anyone else? It might be a very effective bedding. The website of the UK product is www.smartbedz.co.uk

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    1. My laying ducks are all outside in a pen. I am installing a 10x17 portable garage with shavings to hopefully have them lay their eggs in there and keep the eggs cleaner. i am having a terrible time figuring out how to keep the mud and water out of the laying nests, when it rains. i have dog houses and other type things with straw in them for the laying but the ducks are so muddy when they go in, everything gets soaked and muddy.

      I am in KY which it rains here about 4-8 months out of the year. Does anyone have any suggestions to go along with the garage tent? the pen is about 20' wide and 70' long. I put down rock fabric, rock then sand for a floor that allows it to be washed out pretty easily. But it is still muddy - some comes from different places outside the pen etc. If i made a wire floor entry way to the tent would that help do you think? Any suggestions would be appreciated

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    2. Can you keep them under the portable garage when it rains? How many ducks do you have? You can keep 45-50 ducks under the garage 24/7. Only let them out from that when it dries up in their run. Just keep it well bedded in their night pen. Make sure you keep it dry around their waterer with a wire or plastic floor so any slop goes out of reach.

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  6. I get Practical Poultry from our local Tractor Supply and love it ! I use straw in my duck house and in their night run. I clean out the house and spread the straw out in the run on sunny days to dry it out because it does get pretty wet. But I find that once it dries out in the sun, I can put it back in and they have a nice dry place to sleep.


    Lisa
    Fresh Eggs Daily

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    1. What is practical poultry made from? and doesn't mold

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    2. Practical Poultry is a poultry magazine that is sold in Tractor Supply stores. Lisa was responding to the previous comment about the magazine and how she had seen a poultry bedding product in the magazine.

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  7. I raise mallard ducks and find that corn stalks work very well for bedding. you may need to add them every day with a large number of ducklings but its affordable.One 1000lb bale of stalks will bed down a 1000 duckings until they are old enough to go outdoors.You can get 1000 lb bales directly from the farmer for less than 50 dollars.

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  8. We are awaiting(very anxiously!)the arrival of four female runner ducklings that we have ordered from Metzer's. We picked up a bale of crushed corn cob bedding we had planned to use but a person at the country store said she thought the ducklings would eat it because it looks too much like the duckling crumbles. Is she right and if so, will it hurt our little girls if they do eat it. What do the rest of you use for bedding with the little ducklings?

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  9. i put down a limestone sand and i can wash it off and it works well. but not sure if the ducks like it or not. i am trying different things for the nesting areas so that the eggs stay cleaner. seems like they always find the one muddy spot to pick up dirt in. i am trying rubber mulch right now. anyone have any luck with that. it can be hosed off. our pens are outside so it is harder to keep things clean.

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  10. WHAT you choose for bedding is not nearly as important as how you manage it. Your work will be minimized when you create a space for your poultry that closely mimics their natural environment.
    1. The floor of your duckhouse should be dirt. That way any extra water soaks into the ground. However, ducks can go all night without water, so placing their waterers outside makes far more sense.
    2. Use what you have on your property if possible. Trucking in outside resources wastes money, time, and energy. Dried leaves in the fall and winter and dried grass clippings in the summer and spring are what we use.
    3. Any high carbon substance (like straw, leaves, corn cobs, etc.) will balance the high nitrogen in the manure, and if it is turned regularly, you will have no bad odor, no mold, and you will be making your own compost.
    4. Having a few chickens mixed in with your ducks will ensure that your "compost" is scratched up and turned for you, further minimizing your labor.

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    1. I am so relieved to read your post about using dried leaves in the fall and winter. That is what I do to lower costs and now I can feel comfortable that I am not doing wrong by my ducks.

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  11. John Metzer, how did your trial of the composters' fine mulch material work for bedding?

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  12. We stopped using the fine composters mulch material for bedding after about two months of use. There was a much higher percentage of the eggs being laid in it that were contaminated with mold. In addition, it stained the eggs slightly and the ducks seemed to be eating it - both of which are not good. But we tried!

