Ducks are pretty easy animals to add to your farm. They don’t need much in terms of shelter – just a secure, safe place to retreat to. It can be a sectioned off corner of your barn or you can even house them in your chicken coop if you want to.
I gave my ducks their own house for a couple reasons. First, my chicken coop is already pretty full of chickens. Second, ducks don’t roost up high when sleeping, they just bed down on the ground. I don’t want the ducks nesting under the chicken roosts and getting pooped on all night. But third and most important to me, is that ducks are just really wet. Chickens hate being wet and in the winter that moisture can leave them susceptible to frost bite. When ducks come in the house, they are often wet and their poop is mostly liquid from all the water they drink. They expel a lot of moisture when they breath. I decided it was best for the chickens and ducks to just have separate homes, but they would be sharing a run & free range space. Click here to read more about keeping chickens & ducks together
What do ducks need in a house?
Ducks don’t need anything fancy. They sleep on the floor and don’t even really need a nest box. A cozy corner of the house with a pile of straw is good enough for a nest. Their house can just be a wooden box or old dog house that is at least 3 feet high, with 4 square feet of floor space for each duck you plan to have.
In addition to the indoor area, ducks will need a minimum of 10 square feet of secure outside space per duck (but I think 20 square feet per duck is MUCH more realistic).
Ducks are large and somewhat awkward on land so you want to have a decent size door – about 14 inches wide and 12-14 inches tall. The house should either be on the ground or have a low ramp. You might need to add traction strips or a mat on the ramp to help wet, webbed feet navigate. Fill the house with plenty of straw for them to snuggle down into and for making a nest out of.
The most important thing the duck house needs is ventilation. All that moisture needs to escape somewhere so be sure to add plenty of ventilation at the top of the house.
How we made our first duck house
We have a pretty big scrap wood pile out by our shed so we decided to save money and build our duck house entirely out of scrap wood. Is it the most beautiful duck house ever? No, but it was nearly free and it keeps our ducks warm & safe so it works for me!
We only plan on raising two ducks. Famous last words right? We are making our house 2 feet x 4 feet and about 4 feet high. We started by cutting out the floor and then the framework for the walls. We didn’t have any big sheets of plywood in our scrap pile, so we had to piece together smaller pieces to cover the walls. We laid everything out on the ground before screwing it all together.
EDITED: I was right, we ended up adding onto our duck flock after just a couple months, and just a few years later we had over a dozen! Word to the wise, always go bigger! The chickens & ducks now share a very roomy 300 square foot barn.
Once the pieces were all cut, we assembled the frame and screwed on the plywood. We attached the bottom of the back wall to the floor with hinges so we could have a large, drop down access door for cleaning and collecting eggs. Don’t forget you need to have human access to the house! We used a window sash lock & a spring loaded eye hook to keep the door closed and predator proof.
The chickens thought it was perfect just the way it is – no ducks needed.
Before we covered up the two ends, we attached some hardware cloth over the roof and down about 6 inches on one side for ventilation. To cover the sides, it got really tricky as we ran out of plywood scraps. But we had some random boards and some wood from an old swingset we had dismantled so we cut those down to size.
When we built our chicken run, the roof panels came in 10 foot lengths and we only needed them to be 8 feet, so we had a bunch of 2 foot ends hanging around. We attached these over the hardware cloth roof. The hardware cloth keeps it predator proof and the panels keep the rain out. The great part is because the panels are ridged, air can be exchanged in each ridge so it provides tons of ventilation. Additional ventilation comes in that 6 inch side we left open at the top of the left end.
To cover up the horrible gaps and imperfections that come with using scrap wood, we added some 1x4s (also from our scrap pile – I wasn’t kidding when I said it was a big pile!) on all the corners as trim. Then we used exterior caulking to seal all the edges so the house wouldn’t be drafty. Before final installation, we had all our work verified by “official” home inspectors and got the all clear.
Before we attached the house to the run, we painted it all the same blue as the chicken coop. It amazes me how transformative a simple coat of paint can be. Once all the boards and random pieces of wood were painted the same color, it didn’t look all that bad.
Our chickens have a nice, secure and spacious run. We decided to take a little of that as a “duck only” area. Using 2x4s and chicken wire, we constructed a wall inside the run to separate the ducks. The wall doesn’t have to be predator proof because it is inside the run, it just has to keep the chickens out. The wall is 6 feet high but doesn’t quite reach all the way to the roof, and there is a 3 foot wide human door for us to get into the duck run for maintenance. The duck area we walled off will be 44 square feet, just right for two ducks.
