How cold is cold-hardy and what's the difference between a vent and a draft?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by slm518, Nov 13, 2015.

  1. slm518

    slm518 Just Hatched

    Aug 13, 2015
    I'm pretty new here and I've been entertained and enlightened for hours on end. All the ducks are beautiful and hysterical. This is a great site. But...

    Here's the thing. I've read that ducks are cold-hardy - they go out in the snow, swim around in freezing weather. I've watched mine skate on their pond and wait for me to break the ice.

    But I live where it can get down to minus 40. They have what I believe is a cozy duck house, insulated with straw (because they try to eat insulation and plastic) between the walls. I have a heated water dish and lots of straw for them to sleep in, but this doesn't seem like enough. I have a heat lamp but I'm afraid that if I use it 1) they will somehow disassemble it and try to eat it or 2) it will start a fire. I don't want roasted ducks!

    Also, their house needs to be vented but not drafty. Well, isn't a vent used to create a draft? What's the difference between a drafty house and a vented house?
  2. Free Spirit

    Free Spirit The Chiarian

    Oct 21, 2015
    You want air movement circulating in the house so that moisture and condensation cannot accumulate inside. Typically a vent on the bottom for air to come in and vents on the opposite side for air moving out as heat rises. A good amount of airflow to keep things dry. But the animals need to be away from drafts or in other words direct wind or a breeze. Birds retain natural body heat by fluffing up their feathers and any breeze or windy conditions can disturb the feathers and draw away their warmth.

    So you want good air movement but keep them out of direct air flow. If your prevailing winds are north or south then you would likely place the vents east to west. Then again it may depend on whether you have natural wind breaks such as trees, bushes, buildings to help with vent placement.

    Clear as mud?
    2 people like this.
  3. lomine

    lomine Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 7, 2015
    Peyton, CO
    I think of it like this (might not be right but works for me), ventilation allows air to flow but it can't really gain any speed. If the air can travel undeterred in a straight line it is going to create a breeze. Like if you have an open window and the wind can just blow right in. For instance, in my coop I have under eave vents and a ridge vent (along with some other vents). The air comes in under the eaves and travels up through the ridge vent. This allows air flow but no breezes. On my coop all of my ventilation is also above the head height of my ducks.

    I agree that using a heater is a fire hazard. It can also cause a problem for the ducks if there is an extreme difference between the temp inside their coop and the temp outside. They can't acclimate to the cold if not given the chance. I have read that ducks are fine to -40. I think your set-up sounds good. You can always give some extra straw. And make sure they are getting plenty of food because they are going to be burning through it faster.
    2 people like this.
  4. Tevyes Dad

    Tevyes Dad Leader of the Quack Premium Member

    Apr 22, 2014
    I am in Montana and it regularly is below -10F in the winter and gets below -20F frequently. I do have a suspended heat lamp in the ducks house WELL above their head height and it only comes on when the temperatures are below 0F. They will periodically lay down under it when it is below -10F. (Mostly my runners - the other breeds are tougher than that) I also feed the ducks cracked corn as a treat but only in the winter so they will have plenty of carbs to make extra heat (they still have their normal food available all day).

    Think of vent as air exchange and draft as something that blows on the duck. My duck house has many holes for ventilation, but they are all above 4 ft high.
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2015
  5. Tlearn98

    Tlearn98 Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 12, 2015
    Johnstown, PA
    Hello Everyone! How are mallard ducks in the winter/snow? So far as I've seen the temperatures changing, it doesn't seem as though the ducks care! They still swim in their pool and hardly visit their duck hut. What is duck behavior like in the winter? Sorry, I didn't realize I was butting in on someone else's thread! Still trying to figure this BYC out!
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2015
  6. Tevyes Dad

    Tevyes Dad Leader of the Quack Premium Member

    Apr 22, 2014
    Bunches of them overwinter here (wood ducks too) and it hits -20F through the winter.

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