Thursday, 5 January 2017

Building a duck run

When the Avian Flu Prevention Zone was announced on December 6th I spent a couple of days getting the stable conversion completed so the chickens had their splendid condo and creating the chicken palace, so that was them safely under cover and the ducks had to make do with a very makeshift space with a tarp slung over some bamboo canes, which didn't stand up to the wind and rain very well.

We ordered a large pen which arrived very quickly and had easy to follow instructions for putting it together. It was really a two person job, but as Mr J is out of the house from shortly after dawn to just before dusk on the days that he works, I tackled putting it together.
 Once I had worked out which piece went where the construction was relatively simple.
 The roof sections went together first.
 Followed by legs on one side.
 And then on the other side.
Followed by the base poles. The large heavy duty poles slotted into connecting pieces and were held in place with wing nuts. It took me a couple of hours to build the frame, which I then fixed to the ground using the ground pegs supplied.

Getting the chicken wire over the frame was a different matter. The instructions say its a fiddly job that requires patience and oh boy, they were right! About 1000 cable ties later, the netting was on. The hardest part was getting enough tension across the chicken wire while I also tried to fix it to the frame using a cable tie. 
You can see on the right of the photo that I hadn't yet pulled the chicken wire tight before fixing it to the corner post. The metal of the chicken wire has quietly shaved a layer or two of skin from my hands and I have dozens of tiny cuts on the back of my hands from the spiky ends of the chicken wire. 
The end result is great. The run is 6m by 4m and has a skirt of chicken wire around the outside to discourage burrowing predators.

We've put tarps over the top of it, but have decided that this not only makes it quite dark , but the crinkly, crackling noise that it makes in the wind is not very nice for the ducks, so today I will be ordering some scaffolding netting which will offer protection from any falling wild bird poop, but will let in a little more light and be less noisy.

Yesterday it was announced that the lockdown will continue until the end of February, so I am pleased that we've opted for a more permanent structure to keep the ducks safe and secure. Once the birds are allowed to free range again we can use the pen for raising this year's ducklings, giving them a much larger space than the ducklings had last year, but one that keeps them separate from the adults.

Now that the duck run is ready for the ducks to move from their makeshift space I can turn my attention to creating a pen for the chickens. They have been inside for a month and tempers are starting to fray (their's, not mine). Big White in particular is starting to get aggressive, which is unusual for this breed.

I will create a run from the chicken palace so that the Jersey Giants and Australorps have some outside space. I plan to build a covered run that leads straight off the chicken palace, sanitise the grass, cut a pop hole in the wall of the building and then allow them out each day for some fresh air and scratching.

After that I can work out how to create a similar covered outside space for the chickens in the condo. But, before I head outside to tackle anything else, it's time for a cuppa!
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