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  13. We have a adult male duck that is a in door pet lol we got some wood shaving 4 him but he is trying to eat it will it hurt him

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    1. If he has plenty of good quality feed, it is highly unlikely he will eat enough shavings to cause him any harm. He should be fine.

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  14. All of your comments are so helpful. I have a Mallard mom with 7 baby ducklings in my backyard pool. They are absolutely delightful. They will be two weeks old this week. They eat mash and now are too big for their mom to sit on for warmth. I bought a rubber blow up kiddie pool to make a warm bed but wondering what I should use. Any suggestions. PS..I am unemployed and scraping pennies together to feed them as much mash as they can eat so the less expensive the bettet. The mash is $6 a week. Thank you.

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  15. I have four ducks and during the night I lock then in their pen which has a duck house attached. They can go into the house if they want. I use cedar mulch in the pen area which I turn over every day and I use pine shavings in the house. Is this OK? During the day they have free range of the front and back of my property.

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  16. Hi I have 2 Cayuga ducks and 7 chickens after reading this I am switching to pine pellets in both the coop and duck house. does anyone have cold weather advise for my ducks and their pond? I currently pump the pond about every 4 days they also have a 50 gl stock tank that should be pretty easy but the pond will be a problem should I just let it freeze over?

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    1. I would just let it freeze over. The ducks do not have to have water to bathe in.

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  17. What about sand in a covered pen? I read somewhere that you can rig up a barn rake with hardware cloth and zip ties to scoop out most droppings like cat litter. It sure would be more economical. The extra padding on their feet would be beneficial. Xtra drainage is a plus. I'm worried about bacteria growth and nitrate fumes. ? In my case it would be only for night time penning. I would put the washed construction sand in the main pen area and pine shavings in the nest box area. I don't water them at night either. I would love a more experienced opinion before I go make the purchase and start shoveling :)

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    1. I see no problem with your plans. The drainage would be a real plus. Bacteria growth and ammonia should not be a problem unless it is very closed up at night.

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  18. Is shredded paper okay? DH just shredded a bunch of old documents. I had used a little under pine shavings when they were ducklings but they dug through the pine shavings to eat the shredded paper! Now I notice that they also eat the pine shavings I use in their house and the leaves I use in their run. Honestly I think they play with them more than eat them -- put them in their water dish, etc.

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    1. I would not hesitate using shredded paper. I believe you are right, they are probably playing more than eating. Usually eating the shavings is only the first day until they find the correct feed and then they don't go back to the shavings.

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  19. Hi John, what a winter we are having here in NY. My ducks are handling their first winter just fine. We covered their pen also and changed to pine shavings for the winter because it was easier to clean out. We purchased two dog heated water dishes for our 4 ducks and so far the water did not freeze. Here is some pictures of our setup.. https://sites.google.com/site/mypetducks/

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    1. Great setup for your ducks. Lucky ducks is very true for yours!

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  20. Hello John! I am an apprentice at Round Right Farm in Terra Alta, WV, and we are trying to find a way to keep our duck eggs, (mostly Khaki Campbell), a bit cleaner. Because we must wash the eggs to sell them in WV, we are only try to limit the amount of washing we have to do. We are researching both nesting box design and bedding material as solutions to the problem. Does one affect egg cleanliness more than the other? Also, I'm curious as to your opinion on nesting boxes that have angled beds, allowing the eggs to roll away for easy collection? I should also mention that the duck pens are moved by hand everyday across pasture, so certain nesting box design may not work with our pens.

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    1. Replenish the nest box bedding as often as necessary. Some do it daily.
      Make sure you have enough nests - 1 to every 4-5 females.
      If they are spending a lot of time in the nests during the day, close it off so they only have access at night.
      The one time I tried artificial turf nest boxes with a roll away floor, none of the birds used them. Hope this helps.

