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Getting ready for first winter with Indian runners

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by BonitaApplebum, Sep 27, 2015.

  1. BonitaApplebum

    BonitaApplebum Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi all, I'm new here and haven't lurked so please forgive any clumsiness or etiquette breaches! We got these ducks in June, when they were about 13 weeks old. We have a male and a female, but the female isn't laying yet. They spend the majority of their time in our pond or foraging in the yard. I'm wondering at what temperature we'll have to start worrying about them staying warm and safe. They have a house that my husband built, but never go near it. I suppose I'll stick them in there when winter comes, at least overnight. But what about when the pond freezes? Should I bring them inside to swim in the bathtub (they LOVE to swim!)? Should I bring them inside if it's below freezing? Anyone have indoor ducks? We've just potty trained our 4th child, and I wouldn't relish changing duck diapers, now that we're finally diaper-free after 9 years!
     
  2. BrandyLei

    BrandyLei Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 22, 2015
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    This is my first winter on a farm, and the only birds I have are 3 female Mallards, 2 female Pekins, an African gander and a yet-to-bring-home, unknown-sex Embden goose. I also have 3 weaned lambs, a weaned calf and a jack. I live in northwest Kansas - we get a lot more sustained high winds and gusts and ice than we do snow, though we usually get a couple good snowstorms (and as always, huge drifts).

    I've looked through threads trying to find information on how to prepare my barn and pens for winter. I found a lot of info (and arguments) for winterizing for chickens, but not ducks and geese.
    My in-laws have chickens on our farm, and all they do is put in heated top-fill waters for their chickens, maybe some extra straw. No heat lamps, no plastic sheeting.

    I feel like I should do more than that, but don't know what! Please help us first-timers out!
     
  3. AimToMisbehave

    AimToMisbehave Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've been wondering about this as well
     
  4. JadeComputerGal

    JadeComputerGal Chillin' With My Peeps

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    West Chester, PA, USA
    Welcome to BYC!

    I'm worried that a predator will eventually get your ducks if they aren't being put in a secure place overnight. Regardless of weather/temps, you really should put them in a building or a secure pen between sundown and sunrise. Ducks won't typically just go in a building, they have to be trained to go in. After some time, maybe a few weeks, they'll often start to go in on their own just out of habit. Things like peas, mealworms, and even duck feed can help with training them to do what you want.

    @Amiga has a lot of experience with Runners. I think hers go in her basement in the winter. Runners are pretty thin as far as ducks go, so they do need more protection from the cold than some breeds. Do you live in a place that gets really cold in the winter?

    Love the pic, BTW.
     
  5. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    Beautiful Runners!

    Welcome to the Duck Forum.

    While there are a number of philosophies about duck security, mine tends toward reducing their risk of harm. We have fenced areas, and a Day Pen that is fenced top, bottom and sides for when I am not nearby. At night, as JadeComputerGal writes, they have a pen in our walkout basement. The reason I first began keeping them there in winter was that once temperatures dropped below 35F, they stopped laying and some of them were clearly uncomfortable and not thriving. Shivering, hunched necks, stiff-legged - it was obvious. In spite of what books and some duck keepers had said, these ducks were not doing very well. Within days after moving them into the basement at night (it stays above 40F), they were laying, thriving, happy.

    I eventually just started keeping them in at night year-round. They have plenty of room - over 100 square feet for nine Runners, four Buffs, and one mini Cayuga. One reason for so much room is that we have days and days in the winter when it is snowing, in the teens F, and just generally not duck-friendly weather.

    As for laying, ducks won't stop and lay in a nest, necessarily. So there may be eggs in your pond.
     
  6. BonitaApplebum

    BonitaApplebum Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 27, 2015
    Thanks for the responses! My husband is in the midst of building our ducks a house, but he's gotten distracted and construction is currently at a standstill. I'll nag him to finish it. Strangely enough, the same day I made my post, I went outside and found 3 eggs!!! It's been raining pretty much steadily for about a week, so I hadn't spent much time outside and didn't see them sooner. This morning by 6am she had already laid an egg. When I got home around 4, my son had found another egg, but this one had no shell. He mentioned that she looked like she was still trying to push out an egg. Sure enough, she did look like that, and hasn't stopped. She did pass one other very small, shell-less egg after that, but is still "pushing". She seems a little under the weather--she's drinking, and eating some, but not much. Is she just young and figuring things out, or could she be egg bound already (even after laying 3 times today)? I'm bugging them with my incessant checking to see if they are okay. I did search the forum and I hard boiled some chicken eggs and chopped them up, shells and all, in case she needs more calcium.
     
  7. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    She may need some extra calcium. When mine first started laying, we would regularly get some soft eggs, but no one had trouble laying. Since then, I have seen the tail-bobbing with egg troubles. Usually extra calcium - like, 200 mg - does the trick. I keep calcium citrate tablets around, and I have used calcium gluconate liquid. I have read that sometimes when they mature, they do have issues laying. I hope you can help her get fixed up. Odd things are not that unusual when they get started. An hour or so floating in lukewarm water may really help, too.
     
  8. BrandyLei

    BrandyLei Out Of The Brooder

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    I've seen it somewhere, and now I can't find it, but what are some good treats to give ducks and geese in the winter? I'm thinking their usual treat of thawed-but-still-cold frozen veggies won't be as good of an idea as it was in summer. I know I'll have to increase their feed amounts.

    Also, I have 4 meat lugs that I'm bringing home from work (think totes without lids). I'm going to flip them over and cut a big hole in the end so they have covered places to stay warm. Do I need to cut some holes for ventilation? If so, should the vents be on the top? Near the top? Or are they not necessary because of the entrance hole?

    Tonight was the first night my ducks and geese spent together in their winter pen and barn. The pen needs some reinforcements and wire fencing to keep my little ducky escape artists in, still need to bring in extra straw bales, move the water tub to inside the barn (near an outlet for the tank heater), and open up the nursery and put in the meat lugs. Still a lot to do! But the ducks are enclosed now, and I'll be able to gather their eggs from one place instead of finding random eggs here and there all over the farm!
     
  9. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    First thoughts:

    In winter, a few tablespoons of good quality dry cat kibble for the flock of ten, a few times a week since they cannot get worms out of the frozen ground.

    When I am on my game, I keep a set of sprouting wheat going.

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    The bottoms have small holds drilled in them so they drain. Water the top twice a day. After three or four days they sprout, then start to green up as grass.
    Research has shown they actually decrease in the standard "nutrient values" commercial farms look at, but in winter, my duckies LOVE THEM.

    [​IMG]

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    1 person likes this.
  10. MaureenD

    MaureenD Out Of The Brooder

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    Those are big shoes to fill....
     

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