Built a small dam for my ducks


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May 27, 2012
Bellmere, QLD
I decided to build a small dam for my ducks - it's probably something I should have done ages ago but just never realised how easy and reasonably cost effective it was to get done.

I'm building a dog proof fence at the moment and this will not only stop the dogs from getting to my poultry but it will also stop the ducks from venturing out to the adjourning property where they have been swimming in the creek line (all dry now). The ducks had been finding holes in the fence pushed out by the big wild dogs through the night and spending lots of time in the water.

In the chicken/duck/quail pen I have installed a poly tank/pond for the ducks to take a dip in along with a big bucket but it still wasn't cutting it. When I first got the ducks my research found ducks only required a bucket of water but I have since found although it might be technically true ducks will survive with just a bucket of water, they are certainly not happy with this minimal amount. And, after watching them swim in the neighbouring property it was clear to me how ecstatic ducks get when they finally have a chance to have a "real swim".

Anyway, I decided to check some prices and see if I could find someone who could dig the small dam and came across Brian from Dig It Down Under (owner operator) who has three machines a mini bobcat, mini excavator, and a Kanga-loader. I left him a message via his website with the details of the job and the next day he rang me and amazingly could fit me in that same day.

Here is the before shot

Built a small dam for my ducks

He started from the centre

Built a small dam for my ducks

Some Khaki Campbell ducks inspecting the finished dam it's about 2 metres at the deepest and yes it needs water. I'm just going to let nature fill the dam and it will be fed by a gully and AG pipe running from the top of my property. (difficult to get depth perception from this image)

Built a small dam for my ducks

Off he goes job done! This magic little machine is awesome and with a travelling width of only 960 mm (less than 1 metre) it can fit in almost any backyard no matter how small.

Built a small dam for my ducks

The dam cost me just over $300 (this included some fence line scraping also) and I thought Brian did a fantastic job! The small machine hardly left a sign it was there apart from what it was supposed to do and I was amazed at the power it had to dig.

Here's Brian's website https://www.digitearthmoving.com.au/
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Looks great. The chickens would love to dig around in that hole too!

It' looks pretty sandy? How do you think it will go holding water? You could put a liner in it if it doesn't work.
Yes. It was surprisingly "sandy" but I'm no soil expert and it seems to be more like a loam. The soil is like powder for the first 800 - 1000 mm than it hits clay. I'm not really sure how it will go with holding water, however, I expect it will because the fence line behind the dam (only 10 metres away) is where our creek runs and it's only just drying up now. So, I have a feeling the dam will hold water - if not, I will line it somehow as you suggest... That'll be interesting :cautious:

God - now I can't wait for it to rain :D The suspense is killing me!
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We got a little water overnight and although it hardly put 6 inches of water in the dam it wasn't long before the ducks found it and had a paddle :) Looking forward to the wet season now to see if it can hold a good amount of water.

Built a small dam for my ducks
we've got a dam at the bottom of a valley that we re-dug out. we found mostly loamy top soil, then a little clay and then the water table which is really bad. it leaks away reasonably quickly cos of lack of clay. I don't need the water really for anything on my property at the moment, though may look into options for sealing a wet dam when I do need it. Our wild ducks love it, and so do the red bellies. I think dams built a little high off the valleys might find better clay content, just a guess.
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may look into options for sealing a wet dam when I do need it.
Apparently, this stuff Aqua-Tech Dam and Pond Sealer 20kg is pretty good to be applied to a dam when it has water in it and it seals it by getting sucked into the cracks and expanding. However, at $470 it's really expensive!

We're the same (don't need the water) just want it for the ducks that's all...
I've heard of such products, however only seal a good clay base with cracks I believe, not an entire wall of loam like ours. lining with old carpet upside down and letting it silt up can slow it a bit, though still not as good as a liner, which costs the most. Some have tried cement, though I don't like polluting the water with something like that and again, same success as aqua dam or what ever they call that powder stuff
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Can be a problem I know... My father in-law has been pretty vocal telling me a number of times that I need to pre-seal my dam he mentioned some sort of powder he used when he had a farm. Look, it's completely possible (even likely) my dam might leak also.

I'm still going to see how it goes and then if it does have real trouble holding water I'll look into a lining of some sort during the dry season. Our dam really isn't too big thankfully so the liner cost will hurt but it shouldn't be too prohibitive I hope...

I better bugger off - got a fence to build...
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Starting to get there at about 1.2 metres of water deep at least so far.

I haven't done any sort of leak proof prepping on the dam but it might be too early to tell if she'll have trouble holding water. Early signs are pretty good though - I can't see it losing water in a hurry so I think I may be lucky and just have a good soil base for a dam without needing any other special treatments or work.

Built a small dam for my ducks
Looks good, you'll probably lose a little everyday through evaporation if it gets sun. As mentioned in the other thread, i'd work on it and build it up over time with some rocks and logs to create a nice fish evironment. Maybe to help reduce dirty water when it rains and flows in, you could make a nice creek type thing with rocks/gravel and plants, so the water doesn't just bring a heap of dirt with it as it flows down the hill? It should look awesome in a couple years.
I didn't think about making a creek with rocks etc to stop erosion and create a cleaner flow that's a GREAT idea Stevo!

The dam is fed by a shallow drain running from the bottom of my orchard which inturn comes from ag pipe.
A nice little rocky creek will look good too. Another thing to consider is if the water comes from the orchard will there be nutrients in the water that may efect the water quality. It'd probably be ok? But a nice filtering creek might assist with water quality.
A nice little rocky creek will look good too. Another thing to consider is if the water comes from the orchard will there be nutrients in the water that may efect the water quality. It'd probably be ok? But a nice filtering creek might assist with water quality.
Nutrients washed in is a probability I reckon too and a rocky creek/open drain can only help.
How's the water level going?
Yeah pretty good - no rain for awhile and it's held up nicely. My ducks now have the dam firmly in their minds as a solid routine throughout the day and they scoot to the dam first up in the mornings for a 10 minute dip then visit about once each hour.

The water quality seems ok too albeit still muddy but not unlike many other small dams I've seen. I really need to see how the dam goes once the wet hits and my (currently dry) open drain starts running into it because once it stars running it won't stop until early winter so the dam is going to get a LOT of sustained water which will be interesting to see how it copes.
Excellent, have you been working or thinking about the design of the creek (drain) leading in to it, and filtering the water? It could also be a great opportunity to build a bridge over the creek (drain)... everyone always wants to build a bridge :D

PS. and I would have thought all those trees would suck heaps of water out of the ground, maybe not.
I do want to landscape the creek "drain" which will feed the dam in the wet and I'm going to do it just need to prioritise my work ATM so it's on the back burner even though now is a good time to do it whilst it is dry.

Yes, a bridge would be cool - maybe over the dam?
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