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Cold weather Ducks?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Hi All,
    I am hoping to be a backyard Duck person in the near future and have some questions about Ducks and cold weather. I am in Anchorage, AK. and think I want 2-4 ducks. I like the looks of the Muscovy and the Khaki Campbell breeds. I think the neighbors will appreciate the noise level of the Muscovys more... I like the thought of fresh eggs but as there is just two of us to eat them I don't need a breed that will give me a ton of eggs.

I have about a 1/3 of an acre of grass for them to roam in when I am home during the summer. During the winter that area will be snowbound.

Are chicken coop designs appropriate for ducks? I see that ducks don't like/can't negotiate steep ramps. For cleaning is a top that is hinged a good idea on the coop?

Is there anyone on the forum from up here that wants to share localisms regarding duck care?

I am slowly going through and searching the forum for advice- thanks for any advice on breeds for cold weather.

thanks,


Scott

post #2 of 13

I would be interested as well....

Strange Alaskan law - It is considered an offense to push a moose out of an airplane!
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Strange Alaskan law - It is considered an offense to push a moose out of an airplane!
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post #3 of 13

I'm In Canada so we get pretty cold.. i have muscovy...  although we haven't had our first winter yet (mine are all spring/summer hatchings).. they were bought here so people do manage to get them through our winters lol I think some chicken coop designs are ok for ducks.. just depends on the square feet and as you said ducks are not fond of navigating a ramp to get into there homes so that has to be kept in mind with the designs.

Ours is a build in progress.. our coop is a 6x8 mini barn.. which is close to enough to hydro if we require a heat lamp to get through winter. You can get many ideas from the coop forum here @ BYC and tweak to suit how many birds and your property. We're rural so we have acres to work with but chose to keep the duckies up close to the house.. as we do have major predators here.

~ Firefly Farms home to

 

Ducks-      

                                                     

Muscovy, Calls, Buff orpington & Pekin  

 

Chickens-

 

 Ameraucana, Ameraucana x(ie Easter Eggers), Silkies, Malines, Bielefelder & Bantam Cochin

 

As well as Miniature horses, Sheep & lionhead rabbits, Plus fish, dogs, cats & parrots.

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~ Firefly Farms home to

 

Ducks-      

                                                     

Muscovy, Calls, Buff orpington & Pekin  

 

Chickens-

 

 Ameraucana, Ameraucana x(ie Easter Eggers), Silkies, Malines, Bielefelder & Bantam Cochin

 

As well as Miniature horses, Sheep & lionhead rabbits, Plus fish, dogs, cats & parrots.

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post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thanks so far...

My searching may have just added more questions instead of solving them. I'm pretty sure that most of my questioned will be solved by experience as soon as the ducks are here but I don't want to inadvertently cause problems for the new ducks.

-- Based on space available I am looking at about a 50 sf pen attached to the coop for their confined time. Is this enough space for 4 ducks who will be on "lockdown" during the winter when the snow covers up the grass?

--It is already mid to late summer here in Southcentral Alaska. Should I even be looking at ducklings or should I get adult ducks (cold weather here soon- we will probably have a frost by late September)

--I might be confused about how a coop works. I have seen a bunch of pics of coops for ducks that are basically a box with no enclosed or separate places for ducks to roost for the night and lay eggs. Is the coop just a shelter with no separate areas for the ducks (individual rooms)?

--With the amount of snow we get here do I need to roof the run attached to the coop?

I'm still searching for answers on the forum... Thanks for your patience.

Scott

post #5 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by AKCub 

Thanks so far...

My searching may have just added more questions instead of solving them. I'm pretty sure that most of my questioned will be solved by experience as soon as the ducks are here but I don't want to inadvertently cause problems for the new ducks.

-- Based on space available I am looking at about a 50 sf pen attached to the coop for their confined time. Is this enough space for 4 ducks who will be on "lockdown" during the winter when the snow covers up the grass?I don't think you have told us your coop size, if you expect them to spent a long winter in the coop that is more important than the pen or run size right?

