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Didn't want to take over the Northern Winters thread- so here's questions for Southeast Winters :)

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by CarterCrazy, Oct 1, 2015.

  1. CarterCrazy

    CarterCrazy Out Of The Brooder

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    May 26, 2015
    I'm very new to keeping ducks, and have learned tons from this forum, so thank you! We've had our babies (3 Pekin- one female, two males) since they were born on Memorial Day weekend, and this weekend we picked up two Indian Runners and a Muscovy, all female, all full grown but don't appear to be laying eggs yet, and believe me, I've been looking, LOL! Now that winter is approaching, I'm wondering about how I'm going to pull this off properly.

    So a bit about our current set up- We have a nice fenced in back yard. Within the yard, I have a pen for the ducks. There is a pool in the pen for them, as well as one out in the yard. I dump and fill both each day. They have free range of the yard for most of the day, but I do pen them for half hour bursts a few times during the day so I get let my shih tzus outside to romp and potty. They also spend the night in their pen, but never showed any interest in their coop or the dog house I put in there with a bunch of hay for bedding. They all prefer to hang out either in the pool or under the coop.

    [​IMG]


    My questions-

    1. I usually turn off the water supply under the house that runs to my hose that I use to fill up these pools because the pipe will freeze and burst otherwise. Suggestions on retaining a working water supply over the winter?

    2. Will I need to start physically placing them in their coop to keep warm at night and should I install a heat lamp inside the coop? Granted, this coop was built for THREE ducks, now that we've got six, if putting them up at night is a must, I need to re-think their lodging.

    3. Am I over thinking this? We see ducks out on the pond across from my kids' school all year long and they don't seem to have a problem with floating around on cold water, but I don't want to use those guys, who very well may be miserable, as my example for my babies.

    Just curious how much winterization I need to do so I can get it all set up ahead of time. I'm in low elevation part of North Carolina, so while our winters aren't brutal, we have been known to see a few inches of snow and lots of freezing rain between December through February.

    Thanks so much for your help!
     
  2. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    I don't think you are over thinking. While we may see ducks in the wild on ponds, yes, they may in fact be too cold or even ill. Ducks hide injury and illness very well.

    I wonder if @Miss Lydia or @TwoDogFarm or some of the many other southeasterners can check in. I reckon they will (c:

    One more thought, though - we have been seeing more extreme weather on this continent, so I would prepare for worst case. Much easier on everyone. We keep the flock in the basement night pen now, every night, and it works well.
     
  3. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Running over with Blessings Premium Member

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    First off I hope you'll rethink your lodging for the ducks for safety too. Even if you live downtown there are predators and sooner than later they will find your ducks. So keeping them inside at night is a must. They will get use to it promise. If you get temps into 20's and below your Muscovy can get frost bite on the carnuckles [flesh on her face] so she dif needs protection from the elements. From strong winds freezing rain and snow, actually all ducks can get frost bite on their feet and legs too. I finally broke down and bought one of those X hoses plus and have used it 2 winters it is awesome I keep in in doors in a bucket over night then bring it out to fill heated buckets drain and put it back into bucket and bring back inside. Before i bought heated buckets I would have to carry water outside 2-4 times a day to make sure they had drinking water since it would freeze so quick. No need for heat as long as they have a secure well built house. with ventilation at least around the top of their house to let out moisture they will create. I keep the doors to my flocks house open from the time I let them out till they all go to bed of a late afternoon but they will all hunker down under and behind things but at night they are all locked up tight.
    Since your coop is up off the ground for day time why not put up some kind of barrier around the bottom west and north side so they have somewhere to get out of wind during the day.

    Welcome to BYC!!
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2015
    1 person likes this.
  4. CarterCrazy

    CarterCrazy Out Of The Brooder

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    I looked up X-hose to see what you were referring to. What's the deal with these things? Why are they better than a regular hose?

    As far as safer lodging over night, I do have some wildlife netting I had intended to cover their entire enclosure with. Will that suffice? A back injury has prevented me from going out there and finishing what I started, but so far, their pen is fortified with 1/4" hardware cloth, which you probably need to enlarge the pic above to see. It goes up almost the entire height of their fencing, and the entire flooring is covered with it as well, and then covered with a few tons of river rock. My intention was to enclose the entire pen in the wildlife netting (not the bird netting, which seemed a lot more flimsy and easy to get through).

