Hi all! We are starting to head into colder weather where I live -
|Average high in °F:||38||44||53||61||71||82|
|Average low in °F:||26||31||38||43||52||61|
|Av. precipitation in inch:||1.46||1.5||2.2||2.32||2.09||1.14|
|Days with precipitation:||10||9||10||9||8||5|
|Hours of sunshine:||137||155||227||269||329||358|
|Average snowfall in inch:||11||10||6||3||0||0|
|Average high in °F:||90||89||78||65||50||40|
|Average low in °F:||69||67||58||46||36||27|
|Av. precipitation in inch:||0.59||0.71||1.54||1.65||1.77||1.61|
|Days with precipitation:||4||6||5||6||7||9|
|Hours of sunshine:||377||346||306||249||171||135|
|Average snowfall in inch:||0||0||0||0||7||10|
That chart shows the averages, but we have very cold days around zero, with windchill it can feel colder. I haven't done any winterization yet, mainly because I am getting so much conflicting information. Right now, my ducks are housed at night in a solid house that isn't drafty, but has ventilation near the roof. I am afraid it isn't ventilated enough, because since adding two Pekins, most of the wood chips are getting damp through the night, either from moisture on their feathers before they go in at night - or from massive droppings. I provide food and water at night, using a bucket with nipples.
I know I need to heat the bucket so the nipples won't freeze. There are several options online specifically for 5 gallon buckets, so I was planning on using one of those.
Supplemental heating - I have heard so many opinions I don't know where to start. I have ducks that range from 2 lbs to 7, so I understand their needs may differ. I have seen ceramic lamp bulbs put in a regular heat lamp, so it provides warmth but not light. I could hang it from the roof, it would hang about 3' above the ducks. I worry about fire danger, so the other option is a ceramic radiant heat pad. They get very hot to the touch, so it would need to be hung from the ceiling.
Do you have any ideas of heating that doesn't carry the risk of fire? Is it going to be necessary to heat their house at all? I have 8 ducks in a 22 sq foot house, and they cuddle up into 2-3 groups to sleep, leaving most of the space in the house open. They are only in there from dusk to dawn, and it is supplemented with light for a few hours a day.
I would think that having less than 3 sq feet of space per duck would create a cozy sleeping area that wouldn't need supplemental heat, but I am not sure - and would hate to find out the hard way that they are too cold.
The stream feeding the pond doesn't freeze over, so they would have access to 8" deep water from dawn to dusk. The pond will freeze over if there are several cold days in a row. THe koi hibernate at this time, so I don't plan on preventing the pond from freezing.
Here are some pictures of my setup - I am sure most of you have seen them before - but just in case, here they are.
Here is the inside all put together. The gap at the roof line is only ventilation - there is an identical gap i=on the other side where you can't see. I am considering adding a nesting box on that back wall - it would pop off the back and add two 18"x18" nests with a hinged lid for easier egg access. I could add additional ventilation closer to ground level if you think that would be a good idea
This shows the empty space available - and the height from which I could add heat if necessary.
I don't know why it is so small, but here is the outside of their house. Their stream flows just to the left of the picture, that would be their main water supply during the day.
I appreciate you hanging on through this massive post - and please - ask any questions I haven't thought of adding here. I am going to be out of the country for 8 days in three weeks, so I need to be prepared for anything while my Dad is taking care of the ducks for me. I won't be reachable by phone, so he will be on his own. I can't stand the thought of me not being prepared for the cold, and the ducks suffering in any way.