Ducks

Introducing the “Quacker Box” duck coop – a birthday present worthy of The Tyrant

Charlie von Cat inspects the Quacker Box at Tyrant Farms
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This is the story of the Quacker Box, the first duck house at Tyrant Farms. If you’re trying to figure out how to build a duck house for your backyard flock, you need to read this article! 


During the first week of September, many people around the world (or at least in our household) celebrate “Semana del Tirano.” In case you don’t know, Semana del Tirano is the birthweek festival honoring the beautiful, revered, and very tiny benevolent tyrant, Susan von Frank (the namesake of Tyrant Farms).

Susan let me know during the months leading up to her festival that she “had very big plans for me” during Semana del Tirano. She loves milking every drop of indulgence out of her birthweek that she can, and I admittedly derive a great deal of pleasure from pampering her. 

Our birthday and holiday gifts to each other tend to be a shared experience (like a trip) or co-creating something that we need and will use for a long time (like a new fruit tree in the garden).

A present for The Tyrant: a duck house

As you probably know, if it weren’t for deadlines and “last minutes,” 99% of everything would never get done. We knew that building a duck house was a big project, so we’d been putting it off…

We needed a deadline, so we made the birthweek of The Tyrant the deadline for when we’d have our first duck house built.   

Quacker Box Duck coop: Phase I design 

The Quacker Box started off as a two story monstrosity that was supposed to house our new kittens on the top level and our yet-to-be-acquired egg laying ducks on the bottom level. (Somebody recently abandoned two kittens in our yard, that we decided to adopt.)

In case you don’t know, many breeds of ducks lay large, delicious, nutrient-dense eggs. Ducks can also lay more eggs (and larger eggs) than chickens. (See our article ducks vs chickens for an in-depth comparison of the two species.)

Step 1: Design the duck house.  

The year was 2012, and backyard ducks were relatively unheard of at that time. So there weren’t many good ideas to be found on the internet about how to build a duck house for a backyard flock. 

That meant we were going to have to design a duck house from scratch. Thankfully, The Tyrant is a design whiz, so we were able to quickly whip up CAD designs for a duck house that would accommodate our ducks on the bottom and our cats on the top.  

Our Phase I duck house kitten house castle thingie plan that we rendered in CAD. (By "we" I mean Susan, and by "Susan" I mean The Tyrant.)

Our Phase I duck house kitten house castle thingie plan that we rendered in CAD. (By “we” I mean Susan, and by “Susan” I mean The Tyrant.)

Step 2: Get materials and build. 

After getting the materials necessary for our initial cat & duck house design, we started construction early on a Saturday morning. After nearly two full days of work, a lot of bickering, re-CADing, and the ingestion of more alcohol than we typically consume, we had constructed the shell of the beast.

It was so heavy that we could barely lift it, but we eventually managed to get it in place between two lettuce beds next to our house in the back yard. Then disaster struck.

As we removed the sawdust on the chop saw, we noticed that it was set a few degrees off from 90 degrees. Yes, ladies and gents, this means that we’d created our very own Leaning Duck Tower of Pisa in our back yard. We finished off the night with a spattering of profanity and a few more glasses of wine.

Bob and Oscar von Kitten (unimpressed) inspecting the Phase 1 kitten-duck house.

Bob and Oscar von Kitten (unimpressed) inspecting the Phase 1 kitten-duck house.

Phase 2: The birth of the Quacker Box, a duck house worthy of The Tyrant 

The failed Phase 1 duck house stayed there, untouched, for the next 6 weeks while we tried to ignore it. As Semana del Tirano approached, a new motivating wind blew into our sails. Thus began the planning of the Phase 2 duck house… 

Our morale was further boosted when we looked out the window during a bad rainstorm and noticed that the white clematis flowers on our fence were blooming in the shape of a duck. Quackleus, God of Ducks, was clearly giving us a sign of approval.

It’s a sign! We need to build a new duck house.

No two story, leaning, monstrosity would be built this time. We’d keep things simple: a very basic 3-walled structure, a simple shed roof and a run.

Yeah. Simple and easy.

The simple, humble beginnings of the Phase II Duck House, aka the "Quacker Box."

The simple, humble beginnings of the Phase II Duck House, aka the “Quacker Box.”

We deconstructed the Phase 1 beast, and hauled its skeleton into our garage to make sure the wood would stay dry throughout construction. For a few nights in a row, we’d head to the garage until 2-3am to work on Phase 2 construction.

After a lot of bickering, pad sketching, and (of course) wine drinking, the Quacker Box emerged just in time for the conclusion of Susan’s birthday festivities. Somehow, between concept and completion, the Quacker Box received a considerable design/build upgrade package.

