what to do when winter comes ducks/chickens.

goats rule 101

6 Years
Aug 22, 2013
Hi I know winter is a ways away but here in Minnesota winters can be cold. Since this will be my first winter with ducks and chickens I'm not quite sure what to expect. I know that chickens feet freeze but ducks don't so what should I do when winter comes? My plan was to just keep lots of straw in their coop and try to keep snow out of their run. If that doesn't work what should I do? They share the run with goats and I know the goats wouldn't be happy shut up in the coop/house with a couple of ducks and chickens. Any ideas? :/
If you coop is draft free (but still with ventilation) your chickens will be just fine. On super cold night they might actually nestle into the straw...on other nights on the roost their belly feathers protect their feet. Depending on the size of your coop, their warm little bodies actually put off quite a bit of heat, further warming the coop. On blizzard days mine don't even leave their coop, preferring to stay in where it's warmer. Ducks I think you should have no worries about as their feathers are so dense. You will of course have to have arrangements to keeping water thawed for all of them. Good luck to you!
Ducks feet can freeze, frost bite is definitely a concern, but dry, stable housing is the best bet. I keep heated buckets to have water open, i also bed more heavily(just shavings, i don't use straw) Since i have Muscovy ducks i use Vaseline on the facial flesh to reduce frostbite not all breeds of ducks have that concern however.
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Glad you are thinking ahead!

I find that watching the ducks really helps. You can tell when they are not thriving. And not all ducks read the book about how cold-hardy they are. At least half of mine are not suited for temps below 35F, so their night shelter is where I can keep it closer to 40F. Aside from that, I lay straw bedding down over snow in some areas so they can get off the snow when they want to. When the days are above about 25F, I can get fresh water into a swim pan and that helps. Good quality feed, good water, well managed bedding, I like it nice and cushy so it insulates well. Also remember to watch out for ammonia buildup since they are so short they would be the first to be affected and you might not notice it till you had losses.
My chickens don't like the snow, but the ducks love it. They swim through it! I try and keep small 2 gallon bowls filled up with water so they can still dip their bills and heads in it, and on Saturdays, if it is a sunny day above 30 degrees, I fill up the kiddie pool so they can go swimming and really get clean. Just be careful on where you dump the water as it will feeze overnight, making a nice skating rink you might not want!
Are your goats housed with your ducks? I could never do that here. My goats would not appreciate the water the ducks throw everywhere, plus they would eat all the duck food. And I mean ALL the duck food. Before the ducks could get a bite. Plus, they prefer a clean spot to sleep and in the duck shed here there is no such thing as a clean spot!! The ducks, however, are not so picky. They do some very icky things that I cannot believe sometime. LOL

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