In a portable pen, ducks save you time and money



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Content: If confined in a portable pen, ducks can be used to control weeds and to evenly fertilize farm land. The management of ducks for this purpose is discussed. Also, two types of low-cost. portable fencing suitable for ducks or other small livestock are described.

Information on this subject area was requested by participants in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Central African Republic, Chile, Colombia, Dominica, Ecuador, Fiji, Ghana, Guyana, Honduras, India, Lesotho, Malawi, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Sierra Leone, Swaziland, Tanzania, Virgin Islands, Western Samoa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

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The item:
Many farmers keep ducks as a source of good food—for meat or for eggs. Some raise ducks to sell, or they may sell the eggs or even duck feathers or down. There are other good reasons for keeping ducks on a farm. Let me tell you about them.

Sulpredo Lachica, a farmer in the Philippines, has found two other very good uses for ducks on his farm—actually among his citrus trees. He uses them to trample and kill the weeds around his citrus trees. At the same time, their dung fertilizes the soil.

But how, you may ask, does he keep his ducks in the area where he wants them to trample the weeds and to fertilize the fruit trees?

Sulpredo uses a moveable bamboo pen for his ducks. He sets up the pen in one area, and later moves it to another and then to another, and so on.

Perhaps you’d like to try using ducks to fertilize the soil and control weeds on your farm. Here is one way you can do it.

First you must put together a portable pen. It could be made using a fence with four moveable sections. Sulpredo makes up these fence sections using a sturdy vertical bamboo post at each end of the fence section. The posts are about 1 metre (3 feet) long. For the horizontal fence rails, he uses a lot of straight bamboo poles, 6 metres (6 yards) long. They are split in half lengthwise and bound or nailed to the end posts. The bottom horizontal rail is attached to the end posts so it will be close to the ground. While the upper rails are 10 centimetres (4 inches) apart, the four lowest rails are quite close together so even young ducks can’t get out between them.

To strengthen this 6 metre (6 yard) long fence section, Sulpredo attaches a number of 1 metre (3 feet) long vertical stays to the horizontal rails. For them, he just takes a long bamboo pole, splits it lengthwise and cuts it up into pieces 1 metre (3 feet) long. After they’re attached to the rails, they’re like mini-fence posts. They make the fence section strong enough so it’s easy to move from one location to another.

After Sulpredo makes the first section this way, he makes three more exactly the same way. So he then has four sections of fence, each 6 metres (6 yards) long and 1 metre (3 feet) high. They’re not heavy to move around because they’re made of bamboo. Now that he has the four fence sections for his 6-metre (6 yard) square duck pen, he just stands these fence sections up and binds them to each other at the corners with bush rope.

There is another kind of pen you could build for your ducks. It is used by some farmers in Indonesia. These farmers use short, very thin bamboo posts or even strips of split bamboo about 65 centimetres (2 feet) long. The posts or strips are tied close together vertically. When making this type of fencing, an easy way is to just lay all the bamboo strips on the ground close to each other side by side. Then, using strong cord, tie each strip to the one beside it in two or three places. After they’re all tied together, the whole lot can be rolled up and carried to the place you want to put up the fence. You then unroll it, stand it up to form a circle, and hold it in position with stakes driven into the ground. Whenever you want to move this fence, it can be rolled up and carried to wherever you want to set it up.

So there you have two different ways of making a duck pen that can be moved from place to place.

You must now choose the area to be weeded and fertilized and set up the pen there. On his farm in the Philippines, Sulpredo uses this system for fertilizing and keeping his citrus trees free of weeds. He usually encloses as many as four full-grown citrus trees within the fence, but you could set up the pen almost anywhere.

After the pen is in place, he puts his ducks into it every night. While they’re there, they trample and control the weeds and fertilize the soil. First thing every morning, he feeds them inside the pen. Then he opens the fence and lets them out so they can wander about freely.

It’s always a good idea to feed your ducks when they are in the pen. If you normally feed your ducks twice a day, you can feed them in the morning before they leave the pen and then again in the evening when they come back. This way, you won’t have any trouble getting them to go into the pen at the end of the day.

How many nights should you leave the pen in one location?

Sulpredo moves his portable pen every week. This way he gets rid of weeds in one area and the ducks leave an even coating of dung on the ground. He is then able to move them to another area that needs to be fertilized. If you leave the pen in one place for too long, the dung will build up and you will not be making the best use of your ducks for fertilizing your land.

You might think of other ways in which a temporary fence or pen could be useful on your farm. You might try making the kind you can roll up, like the farmers use in Indonesia or the kind made with fence sections like Sulpredo Lachica uses in the Philippines. You might even find that such a system would be useful for other kinds of poultry, or for other kinds of small farm animals.

Serving Agriculture, the Basic Industry, this is ___. .


1. Previous DCFRN items related to this topic include the following:

Raising Ducks in the Paddy Field, Package 11, Item 5

Chickens Reduce Insects in Fruit, Package 4, Item 9B

Weeds, Package 5, Item 1A

2. If you wish to adapt moveable pens or fences as described in this item for use with other animals, you might also be interested in the following items:

Cassava Fences for Livestock and Poultry, Package 13, Item 5

Animals with Neck Yokes Don’t Go Through Fences, Package 13, Item 7 (For use with larger animals.)