How to Build a Duck House: Helpful Guide for Beginners

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If you want to raise ducks, you’ll need to either buy a duck house or learn how to build a duck house yourself.

Before you start building, there are some considerations to keep in mind to ensure you meet their needs better and make maintenance and cleaning easier.

Ducks are among the most easy-going animals to raise. When considering how to house ducks, remember it needs to protect them from predators.

The best duck house will give them enough space as well as give them shelter from harsh weather as well.

How to Build a Duck House

Let’s take a closer look at the typical size of a duck house, the basic requirements, and how to build housing for ducks from scratch.

When raising ducks, it’s important to know what’s most important with a shelter. A duck coop needs to be large enough, easy to clean, have airflow, protect ducks from weather, and protect them from predators.

How big does a duck house need to be?

The typical size of duck houses will depend on how many ducks you own. As a general rule, you should allow four square feet of floor space for every duck you plan raising.

If you’re planning on having free-range ducks, you’ll usually just need a shelter where they can sleep comfortably and safely.

On the other hand, if you plan on mating your ducks, remember to build the shelter bigger than your original needs, or make it easy to extend.

How to house ducks that you don’t want to be free-roaming is slightly different because you’ll also need to accommodate a run-around area for them.

In this case, you should allow a further 15 square feet of outdoor floor space per duck.

So if you’re planning on getting two ducks, you’ll need a minimum of eight square feet of space for their coop and a minimum of 30 square feet of space for their run.

It’s important to note, many towns have Chicken and Duck Keeping ordinances which require a minimum of 3 – 4 square feet of coop space per duck.

Consider also the breed. A Pekin duck is much larger than a Rouen duck or Khaki Campbells and will thrive with more space. 

What does a duck house need?

In addition to having enough space, there are six things to consider when building housing for ducks. These will cover all of their basic needs. 

1. A coop that’s easy to clean

Ducks are far from being the cleanest of birds, and it seems that they poop every few minutes. They also love being wet, so their coop will need regular cleaning to help prevent diseases.

Take this fact into consideration when building your coop so that the design makes it easier and healthier for you to clean it out.

For instance, if the duck coop is fairly large, make it tall enough to stand up in it to save you from backaches in the future. 

You’ll also want to make sure you have a designated clean-out door to let you swap out the soiled bedding for new. Every so often, you’ll also need to give the coop a really good clean by scraping it out and hosing it down.

Attaching one of the sides of the duck house with a hinge and latch will allow you easier access when mucking out. Just swing back the entire side of the house and prop it open while you get busy with your cleaning equipment.

2. Compostable bedding

We recommend using straw bedding for your ducks because it produces little dust, and you can compost it afterward.

Your ducks will also find the straw to be extremely comfortable. It can also serve as a nice nest for brooding. In most instances, you won’t need to build nesting boxes for ducks. They prefer to set up a nest with straw on the ground in their house.

Straw insulates well, and you can also pile it high in winter for extra warmth.

When it’s time for changing, the mixture of the straw with duck poop will make it prime composting material to boost the fertility of your soil.

You can make cleaning out the duck house even easier by building your compost pile nearby. That way you don’t have to walk far with the soiled bedding every time you’re mucking out.

If you don’t want to use straw, you could also consider large flake wood shavings or pine needles.

3. Ventilation

As water birds, ducks are almost always wet, so you’ll need good ventilation to make sure that the duck house doesn’t get moldy.

Building windows on two opposite sides of the coop will ensure it gets a good through-draft.

However, make sure the windows are covered with some sort of chicken wire or hardware cloth to stop predators, such as raccoons, from getting in.

If the area you live in gets really harsh winters, you may also want to consider some way of closing the windows up when the weather gets terrible. You can install air vents in the roof which will still provide ventilation and keep the windows closed to keep it warmer.

The most important thing to consider is that humidity doesn’t build up and create mold.

4. Entrance

Of course, your duck house will need an entry point so that the birds can come and go, but you should also build it to cater to their specific needs.

How to house ducks is slightly different from chickens because on land, chickens are more able-bodied than ducks.

Ducks have bodies very close to the ground and weak, short legs. Unless their coop is at ground level, your ducks will need a gently sloping ramp to get in and out of their house.

The slope needs to be very gentle because they just won’t be able to get in and out otherwise. They’re heavy fowl and don’t like to climb much.

You should also make sure that the ramp is ridged or textured in some way so that their webbed feet can grip onto it.

