How do you keep your ducks warm?

JNC

Chirping
May 5, 2020
179
92
60
Kendallville Indiana, US
This will be my first winter with my ducks and I’m extremely worried. My dad insulated their house very well so they don’t freeze to death on cold nights. He even added an outlet so when it gets cold I can add a small heater in there for them. Their house is not very big it’s only meant for them to be in there at night. I feel like when it gets very cold they will freeze to death outside. I’m in Indiana and The lowest I can remember it getting is -25 F. I will start putting petroleum jelly on their feet so their skin doesn’t get so dry. Any more tips?
 

Weeg

Crowing
Jul 1, 2020
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Small town in Washington
Don't worry about them. They have feathers, it would be like you going and hanging out outside with all your winter gear on. If they have a insulated house, they will be fine as long as they are fully featured. You never want to use a heater, because they could get accustomed to it, and then not the able to survive the cold because they aren't used to the cold anymore. Then your power goes out one night, the heater/heaitng lamp turns off, and you loose your whole flock! Adding straw, or hay to there coop is a good insulator to help keep them warm. They will be totally fine! My ducks were jus fine in 9-13 degree weather last year, and they only have a chain link house, no real walls. I promise!
 

cheezenkwackers

Crowing
Aug 28, 2016
1,141
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Memphis, TN
People have been using down feathers from ducks and geese to make warm jackets and blankets for themselves for centuries. That same down keeps the ducks nice and warm. I am with Weeg, and would not add an electric heater. On really really cold nights though, you can fill a large bottle (like a milk jug) with hot tap water. As the water cools, and eventually freezes, it will give off heat. You can also buy a cheap, remote thermometer. I think I paid $10 at Walmart. You then place the probe in the duck house and the receiver in your house. Any time you are worried you can check the temperature by the ducks. I was surprised, using mine, to find the house many degrees warmer than the outside air.
 

Trisseh

Duck-duck-chicken!
Premium Feather Member
Jun 21, 2019
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NW Ontario, Canada
Give them a draft free place out of the wind, good deep straw bedding, and if need be put straw down in the pen. (I put it around my water tubs and make pathways to the feeder.)

definitely wouldn’t recommend a heater; fire hazard and unnecessary since they have a lot of fat and thick down and feathers.

My ducks were young (6 months) going into winter and did fine, even during the cold snaps of -35 to -45 C (depending on wind chill) that lasted for days. They had a nice cozy house full of straw to burrow into, and a wind break in their pen to keep them out of the wind, which they hate.
 

KaleIAm

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
Jul 13, 2015
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Carnation, Wa
I think the way we experience winter is so different than ducks that it can be challenging to relate with them. My winters aren't as cold as yours, but we still get into the teens for a few weeks. When it is that cold my ducks go happily swimming in ice water for at least a couple hours a day. There are literally huge chunks of ice floating around in their pool and my ducks are joyfully splashing around. After a quick shake off and preening session they want to go on a foraging walk for a couple of hours, while I am bundled up so thickly I can hardly walk, drinking my steaming tea and shivering like crazy. I stay outside for as long as I can tolerate, trying to be a good duck parent, and then force them to go back in their aviary. Do the ducks go back into their cozy straw padded barn? No. They get back into the ice water.

I understand how you feel and I am also tempted to put a heater in the barn with my ducks. Since they are fully feathered adults I refrain every year. The way I see it, the worst thing that is going to happen if I don't put a heater in is that they are going to shiver a little and feel cold. The worst thing that is going to happen if I put a heater in is that they are going to burn to death. Coop/barn fires do happen and I just can't take the risk.

What I can do is make sure my ducks have very thick layers of dry straw. I give them about 6 inches of straw to nestle down in. I am extra careful to clean it out so it is never wet or poopy. I make sure they have the opportunity to eat plenty of nutritious food so they can keep up their own body temperatures. My ducks also have their barn available to go into during the day if they choose.

I would also avoid the petroleum jelly, since it will get on their feathers. When my ducks' feet get cold they just sit on them to warm them up.

I hope this helps you feel less worried.
 

