New Duck Mother Needs Guidance

KaleIAm

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Jul 13, 2015
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Let's get @Miss Lydia to give us her opinion on the temperature issue. It feels a little more complicated to me since they aren't mallard derived breeds, and because they started the winter out with heat. I'm concerned that if the original poster turns off the heat now the birds will not be prepared for the sharp temperature decrease.

Personally, I don't heat my barn for my ducks. I'm more worried about the risk of fire than the risk of them being chilly. But, they are mallard derived breeds.
 

Weeg

Free Ranging
Jul 1, 2020
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Small town in Washington
Let's get @Miss Lydia to give us her opinion on the temperature issue. It feels a little more complicated to me since they aren't mallard derived breeds, and because they started the winter out with heat. I'm concerned that if the original poster turns off the heat now the birds will not be prepared for the sharp temperature decrease.
I was thinking about that to, since it is so far into winter already...
Can you turn the heat down? Is there a way to "muffle" the heat little by little and ween them off of it? Lets see what a professional thinks.
 
Aug 17, 2020
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Some people keep their ducks inside the house for their entire lives by choice. But as long as your ducks have grit it might not be a big deal that they prefer to be indoors. Why does it bother you?

In the summer they have ponds and little canals and creeks to play in, and they have a grand time playing outside. In the summer I get them out of the henhouse in the morning, and they toddle off to their pond to play. They can't get out early enough in the summer! They rush to the door of their bedroom squawking to be let out as soon as they hear me coming.

But now they curl up as far from the door as possible. They go into a corner they know I can't quite reach. It just seems so sad to be in bed all day for months. Their bed has a window and they just lay there looking out the window. I bring them out to the garden when it is closer to 22F, but they have a little shelter there and they just walk into that and wait for me to get them in a few hours. When it gets to 14F I don't try, they just get too sad.
 
Aug 17, 2020
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It feels a little more complicated to me since they aren't mallard derived breeds, and because they started the winter out with heat.
For now they share a house with the turkey (he is alone so no one to keep him warm) and the chickens. The ducks have an 'apartment' that is above the turkey and the chicken bedroom. (big space for just two little ducks) Because they are above the heat-lamps of the turkey and the chickens warm the duck floor, and heat rises generally, so the heat of the others warms their space. It isn't so much a heat source for them as their floor having the advantage of having below-floor heating. I have lit up a heat lamp in their area once or twice when there was something wrong (like they were soaking wet and the temp was very cold, it was only on the time it took them to dry off), but they rarely go stand under it when it is on, just while they dry themselves.

If this is the issue making them not want to go outside, then maybe next year I can make their pond-house safer and have them sleep there. But I like the safety that the big house offers. I have done all my predator proofing on that house.
 

Weeg

Free Ranging
Jul 1, 2020
4,898
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Small town in Washington
For now they share a house with the turkey (he is alone so no one to keep him warm) and the chickens. The ducks have an 'apartment' that is above the turkey and the chicken bedroom. (big space for just two little ducks) Because they are above the heat-lamps of the turkey and the chickens warm the duck floor, and heat rises generally, so the heat of the others warms their space. It isn't so much a heat source for them as their floor having the advantage of having below-floor heating. I have lit up a heat lamp in their area once or twice when there was something wrong (like they were soaking wet and the temp was very cold, it was only on the time it took them to dry off), but they rarely go stand under it when it is on, just while they dry themselves.

If this is the issue making them not want to go outside, then maybe next year I can make their pond-house safer and have them sleep there. But I like the safety that the big house offers. I have done all my predator proofing on that house.
They really don't need any supplemental heat. What if your power goes out one night, and the lamp turns off? Then they will be without heat for a whole night and will likely die, because they aren't addend to the cold. We need to find a way to ween them off the heat IMO. Lets see what the experts say. @Isaac 0
 

KaleIAm

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Jul 13, 2015
1,698
4,850
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Carnation, Wa
In the summer they have ponds and little canals and creeks to play in, and they have a grand time playing outside. In the summer I get them out of the henhouse in the morning, and they toddle off to their pond to play. They can't get out early enough in the summer! They rush to the door of their bedroom squawking to be let out as soon as they hear me coming.