It’s also best that you make the entrance slightly wider than you would on a chicken coop. Build the entrance wide enough for two ducks to enter or exit at the same time because they often like to come and go in pairs.

Consider also duck size. Some breeds are larger, such as Muscovy ducks. A Muscovy duck will require a bit more space.

5. Predator proofing

Have you heard of the term, “sitting duck”? This is an expression meaning something doesn’t have protection from predators. When caring for ducks, it’s essential to protect them.

Depending on where you live, you may have raccoons, possums, coyotes, bobcats, weasels, and owls. All of these and more are predators to ducks. You will need to keep your ducks safe.

Keep these unwanted predators out of your duck house by building a chicken wire fence enclosure surrounding their open free space as well as the duck coop. You’ll want to be sure to enclose the top as well.

Ensure protection all around your duck house, making sure it’s deep enough. Bury chicken wire at least eight inches in the ground. Going 12 inches is better.

You can also consider apron fencing. By toeing the fencing 6 – 8″ out along the ground, the predators — especially raccoons — won’t be able to get underneath. They’ll encounter more fencing.

You can place boulders all around the outside of the fence to discourage digging. You can also dig the fence in deeper by digging a trench before erecting it.

Duck house latch

Any latches on the duck house should be double-action latches because raccoons have been known to unlock single-action latches. The goal, however, is to have another barrier to predators to discourage them from being close to the duck house.

It’s important to protect the ducks from predators that climb and fly. Therefore, you should also cover the top of the duck shelter with chicken wire. Think of any way animals can get to your ducks and secure the area. 

It’s also a good idea to build a door on the duck house entrance so that you can shut them in at night. 

6. Water access

Similar to most animals, ducks must have access to clean water at all times. They need water to keep their mucous membranes moist and clean.

As a minimum requirement, keep a bucket of fresh water nearby that they can dunk their heads into.

Your ducks should also have access to an area of water that allows them to splash around in.

When ducks splash themselves with water, an oil gland at the base of their tail is activated. This oil helps waterproof their feathers, helps them swim, and protects them from hot and cold weather.

If you don’t have a pond or river in your garden, then a small kiddie pool will suffice, but all duck breeds will appreciate deeper water where they can dive at any time. This is especially true of Indian runner ducks who enjoy foraging in for food in ponds.

how to build a duck house

How Do You Make a Duck House?

Building a duck house can be easy, especially if you have any prior building experience. You’ll need access to some basic tools.

Depending on how simple your design is, you might be able to have it up in just a few hours. Here’s how to build a duck house.

A-Frame Duck House: Building Instructions

To keep things extremely simple, we will show you how to build an A-frame duck house with plywood.

What You’ll Need

  • Pencil and paper to sketch out your plans
  • Enough plywood for the floor and walls
  • Enough 2×4 wood for the A-frame
  • Handsaw or electric saw
  • Screw tool and screws to attach the frame
  • Hammer and nails to attach the walls
  • Couple of hinges to make a door
  • Double-action latch for the door
  • Chicken wire to cover the windows
  • Tar paper to cover the roof or sides
  • Roofing shingles

Step-by-Step Instructions to Build Duck Coop

Sketch out a rough plan to work out how much wood you’ll need and follow the next instructions below.

Remember, although there really is no typical size of duck houses, the floor should be at least four square feet per duck, so start there and then build upwards.

Build the Floor

  1. Cut the floor to the size you want. 
  2. If the floor needs to be bigger than the plywood piece, you’ll need to build yourself a frame using 2×4 wood to the size you need.
  3. Using the hammer and nails, attach the plywood boards to the wooden frame.

Make the Frame and Attach It to the Floor

  1. Once the floor is cut to size, you need to build yourself a frame, which will be in the shape of the letter A.
  2. Lay down two of your 2×4 woods to make your A-shape and line up the bottom of each 2×4 with two corners of the floor, along one of the shorter sides.
  3. The top of the A will be the highest point in the duck house, so make sure this is as tall as you want it to be.
  4. Once you are happy with your A-frame’s height and width, cut four 2×4 boards to size.
  5. You’ll also need to cut a corner out of the 2×4’s top so that the “A” fits together nicely at its peak.
  6. Fix them together using screws to make two “A” shapes.
  7. Measure the floor’s length and cut another 2×4 of the same length, but minus four inches.
  8. Attach both “A” shapes using the single 2×4 you just cut, running between the highest points of the A’s.
  9. Using screws, fix the entire frame to the floor of the duck house.

