Winter night time routine

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Mandarin, Nov 15, 2015.

  1. Mandarin

    Mandarin New Egg

    Apr 25, 2014
    I was wondering what time you lock up your ducks during the winter. In UK it's dark by 4.30pm/5pm but I don't want to lock the ducks up this early. They are in a secure pen, with a small pond and if they are free in the garden, they will take themselves into the pond when it gets dark. I then just lock the door. At the moment I lock them in their coop (an old garden shed) about 8pm, at let them out around 7.30am each morning. I'm not sure whether I should be locking them up for the night as soon as it's dark, but I do feel mean locking them up for more than 12 hours!

    What are your night time routines for your flock?
  2. Orca5094

    Orca5094 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 26, 2014
    I'm interested to know what others do during the winter as well. I am super cautious with my ducks and put them in at sundown (or as close to it as I can, seeing as how I get home from work a little after dark these days). It's dark here in Sweden by 4pm, so on the weekends they go in at 4. During the week I get home at 4:30pm, so they go in a little later. Their yard is pretty secure though and surrounded by an electric fence as well, so I know they are pretty safe for awhile out in the dark.

    My duck house is pretty big, with large pens for my ducks. I also have a light on in there until about 10:30pm. They have food, water, and toys in there as well since winter is so long and dark here. Soon we will have even less daylight!

    Anyway, I feel bad my ducks have to be inside so long as well, but I try to make it as fun and comfortable as possible for them in there. They have lots of space to mess around in and I go visit them for awhile before I head to bed each night so they get some interaction time in there and don't get too bored (I also do a quick cleaning at that time since they are in so long and have food/water in there). I might spoil my ducks a bit, though? They are my babies! :)
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2015
  3. shortgrass

    shortgrass Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 14, 2015
    Northern Colorado
    Ours come back from ranging at about 4:30 and have a snack and go in their house by dark. So.etimes we shut it right away and sometimes we wait until later, but as soon as its dark, they don't want to come back out anyway, so we usually lock all the coops at dark. They have a window if they need a peek but they can't see in the dark anyway. ;)

    They're mallards and Runners, if it makes a difference :)
  4. Mandarin

    Mandarin New Egg

    Apr 25, 2014
    Thanks for your replies, perhaps I need to put mine to bed a little earlier, although they do seem happy just floating in their pond. They dont have a light in their coop so perhaps I'll have to invest in one.

    @Orca5094 - what toys dp your ducks have in their coop?
  5. Orca5094

    Orca5094 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 26, 2014
    I give them different things and rotate between: large pinecones, small piles of dry leaves, piles of hay, baby toys, balls, empty water bottles, etc. Toilet paper rolls were a favorite when I had ducklings, but now they all just rip those apart and try to eat them so those are no more. I try to keep it as cheap as possible, they will play with anything really. You just have to make sure it's safe in that they can't rip off pieces to eat or get any part of themselves stuck in it (beaks, heads, etc). That's why alot of baby toys work great. :)
  6. Mandarin

    Mandarin New Egg

    Apr 25, 2014
    Thanks @Orca5094, they're great ideas for tpys. Mine have some small logs that they like to turnover and hunt for bugs. I also hang an old wire flower basket and fill with cabbage/kale/cucumber for th to hunt out. They dont have any toys in their shed so I will try out some of your ideas.

    I tried leaving my ducks in their enclosed pond with a light for a few hours tonight before locking them inside at 7.30pm. They seemed happier having more play/floating time!
  7. tmorgan46

    tmorgan46 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 22, 2015
    Stafford, VA
    This is exactly what Tina and I struggle with plus an added concern. Our ducks are just now reaching a level of maturity for flight, 3 males and 3 female Muscovies. The ratio is something we'll have to fix at some point, but we're trying to get everything settled and secure with what we have. The females started flying first and 2 of 3 males finally have caught up to them. We live on 3 acres and during the day, the six ducks and two geese free range. I get home from work just as the sun is setting and sometimes it's a real chore to get them all gathered and put into their coop. None of them have flown away but they have found the top of the chicken run is a great place to watch the world go by. Also, my truck when I leave it in the back is another favorite roosting spot. And boy does it need a bath in the worst way!!! The last place is on our roof, which makes for a real fun night of coaxing them down from there!! Both of us work, and the thought of taking away their ability to avoid any predators is the only thing keeping me from clipping flight feathers. And until the spring I'm not inclined to build anything more unless I absolutely need to. I hate putting them in the coop so early, but the thought of trying to shephard and cage them a few hours later is daunting to say the least. Every day I feel like "today is the day" that I come home to a loss of one of our little buddies which then forces a very hard decision. We both know, its not if but when. On the other side of that, I leave for work at 5:30 AM and they get an early release. They all seem to tolerate it well so far and haven't started any hunger strikes, or at least they're not shy when Daddy shows up with the meal worms!!! As winter progresses it will be interesting to see how much this routine changes.

    Troy & Tina
  8. donkeydew2farms

    donkeydew2farms Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 12, 2014
    it is just about dark when I get home my ducks go into there nite pen by themselves I feed them, there treat in there so it isn.t a problem but my 4 anconas youmg ones where I thought they were in a secured pen .I neglected to lock them up in there dog house and next day a coon got one through the fence . I could of kicked my self for forgetting. it was fox proof and I thought coon proof I was wrong. my answer is don't take chances.
    1 person likes this.
  9. mydanet

    mydanet Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 22, 2015
    I have a small flock of Runner's and just before its dark I go out and walk them once around their shed, they then freely walk in and since I already have food and fresh water there I close the door till morning. No complaints from them other than in the summer when its light at 6:30 and they want out and I'm still in bed.
  10. cayugaducklady

    cayugaducklady Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 20, 2015
    New England USA
    This is my winter with ducks.

    This is what i'm doing bu I have no idea if it is enough.

    I let the ducks out of their pen between 6:00am and soon the first blush of dawn is visible. On rainy days It can be as late as 7am before dawn rises over the mountain & our forest.

    They have free roam around the yard while I change water, clean feed bowl & water bowls, fluff bedding, check for eggs (still 0!!), etc. Then I put hem in their portable foraging pen with a big bowl of bath water. I walk my dogs while they bathe and play ducky games in the water, hunt bugs, etc.

    I put dogs in & ten i walk the ducks back to their pen, hand feed some treats, talk to everyone & give them some skritchies. triple check that i locked the gate & leave for work.

    I get back home after dark. I go down to their pen with nightly food, a steamed potato and goodies. I check their water, refilling if needed. 7 times out of 10 they're floating in the pond when i go down there.

    Their pen is a converted dog kennel with a secure top & hardware cloth on the sides. They have two windbreaks, a dogloo a 70 gallon pond & ramp inside. They keep very busy in there during the day. I usually come home to about 4 inches of straw in their bathing bowl. They purposefully refill it every day.

    On weekends and days off they are outside in the forage pen from 6:30am until 4:00. I also let them free forage around the yard when we're available to supervise.

    Our yard isn't fenced right now. We're not even sure we'll be able to fence it due to the terrain.

    I feel horribly guilty about it now that it's getting dark outside so early. Before our time changed they were getting about an hour of free forage time after work.

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