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  21. HI, I have an issue where i live since it rains 4-6 months in the year and my operation is outside. i am like the other people in WV, i live in KY, that has to hand wash eggs daily. i have a mud issue. i have a 20x70 pen with a limestone sand base. it works well with the washing out. i still get muddy eggs. ducks get wet and muddy then go to the nests that are inside dog houses etc, and eventually the nest is wet and muddy. i am installing a portable garage, 10x17 with straw bedding and nesting areas to hopefully alleviate part of the mud issue. do you have any other suggestions or anyone have any suggestions what else i can do since the birds are outside in the rain? they free range during the day and are only in at night. they always seem to make mud no matter how clean their pen is. i am planning on redoing the sand floor. would a raised wire entry way into the garage help with the mud issue do you think? (similar to the ones you make for the waterers.)

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    1. If you cannot provide them a roof over their night pen, then I would spread straw over their whole night pen do they cannot access the mud at night. You may need to shrink the pen size. They only need about 4 sq.ft. of space. Yes, a grate from a muddy area back to their night pen might help. And if they are bringing too much mud back into the night pen, then keep them in the night pen night and day. Thirty years ago we did this (night and outside pens with no shelter) and they did fine at night with no feed and no water. It kept the pens much cleaner. Hope this helps.

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  22. This is SUCH a newbie question but I guess that's OK since I'm not even a real newbie yet -- just trying to get the courage to start. So here goes: if you let the ducks outside to free-range in your yard in the daytime, how do you get the back into their shelter at night? Do they just go in without coaxing, like chickens?

    I live on a lake and there are wild ducks around but they have a high mortality rate due to turtles in the lake and feral cats on the shore. Not to mention other wild predators! So my babies need to be protected at night; will they come inside?

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    1. You have to make it worthwhile for them to go in. The easiest way to do this is to feed them some or all of their grain when they go in. Once it becomes a habit, they will be standing there waiting for the feed and will not hesitate at all entering the pen. But training that first week is the more difficult part. Run a temporary fence outside the pen and train them to come in - knowing you can herd them in. Every time you feed them, shake the bucket as a clue. Also make sure they clean up all their feed so they are hungry when you are trying to entice them in. Good luck. Don't worry, it can be done.

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    2. I feed my ducks in the evening and they "free range" during the day. When I put out feed I always yell "Here duck, here duck" Now wherever they are, on about 20 acres the ducks come running when I yell "here duck, here duck"

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  23. Hi Linda, I have four ducks, two Peking and two Campbells. During the day my ducks have the run of my yard but at night I do lock them up. How I get them in the coop at night is that I feed them cut up lettuce and frozen corn. When I come out with the food, they run into to coop to eat it. It works great in the winter months, but in the summer it is more difficult to get them in the coop. I have 3 males and 1 female which is a problem all to itself. Somethings I have to lock the female in by herself and sometimes I put the males in.

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  24. John,
    Do you use any bedding material when the ducks are housed with plastic flooring? I assumed there would be no bedding, and droppings and water would fall though the openings to the dirt or floor below.

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    1. No bedding is used on the wire or plastic flooring. It is designed to allow the manure to go through the holes and away from the birds.

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  25. A follow-up question. I can certainly see why plastic flooring cuts down on cost in the long run, and makes cleaning easier. But in areas where the winters are cold, do I need bedding for warmth, especially with younger birds? And, if so, should the wire or plastic flooring only go over areas set aside for water?

    After reading about pine pellets in comments above, I bought some yesterday, and so far, they seem very useful. They do not seem to get as wet as shavings.

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    1. Yes, typically birds are more comfortable with bedding - at least initially. So the open flooring is best for under their waterers and for older birds.

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  26. Hi, I'm new to raising fowl and am planning on raising free range ducks, geese, and chicken. I noticed that you mentioned that the floor of the duck house should be dirt. I have an old barn that has a section that has a ramp attached to it and would be ideal for ducks and geese to get in and out. The plan is for everyone to overnight in the barn and free range during the day. The floor in the barn is wood planking. I was going to use a combination of straw and pine bedding. The chickens will have roosting boxes higher up attached to the walls. Any thoughts on this arrangement? I am now worried about moisture from the waterers and the birds themselves seeping into the planking. Is this a valid concern? Any recommendations on sealing the wood or working around it? I live in northern Maine so winters are very brutal and I feel a regular coop outside will not protect them adequately, hence wanting to keep them in the barn. Thanks!

