Here at Birdsong Farm we pasture all our poultry and thus far run them together: chickens and Muscovy ducks. Our guinea fowl go wherever they please and have begun patrolling the entire spread for nasty insects – good guineas! The ducks and chickens coexist fairly well…. until it is time to nest. Chickens like to lay eggs wherever they see an egg and they really like to kick apart the best laid nest. Naughty chickens. Because of this and the heavy pressure of aerial predators i decided to build a little duck coop for broody duckhens.
Despite the early month, Sugarplum has decided it is time to lay eggs… maybe she knows something we don’t. Though, she did begin laying right before the big snow – so probably not. 😉
I wanted to be sure our duckhens could have the privacy they desperately want while setting and that i had a place for the ducklings to hop about when they are too small for the electric netting and most susceptible to the kestrel and other hawks/crows. This little coop is open at the bottom so i can move it can move it over the ground and provide fresh grass for cleanliness and grazing. The nest area is covered and the entire coop is covered in poultry netting- not sufficient for keeping out round predators but good enough for stopping aerial pounces. Since the coop is inside electric netting or our yard i’m not concerned about the flimsy wire. Inside the coop is a small feeder and a tiny ‘pond’ – oil change pan (new, of course!) just big enough for mom to get wet and for babies to learn to swim.
One thing i will change for the next coop is to add fencing under the nest end so that i can use my dolly to lift and pull the whole coop without disturbing the nesting materials. I had been leaving one end open so that Sugarplum could come and go but Snowflake began ripping out her nesting materials and the chickens would stand near and irritate her all day. She seems fine with being cooped p all day, esp since she gets fresh grass every few days.
Here are two ridiculous videos of me adding eggs to her nest: She’d been laying but not setting and i saved her eggs indoors, as it was cold as heck out there! Once she began setting I brought her eggs out to her… i hope i didn’t overdo it! She’s sitting on 20 eggs as a first time mama, though i’m sure at least a percentage of them won’t be viable simply due to age. If you haven’t heard muscovy ducks when they go broody, you must watch these videos – she makes the sweetest little peep noises! (Muscovies are otherwise mostly silent).
This little coop was super simple to construct – i use my air compressor and air guns/staplers for construction and used all recycled materials from around the barn. I may draw up some plans for the second one and post those here – comment if you’re interested in plans for this easy, lightweight broody duck/chicken coop!
Do you provide a safe place for your ducks to brood or do they stuff themselves wherever they feel like?