TomCahalan

Chirping
Feb 13, 2020
315
331
91
Ohio
No petroleum jelly, no heater. Once a duck reaches the age of 8 weeks it is almost immune to cold. Ducks in Indiana do not fly south for the winter because they don't need to.

It only gets down to about 0 F where I live, but I would also be concerned with the insulation. Usually ventilation is considered to be far more important than insulation. I am not sure if that holds true when it is -25 degrees though.
 

JNC

Chirping
May 5, 2020
179
92
60
Kendallville Indiana, US
No petroleum jelly, no heater. Once a duck reaches the age of 8 weeks it is almost immune to cold. Ducks in Indiana do not fly south for the winter because they don't need to.

It only gets down to about 0 F where I live, but I would also be concerned with the insulation. Usually ventilation is considered to be far more important than insulation. I am not sure if that holds true when it is -25 degrees though.
I have heard this before. But I’m not Really worrried because the door is only closed in the night. I leave it open during the day and they are smart enough to go inside when it’s hailing, windy, or when the sun is to bright. I think the ventilation is for smell. And I understand why. It gets really smelly. I use crushed barn lime for smell though. And I clean their house daily.
 

JNC

Chirping
May 5, 2020
179
92
60
Kendallville Indiana, US
I think the way we experience winter is so different than ducks that it can be challenging to relate with them. My winters aren't as cold as yours, but we still get into the teens for a few weeks. When it is that cold my ducks go happily swimming in ice water for at least a couple hours a day. There are literally huge chunks of ice floating around in their pool and my ducks are joyfully splashing around. After a quick shake off and preening session they want to go on a foraging walk for a couple of hours, while I am bundled up so thickly I can hardly walk, drinking my steaming tea and shivering like crazy. I stay outside for as long as I can tolerate, trying to be a good duck parent, and then force them to go back in their aviary. Do the ducks go back into their cozy straw padded barn? No. They get back into the ice water.

I understand how you feel and I am also tempted to put a heater in the barn with my ducks. Since they are fully feathered adults I refrain every year. The way I see it, the worst thing that is going to happen if I don't put a heater in is that they are going to shiver a little and feel cold. The worst thing that is going to happen if I put a heater in is that they are going to burn to death. Coop/barn fires do happen and I just can't take the risk.

What I can do is make sure my ducks have very thick layers of dry straw. I give them about 6 inches of straw to nestle down in. I am extra careful to clean it out so it is never wet or poopy. I make sure they have the opportunity to eat plenty of nutritious food so they can keep up their own body temperatures. My ducks also have their barn available to go into during the day if they choose.

I would also avoid the petroleum jelly, since it will get on their feathers. When my ducks' feet get cold they just sit on them to warm them up.

I hope this helps you feel less worried.
This is definitely making me lot less worried! 6inches of straw? How often do you have to clean it? Mine right now is not even and inch thick and I clean it daily and a bale of straw lasts me about 3 weeks. I’m afraid that if I use 6 inches of straw a lot will go to waste.
 

KaleIAm

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
Jul 13, 2015
875
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Carnation, Wa
This is definitely making me lot less worried! 6inches of straw? How often do you have to clean it? Mine right now is not even and inch thick and I clean it daily and a bale of straw lasts me about 3 weeks. I’m afraid that if I use 6 inches of straw a lot will go to waste.
Yeah, my vet told me to use 4-6 inches to prevent bumblefoot, so I use a lot of straw year around. I put down a good 6 inches in the corner where they sleep, and maybe 4 inches in the rest of the space. I use even more in the winter.

2-3 times a week I scoop out just their sleeping corner and replace it with fresh straw, and once a week I clean out their entire room. They have a huge space, about 10x10 for only 3 ducks. I'm sure I waste a lot of straw, but I'm ok with that if it means my ducks are more comfortable. I use a bale about every two weeks.

I took a photo for you. The floor is linoleum. It's hard to see how high the straw is, but the white trim that goes around is about 6 inches high, and the duck stuffy is about pekin size and where the real ducks sleep.
6D988E2D-2A46-4BF8-8924-2663B23740F7.jpeg
 
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