The Tyrant joyfully approved of the final craftsman style Quacker Box (pictures and detailed duck house plans below).

The new Quacker Box duck house features:

  • wheels for moving around the yard (the wheels can be added and removed whenever necessary),
  • a green roof (we’ve planted strawberries, lettuce and herb seeds),
  • an attached wired duck run, and
  • a small flower box.

Quacker Box duck coop final images/design:

The Quacker Box - duck house, duck tractor, duck coop - via tyrantfarms.com

 click the picture above to open a larger version of the image 

Quacker Box duck house basic footprint:

click the image to view a printable pdf (opens in a new window)

basic footprint of the quacker box duck house at Tyrant Farms

Quacker Box duck house sketch of the house

click the image to view a printable pdf (opens in a new window)
A design sketch of the Quacker Box duck house at Tyrant Farms.

*As you can see in the image notes, the floor of our duck house has hardware cloth underneath it. However, we put pine shavings on top of the hardware cloth to prevent duck foot injuries. Prolonged exposure to concrete or wire can cause foot damage.   

Each night before we put our ducks up, we cover any poopy areas with a bit more pine shavings. Eventually, once the pine shavings get about 1′ deep, we dig them out and add them to compost, put them around our fruit trees, etc. 

Where we located our duck house at Tyrant Farms: 

Positioning our duck houses, duck coops at Tyrant Farms

Next step: getting ducks. 

Once we had our duck house all ready to go, it was time to get actual ducks!

What breed of duck did we choose? We got Welsh Harlequin ducks from Metzer Farms. Welsh Harlequins are a very social, friendly breed that are also good egg layers.  

white-duck-featured-image

Do you have your duck house ready to go? If so, here are next steps and articles you should read:

… and even more duck articles from Tyrant Farms!

We hope this article helps you build a safe, secure, and attractive duck house for your future flock! 

KIGI,

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23 Comments

  • Reply
    Vickie Ray Degand
    May 31, 2020 at 11:12 pm

    I may need to become a Tyrant so I can get a duck house on Victoria Day!! I noticed at the beginning of your post you were including an area for your kitty cats. But when you finished, I didnโ€™t see a kitty area. So where do your little 4 pawed creatures reside?

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      June 1, 2020 at 11:25 am

      That initial plan was abandoned and we ultimately ended up with the Quacker Box duck coop you see in the final images. One of our cats disappeared about 4 years ago (coyotes?) so we only have one now. Due to the destruction cats cause to wildlife, we’d prefer not to have any cats. However, since we decided to keep the kittens when someone dropped them off on our doorstep years ago, Bob the cat is ours until the day he crosses over to the great milk bowl.

  • Reply
    Liane Cutforth
    April 17, 2020 at 7:14 pm

    HI, how large (just general measurements) would you make the coop for 6 ducks? What size are you thinking for your larger flock? Also, I’m curious how often you move it since you put wheels on it. Thanks again!

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      April 23, 2020 at 12:53 pm

      Hi Liane! Sorry for our slow response. The general rule is 2-6 square feet of space per duck inside their coop/duck house, with some variance based on breed size. You could get away with 2-3′ per duck for Welsh Harlequins or Runners, but that would be too small for larger breeds like Pekins or Silver Appleyards. So for 6 small-medium sized ducks, you’d want a coop that had a MINIMUM interior square footage of 12′. Ideally, it could be more spacious.

      As far as moving our duck coops: even though they’re both mobile, we don’t move them at all anymore. That’s partly because our backyard is packed full of perennial plants so there’s nowhere else to move them, and also because our ducks associate that spot as their home for the night and we don’t want to change things up on them. Having a mobile coop does make cleaning and repairs easier, but it’s not essential.

  • Reply
    Winkyboy
    March 22, 2020 at 8:42 am

    This is made to house two ducks, right? – Dan

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      March 22, 2020 at 11:31 am

      We coop 5 ducks in there at night right now, but it would ideally be a little larger for that many ducks. We’re building a new coop for a larger flock soon. You can use this basic design and just scale it up depending on how many ducks you need to coop.

      • Reply
        Dan
        April 30, 2021 at 11:20 am

        Got it. I wound up… stumbling into building something similar. It was a 6′ x 10′ PVC-scraplumber-chicken wire daytime-only tractor. ๐Ÿ™‚

        A question for you though: What did you use for the axel?

        • Aaron von Frank
          April 30, 2021 at 2:07 pm

          Due to the sheer number of large perennial fruit and nut trees in our back yard, our duck coops don’t move anymore because we’d have to cut down trees to move them. However, when they did move, we used wheels we got from Lowes which basically had small, sturdy ~10″ axels built into them. We drilled a hole through the foundation corners of our duck houses and pushed the individual wheel axels through, then added nuts & bolts to the other side to hold them in place while moving the duck coops. Does that make sense and answer your question?

