Northwest Winter - need advice on duck care during the chilly months

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by JetCityVerde, Nov 16, 2013.

  1. JetCityVerde

    JetCityVerde Out Of The Brooder

    17
    3
    24
    Mar 17, 2010
    Rat City, Jet City, WA
    Winter is almost here in the Northwest (Seattle). We are going to drop down to about 38 tonight, according to the news. I was hoping for some information/input as to what we need to do for our ducks during the winter. We've had them since May, so this is our first go at the cold.

    Dayside, they don't seem bothered by the cold at all. When they're in their pen, the have small water buckets to dunk their heads and splash around in, and have access to their house, which offers shelter if they need it. We've had lots of windy, rainy days already and they appear unaffected. If we're home, such as on the weekends, we put them in our back yard and they have access to the kiddie pool to play in, do lots of foraging, etc. They seem quite content.

    My primary concern is the nighttime. Their house is rock solid and the roof is shingled, but it is not insulated. It has a narrow strip of ventilation on one side. I've been putting in a lot of wood chips and straw, twice as much as before, to give them plenty to burrow into, if they want. We do not currently have a heat lamp in their house. The house is 30" high, 30" wide, and 40" long. We have four Runner ducks. I remember reading somewhere that the ducks should be fine as long as it doesn't go below freezing, but I would like to confirms that independently..

    Any feedback about getting ducks through a Seattle winter would be awesome. Thank you!
     
  2. StruckBy

    StruckBy Chillin' With My Peeps

    146
    22
    108
    Apr 2, 2012
    Marcola, OR
    They'll be fine. I've had ducks without supplemental heat far colder than anything you're going to get in Seattle. In NV, our ducks were fine down to -25F. Even at those cold temps, they mostly chose to hang out outside in the snow rather than in their coop unless it was windy. They had a 8X8 non-insulated coop with a 20X40 attached run that they had 24/7 access to.

    When I had ducks on the WA coast, they were fine without anything as well. In fact, when I put a heat lamp in one corner of the 10 ft X 12 ft coop (well, room inside my barn) because I had some chickens that were pretty dumb about getting soaked to the skin, my ducks stopped going inside at all except to eat.

    If you want to keep egg production up, increasing the length of their days through a regular light will be more important than anything else.
     
  3. JetCityVerde

    JetCityVerde Out Of The Brooder

    17
    3
    24
    Mar 17, 2010
    Rat City, Jet City, WA
    Thank you - that's super helpful, and reassuring. They definitely do not seem affected at all, so I just wanted to make sure we didn't need to worry. [​IMG]
     
  4. ringaring

    ringaring Chillin' With My Peeps

    118
    7
    71
    Jan 14, 2013
    I'm in Portland, OR area, have have ducks for a year now, previously had chickens. As long as the ducks have a dry sheltered area, with clean drinking water, they should be fine. I increase the amount of corn in their feed mix during the coldest months since it provides more fuel for heat production. (I didn't phrase that quite right but corn increases their body temp more than other foods - chime in any nutritionist/chemists type people out there). I also pile straw up against the walls of their coop for insulation and so they can burrow into it if needed. Ducks, and chickens, are much more tolerant of the cold than they are the heat. I have read other posts claiming ducks can freeze into the pond water, needing to be broken out by their owners. Luckily, mine don't have access to the pond at night and I bucket drinking water to them when it gets that cold. If possible, hang a light in their coop, red if possible. If they need more warmth, they settle under it.
     
  5. Nebraskagirl

    Nebraskagirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    449
    22
    108
    Jul 12, 2012
    Ducks have the ultimate insulation (their feathers and down.) In Nebraska it has already gotten down to 10 degrees a few times and they go in if they want (I thought I might make them go in, but decided they can use their best judgment.) As long as they have enough feed and clean water they are good to go.
     
  6. JoyAnna

    JoyAnna Chillin' With My Peeps

    161
    6
    91
    Apr 20, 2012
    Maple Falls, Washington
    Why is red light preferable?
     
  7. Going Quackers

    Going Quackers Overrun With Chickens

    7,550
    354
    311
    May 24, 2011
    On, Canada
    Sounds to me like you have it all set. Ah, the great debate heat or not, firstly, i will say i am not "anti heat" there are areas where extreme cold may push those to that option and when i mean extreme i am not speaking of 40F or even 10 degree below freezing.

    I'll tell you my main concerns with heat, one it will reduce the birds natural insulation, they simply won't grow the coats, now obviously we mean feathers but for basic understanding we'll quote it that way lol, next if you loose your hydro you better have back up plan and a quick one, this past sunday, my area lost hydro due do a bad storm, 50,000 people were effected(my town is small but that is how vast the outage was) this was no minor oh, out for a couple hours it was well over 6hrs, the cold that would have hit birds that were heated could have deadly.

    Best bets, good feed, good shelter and keep your housing properly filled in other words i wouldn't stick two ducks in an 8x10 that would be hard for them to keep warm, without alternative housing offered.

    I get winter here, and i get cold, i am not the coldest but it will get to -22 and worse it's happened and no i don't mean with a wind chill. My ducks right now are on a high protein, high fat diet.. that is a good idea, corn won't make them warm not in the sense of a hot cocoa but it does have a good fat base and ducks need that because foraging will decrease and cease soon.

    Best advice ever lol WATCH you birds, heck watch any animals, if they are acting okay then they likely are, yes ducks being pred animals hide injury/sickness well but we as owners can usually spot of something is off, i also generally advice to stick to cold hardy breeds, that will make life a lot easier for everyone.
     
  8. Nebraskagirl

    Nebraskagirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    449
    22
    108
    Jul 12, 2012
    Of the visible light spectrum red light (not red colored bulbs) is the most beneficial to increase egg production. It is not as BRIGHT as white light.
     
  9. ringaring

    ringaring Chillin' With My Peeps

    118
    7
    71
    Jan 14, 2013
    For a small amount of ducklings, for 0-12 weeks you can use one or two 40-65 watt blue tinted bulbs, usually found at home improvement store, research has shown blue light is more gentle on the ducklings eyes and can reduce the incidence of feather eating. For more ducklings or just a larger area you will need a red 250 watt heat lamp or a radiant heater. ( Just a red bulb if you don't want the heat) Birds see a much larger colour spectrum than people especially red which can trigger aggressive behaviour such as predation, feather picking, etc. A red light can decrease such behaviour by minimizing the distinctness of red from other colours. Some research to support this can be found on the web, but it took a bit of searching. The blue light info is new to me. I'll have to try it with my next brood.

    A previous post made several good points about why not to supplement heat. Acclimating ducks to warmer temps in general can decrease their ability to withstand severe cold as during winter nights or power outages and can decrease the insulation and feather layering which protects them. If anyone finds that post, please repost it or reference it. It was recent - read it last night but now I've lost it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2013
  10. BallardDuck

    BallardDuck Chillin' With My Peeps

    106
    2
    83
    Jun 18, 2011
    Ballard in Seattle
    I'm right here in Seattle, Ballard actually. I've had my ducks for 2 winters and they've been just fine. Never had to heat them. I have a coop that is built in the end of my garage where I lock them in at night. They have a pen/run where they spend the daytime (with access to the coop as well). Mine absolutely LOVED the snow! Fun to watch! Just make sure they have access to water and enough feed...they'll be just ducky!
    BTW, that's them in the avatar with snow.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2013

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by