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    1. I have no experience with wood flooring but I know it is done - so it must work. But my concern is like yours - how to keep the wood dry and prevent it from rotting. I would contact other growers in your area that have wood floors for their livestock and poultry - and see what they do to protect the wood. You may just have to use lots of bedding.

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  27. Cedar shavings? Yay or nay? You

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    1. Some say yes, some say no. We have no experience so I would shy away from them if you have the choice.

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  28. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  29. John,
    I am new to raising anything other then kids or dogs haha! We are getting 4 ducks and wanted to put a mix of straw and wood shavings just in the duck house (not the run). Someone told me NOT to mix them as the ducks will peck at the straw and end up eating the wood shavings?

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  30. Rarely will they eat straw or shavings. They might eat sawdust but not shavings. If you are concerned about your shavings then I would use 100% straw for the first two days, then you can start adding shavings. By then they will know what to eat. Shavings are more absorbent and are a better bedding.

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    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to post John! I went and chopped the straw up and got some wood shavings. So going to do a mix for the house.

      Thanks again!

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  31. Just was given 4 ancona ducks and I am having to learn fast how to care for them. We put them inside at night in a pole shed that has a cement floor and have been putting straw down. After reading above, may try to chop the straw and maybe add pine shavings. The problem is the outside run they are in during the day was just dirt and grass and with all the rain here in northern WI, it has become a muddy, stinky pool. Its a 10' x 50' area. Should I dig it all out and try putting drain tile in and then filling it with sand? Or would pea gravel or something like that work better. Would appreciate absolutely ANY help or suggestions. I am so lost!

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    1. That is a lot of area to cover. Yes, you can cover with sand or pea gravel. Another option would be to cover half in a 1"x"1 hardware cloth up on a 2x4 or 2x6 frame. With this the ducks could not get to the soil and grass would grow up until the ducks can eat it. The ducks would stay cleaner and would nourish the grass from their droppings. The grass would flourish. The remaining 50% could be fenced off and allow grass to grow in there. But only allow the ducks in this area once or twice a week when it is not raining. They will eat the grass/weeds and find bugs but by restricting their access, you can keep it in good shape and not a mud hole.

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    2. Thank you for your help and taking the time to answer. I will try to make a 3 sided frame then with the hardware cloth on the floor and roof as well as the sides, leaving the 4th side open toward the shed. That way they can get into the shed, but could move it down over the protected grass as weather permits. That should also help make them safer from predators. Right now the run is surrounded by a 8 foot high fence, but there are 2" gaps between the horizontal boards and there is no roof. There are a lot of coyotes, raccoons, and owls in this area. So far not a problem, but have a feeling when the weather gets colder, they might start eyeing the ducks. Reading your flooring blog, will also try to find the pvc coated stuff to make it easier on there feet.
      Was afraid of crowding them, not knowing how much space they needed. Probably giving them too much space inside as well, it is a 8' x 8' room. Will be going through and reading more of your blogs. Have so much to learn!!

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  32. Hi. I have 8 ducklings that are two weeks old. Currently they are in my garage in a kiddie pool. I use pine shavings and it seem to be working ok. I am converting an old shed, that has a linoleum floor, into the coop. I am adding a outdoor run. I plan on leaving the food and water outside to help keep the mess at bay. Will the linoleum floor be ok? I plan to put pine shavings and straw over it and turn it everyday. I'm new to owning ducks, so I'm just learning as I go. Thanks!

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    1. The linoleum floor should not be a problem. Over time it may peal up when you clean out the shavings.

