Ducks not wanting to eat in cold temperatures??

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Butterflyhigh, Dec 8, 2013.

  1. Butterflyhigh

    Butterflyhigh Out Of The Brooder

    31
    3
    26
    Aug 1, 2013
    It's been getting real cold, windy, and snowy here in Ohio recently and I have increased the amount of feed I am giving to my nine muscovies and one embden goose. The problem is...they have zero interest in eating.

    On the very cold rainy days they have no problem. I just call them and they leave the pond to come eat. They free-range my large property eating grass and whatever bugs they find this time of year. They are mostly self-sufficent and keep to themselves. They are not "people ducks". They will take note when I call them for food and mosey on up to eat, but they don't follow me around or have any kind of emotional attachment to me. They are on the wild side of how ducks can be. (I bought them as a young-adult flock and they were not handled by the previous owner.)

    I've been throwing food out for them twice per day since the weather has turned so cold. They have free access to several out buildings but they choose to stay in the water for most of the time.

    As soon as the snow starts and the temps dip to the 30's and below they show no interest in the food. They don't even want to leave their pond when I call them. Even when they are hanging out by the area where I feed them, they STILL don't show any interest. I had three females sitting 6" away from a pile of corn and showed no interest?!? Other than this they are all acting normal. No limping, no decrease in physical activity, no notable odd behavior. They just don't want to eat.

    What's up with this? I am new to duck keeping and have read that they need increased amounts of food during the winter, but I can't physically force them to eat. At first I was like...they must know what their doing, but now I am getting concerned.
     
  2. Butterflyhigh

    Butterflyhigh Out Of The Brooder

    31
    3
    26
    Aug 1, 2013
    I should clarify. It's not that they are not eating at all, it's that they are eating very little compared to the amount I am used to seeing them eat. Normally they will come as soon as I throw the food out. Now it may be several hours after throwing food out, and even then they don't eat the full amount. They leave a lot behind. And they don't all come at the same time...it's one here, two there.

    Like right now. I put whole corn and big sunflower seeds out for them at 8:00am this morning. It is now 10:00 and the goose just came up to get some. He didn't eat much. No ducks have come yet.

    Thanks for your thoughts and ideas.
     
  3. HollyDuckFarmer

    HollyDuckFarmer Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,683
    143
    208
    Jun 30, 2012
    LP Michigan
    My ducks are also eating less right now. Was 8'F last night. But they are eating. Try tossing in a little cat food.
     
  4. scratch'n'peck

    scratch'n'peck Overrun With Chickens

    5,916
    547
    341
    Oct 31, 2008
    West Michigan
    My Coop
    I have had ducks and geese (mostly geese now) over several winters. They are really cold tolerant with all of their down and fat, but I have found they do not like the wind on their feet. They have been sitting a lot more to keep their feet warm or even staying more in the cold water just to keep their feet our of the wind. Of course the goof balls hardly ever use the shelter set up for them to keep out of the wind. Maybe if you put the food bowl closer to the water so they don't have to leave the water to eat? My geese are still getting out of the water to eat, but then they often go right back to the water. I have also have noticed that with the change in weather they are a little more skittish even though my geese are fairly socialized. So perhaps your water fowl have had some change in routine with the colder weather and are less inclined to get near you even though you are bringing food. Do they eat the food you leave out after you leave the area? I'm not sure any of the things I mentioned apply to you ducks, but putting the food closer to the water might be worth a try.
     
  5. Butterflyhigh

    Butterflyhigh Out Of The Brooder

    31
    3
    26
    Aug 1, 2013
     
  6. Going Quackers

    Going Quackers Overrun With Chickens

    7,556
    360
    311
    May 24, 2011
    On, Canada
    My main flock gets three choices, a staple complete feed(it's 17% pro) whole corn and they can eat whatever is still available to forage, i do toss a handful of scratch down but certainly not enough to include it as a diet option.

    I find it varies, they'll suck back the whole corn, it is not limitless i put enough (their are 19 of them in this flock) but not where it's the only thing and there are a few cups of the complete feed, if i really give it thought they don't eat oddles of feed considering, they actually prefer to find their own.

    Personally, if your not seeing any concerning behaviours and they are eating don't worry to much, temps seem to greatly effect how and what ducks eat. That is why i do the varied, their choice type feeding.
     
  7. HollyDuckFarmer

    HollyDuckFarmer Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,683
    143
    208
    Jun 30, 2012
    LP Michigan
    GQ- have you ever noticed the cold temps affecting your flocks' desire to free range? Mine have not wanted outside of their pen much at all since the weather turned. :(
     
  8. Going Quackers

    Going Quackers Overrun With Chickens

    7,556
    360
    311
    May 24, 2011
    On, Canada
    Yes, if it's quite cold they usually stay in the penned area, this is a heavily treed, 1/3 of an acre. I also have some fools who insist on being in what is my "backyard" basically an area where a 4ft chain link(so i guess similar to a suburban yard) is, but it's actually for my dogs lol So i get the pleasure of duck literately out my back door. [​IMG]

    It snowed well last night that may move them out today, the horrible cold combined with frozen ground kept most in the penned area..can't say i blamed them, it was cold 5F windchill... i just always provide the option and open the gate. Most clearly took to the cedars that tower into the sky, it's basically a hedge now.. a royal pain i might add to try and catch anybody in as a human.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by