Winter Duck Set Up for Northern Climates (Upper Midwest)

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by MaureenD, Oct 1, 2015.

  1. MaureenD

    MaureenD Out Of The Brooder

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    May 5, 2015
    South Central Wisconsin
    Hello All,
    I just love the support and suggestions from this forum on Duck care.
    I am coming to you all for some advice.

    We live near Madison WI and our winters are pretty tough at times. I have raised 4 ducks since April and we have them in a tractor set up in our back yard since spring. Fall is here, and I am thinking my ideas for winter care will not work as I thought.

    I need some suggestions please from some of you experienced duck keepers...

    Our water sources outdoors are such: one spicket on back wall of house with rear deck door (and stairs entrance to yard; an anti freeze mechanism, but not too trustworthy for winter hose use), and a spicket on inside wall within the garage with front entrance.
    We had thought of keeping the night coop (see image, wood tractor) in the garage and the day coop (with green tarp) outside the garage for daytime access (to be put and strapped down on river rock pad next to garage-west side of house, fairly protected by blunt wind from west by neighbor's house).

    We work during the day so girls will be in this 5 x 10 pen while I am away from house. We do not have a fenced in yard and coyotes will be a threat in late fall/winter. I do have a larger, thicker tarp for winter use that will fit more of the day pen.
    We have a solar elec wire running around base of both for predator patrol (see black box on roof of wood coop). When snow sits on this wire, it may not carry its charge. That is a concern. We can get hay bails for barriers also (for warmth and shelter).
    I am getting two rubber 3 gal bowls and we have an elec dog water bowl as well. I have been using pine chips for bedding from Farm and Fleet.

    How much time can they be out on cold days? Can they handle a 7 hr work day in the day pen for winter if they have good water source, food and some hay/wind block? I thought I really had this figured out, and now I am stumped as fall has approached.
    And the poop... what does one do with the poop in the winter (not the bedding, but the outdoors daytime droppings).

    I love these girls and they have been such a blessing to me this year so far. I want the best for them. We are planning a permanent wood coop out back next spring (larger, more durable and insulated, etc) and rethinking our day pen options then also.
    One step at a time. this is new to us and we are on a budget.
    Thank goodness for craig's list and habitat restore!

    I have included a picture of our current summer set up. Any creative ideas foe winter with what I have and some extras to keep it warmer, safe and accessible would be a big help.

    Thanks so much!

    [​IMG]
     
  2. ralph a

    ralph a Out Of The Brooder

    I beleave you would be looking for trouble leaving them out side with a tarp for protection .Fencer only work if the wire is above the snow and you are grounded enough to get a shock. As for water i would only water twice a day. Because ducks like to play in it . Then if its cold enough to freeze everything is covered in ice ducks included. I my self have housed ducks in wire bottom cages with small board to set on in a out building with a drop cloth under there cage. This worked fine for me. My ducks dont do much in the snow they just set around trying to keep there feet warm. Ducks feet will freeze fairly easy at times.This is not all ducks just some even in the same bred. I guess there is soft ones in all of us.I hope this is of some help.
     
  3. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    I have found that there are some days the ducks need to be in all day except for perhaps a few minutes run around time. As ralph a wrote, some ducks are not as cold hardy as others, even the same breed. Yours may be hardier than mine, but below freezing, sometimes there is not any margin for error. Forgive the term, but gone is gone and there's no getting them back.

    What are the temperatures in the garage? Might you be able to set up something like a dog door so that the ducks can go out into a predator-proof pen (7 hours gives daytime predators all day to work at getting at the ducks)?

    Glad you are thinking about this now, and not six weeks from now. Good on ya!
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2015
  4. cayugaducklady

    cayugaducklady Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 20, 2015
    New England USA
    This will be my first winter with my four ducks and I'm anxious about this as well.

    We are in New England. Last year was the coldest winter I've experienced and also provided the most snow i've ever dealt with in my entire life.

    I'm using an XXL Dogloo inside the pen for my ducks. I placed it in there at the beginning of summer so they'd have time to investigate it and get used to it. They decide if they want to sleep in it at night or underneath the tall grass that is still alive in the pen. Its permanently bedded down with a thick layer of straw.

