Duck, Goose & Chicken Hatchery

DIY Waterer Solutions for Keeping Your Pen Clean & Dry

Thursday, July 21, 2022
Everyone knows ducks love water, but water + dirt…. That creates a big mess! For ducks & geese, water is not only a necessity but also a source of fun and entertainment. For duck owners, something must be done to keep this messy situation under wraps. That’s why we asked you - our customers - how you control this entire big, muddy mess.

We asked: In your coop, how do you provide drinking water for your ducks while at the same time keeping the pen dry?

We received lots of submissions from our fantastic Metzer Farms customers. After compiling results from our DIY waterfowl submissions, here are several DIY suggestions that provide the perfect solution to prevent a muddy mess.

Eric W. from Roaring Spring, PA found success with what he calls his “Party Deck.” This watering station consists of a large wood platform with about 20” of dirt dug out from beneath. The waters are then placed on top of the platform. Any splashes and spilled water simply drains through the cracks of the wood. Not only does this method prevent messes, but it is very easy to maintain. “They're very easy to clean compared to other waterers I've tried. I wash their deck down once a day,” said Eric. This concept can be replicated in many ways, for example a screen can be used instead of wood to allow for drainage.
Page C. from Ann Arbor, MI has a similar setup utilizing a screen and a cement mix basin to catch the water plus the addition of 1” flexible PVC tubing buried in the ground to run the excess water outside the duck coop. Page reports that, “I made a 1/2 " screen cover and placed the water dish on top. The ducks can reach over or stand on the screen and most splashed water goes into the cement basin and out the 1" PVC to a dug out drain ditch. Each morning, I simply dump dirty water into the cement basin through the screening and fill it with clean water.”
Another effective DIY submission was from Lindsay H. from Atchison, KS. Her solution was simply a five gallon bucket with holes cut just below the bucket’s top. These holes are just big enough for ducks to stick their heads through to drink out of. This creative solution does just the trick and cuts down on spilled water immensely. It is also very simple to make and is not costly in any way. The holes are big enough to allow the ducks to dunk their heads and clear their nostrils as needed. This is a benefit that other waterers, for example nipple waterers, do not have.
Metzer Farms Customer, Laura C. has a similar setup except she uses an old plastic tub with holes cut into one side. “It lasted so much longer, they could dunk their heads as needed & clear their nostrils, and they couldn’t dump it” states Laura. Underneath the tub is a rabbit tray purchased from Tractor Supply with a wooden frame over the top of it and vinyl coated hardware cloth. There are bricks under the tray to support the tote and the weight of the ducks when they walk on it.
The importance of keeping things dry and preventing messes is also necessary when the ducks are young and still in the brooder. Bedding decisions are important at this stage of the game to keep the mess minimal. Stacy M. from Newport, PA has found that your choice of bedding can make a big difference in the cleanliness of an enclosure and in the reduction of waste. Half of her brooder consists of wood shavings, and in the other half she uses bedding pellets made of compressed wood similar to what people use to bed horse stalls. These pine pellets break down much more slowly and they also absorb water. “I find that I don't need to change their bedding nearly as often with the bedding pellets, and I haven't noticed (the ducks) eating (the bedding) either which is a bonus!” Stacey says. Additionally, a silicone tray with raised sides is used underneath the food and water in Stacey’s brooder. This tray allows spills to be caught without soiling the bedding.
No matter what, ducks will be ducks and they will always be messy. However, by incorporating some of these simple DIY mess prevention techniques into your coops and enclosures, you can ensure a cleaner habitat for your waterfowl. In the end, this will mean better health overall for your waterfowl as well as an easier time for you keeping the situation clean and manageable.
As you can see from the above, our customers accomplished a lot in terms of keeping their pens dry! In summary, here’s some solutions for keeping your messy duck pens cleaner while at the same time providing an easy and adequate water sources for your waterfowl:
• Not allowing complete swimming access in the enclosures 100% of the time
• Platforms (wood, screen, etc.) elevated above dug out drainage areas for waterer to sit on.
• Enclosed waterers (buckets, tubs, or totes) with cut outs that allow waterfowl to drink but hinder full body emersion and swimming
• Different bedding options (such as pine pellets) that allow for better absorbency and easier cleaning


I have five Indian Runners that I bought from Metzer. My ducks have an outdoor enclosure and most days a kiddie pool with fresh water. They always have two buckets of fresh water each day. I let them dig in the ground as much as they want. At night I put them in a chicken coop with private area just for the ducks. It's a long narrow space with one end that is screened in and the other end is a door that I open for them in the morning and lock them in at night. The coop also has a larger screen door in the middle so I can access their area to clean it. I sometimes let them run around in the coop when my chickens are roosting in their space above with doors locked. I do not give my ducks food or water at night. The outdoor enclosure is plastic mesh on stakes that push into the ground they are moveable. I like the runners because they cannot fly out of that space. It's important to have a water source nearby without one you won't have happy ducks. They must have water to wash down their food. Marcia
Marcia Hill, Thursday, February 1, 2024
We are forced to keep our ducks in very protected runs as the creatures of the night in the boreal forest where we live are always ready for duck dinner. WE also have long and very cold winters so the ducks move into a heated building then. We still have 2 runner ducks who are over 10 years old that came from a small group we bought from Metzer along with 5 local runners as we cannot take live ducks across the border, but in even such small numbers the mess in inside facilities can be pretty overwhelming. Water has always been an issue so I'm glad to see this sharing of ideas. Yesterday I completed a waterer using a cement mixing tub and a piece of heavy duty 1" steel mesh to make a new prototype. I curved the two ends down and under the tub's handles to hold it solid and put 1x2 pieces, top and bottom on the long sides to protect the ducks. This morning there was proof they are fine with the mesh and everything looked clean and dry (relatively!). The summer will be fine with outside runs and swimming pools it is just how do you cope inside for long winters? This might be the answer.
Elizabeth Redfern, Thursday, February 8, 2024