DIY: Duck Pen

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Domestic ducks require a spacious enclosure with ample room and constant access to fresh, clean water. They don't require a swimming area to survive, but they do benefit from a pool deep enough to allow for natural behaviors. Commercial duck pens are not readily available in the marketplace, so it is generally necessary to construct a custom enclosure. Consider an outdoor duck pen with a large water reservoir.

Constructing an Outdoor Duck Pen

Step 1

Decide on the best location for the pen. An open area with some shade is ideal. Ducks like cool temperatures. They become stressed when the mercury climbs higher than 70 degrees Fahrenheit, so look for a place with afternoon shade. Placing the pen in the open will help to deter predators.

Step 2

Dig a hole for the pond with a shovel or excavator. Make the hole slightly larger than the dimensions of the prefabricated pond liner or kiddie pool you'll install. The hole should be deep enough to completely contain the pool, allowing the lip or rim to be flush with the ground.

Step 3

Place the pond liner or pool inside the hole. Backfill where gaps remain. Using a wood-handled tamper or the shovel, pack the dirt around the edge of the pool or prefabricated pond.

Step 4

Stake out the perimeter of the pen. According to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, adult ducks require at least 3 square feet of space per bird. According to this guideline, a 20-foot by 20-foot enclosure can hold more than 130 ducks. A perimeter of such dimension will provide very spacious accommodations for a few pet ducks.

Step 5

Tie a string around the stakes that define the enclosure's perimeter. The string will provide the guideline for digging a trench.

Step 6

Dig a trench 12 inches deep and 12 inches wide along the string, all the way around the perimeter. Use a trench digger or a shovel. Remove the string afterward.

Step 7

Dig holes for the 4-by-4s with a post-hole digger, one at each of the corners of the enclosure. Each hole should be approximately 12 inches in diameter and should extend 12 inches deeper than the bottom of the trench.

Step 8

Dig additional 12-inch-diameter holes along the perimeter of the enclosure at 4-foot intervals. A 20-foot-long side will have four holes between each corner.

Step 9

Place a post in each of the holes. With holes 24 inches deep, the tops of the 8-foot posts should be 6 feet above the ground.

Step 10

Using a wheelbarrow as a mixing tub, mix the concrete with water according to manufacturer instructions. Pour the wet mix around the base of each 4-by-4. Use just use enough concrete to surround the base of the post -- stop pouring concrete once it rises to the level of the bottom of the trench.

Step 11

Allow the concrete to set according to the concrete manufacturer's instructions. In some cases, this may take 24 hours.

Step 12

Unroll the hardware cloth and cut lengths to stretch between the posts. For a 20-foot-by-20-foot enclosure, cut 20 5-foot lengths of the hardware cloth with the wire cutters. Each 5-foot length will serve as the perimeter barrier between two posts, with a little overlap at each post that allows for stretching the cloth with one hand while stapling with the other.

Step 13

Staple the cloth to the posts with a heavy-duty stapler, rting at the top of the posts, staple a corner of the hardware cloth to the posts using a heavy-duty stapler. Have the cloth on the inside of the posts. Decide which of the sections will serve as the door, and leave that section as-is, without adding the hardware cloth.

Step 14

Construct a simple rectangular door frame from the 2-by-4s and angle brackets. Starting with one of the 4-foot 2-by-4s, use the drill to seat screws through the angle bracket and into the wood. The ends of the 66-inch-long posts will butt up against the 4-foot-long posts to give the door dimensions of 69 inches by 48 inches. This will give the door a few inches of ground clearance so it can move. Fasten all four angle brackets to the corners of the wood to form a complete rectangle.

Step 15

Staple the hardware cloth to the door so the hardware cloth will be on the inside of the enclosure.

Step 16

Attach the hinge to the door by using the drill to screw in the hardware provided with the hinge. Then attach the hinge to the the post adjacent to the door opening the same way. Hang the door so it opens outward. Make it easy by resting the door on a 2-by-4 while you're hanging it.

Step 17

Swing the door closed to attach the latch mechanism. Connect the two parts of the hinge to each other as though the door is shut and latched. Attach one part of the latch to the door using the drill and provided hardware. Place the frame-side component of the latch against the post and seat the hardware using the drill.

Step 18

Fill the trench back up to ground level with some of the dirt left over from digging the trench or pond. If you like, pour concrete in the trench to further fortify the enclosure. Tamp the dirt down along the hardware cloth before you pour concrete, or if you don't use concrete at all.

Step 19

Fill the water reservoir. Add a layer of mulch, hay or other bedding material to the pen.

Items you will need

  • Long tape measure
  • Stakes
  • String
  • 20 pressure treated 4-by-4s cut 8 feet long
  • 2 pressure treated 2-by-4s cut 4 feet long
  • 2 pressure treated 2-by-4s cut 66 inches long
  • 4 angle brackets
  • Screws
  • Concrete
  • 100 feet of plastic-coated hardware cloth
  • Kiddie swimming pool or pond liner
  • Metal gate hinge and latch
  • Heavy-duty stapler and staples
  • Wire cutters
  • Cordless drill
  • Drill bits
  • Post-hole digger
  • Trenching tool (optional)
  • Shovel
  • Wood-handled tamper (optional)
  • Excavator (optional)
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Mulch, hay or similar dry bedding

Tip

  • An air-power staple gun or brad gun will expedite the project.

Warning

  • Don heavy gloves and run your hands along the inside of the enclosure to be sure no rough edges exist that could hurt the ducks.

Photo Credits

  • John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images