  • Reply
    Rob Maitland
    March 17, 2020 at 4:16 pm

    I have two Pekin ducks that spend their day on the pond but do not want to come into their quack house. How do you make them want to spend the night in their coop?

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      March 18, 2020 at 5:37 pm

      Hi Rob! Somewhat depends on how tame they are and what your relationship is with them. Ducks herd really well with sticks if they’re accustomed to you being around them – it seems to be somewhat hard-wired into the brains of domesticated ducks. Any time we want to get our ducks to go in a certain direction, we just use a long thin stick to herd them that direction. You could set up temporary fencing that funneled them into their duck house at first. However, if your ducks don’t let you anywhere near them, this approach might not work. Treats help too – putting a bowl of water with greens in it + bowl of food in the coop will get them to start making a positive association with it.

      More than anything, it’s important to realize that ducks like a routine. It might be hard getting them to go into their coop at night at first, but once that’s what they’re accustomed to doing, it will be a piece of cake. After 7 years, we *still* have to heard our ducks in at night (unlike chickens which put themselves up), probably because the nightly routine they’re used to is their humans telling them when it’s time for bed, otherwise they stay out drinking [water] and partying. And probably because they also enjoy seeing us have to work for it. ๐Ÿ˜›

  • Reply
    Noah Ribaric
    April 14, 2018 at 11:40 pm

    Hi! Have the plans been made available for download/purchase?

    • Reply
      Aaron von Frank
      April 17, 2018 at 3:35 pm

      Hi Noah! Unfortunately, we never converted the duck house to a plan that people could use as a blueprint and materials list. Hopefully, there’s enough info in the article to make it somewhat easy for you to replicate if you’d like. Feel free to ask us any specific questions as you get going if we can be of help.

  • Reply
    mdietlin
    May 4, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    Hello- do you think the size of the tractor (Quacker House #1) is large enough to house 4 welsh harlequin hens? It seems to be about the same size as the coop I have (tractor style), and I am just two weeks into ducklings and concerned it will be too small.

  • Reply
    Farrah
    April 10, 2015 at 10:52 am

    We just got our 1st ducklings and I LOVE the design of your Quacker Box. I’m going to try and get my husband to build one just like it—I hope you don’t mind us emailing you if we have questions about your design. Thanks for the great pictures.

  • Reply
    cleverglove
    April 3, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    I love your design I’m looking to make something similar for my ducks.

    How long is the quacker box? 9 feet?

    Thank you.

  • Reply
    crcolas
    September 10, 2013 at 11:55 am

    I think the images of the CAD and the house are no longer available. is there any way you can email them to me? I am considering this as a possible project for the local farm where I volunteer at ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply
      Susan
      September 10, 2013 at 12:18 pm

      We just got the photos properly inserted back into the blog post. Sorry about that! The only CAD we currently have is the original version of the house that we ended up taking apart (see image about half way up in the post). We actually ended improvising most of the final house and never got it into CAD. It’s been on our ever-growing to-do list for over a year now, but we’ve just never gotten around to it. Take a look at the bottom image (with multiple angles of the house) and see if that helps you? If you have any questions about the design/construction, we’d certainly be happy to help you. Email: aaron at tyrantfarms dot com. Thanks!

      • Reply
        crcolas
        September 10, 2013 at 9:41 pm

        Thank you so much! I am so glad I found you guys! I’m currently working on a project for my local town farm to get 4 Welsh Harlequins, I actually have 6 at home. It won’t be until spring though, and I can’t wait to see your next update on your ducks! One question though: Can this comfortably fit all four of your ducks? Thanks!
        -Charlie

  • Reply
    Welsh Harlequin Ducklings - Tyrant Farms
    June 17, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    […] Quacker Box is glad to finally have inhabitants. We’re still a few months off from eggs, but we’re […]

  • Reply
    Bonnie Bigelow
    March 12, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    LOVELY IDEA, SO GLAD YOU DID ALL THE DESIGN WORK FOR ME, CAN’T TELL YOU HOW MUCH IT IS APPRECIATED, IT’S JUST WHAT I’VE BEEN LOOKING FOR. GOING TO PRINT THIS & HAVE MY GRANDSON BUILD ME ONE. Ducks will be good for my garden. Thought about chickens first, but will eat eggs either way. Thanks so much for this.

  • Reply
    Aaron
    October 2, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    Quack back atcha Steve! We think a duckhouse and a few duck hens would make a fine addition to the Keye’s backyard. Just be sure to check with Becky and those pesky neighbors of yours first. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Reply
    Steve Keyes
    October 2, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    Wow… love this! You guys are amazing! Quack!!!

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