How do you Keep ducks in the winter ?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by chicken crazed 1o1, Jan 25, 2012.

  1. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Loving this country life

    Heated water buckets are great for water fowl, they can wash their faces and even take a sponge bath if they want to[jk] To keep my ducks from climbing into the 5 gallon and 2 gallon heated buckets I have screwed a piece of scrap wood across half of it, that way they can still wash but can't use it as their bath tub. I don't put the buckets in their houses though they are outside.
     
  2. canard

    canard Chirping

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    I read a post by someone who said something very interesting regarding whether or not to use a heat lamp. The individual pointed out that if you don't use a heat lamp and it is extremely cold out, the ducks tend to eat a lot more feed. Some people worry about the amount of money they will spend in electricity to use a heat lamp on very cold days or nights. The duck owner's point was that you will either pay a small amount of money for the electricity to power a heat lamp or more money in the extra feed the ducks will eat without a heat lamp. I would guess a heat lamp would be cheaper than extra feed, especially if you have a large flock!
     
  3. HollyDuckFarmer

    HollyDuckFarmer Songster

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    Everybody, thanks for the comments here, as it currently is 31'F here (below freezing) and I'm worrying about my ducks outdoors. My winter-proofing measures are not totally in place yet. The babies (2.5 weeks or so) were out for a few hours during the day, and they were cold, shaking and huddling, so I had to herd them and mom back indoors. My adults seem to ignore the outdoor house and since the babies are inside, I'm not ready to allow the entire group back inside just yet. Hopefully in a few weeks.

    What temp exactly is "extremely cold" to a duck? I mean, 40 is extremely cold to me!
     
  4. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Loving this country life

    Adult ducks wear down, they can take very cold temps. ducklings not feathered out can not thats why mamas keep them warm. As long as mamas are doing their job and letting ducklings get under her to stay warm they will be fine, make sure the inside house has nice dry bedding too. Putting a heat lamp inside a duck house will not do anything but cause moisture to build up which is not good for the health of your flock.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2012
  5. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

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    I feel that I want to toss in my experience here because it is not typical, not text-book.

    About half my runners could not handle temperatures below 35F. They were alive, but feathers fluffed out, necks crunched up, barely walking. I did not consider that okay.

    So I keep them at 40F or above. I have a shelter for them in my walkout basement. Because of the way the house is built and the lay of the land, it works very well. And it is not difficult to keep the basement pen in very tidy shape. Odor is not a problem. People who visit often remark how pleasant the basement pen looks and smells.

    It depends on the duck, it depends on how you feel, too. Watch closely, and if it does not seem right to you, in your gut, make adjustments.

    Once I moved them into a warmer night pen, body condition and behavior improved, egg laying increased (no additional light). Outdoors I had provided extra feed, some kibble, loads of bedding, extra insulation in the shelter while maintaining fresh air, all the textbook stuff. The shelter is double-walled with a foot and a half of shavings for bedding. They would not huddle together, they always slept nose to tail at the closest, against the walls, in a circle.

    So there are some exceptions. Also, runners have much greater surface to volume ratio than larger ducks. That makes a difference, too.
     
  6. HollyDuckFarmer

    HollyDuckFarmer Songster

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    Thank you, Ladies. The moisture is issue enough already, without adding to that problem... That is for sure! Looks like it will warm up just a bit tomorrow so that will give me some time. It is the little ones I worry about most, because they have no feathers yet. Now the first hatchling, it is about 4 weeks old now, and wow has it got feathers. More than I remember the adult ducks having way back when about that age. Well thanks again. Have a good remainder of the weekend my friends.
     
  7. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Loving this country life

    Your mamas are still taking care of their ducklings aren't they, well maybe not so much the 4 week old. usually by 3-4 weeks my mamas are pretty much done mothering.
     