Install Extra Support Beams

At this point, depending on the size of your duck house, you may wish to add in some extra support beams. That is especially important if the sides of the duck house are larger than a single sheet of plywood.

You may need to attach another 2×4 running from the floor to the ceiling, halfway between the “A” shapes.

The beams will give you a stronger frame and something to hammer the nails into when attaching the walls.

Build and Install the Walls

  1. Measure out and cut pieces of plywood to fit each of the four sides.
  2. Since your duck house needs ventilation, cut off the uppermost sections of each triangular-shaped piece of plywood. You can fill this section in at the end with chicken wire.
  3. Work out which side will be your entrance and cut out a door. Keep the cutout piece for later since you can reattach it with a hinge and latch so that you can lock the ducks in at night.
  4. Attach each side of the house with a hammer and nails, apart from one.
  5. Attach the house’s final wall using a couple of hinges and latch so that you can gain easy access for cleaning. It really doesn’t matter which side this is, so choose the one that will make your life the easiest for cleaning purposes.

Add Finishing Touches

  1. Cover up the two larger sides on your duck house with tar paper, and then you can shingle these two exterior walls.
  2. Cover the floor with tarp or peel and stick floor tiles because it will make cleaning the coop easier.
  3. If you plan on having your duck house raised off the ground, you’ll also need a duck ramp. Just remember to score some lines in it so that the ducks don’t slip on the plywood or cover it with leftover tar paper.
  4. Stain or paint the coop’s exterior to help protect it from the elements and extend its life.

Consider the ducks’ safety as well. Be sure to not have any exposed nails, ragged wood or loose pieces that can hurt your ducks.

Do ducks need a perch or nesting box?

When you are building a duck house, you don’t need to factor in these extras. Ducks do not need a perch. They do not roost like chickens do. Ducks will sleep on the floor on straw.

Also, when you build a duck house, you don’t need to build nesting boxes. This is because ducks typically prefer to set up their own nest with straw on the ground. 

Ducks do not need nesting boxes in order to lay their eggs. Duck eggs vs chicken eggs

How big should my duck house be?

You should plan for a minimum of four square feet of floor space per duck. The duck house should be a minimum of three feet tall. However, it’s better if it’s taller. It will be easier to clean out.

The larger the house, the more opportunities you’ll have to create vents near the rooftop to allow for ventilation. It’s important to have air vents or windows to allow moisture to escape so mold doesn’t grow. 

Where to put a duck house

When building housing for ducks, you will want to consider your property. It’s important to build the coop on high, well-drained areas. 

In addition, face the front of the coop, including the windows and the outside run, to the south. This is so the sun can dry out the coop and run area.

With enough space per bird, this will also keep the humidity levels lower.

When considering where to put the duck house, also consider any natural barriers such as walls from a garage and fencing you already have.

Remember, predators will dig at the base of the fence. If you dig and toe it outward at least six inches, predators will encounter more fencing and not be able to get in as easily.

Do ducks need a house or shelter?

Yes, when you are raising and keeping ducks, you will need to provide them with housing. This can be a duck house or duck coop or other type of shelter which protects them from predators and weather.

Housing for ducks should include vents for air flow. The shelter will help protect ducks from predators as well as keeping them warm in cold winters. Ducks will sleep in their duck house as well. 

When considering the typical size of duck house and how big does a duck house need to be, you should plan for four square feet of floor space. This does not include outside, free-range space. 

Duck housing on open ponds

If you are raising ducks on open ponds, you will likely build a smaller shelter. They will mostly be out in the elements as would non-domesticated ducks.

The duck house you provide should provide a dry, sheltered area for them. Depending on the land and area around the water, the ducks may build their own area for nesting and shelter. It’s important to have this option for them.

Housing for ducks

How to build a duck house is not as difficult as it seems, and generally, there are only six things that every duck house needs.

However, if building something from scratch sounds too daunting for you, you can upcycle a child’s playhouse or use a gardening or potting shed as a duck house.

No matter what shape your duck house is or what materials you use, as long as your ducks have all of their needs met, they’ll be sure to use it.

Learning how to house ducks isn’t complicated. The best duck houses will give them protection from predators and weather, ventilation, and a safe place to sleep. That’s mostly what a duck house needs.

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