New Duck Mother Needs Guidance

Weeg

Free Ranging
Jul 1, 2020
4,821
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Small town in Washington
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! Those are crazy temperatures! I get it now, you setup is very well designed, sound slick you care a lot about your animals. 😊
 
Aug 17, 2020
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yes, CRAZY right ? I want to write a letter to the weather office but no one will tell me the address. :idunno

If I had known I would have gotten Mallards, but honestly even the wild Mallards that live here fly away for the winter. I think for next year I need to build them something that covers from all the snow and gives them a little outdoor spa.

This year I am building a greenhouse next to the house for the chickens. It is made with old windows and wood walls on the cold side. The ducks and chickens don't get along, so the ducks need their own spot.

I guess for the rest of the winter I will be trying to make their space more fun.

thank you all for having the best interests of the birds in your minds at all times. They need advocates.
 

KaleIAm

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Jul 13, 2015
1,636
4,682
471
Carnation, Wa
yes, CRAZY right ? I want to write a letter to the weather office but no one will tell me the address. :idunno

If I had known I would have gotten Mallards, but honestly even the wild Mallards that live here fly away for the winter. I think for next year I need to build them something that covers from all the snow and gives them a little outdoor spa.

This year I am building a greenhouse next to the house for the chickens. It is made with old windows and wood walls on the cold side. The ducks and chickens don't get along, so the ducks need their own spot.

I guess for the rest of the winter I will be trying to make their space more fun.

thank you all for having the best interests of the birds in your minds at all times. They need advocates.
Mallards, Canadian geese, and trumpeter swans over winter in the valley where I live!

My ducks like to play, "soccer" with a cat food dispenser balls that have mealworms inside. I've heard of people hanging heads of lettuce up for them to peck at, too. I usually float salad in water for my ducks.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0018CG40O/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glc_fabc_SsldGbAHBTT2R
 
Aug 17, 2020
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OMG, that might be cruel to the cat-food dispenser! My ducks are geniuses. I once left a pan with chicken eggs on their 'floor' while I did something else and forgot it there. They figured out how to get the eggs out of the pot, and batted th eggs around until they got them up on top of a pile of tiles and dropped them onto another tile to break them so they could eat the shells and yolks.
:highfive: They do all their evil deeds as a team, so they are super good.
 

KaleIAm

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
5 Years
Jul 13, 2015
1,636
4,682
471
Carnation, Wa
OMG, that might be cruel to the cat-food dispenser! My ducks are geniuses. I once left a pan with chicken eggs on their 'floor' while I did something else and forgot it there. They figured out how to get the eggs out of the pot, and batted th eggs around until they got them up on top of a pile of tiles and dropped them onto another tile to break them so they could eat the shells and yolks.
:highfive: They do all their evil deeds as a team, so they are super good.
Wow, that's incredibly brilliant. My ducks are not smart. Lol. They've been using their ball for years. They just peck at it. I think all the inbreeding might have done something to their brains. Lol.
 
Aug 17, 2020
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Yeah, it is nice to have smart babies, until they outwit you! They keep figuring out how to get out of the part of the garden I fenced off for their safety.

They managed to go to the back of the pond, climb some rocks, walk all the way around that side of the house, into the rock garden and figured out that the rocks there are higher than the fence and if they do it just right they can get onto a pile of reclaimed wood that is piled there on the other side of the fence, then climb down the pile of wood to get past the fence. Genius.
 

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