Duck Raft - Utility Pole Pontoons?

   #1  

Argonne

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We got a new batch of ducks a few weeks ago with the intention of having them live on a 1 acre pond. In the past, this has worked with varying success, apparently depending on how smart the ducks were and how plentiful the predators are. We have but one duck left from last year, no doubt a PhD(uck) in stayin' alive.

This years batch has already been reduced by a couple in just 3 days, and it's pretty obvious that we need to give them a refuge out in the open water. Unfortunately, there isn't any money in the budget for a duck raft.

What we DO have is old utility poles, some 3/4 inch plywood, and some two-by-fours.

In it's simplest form, this raft would just be a 4' x 4' plank with a hinged ramp floating on the water. Later we could provide a roof for shade and protection from vertical attack, but the big question is, and one I have no clue about, is do utility poles typically float, and with a little spare buoyancy? These poles are pull-outs with little creosote remaining but with no rot.
 
   #2  

PILOON

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Those poles will float enough for the ducks weight.
Probably will float about 3/4 submerged.
Most utility poles will be cedar and therefor will float nicely.

Years back our association made boat docks by floating 4 utility poles wide and simply nailing cross braces and decking with scrap planks.
You could load the docks from end to end with adults and nobody got wet feet.

HOWEVER if your poles were creosote treated (not environmental accepted) the ducks might be affected.

Why not simply get a chunk of dense foam board , like 2" thick 2' x 8' and cut in half to make a 4' X 4' 'raft'.
Deck it with simple 1/2 sheet of plywood and bingo a duck rest raft.
Use the other 1/2 of that ply to make a roof.

OR, last summer a 4' X 4' foam based raft ended up on my lakefront due to a storm.
Free, come and get it. LOL
U wont need a duck ramp and that'll last a lifetime.
 
   #3  

dmccarty

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Back in the day, floating docks in FLA where built out of 2x lumber, boards and styrofoam blocks. I suppose the poles would work but they would be heavy but the price is right since you have them. :D

If you had any foam insulation that would provide good flotation to make a good duck raft.

Later,
Dan
 
   #4  

Jstpssng

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I don't know what they use in Texas but most places I've been use some type of pressure treated pine for utility poles, which are are typically treated with preservatives and insecticides; the old formula included arsenic. None of which I would want leaching into my pond. It's been a long time since I've seen poles made out of cedar, which tends to be crooked and weak.
 
  
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Argonne

Argonne

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Those poles will float enough for the ducks weight.
Probably will float about 3/4 submerged.

That's the kind of story I was hoping to hear. The poles do look like cedar, and this is cedar country, so it's likely. No sign of any preservative (they are probably 60 years old) and the heartwood is reddish. Based upon your post I shall cut a couple and do a float test.

The foam board idea is pretty attractive too. It would incur a little expense, but fabrication would be dead easy, and I could use a smaller piece of foam to support the hinged gangway.

I did the math on all kinds of cheap flotation devices including poly barrels, pvc pipe, grill propane cylinders, etc., and none fit the bill, either too much flotation or too little. I was pretty excited when I thought of grill propane cylinders since we have a friend in the propane business, but those displace 4.7 gallons at 62lbs of flotation per gallon for a total of 291 lbs of flotation per cylinder. It would have to be one massive duck height raft if I used those, or they would need to be "tuned" with some water in them, the result being a raft that would require a crane and lifting points to take out for maintenance.

As for leaching chemicals, this pond is 1 acre nominal and up to 2.5 acres. It is on a very active watershed and has a great drainage system. If those poles have anything left to leech, they will be well diluted initially and actively exchanged with fresh water over time.
 
   #7  

oosik

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Something isn't quite right. I've got a five acre pond and ducks of all kinds, types & shapes. I've got two old wood docks and a new all aluminum one. Occasionally the ducks will use the docks but really - not that often. Predators will be raptors(hawks, harriers, eagles, falcons, kites, vultures, osprey, condors) in the day and owls at night. Of course, there are the ever present coyote/raccoon/skunk/badger if they pull out on land. The only bird that might be lost to these here are the Canadian Honkers that nest here in the spring. They are far enough from water that a coyote might catch them - but in 36+ years I've never seen or heard anything. Same with the ducks - all the raptors in my area will be diving for the bass in my pond - not the ducks.

Exactly what is your floating duck house going to protect the ducks from - raptors?? Ah - another thought. You are buying baby ducks from somewhere. They have no experience with any type of predator and nobody to teach them. By the time Mother Nature teaches them - they are all gone.
 
  
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Argonne

Argonne

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Exactly what is your floating duck house going to protect the ducks from - raptors??

No, it will protect them from any land predator who does a nighttime attack if the ducks are smart enough to sleep on the raft. The roof will complicate vertical attacks, the most likely suspect there being great horned owls which are prevalent here and big enough to carry off cats.

As for land predators, the (non-human) apex here are mountain lions who can make 70lb foals vanish like they were never here.

Let me know where I can buy those street-smart ducks. :) Sampson, the PhD survivor from last season, is training them as fast as he can, but he's obviously behind the curve.
 
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BoylermanCT

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What about using 2 liter bottles for flotation? Each bottle has 2 lbs of flotation. Maybe use silicone around the threads to ensure it remains water tight. They are low to the water which will make it easier for the ducks to get onto the platform. I raise ducks, and have been planning a floating island for my pond.
 
 
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