How Much Space Do Ducks Need? (less than you think!)

I have been keeping, breeding, and showing ducks for over 20 years, and during that time if have given countless talks at shows and clubs around the country.

There are many people who believe you need a huge homestead to be able to keep even a small flock of ducks.

One question I get asked on a regular basis is ‘How much space do ducks need?’, and the answer is usually less than people are thinking.

In this article, I address the question of how much space ducks need and share some of my experiences with you to hopefully make your own duck-keeping journey a little more enjoyable.

When considering how much space ducks need, there are two things to consider, one is how much space they need when they are out in their pen, and the other is how much space ducks need when they are in their duck coop.

It is generally agreed that the minimum amount of space each duck needs in an outdoor enclosure is 16 sqft (1.5sqM). This should mean there is enough space for a small kiddie pool too. When it comes to indoor space in a duck coop, each duck will require about 3 to 5 sqft (0.25 to 0.50 sqM).

How Much Space Do Ducks Need?

I think anyone who has ever kept ducks would agree that when it comes to space for ducks, more space is always better than less. No duck has ever complained it has too much space.

In my experience, providing each duck with a minimum of around 16 sqft (1.5 sqM) means each bird has enough space to be able to move around freely, and the ducks do not end up on top of one another.

This of course is dry land space and does not include any ponds or kiddie pools that the ducks might be using. If you give 10 ducks 160 sqft, but 100 sqft is taken up by a pond, your ducks are not going to be very happy.

I always consider pond space as an optional extra, and not part of my space requirement calculations.

Whilst ducks are famed for their ability to spend hours seemingly floating effortlessly on the water, they do need unrestricted access to dry land at all times, and they should always have a warm, dry coop to come home to at night.

How Much Coop Space Do Ducks Need?

Whereas chickens go into their coop at night and fly up onto roosting bars where they will sleep squashed tightly against one another, ducks want to sleep on the floor of the coop, and generally speaking, they want their own space at night.

Ducks do not normally want to sleep on top of one another. As such, a duck coop will need to provide around 3 to 5 sqft (0.25 to 0.50 sqM) per bird.

This is usable floor space and should not include any nestboxes. My ducks very rarely sleep in the nest boxes in their coops.

If ducks are not provided with sufficient space in the coop, there is a good chance there will be pecking and fighting as the ducks jostle all night long for space.

I recently wrote an entire article about duck coops titled Do Ducks Need A Coop To Live In?

How Much Pond Space Do Ducks Need?

Many of those who are new to duck keeping, or who are considering getting their first flock of ducks, believe that ducks need a large pond to swim on.

In fact, many breeds of duck only spend between 10% and 20% of their day on the water.

For many of us, a small kiddie pool provides enough ‘pond’ space for a small flock of ducks. Ducks need access to water each day to help keep their feathers in prime condition as well as to keep the membrane in their nostrils damp.

Of course, you would not expect a flock of 20 ducks to all sit on a small kiddie pond at once, but rather the size of the pond should reflect the number of ducks. In my experience, a hard plastic kiddie pool like this one I purchased recently from, is sufficient for half a dozen ducks. For a dozen ducks, consider adding a second pool.

Remember, whichever pool you go for, the water will need to be changed frequently as ducks are more than happy fouling their own pond water.

The pool I mentioned above holds around 90 gallons. Emptying and refilling 90 gallons every few days takes some work, so make sure you have a faucet nearby.

In Conclusion

Ducks do not require as much space as people sometimes think they do. A space measuring around 100 sqft (9.5 sqM) is sufficient for 6 ducks large ducks, a possibly 8 small ducks.

As for a coop, each duck will need around 3 to 5 sqft (0.25 to 0.50 sqM) of usable floor space, so a coop that measures 4′ x 5′ (1.2m x 1.5m provides enough space to comfortably house 4 to 6 ducks.

Pond space is generally not important. A kiddie pool that measures around 4′ (1.2m) across will work just fine for half a dozen small ducks.

In my experience, allocating just 100 sqft of your backyard to ducks is well worth doing.

If you found this article helpful, why not check out another one I wrote recently titled ‘Why Are My Ducks Laying Eggs In The Pond?’.

Aaron Homewood

Aaron Homewood is‘s poultry editor. Arron has spent over 20 years keeping, breeding, and showing different poultry breeds, including chickens, ducks, geese, and quail.​
Poultry Editor

Article Sources:

  1. Facts About Ducks: How Much Does a Duck Need?