    Re: wind barrier, I can get to that today if it stops raining. Thanks for the suggestion.

    Re: swimming pools over winter- do I need to continue filling their pools, or should we nix them over the winter, in favor of heated buckets for drinking only? I wish I could find a local poultry farm to walk around and ask questions!
     
  5. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Running over with Blessings Premium Member

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    The X hose collapses once it is empty and can be brought inside in a 2 -3 gal bucket so it won't freeze like the reg hoses. have you ever tried bringing in a 50' hose to keep it from freezing? I have I'd rather not ever again. lol I did enlarge the pic and see the hardware cloth which is not going to keep any pred from going over top. it will protect them from having their heads pulled off by something sticking their arms through reg fencing and grabbing them if they lay along the fence. I'm sorry you have injury can you get someone to help you you'll need to secure that wildlife netting all the way around to keep walking preds from climbing over and flying preds from getting under in winter these predators will be exceptionally hungry. I would train your ducks now to go inside they herd pretty easily once they understand what you want. and if walking slowly behind with arms out stretched doesn't work get someone to help you once they are inside give them some dried meal worms as a reward this way they associate going in as positive. i don't give mine swimming pools in winter unless the temps are low 40's then I bring out the cement mixing tub. It is easy to dump after they have bathed and you don't have to worry about it freezing. I'm in the mountains of NC so you maybe able to keep yours out longer.

    I love your set up you have made it look very nice I just don't think your ducks are going to be safe the way it is now. Trying to save you from heart break. If your only going to have them inside over night maybe the house isn't too small what are the dimensions? @CarterCrazy
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2015
  6. CarterCrazy

    CarterCrazy Out Of The Brooder

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    Ah, yes, I've lugged around a regular hose, and it's not fun. X-hose is on the list!

    Back injury is on the mend, and I think I can accomplish overhead protection of their pen this weekend with the help of my husband. The intention is to :
    • secure it so it's still high enough for me to walk in the pen
    • connect it to where the hardware cloth ends, that way the entire pen will be 100% enclosed.

    That should do it as far as security is concerned, right? Just want to make sure I'm not under-estimating the predators in the area.

    As far as bringing them inside, well, I'd end up divorced if I was going to try to get my husband on board with six ducks coming in the house. He was less than thrilled that I kept them indoors as long as I did when they were babies, but at the time, we didn't even have a pen outside for them, so putting them out wasn't even an option. The ultimate goal is to have them outdoors, but as safe as can be expected, and of course, properly housed so that they won't succumb to the elements. Fortunately, they ARE easy to herd, and even moreso now that we've added the runners and muscovy to the flock. Go figure. I thought it would be like herding a bunch of wet, startled cats, but everyone is getting along great, and the new ladies have learned the routine quite nicely.

    So, I went outside and pulled an old dog house out from the other side of the yard. The dogs never used it (or the igloo one in the pen), and we never got rid of it, lol! Old farmer neighbor of my mom gave it to us and I figured it might come in handy some day.

    With some modifications (wind barrier, bedding, some holes drilled up high on the sides for ventilation), do you think this would work as a nice cold weather shelter for them? I could easily swap out their pool (left side of the pen) with this during the cold weather months, and plan to pull out the igloo dog house I tossed in there a while back as an option for them since they didn't seem to catch on to walking up the ramp to coop themselves like I thought they would. Will they actually utilize it if they get cold, or will I likely need to put them in myself?

    [​IMG]


    And......what fun is talking about ducks if you can't see the flock in question? Here's my babes <3

    [​IMG]
    From front to back we have Duckzilla, Wing, and Quackers the Pekins, then we have Mocha and Cheeks the Runners, and our lone Muscovy, Sassy. My crazy crowd of feathered friends keep me laughing, and I spend a lot more time getting eaten by mosquitoes than I care to admit, but these babies make every itchy bump more than worth it!

    Thanks so much for the conversation. I love learning from the collective here. You guys are awesome!
     
