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Those who think ducks only require a bucket of water to keep them happy are plainly wrong. Ducks will survive with access to just a humble bucket but they won’t be happy about it and anyone who claims otherwise is delusional! 

I’ve only had ducks for about 18 months, as at the date of this post, so I’m relatively new to keeping this type of poultry. We started keeping ducks by accident; actually, an old school friend of mine saw my blog and contacted me to see if I would take his two Khaki Campbell’s off his hands because they were fed up looking after them.

I must admit to being a little reluctant at first because I had only kept chickens and quail up to that point in time and I had no real idea about keeping ducks. However, I did have the room and I wanted to help an old school mate out so I accepted his offer of a couple of free ducks.

Ducks (Khaki Campbell) drinking out of a bucket but I bet they'd rather swim in it! (image above)

The deal happened rather quickly (I think his misses must have been allergic to poultry or something) because he seemed urgent to get rid of the ducks and at the same time he threw in all his chickens plus the chicken house!    

Naturally, I needed to do a crash course in duck keeping so my research found that, surprisingly, ducks can be kept without a dedicated water source for them to swim. Apparently, (and according to my research) ducks are fine to keep with just a bucket of water for them to occasionally dip their beaks into to clean out their nostrils… well, so they say.

I couldn’t help but be sceptical about the scant water requirements of a “water bird” but since I had little time to prepare, let alone build a pond or dam, I got a nice big bucket for my new poultry species. Within minutes of my new ducks arriving on our property, they made a bee-line for the bucket and within the first day they had turned the water inside into a brown, mucky, sludge that stank of duck spit!      

Therefore, my suspicions that ducks required more than just a water bucket was certainly reinforced after just one day and I immediately started working on a solution.

My ducks aren't different to any other ducks - they LOVE water! And because of this, they persist in roaming up and down my outer boundary fence trying to get into the neighbouring properties for a swim in their waterways. 

Our ducks swimming in neighbouring creek (image above)

Unfortunately, my outer fence regularly gets penetrated by massive wild dogs which push under the feeble chicken wire through the night and when a hole is created (and I've missed it) the ducks get through the next day and have a ball swimming in the neighbouring creek down the back end of my property. 

However, all the fun ceased when last week the ducks got attacked through the day by a wild dog - it was carnage. I was home but I was too late to save one of my ducks... and, that wasn't the first time. 

I had to bite the bullet and make a secure area so I'm currently building an inner dog proof perimeter fence around my poultry pen - nothing will get in and nothing will get out - but I couldn't help feel sorry for my ducks not having a pond or dam to play in. I do have a poly tank pond within my pen which the ducks do like and use except I feel (just like the bucket) it's really not enough, hence my duck dam project. 

With little experience in earth moving or dam/pond building I was hesitant to get any work done because I had this misconceived image of some large excavator tearing up my property and costing me thousands! But with my new desperation (my ducks depended on me) I finally started "Googling" to see if I could get the job done for a reasonable price and with little collateral damage. 

Brian from Dig It Down Under starting on our small duck dam (image above)

Luckily for me I came across a guy called Brian owner operator of Dig It Down Under who specialises in mini-earth moving machinery. His mini excavator can fit between a gap of only 1 metre wide due to its ability to narrow and expand out the tracks. However, being “mini” doesn’t necessarily mean tiny jobs and as I found out Brian was able to dig my small dam with ease and in about an hour the job was done and with some extra work scraping my new fence line the total cost was around $300 (prices vary due to several reasons so best talk to Brian).

I positioned the dam on the lower end of my property where it will be fed by the natural lay of the land and a drain/gully I had pre-dug years ago to divert water straight down my property rather than having it run across it. My expectation is the dam should fill pretty quickly once the wet season arrives.

The ducks have already inspected the dam and started bobbing their heads in approval which is a mating ceremony ducks carry out (usually before entering water). They seem to instinctively know this “hole” will hold water some day and I’m looking forward to seeing my ducks frolic in their very own safe water course soon.

