Updated December 11, 2019
Cleaning and maintenance are important parts of caring for ducks. Providing a clean living and swimming space can help prevent illness, and regular maintenance will keep spaces safe both for the duck residents and their human caretakers. Though it’s important to check spaces each day and do any necessary spot cleaning, the frequency at which full cleanings are needed is based on a variety of factors. For example, spaces may become dirtier more quickly during extreme heat or cold, when ducks may be spending more time indoors. The number of residents and the size of the space also factor in. Below we recommend performing a full cleaning of the space weekly, which is a good starting point, but you may find that your resident living spaces need to be cleaned more or less often. Whenever you clean up a duck’s living space, make sure to wear proper protection like disposable gloves and potentially a particle mask.
Create And Maintain A Cleaning Schedule
Every day, ensure that the indoor space is always well ventilated, as excess moisture can cause a host of problems and attract disease. Caked or wet bedding should be removed immediately to help keep the space sanitary. Check around water units to ensure the surrounding bedding has not become wet. Sometimes the top layer of bedding appears dry, but further inspection reveals completely soaked bedding below. If you notice any holes around the enclosure, fencing, or to a duck’s outdoor space, make sure to keep them covered to protect the flock from predators. Make sure the ducks’ outdoor space isn’t excessively muddy and that the ducks aren’t forced to stand or walk through deep mud to get to food, water, or into their living space. They need a dry place for their feet or else they risk developing dangerous foot issues. Check their enclosure to ensure that there are no dangerous materials around such as loose nails or screws, or plants that are toxic to ducks.
Ducks require a small swimming pool or pond both for their physical and mental health. If using a swimming pool or water tub, this should be cleaned thoroughly each day and refilled with fresh water to lower the risk of disease. Small man-made ponds will also need regular maintenance, but typically don’t get dirty as quickly as small, shallow sources of water. Larger man-made ponds will require even less maintenance and stream or spring fed ponds will naturally cycle in new water, which will help keep it clean.
Drinking sources should be cleaned at least once per day and refilled with fresh, clean water. Any spilled food should be cleaned up daily both to prevent spoilage and to prevent attracting rodents.
Nesting areas must be checked daily. All eggs should be collected, and any broken egg must be thoroughly cleaned to prevent attracting maggots which can then move onto a duck if they have a wound or dirty, matted feathers. If a duck crushes an egg they were nesting on, you must also clean the egg remnants off of the duck. Fill freshly cleaned nesting areas with a good amount of fresh bedding. Inadequate amounts of bedding make broken eggs more likely. If using straw bales for nesting areas, it’s a good idea to move these regularly to prevent rodents from building nests under them and to ensure there is no sign of a breech behind or underneath them. The tops may also need to be cleaned if ducks spend time on top of them.
If a space has become overly dirty or wet (from rain or snow blowing into the space or a leaky water unit for example) the space will need a full cleaning regardless of your cleaning schedule.
Every week (or other frequency you’ve established based on the specifics of the space), remove all bedding and nesting materials, clean flooring (using animal safe cleaner and deodorizer), and replenish with new bedding. This is very important as it prevents disease from spreading and prevents mold, parasites, fungus and ammonia from building up. When performing any indoor cleaning, be very mindful of dust. We highly recommend wearing a particle mask as inhaling dried duck manure can be very harmful for humans. A quick dusting right after adding fresh bedding can be helpful.
About every six months or so, you should perform a thorough cleaning of the entire duck house and yard. This includes disinfecting and cleaning any feeders, waterers, and all surfaces of the duck house. Use a strong detergent and give it at least 30 minutes to be more effective. Warm solutions work better at cleaning than cold ones! Ensure that all surfaces are dry before reintroducing ducks into their living space. A fall cleaning is helpful to control parasites over the wintertime. Additionally, if you’re planning on introducing a new bird into the flock, a deep cleaning can help prevent the spread of disease.
If you live in an especially heat-prone region, be mindful when you schedule living space cleaning. Depending on your residents and how thoroughly you are cleaning, it may be safer to have them fully locked out of the indoor space during cleaning. It’s best to schedule routine cleaning for periods when ducks can remain comfortable in their outdoor space. You don’t want them stuck in the sweltering sun. Make sure they have access to shade, cool water, and food.
Check any cooling systems in use both to ensure they are working properly and that they are keeping the space at a comfortable temperature. Fans should be checked regularly to ensure they are working properly and cords remain in good condition. They can get very dusty and should be cleaned regularly.
In cold climates, you’ll need to find a way to safely clean without forcing your residents to be stuck out in bitterly cold weather. Be extra mindful of extreme cold or drafts coming into the duck house. You will likely have to increase the insulation or bedding material in the duck house to keep it warmer. If you absolutely need to, employ a safe heat source, like a small ceramic heater, but be very careful as duck houses are incredibly susceptible to fire.
Most importantly in the winter, do not allow ducks to have access to partially frozen swimming ponds. A shallow pool is safe, but avoid any swimming area where a duck could dive underwater and then become trapped under the ice. Depending on the size of the pond and the seasonal temperatures, an aeration system or a pond heater may prevent the water from freezing. If it’s not possible to provide a way for ducks to swim in the winter, you should regularly offer open containers of water that are large enough for them to stick their head and neck into. They will splash this water over themselves to preen and keep clean. This can be a very messy affair, so be prepared to clean around these areas regularly.
What About All This Dust?
You may notice that the duck house is a bit on the dusty side. If the dust is getting excessive in the duck house, you can very lightly mist the duck house with water. Be very careful not to wet any bed or floor materials, as this can inadvertently help grow dangerous bacteria.
How To Take Care Of Ducks | WikiHow (Non-Compassionate Source)
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