Call Ducks: Call Duck Association UK

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Housing, bedding and shelter for Call Ducks

Housing
Ducks do not need expensive poultry housing with nesting boxes and perches. A cheaper shed designed, for example, as dog house, is adequate. The shed door should be fairly wide so that the ducks do not run over each other (pop holes are not as suitable for ducks as chickens, especially if you want to drive them in), and the door way should have a ramp if it is not nearly level with the ground. For ventilation use a weldmesh panel high up on the sheltered side of the house. The sliding ventilation panel in the Gardencraft houses is ideal. This is better than at ground level where the ducks can be bothered by vermin. Make sure that the mesh will not admit polecat and ferrets. The ducks must be shut up each night before dark other wise they will almost certainly fall prey to foxes.

Bedding 
Although white wood shavings can be lethal for rearing young ducklings (because they eat them in the first week or two) shavings or coarse saw mill sawdust are ideal bedding for adults. If the bedding stays relatively dry, the shavings/sawdust can just be topped up with new material, making a thick bed over the winter to keep the Calls warm in frosty weather. Make sure that any waste wood material is free from pesticide and preservatives. It must not be toxic.

Many people opt for straw bedding because it is available, but it is more difficult to handle (unless chopped, when it is more absorbent). It also causes a more rapid build up of ammonia than shavings. Avoid a high ammonia level; this will damage the eyes and lungs of the ducks. If the ducks are not fed and watered in the shed, the bedding will stay drier and, in the winter in particular, you can let the bedding build up as it is topped up to make a thick, warm layer. Do not use hay or dried grass clippings as this will encourage the growth of fungal spores and aspergillosis. 

Shelter

If you let your birds out either into an enclosure or garden it is essential, especially if they are young, for them to be able to find cover from the sun, heavy rain and hailstones. Youngsters are very susceptible to weather extremes, and sudden changes can lead to fatalities. Of course it is better to bring your young birds in if weather conditions are harsh .

For adult Calls which always live outside in a fox-proof pen, also think about providing shelter from winter wind and driving rain. This is especially important if the area has been newly landscaped, and there is little cover. Wild ducks use natural cover of long grass, bushes and river banks for shelter, and the Calls like this too. Some of the best plants are Junipers and Box. Junipers take a long time to grow but you can put them in large pots and grow them on until they are big enough to be planted out. Box grows quite rapidly and within 18 months you can start to see quite a bit of growth. These plants can be cut or encouraged to grow into whatever shape you need. You can plant arbours which will act as good wind breaks. If you have your birds on a hard standing area you can still put evergreen plants in, for all-year cover, but in pots. If there is no natural cover, provide an open-fronted shed, back to the prevailing wind. Make sure the shed cannot blow over.

Buying Sheds
Look in your local area first at garden centres, and farm and pet suppliers. Also use the local Yellow pages or search for Sheds in your county in Yellow Pages on line. 
The magazines Smallholder and  Country Smallholding, available from newsagents,  carry display adverts for several manufacturers. Also, Fancy Fowl magazine http://www.fancyfowl.net


 

                                                                     Secretary: Kate Elkington,
                                The Old Bakehouse, Ashperton, Ledbury, Herefordshire, HR8 2SA

                                                                Tel 01531 670658 or 07968829306