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  33. HI! I HAVE FIVE GEESE. I AM CONVERTING AN OLD MILK HOUSE INTO A HOUSE FOR THEM. IT IS ABOUT 14 FT.X 16 FT. IT HAS A CEMENT FLOOR, BUT IS COOL ALL YEAR ROUND. ONE OF THE REASONS I WANTED TO USE IT FOR THEM. WHEN I HAD THEM IN A STRAW HOUSE, THEY WOULD ACT AS IF THEY WERE DYING BY THE TIME I LET THEM OUT.EACH MORNING! THEY WERE VERY OVERHEATED LOOKING.THIS WAS EVEN IN THE WINTER MONTHS. I READ THEY NEED IT COOLER, JUST NO WIOND., SO HAVE DECIDED UPON THE MILK HOUSE. WE MUST PUT A NEW ROOF ON AND THIS WILL BE THE CHANCE TO PUT IN EXTRA VENTILATION, WITH SOME VENTING ON THE ENDS OF THE ROOF. HOWEVER, IT IS A BLOCK BUILDING WITH A CEMENT FLOOR. GEESE GET SO OVERHEATED. DO THEY NEED THEIR WATER AT NIGHT. IT WILL MAKE A MESS. THEY DIP THEIR HEAD TO CLEAR THEIR NOSE, QUITE A BIT, AND WITH FIVE, IT COULD BE A LOT. ALSO, I AM CONCRNED THAT THE CEMENT WILL HURT THEIR FEET! WILL IT? AND SHOULD I PUT DOWN A LAYER OF DIRT OR SAND AND THEN BEDDING , FOR THEM, ON THIS TYPE OF FLOORING. WHAT WOULD YOU SUGGEST? SHOULD I TRY THE SAND WITH LEAVES ON TOP FOR BEDDING, OR SHOULD I TRY ALL LEAVES. THIS IS SOMETHING I AM IN GOOD SUPPLY. CAN I CHANGE AROUND THEIR BEDDING TO WHAT IS MORE PLENTIFUL AT THE TIME? ARE GEESE THE SAME AS DUCKS? GEESE CAN MAKE A MUD AND MANURE PILE QUICKER THEN ANYTHING, I AM SURPRISED TO FIND!ALSO, MY UNDERSTANDING WAS THAT EITHER STRAW OR HAY GIVE OF NOXIOUS FUMES WHEN WET, THAT ARE DETRIMENTAL TO GEESE! I AM NOT SURE WHICH, I WAS TOLD. WHATIS THE BEST AND MOST ECONOMICAL BEDDING FOR THIS ROOM FOR THEM? THANK YOU, FOR ANY ADVICE!

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    1. The bottom line is you need plenty of ventilation. As long as they have access to drinking water for at least 10 hours during the day, they do not have to have water at night. Any type of bedding that absorbs moisture and does not have mold in it is fine. As the pile deepens, it will slowly start to compost and provide a little bit of heat. We clean our buildings once a year and the litter is 12-18" deep at that point. Bedding is added one or two times a week. But only five geese in a pen that is 14x16 is plenty of space. But they can handle extremely cold weather so just make sure you have plenty of ventilation. I would have at least six square feet of open space in the wall on two opposite sides.

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  34. What a fabulous group of posts!

    We just got 2 metzer farms laying hybrids and they are super!

    We are going with a tractor style enclosure. I had a related question about the cleaning.

    We live in an uppity newer development and I don't want the HOA complaining about odor.

    I wanted a quick composting material for the coop and if the run is on fresh grass every couple days is there a trick? Lime?

    I have the 2 week old babies in our dining room now and even though I change the bedding twice a day, they stink!

    I appreciate the knowledge Mr. Metzer shares with all of us lucky enough to have his ducks.

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    1. I don't think you will have a problem if you move them every couple days. Just don't allow them to create mud puddles (read my blogs on how to do that). If you keep things dry, there will be much less smell - if any. If things do get odoriferous, then scoop up droppings and cover with shavings or straw somewhere outside the pen. In other words, make a compost pile. Enjoy!!

