Molting & the Weather

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by OldGuy43, Nov 14, 2012.

  1. OldGuy43

    OldGuy43 Chillin' With My Peeps

    One of the real pluses to being retired is that you have the time to lay about and consider the "why" of things. [​IMG]

    So the quackers started molting this week, as well as the attendant loss of eggs. Quite naturally I came to BYC for info since the weather here just turned cold. (Okay, cold for here, down into the 30's at night and 60's during the day.) I discovered that while many had reported that their ducks were molting during cold weather no one could explain why this was so since it seemed counter survival. I think I have the answer. [​IMG]

    It is Darwinian behavior and is not counter survival. Think about it. An adult duck holds it's body temp at about 107 degrees and therefore stays warm. Now consider why ducks lay eggs. An egg is a duck's way of making another duck. They don't care if we get eggs or not.

    Now, even though an adult can tolerate cold weather, as we all know a duckling can't! In order to survive they must be kept warm (about 90 degrees for the first week). See? Why make ducklings that have a lower chance of survival?
  2. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    Makes sense, I suppose it may also be that among domestic ducks, their timing may be a little off, as the elimination of too-late-molting ducks from hypothermia would keep that out of the population. Since we shelter them especially at night, it's not as much of a lineage-stopper.
  3. wildpeas

    wildpeas Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 18, 2012
    Port Orchard, Wa
    I don't quite follow what you are saying. Could you rephrase?
  4. Going Quackers

    Going Quackers Overrun With Chickens

    May 24, 2011
    On, Canada
    I figured the reason my Lilly has molted so late was because her clutch stayed with her longer, she was so dedicated and didn't properly wean till they were 8wks at least, i felt that probably threw her system off a tad. Thankfully the feathers have opened because we are cold, heck we went down to -10C the other night... and only hitting highs in single digits. It's a whopping +2C out(36F for those who use that lol)
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2012
  5. OldGuy43

    OldGuy43 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Ducks molt in cold weather because ducklings hatched during cold weather didn't survive in the past. I tend to be verbose, sorry.
  6. wildpeas

    wildpeas Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 18, 2012
    Port Orchard, Wa
    So do you think that this is just something that domestic ducks have adapted to? Don't wild ducks only hatch out in the spring?
  7. OldGuy43

    OldGuy43 Chillin' With My Peeps

    No, wild ducks hatch in late spring to early summer according to my research.
  8. cskotek

    cskotek Chillin' With My Peeps

    I know the Canadian geese that come through hatch their babies around May (end of school year). And even then when the ones these are starting to turn grey from yellow there are still some geese on the river with little yellow fluff balls. So not all ducks/geese have babies in the spring :)

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