But now they curl up as far from the door as possible. They go into a corner they know I can't quite reach. It just seems so sad to be in bed all day for months. Their bed has a window and they just lay there looking out the window. I bring them out to the garden when it is closer to 22F, but they have a little shelter there and they just walk into that and wait for me to get them in a few hours. When it gets to 14F I don't try, they just get too sad.
I understand, my ducks are also very excited for the day to begin and it is delightful. I would also be disappointed if they wanted to hide in our barn all winter.

Even at 22 and 14F my ducks will happily swim in ice water and play in the snow. But, I've never had muscovies, so I'm not sure if they have different temperature requirements.

Oh, @Daphne_loves_mealworms has muscovies, and I've seen photos of them in the snow. Maybe they can help out.
 

Yardmom

Songster
May 3, 2018
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Waterford, PA
My muscovies go out in the snow, but our temperatures are "warm" compared to yours. On colder days for here 15. F above the muscovies tend to hang out in the coop. I rarely see the muscovies swim in winter, but my mallard derived ducks smim every day in the opening from the wind mill.
What others are saying about not supplementing heat applies to all your birds. If the coop is warm they will not develop the feathering for electric outages or for outdoor temperatures. I believe muscovies can be kept without heat at the temperatures you experience, but I do not have experience with that. (I grew up in those types of winters, but we did not have muscovies)
 
Aug 17, 2020
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128
I should clarify, seems I explained it badly.

There is no heat on the ducks. They are in a shared cabin, and their space is above the others, so it is naturally warmer than those that are on the floor. The chickens have a heat lamp, which is under where the ducks are, but the ducks don't choose to make a bed above it. The duck floor is 3/4" plywood, a plastic layer made of old feed bags so I can clean it, and then some mismatched tiles that are not glued so I can remove them to clean and then the bedding. There is no way that the heat lamp pointed down at the chickens is heating all the way through that. But, it is just nicer than being on the floor.

fire: Short of building a campfire inside the house it is not possible to burn that building. Although the outside is wood, the inside walls are recycled sheet metal from an old barn roof (I guess tin, I don't know anything about metal). Under the metal is insulation that is wool made from rock and it is the highest fire-rated insulation available (similar to the pink wool, which is made from fiberglass, except that this is made from rock. Unlike the fiberglass, this is not toxic and does not get into your eyes/lungs/cut your skin, and it is more fireproof). There is a vapour barrier between the metal and the insulation, so no little beeks can peck at it. (not that they could peck through metal, but no water/moisture can infiltrate either). The floor is mismatch ceramic tiles that are set in thin concrete.

temperatures: this is (so far) the warmest winter on record, my normal winter temperatures are down to -40F, so the building is made for that. Normal day temperatures will be highs of -13F lows to -26F in a week or two. Nights will be -31F to -40F. After mid-Jan winter will arrive, it always does. It will last until April, spring is late May.

The chickens I adopted at 20weeks and they were raised in one of those factory places where they never go outside, don't even have a window, and temperatures are always the same, and they are descendants of chickens raised in that condition for many many generations. They are not made for the cold, but, god bless them, they go outside every day, for as long as they are able to stand it, no matter how cold. I have a little heat light for them at night, and they cuddle around it. It is 175W and it has 2 settings (off-low-high) I assume High is 175, but I don't know where Low lands on the scale (half-way?). I leave it on low (so far), unless it is so cold they are clearly uncomfortable, then I click it to high. This is their first winter: frostbite is real, and it can cost you toes or limbs. Some of them have little nips of frostbite already on their combs and that is never going to heal. I know from local people that chicken toes do die from frostbite.

My grandparents (and all those I know of in this area), before the world of lightbulbs kept their hens in the barn during the winter. The heat from the animals keeps the indoors warm enough that there is steam rising from the 'stuff' on the floor. The floor is slightly below ground level to keep it warmer, and they pile things like stay and hay between walls and animals. It is pretty hot in there with all cows/horses/whatever. No one would have left them in an uninsulated building in those temperatures. Bare in mind that the humidity in this area is high, so the cold is even more painful than in the dryer areas like the prairies.

(back to now), the door to the house is open during the day so that the turkey can come in and go out all day long. That means the house inside is the temperature outside less the windchill, so the ducks staying inside is not like being in the people house. Today was only -16F and sunny, so I tried to bring them outside, they walked back to the fence and cried to be brought back inside. I left them out maybe 3/4 of an hour and one of them shivered violently when I put her back in the bed. She is fine now, but she is not happy out of the building. I took them outside because I know this is the warmest day in the coming week, so it was my best shot at fresh air and walking outside. Other than bath-time, they are going to be indoors for several days.

power outages: obviously we have a generator, our pipes would explode if there were no heat, so plugging in the hens is easy. But it would take a while for that building to cool off, and the heat from the lamp is not that intense that they would die if it went out for an hour or two. They would complain to me the next day, but no one would be hurt.
 