    We've using a chain link dog kennel as a base with layers of hardware cloth secured on sides and bottom to keep pesky critters and predators out.

    Their pen is in a sheltered depression in the yard. It's naturally sheltered on one side by a retaining wall. It's sheltered on the other side by an evergreen shrub and a permanent building. It's sheltered by a giant fir tree on the third side.

    Their stock tank pond is positioned to give wind protection on three sides.

    I'm using a dog vehicle ramp as their ramp into the pond. It's long and wide enough for all four ducks to stand under it and eat under it.

    We have tarps we can put up if they need additional wind protection.

    I'm going to use straw and leaf litter for the bedding materials. We're surrounded by a mature healthy oak forest and we have more leaves than we can handle in the fall.

    When all of the currently alive green plants in the pen are dead I'm going to layer it with straw and freshly fallen leaves. I have some Siberian Kale I'm going to plant in there as an experiment. My girls really like to rest/hide under plant cover.

    I plan on watching my ducks closely because I don't know how they respond to cold. They didn't seem to be too hot this summer even in our rare 90+ days. They haven't acted too cold yet and our nights are already dipping into the low 40s. If anything they seem more sassy now that the mornings are crisp.

    When it is too cold for me to care for them outside (0 and below) I can put them in our basement. They spent months in there growing up while the weather warmed up and we were finishing their permanent pen. Any time they show me they're too cold I'll put them in there, too. I've got indoor bathing pens they used as babies. Worst case, they can swim/bathe in the bathtub.

    I have a "forage pen" for the girls that is basically several plastic dog playpens placed together and a layer of bird netting stretch over top. This gives them room to stretch and flap wings and protects them from raptors. They are never in this pen without direct supervision. I like this set up because i can move them around the yard easily and let them splash and sun nearby while I'm working on outside chores. Plus they seem to take great joy in "supervising" my activity and providing commentary.

    Our acreage isn't fenced yet so they don't free range without a person escorting them ever.

    I'm a bit worried about getting water to them. I may be carrying water to them in buckets when it is too cold to use a hose. I'm a bit worried about their stock pond freezing. I've been researching car battery powered water heaters and the possibility of having an electrician install some outdoor quality outlets for us in our out building.

    I've already gotten them used to eating moistened alfalfa cubes and pellets for a part of their green foraging. They seem to prefer the cubes to the pellets. The pellets are easier for me to work with.

    I've already gotten them used to BOSS (black oil sunflower seeds), too.


    PS- check with local groceries to see if they support produce sharing with local livestock owners. One of our groceries gives the waste product to farmers free or low cost.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2015
    1 person likes this.
  5. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    I have found that X-hoses and their knockoffs work well in winter because them empty themselves in seconds, and can be kept in a bucket in a garage or basement to prevent freezing.
     
  6. cayugaducklady

    cayugaducklady Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 20, 2015
    New England USA
    Thanks for hose suggestion! It is greatly appreciated.

    Would love any other feedback or suggestions so i can investigate them as solutions before its too cold to do anything.
     
  7. MaureenD

    MaureenD Out Of The Brooder

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    May 5, 2015
    South Central Wisconsin
    Keep it coming everyone! Love the thread and all the advice! Thanks!
     
  8. LauraHope

    LauraHope Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 17, 2015
    Cloquet, Mn
    What about raised pens. Does the poo get froozen and stuck to the wire they walk on?
     
  9. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    I have heard that it can, yes.

    @LauraHope
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2015
  10. MaureenD

    MaureenD Out Of The Brooder

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    May 5, 2015
    South Central Wisconsin
    I have the base of our pen raised just the height of a 2 x 4 with 1/2" hardware cloth on the floor of the pen. I have had pine shavings on it all summer...
    mostly dry all the time, I get nasty poops off it as soon as I can. they do not eat/drink in this pen unless I have to put them in it from daylight to dark when I cannot be home to switch them from pen-to-pen. Never had an issue with poop sticking (yet).
     

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