Once the run was set, we leveled some cinder blocks for the house foundation, cut a hole in the exterior wall wire for the duck door and screwed the wire in several places to the front of the duck house. We added a little ramp and everyone was good to go!
We decided not to have a door we can close on the duck house. The ducks actually liked to sleep outside, or at least have access to the outside at night. They are much more cold hardy than chickens. To not have a door is not practical for everyone, but the run our ducks are living in has a solid roof and hardware cloth buried 2 feet in the ground to stop digging predators so I feel safe letting them have outside access all the time. We also bring their food dish in at night to discourage any rodent visitors.
This duck house is not going to win any prizes for being the most beautiful, but the price was certainly right! The only thing we had to buy for the house was the window sash lock and hinges. Everything else was scrap lumber & wire. For the run, we had to buy seven 2x4s and hinges for the access door. The chicken wire we already had in the shed. All together it cost us around $25.
**EDITED: the best thing we ended up doing afterwards was laying down peel & stick vinyl tiles on the floor and about 1 foot up each wall. Between their poop and all the mud & water they track in, it makes clean up so much easier and will save the wood from rotting
What a nice house! I’m sure the ducks love it 😉
Edye | http://gracefulcoffee.wordpress.com
Hi. Nice and simple! I am getting ready to build my first duck house. Did you bury the floor or sides of the coop?
No, the house is set on 5 cinder blocks as a foundation
Good article, thanks
Actually my ducks do roost with the chickens, but I’m still thinking about giving them their own house
Wow! I know that Muscovy ducks like to roost up high, but most other ducks like to sleep on the ground. Your ducks must love your chickens 🙂
What do you use for the flooring in the run? I’ve read that some people use pea gravel and/or sand. Do you recommend either of those? Or should we use shavings?
I use sand in my run. It dries out quickly, is easy to rake clean and provides the birds with a natural source of grit.
What kind of ducks are those? We just got three and the people didn’t know what they were but they are identical to the picture, they’re young about a month or so
The ducks in the main picture are about a month or so old as well, one is a female blue Swedish and the other is a male Welsh Harlequin (the one with the dark head is the male). Most duck breeds look really similar when they are young, which can be frustrating – but in the next couple weeks your duck’s colors should start coming through!
I love this coop. How would you avoid the water from freezing in the winter?
In the winter we have a heated pet bowl to keep the water unfrozen
Will your ducks come back to their house in the evening, after free ranging during the day, so that you can secure them for the night? I have 8 acres with 2 ponds that I’m sure my future flock will enjoy, but I am concerned that I may have issues getting them pinned up at night.
They do seek out somewhere safe at night. Keep them in the run for a couple weeks before you let them free range so they come to see it as home. My ducks have the coop that does not have a door that they hardly ever go in, other than when it is really nasty out. They prefer to sleep outdoors so I let them sleep in the secure run. They return to the run every night on their own when it starts getting dark.
I like your dormitory. At the front there is a small door for the ducks and the back door is in full width with opening down, for cleaning. Thanks for a good idea. I also have to do something for my 18 ducks. I’ll do it so I have only one door like your rear cleaning door. They will serve the ducks at the same time as a ramp to enter, and when they go to sleep, I just close them. The plastic floor is a good idea. I made the duck’s pool so that I dug the hole in the ground, covered it with a PVC foil, the edges of the foil covered the brick and filled with water. I raise ducks, hens and rabbits for domestic purposes. So I know that we eat healthy meat and eggs without poisons used in breeding and processing. English is not my native language, so I apologize for mistakes. greetings from Croatia
Thank you Ivan – your English is wonderful! Your set up sounds great! Thanks for stopping by 🙂
Thank you for such explicit directions, do you have any water in the run where they can get wet? Besides just having water they drink?
In the run, we have their food & water for drinking, but also a kiddie pool for swimming
I have four ducks and one little kiddie pool but that’s not enough. We unfortunately had a chicken die due to our pond so i think it is best to keep them separate. Do you have any suggestions on bigger duck ponds or do you think it would be best to build one?
That is really sad! We have four ducks and a large six foot wide plastic kiddie pool, but it’s really hard to flip and clean like the little ones. We are working on a drain system for it, check back with us soon, I will definitely have a post on it (assuming it works lol!)
What do you think the best duck pond is? And do you think it’s better to buy or build?
