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Are ducks more lethargic during the winter???

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by DuckyMama92, Jan 1, 2016.

  1. DuckyMama92

    DuckyMama92 Out Of The Brooder

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    My ducks typically scream/squawk early in the morning after laying their eggs and want to get out of their enclosure for the day and usually during the day they are active, poking around in the dirt and grass, napping for a couple hours. For the last week or so with the colder weather (I live in Rhode Island and the cold finally arrived as in 30-40 degrees during the day and teens and 20s at night), they have been quieter and napping more and more. They let me get closer to them than before when they are lying down before they decide to stand up again. However when I take out their mealworms they go nuts for them so its not an appetite issue, though they havent been drinking as much water. I havent had to refill their waterer today. Is this normal for colder weather? or could this be a more serious issue? Any tips would be great!! Thank you!
     
  2. Tevyes Dad

    Tevyes Dad Leader of the Quack Premium Member

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    Do you control their feed? If so, you may be giving them too little for the colder weather. They need extra calories to keep up their heat. Plus there is very little foraging they can do when it is close to freezing since ducks like bugs and grubs and worms more than grass and plants and they are in short supply so they may also need more food to replace the food they were getting around your yard.

    I don't notice a big difference in my ducks behavior until it starts getting cold for their feet. (10 degrees or colder for hard pack snow, maybe 20 degrees if the snow is loose and their feet are covered with it.) Then they are more likely to take breaks to warm their feet. If they can walk on straw, then they start slowing down around 0 degrees so they can periodically lay down with their bills under their feathers to warm up. But they aren't quieter nor are they lethargic, they just take more breaks. At sub-zero temperatures, they hunker down and try to stay warm, but they still are alert. Also if you have some strong winds, they may be feeling the effects of the cold more. They can handle very cold temperatures because they have a super feather coat, but a stiff wind can blow all their heat away in a second so they do need shelter where they can get out of the wind. Last night it was -6F here and during the day it was topped out in the high teens. They spent most of the time on their straw but they walked around flapped their wings made noise and took naps. If it is above 30F during the day, they have a kiddie pool and they are running around having a blast. So if your daytime temps are in the 30-40 range I wouldn't expect them to slow down much.

    Right away I would check - do they get sunlight during the day? If not, they might be colder than my experience.
    Try giving them more food (not treats) do they seem hungry? Mine will scarf meal worms until they explode, but they won't eat much food if they aren't hungry.
    Can they get completely out of the wind if they want to?

    I am not an expert, but I have 12 ducks and this is their second winter, so I am just going based on my observations. Someone with a little more knowledge with hopefully provide more info. Also some breeds such as runners are a little less cold tolerant. Mine make it through, but it is obvious they have a harder time than the bigger ducks. I would think call ducks would also have a hard time and of course any duck that is in mid-molt will have a harder time.

    Bottom line is if they are becoming lethargic or docile compared to normal, I would guess something other than just cold is up. Being less active so they can warm up is "normal", but your temps aren't that low yet where I would see a difference in my flock.
     
  3. DuckyMama92

    DuckyMama92 Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for the advice! I do control their feed, I have 4 Pekins, and they get roughly 2 pounds of feed for a 24 hour period, with oyster shell as a calcium supplement. We did have a colder spell with some snow and slush but it all melted within 48 hours. They have a coop they can go into to get out of the wind but they dont seem to use it much other than to lay eggs because there are very few droppings when I go out to do some spot cleaning. I'll keep an eye on them for a couple days and see how they do with extra feed (it goes somewhere because I always have to refill and very little is dropped on the ground, no other animals getting into it).
     
  4. Adalida

    Adalida Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi DuckyMama! I'm still learning about ducks and this is my first winter with them. I've got two Rouens, five Indian runners, and a Swedish blue duck. Mine have not acted at all affected by the cold and I live in Montana where it's pretty cold! They've got a twenty gallon tank with a de-icer and they all happily take daily baths and end up with frosted feathers. They do lay down more frequently to warm their feet as TevyesDad mentioned but otherwise they're the usual loudmouth characters they always are.
     
  5. DuckyMama92

    DuckyMama92 Out Of The Brooder

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    Hahahahah yes they are loud though lately only when I get close. They've screamed their heads off in the mornings usually but havent in the last week. I can imagine Montana gets really cold! I love my four Pekins and I tend to greet them first when I get home from work before my own family ahha I just went out to check their feed and waterer and their waterer was muddy so I rinsed it out and now theyre drinking water like the crazies they are. We'll see how they do the next couple of days :D
     
  6. DuckyMama92

    DuckyMama92 Out Of The Brooder

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    And yes, my first time with ducks too. We havent had any animals in a few years so this is all brand new and everything that seems out of the ordinary freaks me out haha!
     
  7. Tevyes Dad

    Tevyes Dad Leader of the Quack Premium Member

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    Pekins can definitely handle the cold - at your temperatures, unless there is a strong wind, your Pekins should hardly know it is cold (during the day). Are they in a shelter at night? I am also in Montana. I give my birds some corn in the winter to give them some additional calories (since it is something different, they eat more). I have never had a duck go overweight for their breed yet so I haven't been too concerned about overfeeding (I am sure when they get older this may be more of a concern). Naturally you need to keep a handle on that, but unless it is very small for the breed, a Pekin under 13 lbs wouldn't concern me much - especially in the winter. (I am not saying they NEED to hit 13 lbs, but if they get there on their own that probably isn't too excessive unless they are showing other signs of being overweight.) They should get fresh water every day so I don't know if that was a factor. My ducks do drink less in the winter, but I would say that is because they don't need the water to cool themselves and rehydrate as much plus they are always eating snow and ice. (They love to chew ice).
     
  8. DuckyMama92

    DuckyMama92 Out Of The Brooder

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    ha! very true about the ice. We dumped tons of crushed ice into their kiddie pool over the summer when it got to 90 degrees and they loved pecking it and eating it. They were more active today. We have a coop they can go into thats inside their nighttime enclosure. They don't seem to use it much though, I don't find many droppings inside when I clean it out every afternoon. They mostly huddle close together somewhere on the outside. They aren't the Jumbo Pekins but they definitely aren't close to 13 pounds.
     
  9. Tevyes Dad

    Tevyes Dad Leader of the Quack Premium Member

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    I didn't mean they had to hit 13 lbs, just that I wouldn't be too concerned if they were under that. My "normal" Pekin girl weighed around 11 lbs.
     
  10. DuckyMama92

    DuckyMama92 Out Of The Brooder

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    Ohhhhhh okay. Yeah theyre definitely not 13 pounds. Certainly pudgy though which makes their waddling that much more adorable!
     

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