A Machakos County poultry farmer has found a cheap way to prevent ducks from straying to nearby water bodies, by putting up a polythene-lined pool in his backyard.
Wambua Matheka’s ducks used to fly to Athi River in search of water but he has contained the birds in his compound after digging out a simple pool and lining it with a polythene sheet.
The walls of pool are slanted four-feet by seven-feet, and it deepens towards the centre. Matheka replenishes the water every two to three days.
This type of improvised pool may be tens of times cheaper than those made from cement or sand because he only bought the polythene lining, which costs between Sh200 and Sh500 per square metre.
The permanent ones require bricks or blocks, cement, sand, nil and an expert to construct.
Ducks disappearing from home
Matheka’s ducks, of which one of them was the first runner’s up in the Machakos County Agricultural Show 2016 edition, started disappearing to the river soon after he bought them in 2014.
They never came back unless he went searching for them at the river, which is more than five kilometers from his home, in the evening.
“The two first ducks strayed and stayed at the river until evening. It happened severally. I had to look for a solution before losing them. That is when I came up with the homestead swimming pool,” he said.
He borrowed the idea from fish farmers, who use a lining to contain water in the backyard ponds.
Ducks are web-feet birds that spend most of their time in water swimming and wading in search of food like earthworms.
Ducks feed while swimming
He feeds the free-range birds as they swim in the pool by throwing vegetables and other kitchen remains into the water. He has also placed a two-litre plastic basin near the pool, which carries commercial feeds mixed with water.
“Ducks are water-loving birds. They feed well from water. The basin is placed near the swimming pool, where they can see it when they are out of the water,” he said.
It takes between eight and 10 months for one duck to attain at least five kilos.
By the end of 2015, he had 20 ducks weighing between four and six kilogrammes. He earned more than Sh30,000 after selling them at a minimum of Sh2,000. His stock has since risen to 17 birds again.