KaleIAm

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Jul 13, 2015
1,698
4,850
471
Carnation, Wa
I should clarify, seems I explained it badly.

There is no heat on the ducks. They are in a shared cabin, and their space is above the others, so it is naturally warmer than those that are on the floor. The chickens have a heat lamp, which is under where the ducks are, but the ducks don't choose to make a bed above it. The duck floor is 3/4" plywood, a plastic layer made of old feed bags so I can clean it, and then some mismatched tiles that are not glued so I can remove them to clean and then the bedding. There is no way that the heat lamp pointed down at the chickens is heating all the way through that. But, it is just nicer than being on the floor.

fire: Short of building a campfire inside the house it is not possible to burn that building. Although the outside is wood, the inside walls are recycled sheet metal from an old barn roof (I guess tin, I don't know anything about metal). Under the metal is insulation that is wool made from rock and it is the highest fire-rated insulation available (similar to the pink wool, which is made from fiberglass, except that this is made from rock. Unlike the fiberglass, this is not toxic and does not get into your eyes/lungs/cut your skin, and it is more fireproof). There is a vapour barrier between the metal and the insulation, so no little beeks can peck at it. (not that they could peck through metal, but no water/moisture can infiltrate either). The floor is mismatch ceramic tiles that are set in thin concrete.

temperatures: this is (so far) the warmest winter on record, my normal winter temperatures are down to -40F, so the building is made for that. Normal day temperatures will be highs of -13F lows to -26F in a week or two. Nights will be -31F to -40F. After mid-Jan winter will arrive, it always does. It will last until April, spring is late May.

The chickens I adopted at 20weeks and they were raised in one of those factory places where they never go outside, don't even have a window, and temperatures are always the same, and they are descendants of chickens raised in that condition for many many generations. They are not made for the cold, but, god bless them, they go outside every day, for as long as they are able to stand it, no matter how cold. I have a little heat light for them at night, and they cuddle around it. It is 175W and it has 2 settings (off-low-high) I assume High is 175, but I don't know where Low lands on the scale (half-way?). I leave it on low (so far), unless it is so cold they are clearly uncomfortable, then I click it to high. This is their first winter: frostbite is real, and it can cost you toes or limbs. Some of them have little nips of frostbite already on their combs and that is never going to heal. I know from local people that chicken toes do die from frostbite.

My grandparents (and all those I know of in this area), before the world of lightbulbs kept their hens in the barn during the winter. The heat from the animals keeps the indoors warm enough that there is steam rising from the 'stuff' on the floor. The floor is slightly below ground level to keep it warmer, and they pile things like stay and hay between walls and animals. It is pretty hot in there with all cows/horses/whatever. No one would have left them in an uninsulated building in those temperatures. Bare in mind that the humidity in this area is high, so the cold is even more painful than in the dryer areas like the prairies.

(back to now), the door to the house is open during the day so that the turkey can come in and go out all day long. That means the house inside is the temperature outside less the windchill, so the ducks staying inside is not like being in the people house. Today was only -16F and sunny, so I tried to bring them outside, they walked back to the fence and cried to be brought back inside. I left them out maybe 3/4 of an hour and one of them shivered violently when I put her back in the bed. She is fine now, but she is not happy out of the building. I took them outside because I know this is the warmest day in the coming week, so it was my best shot at fresh air and walking outside. Other than bath-time, they are going to be indoors for several days.

power outages: obviously we have a generator, our pipes would explode if there were no heat, so plugging in the hens is easy. But it would take a while for that building to cool off, and the heat from the lamp is not that intense that they would die if it went out for an hour or two. They would complain to me the next day, but no one would be hurt.
Wow, your set up sounds amazing to me. I apologize if my comment about my not heating my barn because I was afraid of the fire risk was offensive to you. You obviously care a lot about your birds and are doing your best to do the right thing for them. My climate is significantly different than yours, so for me the choice to not provide heat is different. We are only below freezing for a few weeks a year, and never below zero. I don't have chickens with frostbite concerns. And my ducks aren't shivering violently. If they were I would reevaluate my situation.

And regardless of what I think, the choice is yours.
 

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