Cold & rainy--4-week-olds back in the brooder?

FenDruadin

Crowing
10 Years
Jul 30, 2009
3,744
228
281
Charlotte, NC Area
It's 57 degrees F (forecast is a high of 61), and rain. The rain is chilly. My four-week-old, partially feathered Runner ducklings are in a run with a heat lamp & a dog house (the lamp is not in the house--there's no room for it inside). They've been there all night and are wet but don't appear to be uncomfortable.

They want me to let them out to free range, but we will be gone most of the day so I have two choices: Leave them in the run, where it is cold and wet but they could go in the doghouse if they wanted to (but they don't seem so inclined), or put them up in the covered brooder under the lean-to. They would be cramped and unhappy in the brooder. But they would be dry and could get warm. Are they old enough to make a wise decision about staying dry and going in the doghouse? Or will they just keep getting wetter & colder & wonder why?

Which would you choose?
 

1stepcloser

Poultry In Motion
10 Years
Sep 16, 2009
812
11
141
Dover, TN
Mine are free ranging during the day too and our weather is just as cold and wet. I keep their light on throughout the day so they can do back and warm themselves but honestly, it is mostly me herding them over there. They don't seem to care.
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ETA: Whoops. I am talking chicks and you are talkinig ducklings. Sorry. Same ages though...
 
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FenDruadin

Crowing
10 Years
Jul 30, 2009
3,744
228
281
Charlotte, NC Area
Thanks for the quick responses! Yes, mine are ducklings, but ducklings tend to be less susceptible to cold than chicks are, so if it's fine for the chicks, it's probably fine for the ducks. They are not using their lamp at all, so I guess they don't feel cold. Thank you both for your tips--I really appreciate getting diverse viewpoints!
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TrystInn

Songster
10 Years
Sep 16, 2009
1,048
33
201
Southern Arizona
Right now, at that age they are really susceptible to the cold and damp. I'm worried that yours may fail to thrive as they weaken under those conditions and you may lose a few.

That truly doesn't sound like a good setup for ducklings - they are too young to care for themselves, so you'll need to. You should find a way to put them away at night in a dog carrier, rabbit hutch or similar with a heat lamp where they are out of the cold and rain. For at least until they are fully feathered - likely another month at least. If you cannot do that, put them back in the brooder for another 2 weeks minimum.

When ours were young, we borrowed an old rabbit hutch from a friend of ours to do this. Worked like a charm and she ended up just giving it to us so we can raise additional ducklings next year.
 

chickenbottom

Songster
11 Years
Dec 30, 2008
2,865
8
191
hollister, florida
i wish it would get cold here. its never cold here lol had rain the day before yesterday but didnt do a darn thing to the heat. and i think you should keep them in the where they are now but is there anyway they could get a heat lamp so they can snuggle near that? just giving them a bit of a choice of where they want to be but if nothing is available like that then put them back in the brooder for a few more weeks or so.
 

FenDruadin

Crowing
10 Years
Jul 30, 2009
3,744
228
281
Charlotte, NC Area
Thanks, guys! They have been in the cold and rain for two days now, and have been staying as far from the brood lamp as they can. They don't even use it in the middle of the night. I will watch them carefully today and see if there are any signs of distress or illness, but as of yesterday they were all still healthy and hearty.

I have two converted rabbit hutches that I use as brooders for very young ducklings, and they are large enough even for my four-week-old brood of nine ducklings, but they wouldn't be happy in there. I'll keep a close eye on them, but as long as they are happy and showing no signs of stress from the chill, I'll probably keep them where they are.

And chickenbottom--I wish it never got cold here!
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I HATE being cold. They do have a heat lamp in there and are not using it at all. Where are you located that it never gets cold?
 

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