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Winter's a'comin'... How cold is too cold?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Zombified, Sep 29, 2013.

  1. Zombified

    Zombified Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We *still* have not built our coop. We've had our ducks for like three and a half months, and still have not built their coop. x.x In my defense, our main builder had shoulder surgery and can't really help us do much of anything, so the rest of us are kinda confused with how to begin.

    BUT, I have been drawing out plans for a coop. While I continue to do that and decide on a design that I feel will work for us, I need to know how cold is too cold for ducks? Right now, there's a trailer(my grandpa's motorcycle trailer) out there that they huddle under when they want to(which is usually only when it's hot, or when they're upset about something, or when they're spooked). They *love* the rain. With summer leaving us and fall finally here, it's been rainy and windy. The ducks don't seem bothered by either, even though the wind makes us humans pretty chilled. For now, the trailer is protected enough from the wind that they could go there and huddle up. We also have a bush that's growing near the corner of the house and the fence, and that area is very protected from the elements. So until we get their coop built, it's not like they're just open to wind and rain - unless they want to be.

    I live in northern Texas, so while we don't get Connecticut winters, it does sometimes dip below freezing and snow. Obviously I know that that's definitely too cold, so I want this coop built by December. But before that, I don't think our weather gets below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. It can be chilly and windy, but not freezing.

    Other than that, I'm thinking of different ways to heat the coop. Right now, I'm thinking about a simple heating lamp, but the coop I'm thinking about going with is a short coop(about three feet tall) so I don't want the ducks to burn themselves on it. A heating blanket would also get dirty quickly. Another problem is, I'd like to have a liftable top, so I'm not sure how well a heating lamp would work in that case. I'm thinking about also putting in windows that we can close and cover up if it gets too cold.
     
  2. learycow

    learycow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If it doesn't get much colder than 40, your ducks are all set :)
    I live in southern maine so it can get brutally cold, bitter, and windy (as well as snowy).
    I always give my ducks the option to go out or stay in and they ALWAYS choose to go out. Even if it's 10 degrees out and snowing!
    I simply keep deep hay/shavings mixed bedding in the coop so they can nest to warm up their feet should they feel the need (though ducks don't have nerves in their feet so can't feel the cold). I only keep mine locked in if it is brutally cold and windy. But they always get mad when I don't let them out!

    A heat lamp or light of some sort would be a good idea especially if you want to keep your girls laying. But it is not needed. The have much thicker down than a chicken so don't get cold as easily.

    I hope this helps! I also have to worry about eggs freezing which is why I keep a heat lamp in my coops (they are insulated and the heat lamp keeps it just warm enough so the water doesn't freeze and the eggs don't freeze before I can collect them) but I dont think you will have that issue [​IMG]
     
  3. Zombified

    Zombified Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Also, this is the design my grandpa and I decided on.

    Front:
    https://scontent-a-dfw.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn2/1150776_10151725448447872_1875874334_n.jpg

    Side:
    https://scontent-a-dfw.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-frc3/1186179_10151725448252872_1629932153_n.jpg

    The windows will be screened and have a shudder that opens upward to shield it from the sun. It'll be one foot tall by two feet wide. In the winter when it's really windy, the shudders will close and latch to keep it warm inside the coop. We're only using two heating lamps because it rarely gets below freezing. I think one should be enough most of the time, but the second one is just a backup in case it does get below freezing.

    The wires will be in plastic tubes underground, leading to the garage and hooked up to a timer. That way, we can set one to turn on at night and turn off in the morning. We'll also be able to turn them off, or set it up so that both of them will come on if we need them to.

    The wood we're using is the same type of wood we used for our fence, cedar. Inside, the walls will also be covered with a tarp to protect them from the elements even further. Although, I am considering making the tarp removable so that, in summer, there's enough ventilation to keep them from overheating. Our summers can get over 100 degrees, so it is important that they be able to stay cool.

    I'll add that they won't be forced to go into the coop at night, though. Predators aren't a massive danger here, so the coop is really only there for them to go into if they feel too cold.


    EDIT:
    Oh, thank you, Learycow! :)

    What type of bedding would you suggest? Just hay and shavings? What kind of shavings? To keep eggs really warm, what else do you suggest? I plan on having two or three little "hutches" I guess inside the coop with extra bedding for eggs.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2013
  4. learycow

    learycow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I use hay (the same stuff I feed my cows, it's a timothy/orchard grass/clover mix) but you could also use straw.
    I buy tractor supply shavings. Nothing special. I layer the floor with hay and put shavings in the corners and nest boxes where they usually lay their eggs
     
  5. Zombified

    Zombified Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Okay, hay and TSC shavings lol. :) Sounds like a plan!

    Another question... How big would these little hutches have to be? I have five ducks in total, four who are hens. One hen is a Mallard, who I think will only get broody in springtime. The others have the potential to get broody any time of the year. I'd like them to be big enough to comfortably sit two ducks(if I have to, I don't mind making another coop-type thing specifically for the hens to lay eggs).

    Other than the Mallard, I have four Welsh Harlequins, so they're not huge, but they're not very small, either. I was thinking that two feet wide, two feet tall, two feet long would be large enough.
     
  6. learycow

    learycow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you want them to hatch their own eggs, you want them small enough so only one duck will fit. Having 2 or more ducks on one nest usually spells disaster (some people don't have issues but I've found that there's always 1 who will steal eggs/babies, cause a squander, and eggs or babies get squashed and hurt)
    One thing I do is I put a dog or cat crate outside for them (in the warm months so it's ok if they stay outside). They like dark, closed in spaces for nesting and eggs so that's one idea.
    But if you are going to build nest boxes for them, they don't need to be huge. What you stated above should be fine or even a little smaller.
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. Zombified

    Zombified Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Okay, so, small, individual boxes would be best? Do think the above size would be large enough for two? Or do you think I probably won't need it large enough for two?
     
  8. learycow

    learycow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Personally I wouldn't make them big enough for two but it's all personal preference. If you don't plan to let them sit and collect eggs daily then a larger one that more than one duck fits in is just fine. As they will simply use them for laying in and it won't matter how many cram themselves into it
     
  9. Zombified

    Zombified Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, the big reason I want it large enough for two, is so that they can all go in and be comfortable. I plan on using your kennel idea and putting a couple small-ish kennels outside during the warmer months for broody hens. The coop will be there just as an option if they want it.

    Haha, this discussion has made me consider extending it out to 8ft instead of 6ft. That way I can easily put in five individual little hutches. I'll have to talk to my grandpa. He might want to do that instead, anyway, so we can just buy all the same size wood(the cedar comes in 6ft and 8ft, and for the sides, we were going to buy 8ft pieces and cut them in half).
     
  10. learycow

    learycow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have found that it's best to go big from the start. Otherwise you'll be expanding it after having the ducks in there for a month [​IMG][​IMG]
     

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