Friday, June 8, 2012

My June Lunacy, I mean, Preps

In case you haven't noticed, my thoughts, time, and prepping budget have been dominated by poultry-related purchases recently. Hubby Dear has come up with a term for the disease from which I suffer - Poultry Acquisition Disorder, or PAD for short. I don't think PAD is such a bad thing; Hubby Dear begs to differ!

There is a consequence of PAD, however; the cute little buggers grow up and then you have to figure out where you are going to house them. My June and July prepping budgets will be spent on turkey and duck housing and associated paraphernalia.

Oh, you didn't know I had ducks? Technically speaking, we will have ducks in 28 days since my ducks are still in ovo. I've got a batch of Ancona duck eggs in an incubator. Stay tuned for a tutorial on incubating duck eggs in an upcoming post.

We have three big projects underway.

1) Build a duck house

Hubby Dear and I shelled out big bucks for a pre-made chicken coop, but you can't just buy pre-fab duck houses. And using a chicken coop for ducks can be problematic as ducks have different requirements. For one thing, they don't roost. Their legs are also more delicate than chicken legs, so some of the taller designs with long ramps aren't ideal. They also need the nesting boxes to be at floor level.

We considered a lot of different options and nearly settled on converting a doghouse kit into a duck house identical to this, but we wanted something larger and with more versatility.

I ended up buying a chicken coop plan from the very cool Fresh Eggs Daily blog and Hubby Dear and I are building it ourselves. The coop is very duck-friendly and is large enough to house up to 9 Ancona ducks. We don't have a very good track record with home improvement projects, but so far it is going well. If you are handy, you probably don't need to buy the coop plan since she has a pretty detailed blog post about the coop, but Hubby Dear and I appreciate the cutting diagram and parts list.

The pile of supplies. We had to buy a circular saw and jigsaw plus all the lumber and miscellany, so the total came to
about $400 dollars. If you have the tools already, plus some scrap lumber on hand, this could be FAR cheaper. 

We're still cutting all the plywood, etc. and priming everything before we put it together.

Primed bits and pieces

Since ducks are so notoriously messy, I'm going through the extra step of painting the duck house both inside and out. I hope this will make cleanups easier in the long run. Right now it just seems to be slowing the process down!

2) Figure out the turkey housing situation

A brooder in my basement isn't going to cut it for my turkey poults much longer.

I think my turkeys are around 3 weeks old. They are already larger than my chickens were
when I allowed them out of the coop and into their run. Thank goodness I only bought four!

For one thing, I'm going to need my brooder for the ducklings in less than a month. And the turkeys are ready to get out of the brooder. They've already escaped several times despite the bird netting! They are little Houdinis, that's for sure.

Here's the problem: turkey poults are very delicate and disease-prone. Should they get too hot, too cold,or  too wet, they'll drop dead. People tend to baby their poults until they are 8+ weeks old, and even then many people will keep them indoors or in wire cages.

My tentative plan is to move them out into the duck house (with an attached run) when they are 5-6 weeks old. I'll give them plenty of shade and ventilation and hope for the best. They can get to know their new chicken roommates, and hopefully by the time I'm ready to move the ducks outside, I can integrate the turkeys in with the chickens. I'm taking a bit of risk by keeping our turkeys with the chickens (chickens can potentially give turkeys a disease called blackhead), but I'm willing to chance it.

Eventually the turkeys will be too big to go in and out of either the duck house or chicken coop, so they will get their own shelter. We plan to build a smaller version of the range shelter shown in Storey's Guide to Raising Turkeys. It will look similar to this:

Turkey range shelter - Ours will be quite a bit smaller because we only have four turkeys!
Image from 

3) Expand and fortify our chicken moat

Our chicken coop is attached to a moat that goes around our garden.

Current plan of the chicken moat

Since we're adding in a 4'x6' duck house plus a turkey range shelter and a whole bunch of new birds, we need to expand the run.

We seriously considered using electronet and making pens for the new birds out in the pasture. (You can see what that would look like in the photo of the turkey range shelter.) The birds would love that and we may do that in the future, but we have a special needs child and a toddler so I am concerned for their safety.  We decided instead to expand the chicken moat. We will bump out the right side of the moat to match the existing left side, giving a total of about 1,150 square feet for the birds to roam in safety.

We are also going to add a layer of chicken wire to the bottom of the fencing. We used welded wire mesh with 2"x4" openings to build our fence and little ducklings will easily be able to slip through for the first couple of months. And if any of my chickens go broody next spring and hatch some chicks, we'll be all ready for that!

A duckling could slip out or get stuck in the holes in the fence. We'll cover the lower
2 feet with chicken wire just to be safe. 

As you can see, I've got plenty to keep me busy over the next month and a half! I'm just trying to refrain from adding geese to the mix!


  1. I am so jealous of your ability to raise poultry. Our HOA won't allow it, and I can't bring myself to raise chickens indoors, so my prepping is limited to growing fruit and vegetables, then canning or dehydrating everything we don't eat.

    1. Katie B. - No, I don't blame you for not raising chickens indoors. I don't mind having baby poultry inside for the first two weeks, but after that they get pretty messy and need to be outside. It sounds like you are doing very well with what you have available to you.