--It is already mid to late summer here in Southcentral Alaska. Should I even be looking at ducklings or should I get adult ducks (cold weather here soon- we will probably have a frost by late September)I too think it is late for ducklings. If I were you I would be searching for local stock that has managed to survive in your location. I suspect sucessful raisers will have a surplus that they won't want to carry over the winter due to lack of space or high feed costs which means they will want to sell or kill to stock the freezer. If you find such a person ask lots of questions because they know the problems you face and they know what works.

--I might be confused about how a coop works. I have seen a bunch of pics of coops for ducks that are basically a box with no enclosed or separate places for ducks to roost for the night and lay eggs. Is the coop just a shelter with no separate areas for the ducks (individual rooms)?Ok first of all the only domestic duck that roosts is the Muscovy they are native to Central America where they lived in trees and did not migrate. All the rest came from the Mallard that spends the summer in the North and migrates to the South to spend the winter. The Muscovy are rasied much like chickens. When I raised them on the border with Canada I had Muscovy and chickens sharing the coop( actually they ruled the coop since both sexes are strong fighters) they used the same roosts and the same nest boxes as chickens. The females like a private nest box to lay but would huddle together with the rest of the flock if it was cold in the coop. If you don't have your coop built yet you better get busy but keep two things in mind for cold weather coops. 1 you probally will not clean the bedding out during the winter so allow extra height for litter build up, this system is known as the deep litter system if you want to research it. By the end of a long winter the litter will be somewhere between1 1/2 to 2 feet deep. it gets that deep because when needed you add another shallow layer of litter over the poop, (It would be wise to be sure you have enough litter on hand if you tend to get snowbound. The action of the composting of this deep litter tends to heat the coop.
2. you must provide for ventilation, best without drafts blowing on your birds, we used an adjestable opening at the highest point of the roof for outlet of bad air and  lower inlets to let fresh air in, the body heat and compost heat would raise the warm air to the peak to exit and fresh but cold air would enter in the lower inlets. adjestable is better to allow you to control for different conditions. Even if you don't use deep litter method you still need vents to let the stink and MOISTURE out. a airtight box for a coop will be a disaster.


--With the amount of snow we get here do I need to roof the run attached to the coop?I don't know your snow does it come straight down on move sideways a lot (drifts) If you go with Muscovy remember they fly! the heavy drakes about 3 times better then chickens  and the smaller female ducks fly like birds

I'm still searching for answers on the forum... Thanks for your patience.

Scott


I didn't intend to write a book but each question let to more info I knew you needed to know ~gd

~gd  Backyard ducks and geese.
Amprolium medicated feed is SAFE for waterfowl! Your money, your waterfowl, your Choice.
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~gd  Backyard ducks and geese.
Amprolium medicated feed is SAFE for waterfowl! Your money, your waterfowl, your Choice.
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post #6 of 13

There are mallards that live up here in the interior year round. They have no protection from the elements as they are wildan area of the river that never freezes due to the water run off from a plant that is in the area.

All ducks would be fine if they had insulated housing. South central is not nearly as harsh as the interior is and all kinds of ducks do well here given an insulated home.

You have given them plenty of room for four ducks. Remember, ducks do like to dabble in the snow. As far as specific breeds that are very cold hardy.... I can't find any information! That may be because they are pretty equal as far as wether temperment.

Strange Alaskan law - It is considered an offense to push a moose out of an airplane!
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Strange Alaskan law - It is considered an offense to push a moose out of an airplane!
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post #7 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by anaiyuk 

There are mallards that live up here in the interior year round. They have no protection from the elements as they are wildan area of the river that never freezes due to the water run off from a plant that is in the area.

All ducks would be fine if they had insulated housing. South central is not nearly as harsh as the interior is and all kinds of ducks do well here given an insulated home.