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    2. I know this is about bedding, but felt this would add to the discussion. I recently learned about fermenting poultry feed for flocks and one person commented that their waterfowl poo did not smell so bad when feeding fermented feed. It's true, ducks fed fermented feed do not stink half as much as conventionally fed ducks. My pair of ducks are house ducks, and my family can't stand even a hint of duck odor.

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  35. I use this litter for my cat - it can be expensive, but thought it might be a good "first layer" in our duck house with shavings on top...my worry is that they might eat the pellets (which would then expand in their stomachs), but John, you say once they know their food they don't bother with eating other things, yes? Anyhow, thoughts on this as an under layer to keep mold/moisture at bay? I'm in the PNW and we get quite a bit of it! Thanks.

    "Our premium fast and firm clumping natural cat litter in soft, ground pellets. Tested performance for long lasting odor control and unsurpassed absorption with the added benefits of being naturally lightweight, biodegradable, and flushable...Free from chemicals, dyes and other synthetics, its soft ground pellets have been lab-tested and proven to absorb more than 5X their weight in liquid and control odor for 7 days. Its superior clumping and absorption power forms firm clumps and controls odors for 7 days. ökocat litter is biodegradable for flushable disposal, and is naturally lightweight."

    https://www.healthy-pet.com/okocat/okocat-natural-wood-clumping

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    1. I don't think it will be a problem. But to be extra save, you could throw a couple of pellets on the ground and see if they eat them. If not, you are good to go, especially if you cover them with shavings.

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    2. I have successfully used pine pellets for bedding for my ducks. John is right. They will play with the pellets some, but if you are concerned about them eating them, take a spray bottle with some plain water in it and lightly mist the top of the pellets with water to make them open up easier. They then become sawdust and absorb like nobody's business. If you are concerned they will eat the sawdust, they usually don't if they are older ducks, unless they are very hungry or very bored. Keep them fed and entertained (free ranging or provide toys like melon halves with peas and chopped veggies [frozen in water in hot weather]) and they'll dig around in the sawdust looking for food and bugs, but they won't eat the sawdust.

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  36. Was wondering if this cat litter might be a good "first layer" under some shavings to help absorb moisture/prevent mold. John, you say after they learn their food they don't bother with other things, yes? I would hate for them to eat these pellets and have them expand in their bellies. Thanks for any thoughts!

    "Our premium fast and firm clumping natural cat litter in soft, ground pellets. Tested performance for long lasting odor control and unsurpassed absorption with the added benefits of being naturally lightweight, biodegradable, and flushable....Free from chemicals, dyes and other synthetics, its soft ground pellets have been lab-tested and proven to absorb more than 5X their weight in liquid and control odor for 7 days. Its superior clumping and absorption power forms firm clumps and controls odors for 7 days. ökocat litter is biodegradable for flushable disposal, and is naturally lightweight."

    https://www.healthy-pet.com/okocat/okocat-natural-wood-clumping

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    1. I would think it would be fine. Just don't introduce it to them when they are very hungry.

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  37. Thanks so much John! We'll be ordering our hatch eggs from you this week!

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  38. I have 7 female Indian Runner ducks and we're considering redoing their 8x16 covered run with washed construction sand. Currently we use a mixed wood shaving product, but it's a lot of work to keep clean. The sand came up in conversation with our veterinarian and she advised against it starting there's a high risk of impacted crop. She also said to use play sand if we decide to go with the sand anyway. I'm concerned this is bad advise all around. Plus everything I've read stated the wash construction sand has less harmful dust vs. the play sand when also contains high levels if silica. I'm concerned about crop impact. Will the sand damage their bills if they forage thru it? I'd appreciate your expert opinion.

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    1. We have never used sand but I know others have used it without a problem. As long as they ducks have enough to eat when introduced to the sand, they shouldn't eat the sand. I cannot advise on the type of sand. If dust is a concern, I would just wash the sand before the ducks are introduced. Normally dust is not a problem in a duck pen due to their wetter droppings.

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