The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care.
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Owning ducks as pets can be an enjoyable experience. Not only can you get duck eggs from it the way you can with chickens, but ducks themselves can be an interesting and unique pet to have.
With that being said, ducks have a few unique problems that most other birds will not encounter, especially in terms of keeping them as pets. A good example of this is the fact that ducks are notorious for spilling their water and tipping it over.
This is not something that you should necessarily get mad at your duck about. Ducks are naturally waterfowl, which is to say that they are naturally inclined to want to be in the water and will likely try to get into their water bowls if they cannot do so easily, which is what leads to the spillage that most people experience.
Ducks, at minimum, need to be able to submerge their entire head into the water for their own health. This is because this is how they wash their eyes, bills, and sinuses as well as how they drink their water.
If they don’t have access to a water bowl that allows for them to do this, they can develop sinus infections, respiratory infections, and they will continuously spill their water in an attempt to be able to dip their heads fully in. This is one of the biggest problems that duck owners will encounter when trying to provide a nice and clean area for their ducks to live.
Thankfully, because this is such a notable problem for people who own ducks, there are a number of solutions out there that are proposed by people who care for ducks.
Many of these solutions surround the idea of being able to offer your duck a place where they can make use of the water and clean themselves, but have that place be far enough away from the bedding of their coop so that they don’t track water inside, which could lead to soggy bedding.
The Simplest Solution
One of the most common solutions that people will have to this type of problem is purchasing a kiddie pool, filling it up, and letting the ducks mess around with the pool as they wish.
The pool is usually kept a fair bit away from the coop so that the ducks cannot track water inside as easily, and the pool is often in a location where it is okay for the ducks to spill the water.
This solution is often the easiest in terms of working out a DIY water system for your ducks that does not involve spillage, but it can be difficult to clean up after the ducks and it will often mean a lot of refilling the kiddie pool as the ducks play around and splash in it.
Depending on the size of the pool, your ducks may want to swim and splash in it, which will mean that a lot of the water becomes dirty and unfit for a drinking area.
This solution is commonly used during the summer, especially when ducks will want to cool down by hanging out in the water, but it can also work well in the case of an emergency such as the current water system breaking down and becoming unusable for your ducks.
Arguably, this solution is also the least expensive, as all you need to do is purchase a kiddie pool large enough for one or two of your ducks to float in and the rest will be comfortable enough to submerge their heads in. It is also the most hands-free solution, aside from refilling it regularly.
Keep in mind that this does not necessarily solve the problem of ducks being messy and getting their water everywhere. It only confines the problem to an area where it may not be as noticeable or cause as much disruption for other ducks.
The DIY Solution
If you are up for creating a water area for your ducks that is meant exclusively for drinking and head-cleaning with, then you will be able to work with this.
You will still want to have a separate area for your ducks to play in and be able to swim and float around in, but in terms of mess-free drinking areas, this is going to be the solution you work toward.
The items you need are going to be a poultry waterer, a five-gallon feeder tub, two standard-sized bricks, and you will be good to go.
With the poultry waterer, you will want to remove any base that comes with it so that all that remains is just the tank. This will work as the tank of water that is supplied to the ducks.
Inside the feeder tub, you will want to place the two bricks into the tub in the center, close to each other but far enough apart that it will be able to support the waterer.
You do not necessarily have to use bricks, but any alternative you use should be waterproof and nontoxic, as it will be holding the waterer up above the feeder tub so the ducks have enough room for their heads.
You will then want to set the waterer tank onto the bricks or the object of your choice inside the feeder tub. If you bought the feeder tub of the right size, there should be more than enough space for the ducks to submerge their heads into, though not enough space for them to do much more than this.
Once you fill up the tank, it should drip water down into the rest of the tub, providing a deep enough solution of water for the ducks to drink and clean with, while being heavy enough that your ducks won’t be able to spill the water or tip it over and make a mess out of the rest of their coop.
You can then move the DIY setup to a convenient location in the duck’s area where you can easily fill it up with water when needed, and the ducks can access it when they want to clean themselves.
This solution, while it may take a bit of work, will ensure that your ducks will have their essentials for water and cleaning while also making sure that they will not physically have enough strength to knock anything over or spill it, thanks to the bricks and the weight of the water itself.
Again, this does not replace the area of water that ducks need for the sake of their entertainment. You should still have a separate area of water for your ducks that is large enough for them to be able to fully play in, as water is far more than just a nutrient for ducks.
This is a solution that simply keeps your ducks from being able to soak their entire coop and bedding with water, turning the bedding into a soggy mess, and preventing mold from growing inside their coop.
Preventing Water Spillage Inside the Coop
Another thing you will want to consider is the inside area where your ducks spend the most time. If you are going to have any flooring at all, it should be slatted or wire flooring, especially underneath the watering area.
This ensures that any water that is spilled by your ducks is going to fall down the slats and onto the ground below, not building up and leading to mold problems inside of the coop.
At best, the slatted or wire flooring should be underneath the area where the ducks have their water at, as they are most likely to spill the water around this area.
A single panel of slatted or wired floor should not cost too much and will be a great help in keeping the rest of the coop dry, especially during seasons where mold and mildew growth is prevalent.
Slatted floors can also help to keep your ducks comfortable during the warm seasons, since cool air can circulate underneath it and keep your ducks happy and thriving.