If you only have a couple ducks, I think the best option is to get a little plastic kiddie pool. They are easy to clean and easy to refill. If you have more ducks it gets a little trickier. You can still use a little pool but you’ll likely have to dump it daily. We are working on building a drain system with a large kiddie pool. The only issue with building a permanently installed duck pond is keeping it clean. You will need a really good filter that can handle all the poop & muck
This is fabulous. I have been searching for the best way to make duck houses for them to lay in, and to give them shelter when the weather warrants it. Thank you for share this. If you are planning to buy a small house with eco-friendly concept you can find at http://www.biesterbos.nl, give you solution about housing since they are experts in this field and cost-effective developer.
Loved your post, how beautiful your ducks’ house is! I have been searching the internet for ideas and for houses for my ducklings. They are 3 weeks old now and they need their own apartment.
Finding something specifically made for them is not easy, so I am thankful for your post. And loved your pictures, your chickens are the cutest peeps ever!
really love ur post… my ducks are getting bigger and need more space to move around.. but they always seem to dirty the bedding..which is wood shavings, what do u recommend i use instead??
When my ducks are older and outside in their duck house I use hay (but I don’t have any water in the house). Hay is a great insulator, they like to make nests from it and doesn’t absorb the mud the way wood shavings do. When those big flappy muddy feet come in the house the wood shavings definitely can get gross! When they are ducklings and have water in their brooder, I use the wood shavings because they are better at absorbing liquids. So I would recommend you keep the water outside in the run and keep the inside for just sleeping or laying eggs with hay or straw bedding
I am now the proud new owner of three ducks, four chicks, and six 20 week old golden comets lol. I know I’m nuts. I have a coop built for my chickens but now I’m working on ideas for my ducks. Will and old dog house work? And you said you sectioned off a section of your chicken run. Does that mean you keep them separate all the time??
Hi Christa, an old dog house will definitely work. I sectioned off part of my run but mostly just so I would have the option for keeping them separate. It’s nice when I’m introducing new birds (especially ducks or chicks) to have a separate area. But 99% of the time the door is open so they can go in all parts of the run, and unless the weather is really bad they are all out free ranging in my yard everyday anyways. The ducks & chickens mostly keep to their own kind, but they get along just fine!
What is best to use for bedding in their house. Sand or straw? I love your house and run. We have chickens and are thinking of getting two ducks now too Thanks for the great ideas. 🙂
Sorry about the name. It is Wayne Booy.
Both would be fine in a duck house. I use straw in mine because it’s good for them to build nests with and doubles as bedding. But I have sand in my run and I like that it’s easy to scoop up and keep clean. I would definitely recommend straw in the winter to help them stay cozy and warm
Hi, I’m in England and came across this post looking for duck door dimensions. We have a small lake with wild mallard ducks and the local cats terrorize their chicks, so I’m building a floating duck house. Some great pointers here, would love to show you pictures of the work in progress – Johan Hollmbury St.Mary England
That is so nice of you! I am sure they will appreciate it! I’d love to see pics! I don’t think there is a way to share photos in the comments here, but you could email me at email@example.com or share them on my facebook page @thecapecoop1 thanks!
Also thinking of using leftover peel & stick tiles! Did you find you have to seal them in any way?
no I didn’t seal them in anyway. But it is definitely helpful to add a little construction adhesive on the bottom of the tiles as they really aren’t intended for outdoor use. It will help them stick much better!
Hi, just wondering what colour your young ducks turned out to be? I have young ducks the same colour at the moment.
Hi Rachel, in the main photo the duck in front is a splash blue Swedish female so she is a silver/white color and the duck in the background is a male Welsh Harlequin – he has coloring similar to a Mallard. If you look in the section “Our Animals”, you can see photos of them all grown up- Eliza & Alexander
When was this posted? I have a research paper I’m working on and would like to use this. Thank You
This article was originally published 5/4/2016
What are the “must have” tools you would recommend having on hand for building a duck house? I don’t have much and I’m nervous about that part. Thank you so so much!
Hi Dorothy! I would recommend you start by drawing up some plans on graph paper so you will know what you will need. Ducks don’t need anything fancy, just a secure box. So you will need dimensional lumber like 2×2 or 2x4s for building the frame of the house. Then plywood or boards to cover the walls, floor, and roof. You will need to make a door that you can close so you can lock the birds in at night to keep them safe. You can make the door from plywood, and you will need to attach it with hinges and a latch to keep it closed. It can be nice to have a “human” door that is a bit bigger that you can use to clean out the coop and collect eggs, that will also need hinges and a latch. If the house is raised up more than a few inches, you will need a ramp for them to access the house. I think lining the floor with stick on vinyl flooring makes cleaning much easier, but is optional. good luck!