  7. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Running over with Blessings Premium Member

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    They are beautiful ducks, love their names. i have a Muscovy named sassy too. you do know Muscovy females fly really well and love to do it. so you might want to clip one of her wings so she'll stay home especially if you have neighbors with dogs where she might land. As for safety I'd have to see your set up once finished. I will say Raccoons can rip open chicken wire. Not sure how tough wild life netting is. Look at your ramp again is that slats going up between boards if so you might close it in and place Thin rungs going up or out door carpet something that wouldn't be slippery going up I can see why it might not be too duck friendly if it is open between boards. Looks plenty wide enough. Not sure what wild life netting is compared to bird netting but I have a netted cover for my pond and it is much heavier than bird netting and I know a raccoon could get through it. Might take him a little longer but they have amazing hands. When I said inside I meant in their lil house not inside your house. lol.You could try putting the house inside their fenced area away from the way the wind blows they may use it you never know till you try, but I have a feeling if they like it under their house then that is probably where they will end up and closing it west and north will keep the wind off of them. I have a lil coop that I closed the west and north sides and mine love to hang out under it in winter and summer.
     
  8. Buck Oakes

    Buck Oakes Chillin' With My Peeps

    Also make sure to clip you Muscovites wings, they do fly really well and since u said u lived down town u need to clip bc she will get out and she will look for other places to suit her better esp in laying season, that's when Muscovy hens travel far from the flock as possible So she can best in peace
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2015
  9. CarterCrazy

    CarterCrazy Out Of The Brooder

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    That's neat that you have a Muscovy named Sassy, too! It's short for Assassin, because of the whole flock, she's the only one who will not only stand up to the dogs (shih tzus), she will go after them and make them submit, LMAO! Because my dogs are big doofy playful boneheads, I don't ever let them outside when the ducks are loose because they are so rambunctious, the ducks just don't understand they want to play, and they get scared. Only time they see a dog up close is when one slips out with me when I'm going to let the duckies loose. Sassy sure made an impression, I'll say that. LOL

    The ramp doens't have slats. Those black spots are this funky gripper tape. It feels almost like roofing shingles. I put it there for traction so their feet wouldn't slip, but they don't even show any interest in going up the ramp at all! I was thinking maybe I need to lower their coop so they don't have to climb up such a tall ramp?

    Is wing clipping something I can do on my own? Sadly, I'm all too familiar with the idea that they can fly. She came to us in a pair. We went to dinner and her buddy was gone. :( I don't think she's figured out what her wings can do yet, but I do want to clip them before she takes off. Just not sure if I can do it on my own. I'll google some instructions after I make this post.

    This wildlife netting is supposedly rated for raccoons, so hopefully I won't have issues. I've never seen any around here, and I've been in this house 13 years. See plenty of possums, but from what I understand with them, they aren't hunters but opportunists...and hopefully they are happy with the opportunity of the free cat food they've always been supplied with. Again, better safe than sorry, and now I'm all paranoid something's going to happen before I get out there this weekend, despite everything being fine for months. Gah!

    I'm VERY glad you meant inside their house and not mine. I have a couple friends who have a house duck, and while I'm super jealous, I really have no idea how they contain the mess. I've got more than enough critters in here with the 5 dogs and 5 cats we have, but if my husband was cool with having the ducks in here, they'd be more than welcome, LMAO I'm such an animal lover. I often wonder what I'd do with all my free time if I didn't have pets that I was constantly caring for, cleaning up after, grooming, etc. Who needs free time when taking care of pets is what you love though, right? :D
     
  10. CarterCrazy

    CarterCrazy Out Of The Brooder

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    I just put all six of them in the coop. They were like "Hey! What the....??" They all fit in there comfortably at least. Let them come out on their own accord, which was pretty much as soon as I turned my back to fill their water, lol. Still contemplating swapping out the pool with that big box dog house I posted above- only for the cold months. I've got an upgraded vision for their pool come spring, and plan to research DIY bio filters over the winter.

    So....that dog house I posted above....good addition, or make them get used to the coop? The coop sure does LOOK nicer, and if I can get them happily going in with some coaxing rather than having to hand load each one in, that would be preferable to the ugly dog house, but I figure, at least with the dog house, maybe they'd be more apt to use it during the day for shelter if I tossed some hay in there and made a wind-resistant entrance? (I'm thinking more of a tunnel or something, rather than a door flap.)
     

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