The Duck Hunters Organization is adding more than 2,000 nest structures in key duck breeding areas this winter
BISMARCK, NORTH DAKOTA — Working amid waist-high snowdrifts, Jason Mix-Schneider made history for Delta Waterfowl in a frozen swamp in South Dakota earlier this winter.
A rancher by trade, Mix-Schneider is one of three newly hired coop delivery specialists installing nesting structures in South Dakota as part of a major duck production expansion for Delta Waterfowl. By staking, placing cots and placing nest tunnels in early January, he erected Delta’s first chicken coop program in the state.
Matt Chouinard, Delta’s senior waterfowl program manager, brought a trailer load to Mix-Schneider’s ranch in Veblen, South Dakota, then provided expert instruction and guidance for the first structures.
“Looks good,” Chouinard said as Mix-Schneider fluffed flax nesting material to complete the task. “Congratulations Jason. You just installed the first Delta chicken coop in South Dakota.”
Thanks to a generous donation from John Dale of Waubay, South Dakota, Delta will place 515 chicken coops in the state, all set to keep mallards out of the reach of mammalian predators. Chicken coops have been shown to dramatically increase nesting success, the key driver of duck populations throughout the Prairie Potholes region.
South Dakota nest structures are a large part of the 2,075 new chicken coops Delta will put into service this winter. Delta delivery specialists are building 450 in Manitoba, 400 in Saskatchewan, 300 in Alberta and 210 in North Dakota. Another 200 chicken coops will be installed as part of postgraduate research in California’s Central Valley.
“It’s the highest year-over-year growth in chicken coop history — more than 20 percent,” an excited Chouinard said. “And we’re just starting to really increase the impact of chicken coops across PPR.”
With the additions, Delta’s chicken coop program will have more than 11,700 nest structures by the 2023 nesting season in key mallard breeding areas, including Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, North Dakota, South Dakota South, Minnesota, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Colorado.
Delta Waterfowl is dramatically increasing the organization’s efforts to produce ducks. In July 2022, Delta announced the ambitious Million Duck Campaign, a $250 million fundraising effort with the goal of adding 1 million ducks to the fall flight each year. At full maturity, the Million Duck campaign will result in more than 110,000 chicken coops welcoming mallards to all North American breeding grounds each spring.
“The areas where we can place chicken coops are almost limitless,” said Joel Brice, director of conservation for Delta Waterfowl. “Chicken coops work wonderfully on farms and ranches, and they are efficient. Most importantly, they produce many mallards, the most popular duck among North American hunters.”
Behind the scenes, Delta’s program team sources steel, wire, and flax straw, as well as assembling a network of people to cut poles, weld cages, and roll tunnels. And, of course, getting materials to Delta’s growing army of delivery specialists like Mix-Schneider.
Every link in the chain is important to meeting Delta’s duck production goals.
“Everything it takes to achieve duck production under the Million Duck campaign is achievable,” Brice said. “We are working to increase delivery. It’s really a matter of logistics and money. We are excited to expand the impact of the Delta Chicken Coop Program to produce more ducks.”
delta waterfowl is The Duck Hunters Organization, a leading conservation group working to raise ducks and secure the future of North American waterfowl hunting. Visit deltawaterfowl.org.
For more information on Delta’s innovative Hen House program, contact Matt Chouinard at [email protected] or (701) 222-8857 ext. 5209.