Ducks inspecting their dam. Depth is about 1.6 metres in the centre (image above)

Final product is a great water feature enjoyed by everyone!

There is no doubt in my mind that ducks need a proper place to swim. It doesn’t have to be a lake but it really does need to be more than a few thousand litres and most certainly more than just a bucket.

Without an adequate and save place to swim ducks will become depressed and no matter what reason you keep ducks for albeit the plate, eggs, or pets; a depressed duck will not be good for any of these things. Therefore, it’s in our own best interests to ensure our ducks are as happy as we can make them so if you think a bucket is enough you better think again or perhaps, like my friend did, give up your water-birds.

You can make a comment below or join our forum to follow the conversation over there where I have started a thread on ducks and dams.        

Mark Valencia - Editor SSM

Look, and see the Earth through her eyes...

 

Mark Valencia

Mark is the Founder of Self Sufficient Me - you can read more on our About Page and subscribe to his YouTube Channel here.

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Comments (6)

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It is interesting to know about ducks arriving on your property; their bee-line for the bucket and within the first turned the water inside into brown, mucky, sludge that stank of duck spit! You have immediately started working on a solution....

It is interesting to know about ducks arriving on your property; their bee-line for the bucket and within the first turned the water inside into brown, mucky, sludge that stank of duck spit! You have immediately started working on a solution. Dont forgets Pondpro2000 when you made pond for them.

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Hi Dew,

I'm glad this article brought back fond memories from your childhood and it's wonderful someone like you from Borneo is visiting my website so thank you for taking the time to say hello and tell me about your chickens and ducks!

Also...

Hi Dew,

I'm glad this article brought back fond memories from your childhood and it's wonderful someone like you from Borneo is visiting my website so thank you for taking the time to say hello and tell me about your chickens and ducks!

Also thanks for your kind words - it's very nice of you to say so and yes I do enjoy self-sufficiency it's a passion I have to grow our own food and try to give our poultry a happy life.

Cheers :smile:

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Comment was last edited about 3 years ago by Mark Valencia Mark Valencia
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When I see your chickens and ducks, I can only recalled some forty to fifty years ago, when I was a young kid, my late parents would rear about a hundred ducks and a few ten chickens like yours. In my country, in Borneo, (Sarawak) we...

When I see your chickens and ducks, I can only recalled some forty to fifty years ago, when I was a young kid, my late parents would rear about a hundred ducks and a few ten chickens like yours. In my country, in Borneo, (Sarawak) we differential them with kampong chickens and meaty chickens. We have the ducks like your giving us many eggs a day, and another type is the duck with white feathers with reddish face... :laugh:

You are so wonderful and so efficient on self efficiency and your web title really describes all...

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Wow, looks great! How do you protect the ducks and chickens from wild dogs? Do you have to round them up every night?

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Hi Jennifer, I appreciate you taking the time to comment and I'm hoping this wet season will make our dam a big success with our ducks. ATM they just waddle and play in about 6 inches of muddy water but as soon as the dam has reasonable water I...

Hi Jennifer, I appreciate you taking the time to comment and I'm hoping this wet season will make our dam a big success with our ducks. ATM they just waddle and play in about 6 inches of muddy water but as soon as the dam has reasonable water I will post some pics here and in the forum. Yeah, ducks poops are not the best and are probably better off left in a paddock rather than a driveway or landing.

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Wow! I can't wait to see images of your happy ducks finally having a swim in your dam. Ducks are so lovable. As a kid I remember a pair of ducks used to visit us regularly from the golf course across the road. They'd spend the cool of the day...

Wow! I can't wait to see images of your happy ducks finally having a swim in your dam. Ducks are so lovable. As a kid I remember a pair of ducks used to visit us regularly from the golf course across the road. They'd spend the cool of the day resting on our lawn and they'd wait eagerly for us to get home and feed them. They'd also leave gigantic poops all over the cement and it wasn't long before my parents chased them away. Oh well...

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