You have given them plenty of room for four ducks. Remember, ducks do like to dabble in the snow. As far as specific breeds that are very cold hardy.... I can't find any information! That may be because they are pretty equal as far as wether temperment.


I disagree...the bantam duck breeds, especially Calls, do not have the same tolerance for the cold and snow that the larger breeds do, probably due to lack of body mass. That is not to say that they can't be out in the cold, but the more extreme the temperature gets, the less they thrive and some do die sometimes.

Fine Welsh Cob sporthorses since 1992 with multiple championships; provisional judge for Welsh, member Arabian Horse Assn. Breeding and showing Call ducks. NPIP #1197, ABA Life Member #613, IWBA; National Call Breeders of America Life Member and Master Exhibitor. Illinois Pullorum tester. My Self-Black Call duck flock is available. PM for details!
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Fine Welsh Cob sporthorses since 1992 with multiple championships; provisional judge for Welsh, member Arabian Horse Assn. Breeding and showing Call ducks. NPIP #1197, ABA Life Member #613, IWBA; National Call Breeders of America Life Member and Master Exhibitor. Illinois Pullorum tester. My Self-Black Call duck flock is available. PM for details!
Reply
post #8 of 13

With all due respect, Mallards are prevelant in this area. In the specific spot that I am speaking of they winter all year. It is fact. I have many pictures from the past five years.

Domestic bantam breeds were something that I forgot to mention, for that I am sorry. They are well kept here though. Although the only colors up here are white and grey in call, there are also silkies, BEI, mini appleyard. I have one now that I am hoping to soon find a freind for. The thought is that it is forty below all year but in acctuality there are plenty of years when it doesn't get even near those temps. When it does it is only for a few days and you can easly keep ducks in a heated garage then. With bantams my intent was to have them as a house pet. Had one chocolate years ago and she was like a parrot. She went everywhere with me!

Strange Alaskan law - It is considered an offense to push a moose out of an airplane!
Reply
Strange Alaskan law - It is considered an offense to push a moose out of an airplane!
Reply
post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 

GooseDragon-

-- Based on space available I am looking at about a 50 sf pen attached to the coop for their confined time. Is this enough space for 4 ducks who will be on "lockdown" during the winter when the snow covers up the grass?I don't think you have told us your coop size, if you expect them to spent a long winter in the coop that is more important than the pen or run size right?


The coop size is a planned 25 sf. My plan is to have 2, maybe 3 ducks with overflow for another. The "plan" may be tough to stay with it seems.

--It is already mid to late summer here in Southcentral Alaska. Should I even be looking at ducklings or should I get adult ducks (cold weather here soon- we will probably have a frost by late September)I too think it is late for ducklings. If I were you I would be searching for local stock that has managed to survive in your location. I suspect sucessful raisers will have a surplus that they won't want to carry over the winter due to lack of space or high feed costs which means they will want to sell or kill to stock the freezer. If you find such a person ask lots of questions because they know the problems you face and they know what works.


I have found some month old Muscovys that are local birds who are supplemental heat free and ready for a new home. They are one option so far. Thursday I head out on duck exploration to look at other options here in Alaska.

--I might be confused about how a coop works. I have seen a bunch of pics of coops for ducks that are basically a box with no enclosed or separate places for ducks to roost for the night and lay eggs. Is the coop just a shelter with no separate areas for the ducks (individual rooms)?Ok first of all the only domestic duck that roosts is the Muscovy they are native to Central America where they lived in trees and did not migrate. All the rest came from the Mallard that spends the summer in the North and migrates to the South to spend the winter. The Muscovy are rasied much like chickens. When I raised them on the border with Canada I had Muscovy and chickens sharing the coop( actually they ruled the coop since both sexes are strong fighters) they used the same roosts and the same nest boxes as chickens. The females like a private nest box to lay but would huddle together with the rest of the flock if it was cold in the coop. If you don't have your coop built yet you better get busy but keep two things in mind for cold weather coops. 1 you probally will not clean the bedding out during the winter so allow extra height for litter build up, this system is known as the deep litter system if you want to research it. By the end of a long winter the litter will be somewhere between1 1/2 to 2 feet deep. it gets that deep because when needed you add another shallow layer of litter over the poop, (It would be wise to be sure you have enough litter on hand if you tend to get snowbound. The action of the composting of this deep litter tends to heat the coop.
2. you must provide for ventilation, best without drafts blowing on your birds, we used an adjestable opening at the highest point of the roof for outlet of bad air and  lower inlets to let fresh air in, the body heat and compost heat would raise the warm air to the peak to exit and fresh but cold air would enter in the lower inlets. adjestable is better to allow you to control for different conditions. Even if you don't use deep litter method you still need vents to let the stink and MOISTURE out. a airtight box for a coop will be a disaster.