  8. HollyDuckFarmer

    HollyDuckFarmer Songster

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    Not so much Miss Lydia :( The Khaki Mom isn't quite one year old yet, and she is very eager to rejoin Mr. Khaki. She escaped the pen last week unbeknownst to me for several hours on a warm day, leaving the babies inside. Then today she left them again, which really shocked me! These babies are tiny, and I don't see the pin feather development on any of them like I did on the other. One looks just like a Rouen, complete with the spots, another looks like a dark Rouen, with eye stripes but no back spots, but the Runner body shape, with the bib, and the other two I am guessing are Khaki Mom x Pekin Dad, black with white bibs and wing tips. The Khaki Mom is troubling me most, because I never see those babies eating from the feeders and when she is in the brooder area, she seems to want to poke around in the water and bedding. When they are outside together, everything seems ok, but with the cold and wind I will not help her take them outdoors if I can't be sure that she will take care of them.

    The Pekin Mom really seems to be ignoring her baby, even when it cries for her. (today it carried on with a totally pitiful cry- and she walked up as if to check and then left and walked away!) but that baby has almost complete feathering down it's chest, belly and tail, and I'm seeing some development in the wing area as well... So, like you've mentioned, that mom is likely getting ready to move on. That baby is quite large too, nearly as tall as mom already. The flock seems to have accepted it too, so that is great, but since all of my adults choose to sleep out in the wind and rain instead of the outdoor shelter, I'm nervous leaving that baby out just yet... And since that baby is so big, Khaki mom doesn't really seem to want it around her babies either.

    Seems like I read on Metzer's site that the 24% Protein feed would encourage/support feather development...So that is what I'm providing. Hopefully tomorrow I'll see feathers. This has been such a wonderful experience for my family, but I honestly don't think I'll ever let broody ducks start sitting after August 5th ever again. Thanks for teaching me. :)
     
  9. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Loving this country life

    If Khaki mom isn't caring for her lil ones then you need to step in, especially if they aren't feathered out. or make a temp place for them inside where you can set up a heat lamp just for them but big enough so they can get away from it if they get too hot. If they chill they most likely won't make it. My first were hatched in April and we had some cold weather, I had to move mom and babies inside in a Xlarge dog crate for a couple nights with out extra heat though. The other duckling will probably snuggle against mom in the night for warmth, but if it's going to be cold and rainy then it shouldn't be let out side either. If moms can't get out most likely they'll settle down with the babies. It's a tough call but like Amiga said go with your gut. I sure wouldn't want to tell you Oh they will be fine and you post and say they all froze to death. You know your situation better than any of us.
     
  10. HollyDuckFarmer

    HollyDuckFarmer Songster

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    Miss Lydia, I know that you wouldn't tell me "they'll be fine" if they wouldn't actually be okay!! You and Amiga both have given me great advice so far, I am sure all we be okay. And Amiga, I'm impressed that you are able to handle your logistics so well. I think my ducks might drive me crazy if they were any closer. Thank goodness they are so cute! That Khaki Campbell is a fickle Mama! Just as I got the old school brooder light all in place, don't you know she changed her mind and decided to get back to the business of being a Mom again. The babies are growing and she even took them outdoors yesterday -and- put them to bed! And indeed you were so correct, shutting the door at night does indeed seem to do the trick! They still don't look like they are growing feathers, however. They will turn 3 weeks old Friday & Saturday. Now I've thought on this, and it just seems to me that as chilly as it has been and due to mom's wandering ways, that I should be seeing more feathering. Now I did have a lightbulb moment, if babies are eating mom's 16% protein feed rather than their 24% feed, that may be a factor. What do you think? I'm just leaving the heat lamp off and only turning on the 20w at night, more for the habit of leaving the light on than heat. On the other side of the pen, however, the Big Baby, as it is known, is outside basically full time and doing very well based on my observations. So what I did to further along the Winterization process was to stack and pack straw bales around the wooden outdoor house, and my next steps are to countinue with the overhead tarps and to make a final decision on if I should drop extra straw over the walking area (which first was grass, then pea gravel, and is now mud). Any suggestions? Has anyone ever used Tyvek house wrap for the purpose of blocking blowing snow on the sides of the coop? What about 6 mil plastic from the HD? Will that result in not enough air flow? One final (not winter related) question, do the babies automatically enter the flock in a comparable "rank" as their mothers? Nature vs. Nuture? Thanks everyone! :) Stay warm and dry out there.
     

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