Winter Woes - unhappy foragers

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by 1duckychick, Jan 23, 2011.

  1. 1duckychick

    1duckychick Chillin' With My Peeps

    129
    1
    111
    Jun 18, 2009
    We are BURIED in snow here in Mass. and I have 4 spoiled duckies who are none too pleased that their foraging grounds are covered in 3+feet of this cold white stuff! They will barely leave their shed and when they do, they waddle over to this small covered area near the house and hunker down in the corner. We've shoveled out their pen area and a few pathways in the yard but they just seem to hate walking on the snow/ice (although it's pretty comical watching them do it!).

    I have read that ducks are pretty hardy in cold weather as long as they have shelter to retreat to warm up in but mine just can't seem to handle it. Are they just spoiled or am I being a mean "mommy" sending them out to play with no boots and mittens?!

    Also, they are picky with treats. They really only like peas and meal worms. Other than that they eat their feed and would normally spend the rest of their day foraging for food. Now that foraging is out, what can I give them to substitute the greenery they were getting?

    Any other northern state duck owners here have any suggestions to help my ducks deal with the winter blues?
     
  2. JosieR

    JosieR Chillin' With My Peeps

    173
    0
    109
    Apr 24, 2010
    Orange County, NY
    I'm in upstate NY, snow everywhere and below zero this morning. My Cayugas are handling it better than my runners. My 2 runners are having a more difficult time and one of them is REALLY not liking it. She's got some eye discharge so that may be why she's liking the cold even less. I'm not sure what to do with her, to be honest I feel like I'm being mean too.

    I put hay all over the ground, a nice thick layer, just outside their house. It's not nearly the space they are used to roaming but they hang out on that and I walk warm water out to them. They do poke around in the hay and "forage" so it's fun for them. They actually make their happy duck noises when I put out fresh hay and will make their way to other spots in the yard, over the snow once in a while but only when it's pretty warm. My Cayugas, the boy especially will get a little silly and forage in the snow [​IMG]

    I chop up Kale and put it in their water so they can have greens that way. It keeps it fresh and then have to go after it in the water bowl. I also will take a handful of peas out and sprinkle it over the hay. So the ducks have to poke through to get them, gives them something to do and keeps up that instinct for spring. I bet you could do the same thing with crickets or meal worms also.

    Will be watching this thread, I need some tips for them too! I'm feeling so mean because the weather has been bad and they've had a little condensation in the house so I know how you feel [​IMG]
     
  3. ElizabethinNY

    ElizabethinNY Out Of The Brooder

    84
    0
    39
    Mar 5, 2009
    Central NY
    Mine are also really enjoying eating kale in this weather. I have it for the chickens, so I've been chopping it up for the ducks, too, and they love it. I also use hay and straw to keep them and the chickens amused. It's COLD here today (high of 10) and just getting colder, but the goofy ducks are still swimming in their water bucket, so they must not be too cold. My ducks also liked chopped up turnip greens, chopped spinach and chopped iceberg, but I find the kale is by far their favorite. [​IMG]
     
  4. aduckstolemyheart

    aduckstolemyheart Chillin' With My Peeps

    821
    7
    133
    Mar 23, 2010
    Missouri
    Mine are doing the same thing. We have about 1-3 ft. in varying depths around the yard from the last few storms. My group has opted to stay in, or wander out for a little while, hang out by the stock tank and shiver, and then go back in. I guess they figure if they can't forage, why bother coming out in that crud at all?
     
  5. It is funny to watch them deal with the snow. The first deep snows are pretty much the only time I see my Welsh Harlequin fly, just to keep offf the snow LOL! On really bad days they hardly come out of their house except briefly to eat and drink, then I will hear this WHOOSH, and they all dissappeared, flew back into their house like a flock of sparrows!! [​IMG]
    I chop up greens and put them in a bucket of water for them too. My favorite is parsley, but they will really go for any greens you give them this time of year, including celery tops. I also boil water and pour in in an old pot with alfalfa chunks in it, the kind you give horses that are like giant pellets. When its steeped 15 min or so I add some more water just so it isn't hot and the ducks seem to enjoy their alfalfa tea. I also keep a mealworm farm and they LOVE it when they get those.
    I've been reading how some people give their ducks cooked winter squash, they can't deal with it raw.
     
  6. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

    22,983
    1,955
    471
    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    Ditto on the straw on top of snow, warmish water, chopped greens, peas in the straw to forage for (I do this indoors, actually, when it is too cold for them). Mine like to hang out on the south side of the house, where I have a nice dark green garage door. That means shelter from the north wind and some solar heating.

    I have ten runners. 1duckychick did I just miss which breed you have? I think many runners have such small bodies that they are not as robust as, say, an Aylesbury. And the smaller flocks of runners cannot make as much heat huddled together as, say, fifty.
     
  7. Hattiegun

    Hattiegun Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mine also LOVE straw now.... and when I put it down they search and dig and make their happy duckie noises..they DO NOT like the snow at all but their pen is enclosed .. I throw it outside everywhere they walk also... I buy millet sprays (cheap at the dollar store ) and different bird seeds and throw some of that in the straw for them to search for.. I also throw it in their water....... I just posted a thread on duckie toys.. .. and I play with them at least an hour on workdays, and alittle longer on weekends !! They love to tell me stories and pick all my feathers [​IMG]
     
  8. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

    22,983
    1,955
    471
    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    So, hattiegun, mine aren't the only flock who tell me all about it? ... and then she said . . . . and then I said . . . .
    [​IMG]
     
  9. MrsPinkKitty

    MrsPinkKitty Chillin' With My Peeps

    118
    0
    89
    Oct 25, 2010
    I have a pair of Muscovy Duck and they still swim in there pond after i break the ice . The highs here have been around 20 low 5
     
  10. JosieR

    JosieR Chillin' With My Peeps

    173
    0
    109
    Apr 24, 2010
    Orange County, NY
    Quote:[​IMG]:

    Mine too! I scooped up one of my runners to bring in the garage since she seems to be under the weather and BOY were they letting me have it as I walked off with her. My husband was with me and said, they are trash talking your right now!
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2011

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by