HELP! Muscovy's dying in the cold

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Tessaturtle, Feb 17, 2015.

  1. Tessaturtle

    Tessaturtle In the Brooder

    Apr 24, 2012
    New Hampshire
    We have two Muscovy's die in the last two days. The first one was clear hypothermia (my first experience with it, but it was pretty obvious), it occurred yesterday morning, which was right after the -10 to -20 degree night with winds blowing at blizzard strength. The first one was still alive, barely, when I discovered him so I brought him inside but was unable to revive him and he died in my arms. So last night and this morning, we made extra sure to visually check each Muscovy and check for alertness and everyone looked fine. Today was not as windy and temps were in the 20's. I got home from work early (3:30) and when I went out to do the chores, noticed one Muscovy not moving as I threw cracked corn around the duck house. Second one was dead, was in rigor and frozen. Both were males and both were juveniles. This is the first winter we have had losses. This has been a worse winter than others with more snow than we have had in quite awhile and more consecutive days of severe cold, so I don't know if that has something to do with it. What if a disease is running rampant? No one looks or acts sick though. We don't provide a heater due to fire hazard and I've heard and read that it reduces their ability to self regulate their body temps and if the heater goes out, they aren't used to the cold anymore. Is anyone here an experienced Muscovy keeper? Is this typical for Muscovy's since they are more of a southern bird? How does everyone (duck or chicken keepers) deal with the cold? Do you insulate or wrap your coops? Any thoughts are very appreciated!
  2. learycow

    learycow Crowing

    Apr 1, 2011
    Southern Maine
    I am in southern maine so experiencing the same temps and weather as you are!

    As far as ducks go, it cold weather that DRAGS on like this is tough on them unless they are very well conditioned or fat. It takes a lot of energy for them to sustain enough body heat to stay warm AND go about their normal activities.

    Were they on the thin side? Typically, muscovy ducks can withstand severe cold as long as 1. they have shelter to get in out of the wind or drafts. 2. they have deep bedding they can snuggle into to keep their feet and lower bodies warm. 3. they are well fed and have food and water access (at least during the day) that's in a place where they don't have to use up much energy to get to it

    Back in NOV I started packing the whole corn to my ducks. I know a lot of corn isn't the best for them, but I do 3 quarts grain, 1 quart whole corn, 1 quart scratch daily for them. It had made them fat but the whole corn breaks down slower in their bodies thus giving them an extra heat source in this cold weather. And the additional fat gives them extra energy to burn if needed. Since everything is frozen solid I haven't cleaned the coop in almost 8 weeks now. So I keep adding hay so it stays dry and warm for them.

    If you have any that seem thin or in need of a little extra care, I would suggest bringing them into the basement or garage (even if not heated) and pack the feed to them. Otherwise you risk losing more as it doesn't look like it's going to warm up any time soon. And you don't need a heater or lamp in the coop for them. My coop isn't even insulated and it's just fine for them (some mornings they even have frost on their tail feathers!). It's the drafts and wind that make them cold and prevent them from being able to warm up
  3. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Loving this country life

    I am so sorry for your losses, I have Muscovy' and have had them for going on 11 yrs now. this weather is horrid I am concerned about mine so I have been giving them alot more shavings to stand on and lay on outside since once they are let out in the morning just don't want to go back inside. So far I haven't lost any but this next few days are going to be rough with temps way down into minus figures and highs in the singles. Whole corn morning and evening along with their feed to keep them warmer. I know folks keeping Muscovy's all the way in Alaska and Canada so I think they are a pretty hardy ducks this weather has just been too much for some of them. I don't use heat in their houses either. I even have a couple south facing windows open at the top in their houses. Just make sure they can get out of the wind and have dry bedding inside. Plenty of feed and fresh water.I also don't give them anything to bathe in when temps are this cold since they aren't as water proof as mallard derived breeds.
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2015
  4. Going Quackers

    Going Quackers Crowing

    May 24, 2011
    On, Canada
    Firstly, I am sorry for your loses.

    It is rather difficult unfortunately, the extremes whether that be cold or hot take down the young, old and the weak. Ducks being prey animals are very good at masking symptoms and even the most observant keeper may not realize someone is a bit off, however that shift downwards in this case is enough to take them out.

    Beyond the basic care regimes there is not much one can do, while i will bring in a troubled bird, or an iced up one for an hour or so prolonged temperatures that differ vary from those of it's usual living conditions are not something i recommend, otherwise you will be housing that bird(s) in a new place until weather improves.

    Muscovies generally speaking handle winter within certain parameters.. i have quite a few who are severel years, they have seen quite the winters, sadly though not all will make it and many times we may never know why.

    Best of luck to you, hopefully winter will soon be over and a better temperature prevail.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2015
  5. Amykins

    Amykins Crowing

    May 11, 2013
    Do you keep their coop heated or insulated in any way?
  6. bargain

    bargain Love God, Hubby & farm

    Apr 13, 2008
    Bowdon, GA
    So sorry about the losses. We have had pekins and now Saxony. We found waterfowl to be much more winter hardy than our other poultry....We did go around and break the top of the pound/pools for them for water and found them alright, but we have not had below 20 degrees. I would recommend wind blocks and perhaps hay bales stacked up as a sort of insulation for them outside their coop area if they have a coop or even as a temp coop. you could put the hay bales between fence posts to secure them and then You could put a tarp on top of the hay bales as well and that should really help them! You could sprinkle feed inside between the bales to encourage them to venture in. Hope this helps with a temporary shelter for them and praying for the best!
  7. you could always make a place in the garage and have them a heater, you can even use those really big dog kernel crates and let them sleep in there for the night and then let them back out during the day
  8. " We found waterfowl to be much more winter hardy than our other poultry...."

    You do know Muscovies are ducks right?
  9. bargain

    bargain Love God, Hubby & farm

    Apr 13, 2008
    Bowdon, GA
    Yes :) LOL Muscovies are ducks - we have ducks - saxony ducks... :) Our waterfowl love to be out in all kinds of weather it amazes how winter hardy they are but again, the coldest it has been where I am is only a few degrees below zero on the thermometer but that was cold enough for me....
  10. Oh kk good , sorry I didn't understand what u were saying

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