Questions! Building a duck house...surviving harsh winters


10 Years
Feb 8, 2009
Northern, Illinois
I will be building my duck house very soon and have a few questions.

I live in Illinois and the winters can be pretty harsh. I know that they will need a heated water bowl, and heat lamp while its cold. The thing I wonder about the most is cleaning the duck house during winter. What do you do, and what works best? I cant imagine going outside every day in below zero weather to clean duck poop! I hear hay works good?

I was considering a chicken wire floor that would allow the poop to fall down into a tray. Would this harm the ducks feet? I also wonder about them freezing during the winter.

All tips, hints, suggestions, etc. will be much appreciated before I build my duck coop!
Dont use the wire would be bad for them. Most breeds of domesticated ducks are pretty hardy in the winter, most prefer being out in the snow than in a cozy coop. Your best idea would be to put straw down and try and keep the food and water outside under a roof or something. I do this and the coop barely ever needs cleaned. Ducks are messy with water and it will dirty your coop in just a few days if alled water in the coop. If you have to keep the water in, put it on a plastic tray with sides so that it wont spill everywhere.
The heat lamp will not be needed often if ever. Remember, ducks come with their own down jacket

As for the duck poop, I use the deep litter method. I just add more shavings as needed. Then come spring you can give it a total clean out and start with new shavings.
Ooh thank you so much. Thats a really good idea. I would have just put the water on the floor without a tray or anything. They can eat outside, and go outside even in winter?

So even in winter Pekin ducks will one Indian Runner/Pekin mix. Oh, and I have 5 wild mallard eggs hatching next week. These will be returned to the pond though, and can fly if they wish.
Really? I heard that you have to have a heat lamp or they will freeze to death.

Thats possible? What kind of shavings do you use?

What about the run area? Will the poop just absorb into the ground or will it need daily cleaning as well? They will have a run area attached to the house, and can also have access to the large pond/lake. I just hope they will come home when asked. Im planning on luring them home with food. Hopefully they wont catch enough fish and not want to get home for dinner...then they would in turn end up as dinner for the fox, and coyotes!
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If they are babies they will freeze.

Colorado doesn't get quite as cold as IL, but we have below zero nights. My ducks have a covered pen with a hutch inside. On cold nights they just snuggled in the hutch.

I use pine shavings inside the hutch and inside the pen.
My ducks are in with my chickens. I guess my ducks are spoiled, because they DO sleep inside the coop every night, summer or winter. But on those frigid winter days when my chickens wont step foot outside the coop, the ducks are out in the snow. I never would even consider a heat lamp in my coop. If a duck or chicken isnt hardy enough to survive winter without heat, I wouldnt want them. I water twice a day in winter, but dont heat the water, either.

Oh, and I too live in Illinois.
That is such a relief to hear yotetrapper. I've been worried what I will do with them when winter comes. I figured Id have to leave them in the garage or something in a large cage. I thought it was a must because the guy at Farm & Fleet told me I have to have a heat lamp during the winter. He has Wood Ducks, and Mandrians. Im not a farmer, and Im just owning my first set of ducks (or any poultry at all) so naturally Im still learning as I go along.

I'm still surprised that ducks will go outside when its cold. My ducks were born April 12, 13, and 14 and they still have a heat lamp on. They're in my garage in a large dog cage until their house gets built. Can this be removed now? They have all their adult feathers in (besides a few have stomach feathers that are taking forever to come in). When November comes they will be ready to go outside for the winter right?
No you dont need the heat lamp any more. My ducks were born in late april and are now outside in their pen with no heat. However, if you have them in a garage with no lights on all day, I would replace the heat lamp with a small 25 watt light or something so they're not in the dark. They dont like being in the dark.

By november your ducks will be fine to overwinter. Just be sure they have some sort of coop, or something where they can get out of the wind.
Yeah my ducks are afraid of the dark. If they didnt have a light on they would let the neighborhood know it. There is light, the door has windows and there are lights in the garage anyway. Its a normal new modern garage. Plus I let them outside during the day. I keep close watch on them, but they never leave the yard.

Oh they will have a nice little mini barn. I cant wait to get them outside where they belong!

My new ducks that hatch will need the heat lamp next week. So they better be ready lol.

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