So by the tone of my post you might have gathered I'm completely new to this and looking for advice. I intend to have Muscovy's based on their personalities and egg production. If roost isn't the proper name for the place where a domestic duck sleeps at night please help me out. My request for information was whether or not I need to build boxes for said ducks to sleep at night or do they just lay down in the bedding. Building a coop is an afternoon project for the size I am looking at. My plan is to use vents at the eaves and a hinged roof so that I can access the whole thing from the top. I intend to place their food an water outside the coop (but still in the pen), attached on a shelf so that the mess from both don't end up messing the coop.

--With the amount of snow we get here do I need to roof the run attached to the coop?I don't know your snow does it come straight down on move sideways a lot (drifts) If you go with Muscovy remember they fly! the heavy drakes about 3 times better then chickens  and the smaller female ducks fly like birds


Not sure how snow works in the rest of the world but here- sometimes it somes down straight, sometimes it goes sideways, and sometimes it does both... Depends on the weather from September to March. I will roof the pen with fencing to keep eagles and martins out but wondered if a real roof would make the ducks happier by keeping the pen area a little dryer/clear of snow.

Thanks for the advice.

Scott

post #10 of 13

The ducks willy just flop down in the bedding at night, they do like to lean on a wall I've found. Make sure you have a predator proof house.

Other than that, a covered run would be nice so you don't have to shovel the snow out.

I'm in upstate NY so we get plenty of snow and cold though obviously not Alaska level smile I had runners and Cayugas last winter. Cayugas did ok, the runners HATED the cold. Now, I'm sure someone will tell me I don't know their ducks and their runners LOVE the snow/cold. But they are a smaller breed so it makes sense that they are not so cold hardy.

I have what was meant to be a large wooden (amish shed I think they call them) dog kennel. It's an insulated house with a window (ventilation will be important even in winter because of humidity) and it has an attached deck with chain link fencing. I put hardware cloth along the bottom half so raccoons can't reach through the chain link and rip the ducks apart.

Since the deck is attached it has a roof. In the winter I have pieces of plexiglass that I put over the fencing on the deck, leaving about 3 inches at the top for air flow (the ducky sun room my husband calls it!) and I put hay bales around the bottom. This blocks the wind and the snow from blowing in but still allows them to have light.  I clear any snow off their ramp and clear the snow away about 5 feet in each direction and throw hay on the ground for them to rest on and stay off the snow. This has to be changed when it gets wet so it's a pain if we have a week where it snows/rains a lot. I leave the door to the run open so if they want to go back up into the sun room or back in the insulated room they can.

I don't provide any heat or light in the winter, I'm afraid of fire. Just don't go back and forth, if it gets cold and you provide heat *sometimes* or bring them into the house/garage sometimes they will not develop a tolerance to the cold and you'll have to keep doing it.

I also add a little corn to their feed in the winter to keep them warmer also.

I've read wind is the worst thing for them. So around the area where I put hay down for them I place bales of hay to block the wind. If it's really bad I leave them in and they have the house and the sun room. A lady I know lost her ducks in a snow storm. They must have sat down to keep their feet warm and the snow was coming down so fast they got lost under it.

Good luck smile They are lots of fun.

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