Would you put them outside for good?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by superchemicalgirl, Jan 30, 2012.

  1. superchemicalgirl

    superchemicalgirl HEN PECKED

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    My ducks are 5 and a half weeks old (born 12.22.2011) and weigh on average 7 lbs each (the black one's a bit smaller, the white ones are gigantic). They are, for the most part, fully feathered. They have a small patch of down on their back between their butts and wings, and another small patch on the back of their heads.

    They've been in an unheated brooder since they've been about 2 weeks old and are in a basement that's about 55 degrees. They swim in frigid cold water in the bathtub, eat frozen peas like it's going out of style.

    We had temperatures during the day of between 30 and 35 this weekend, and I put the ducks out during the day into their run for the first time. They didn't like the snow too much on their feet, so they spent most of the time in the house with the tarp on it (it has a dirt floor which I covered in hay - they loved that). When I came outside to feed them, they came right out to inhale the food (frozen peas). They were not puffed up and did not appear cold. When I brought them back inside around dusk their bodies still felt warm.

    It's going to be between 10 and 20 at night the next 10 days.

    If these were your ducks (and you had spent 5.5 weeks cleaning their poopy brooder and waterer and hauling them up two flights of stairs daily to take a bath) would you put them outside all night? I usually throw chicks out around 6 weeks, this same time of year, but they have a much better coop than the ducks have a house.

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    (duck brooder in the fall with my previous ducks in it)
     
  2. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    Me? I'd wait a few more weeks at least, because at 5.5 weeks, they are still developing internally, and they have a limited amount of energy. They'll use it to stay warm rather than develop healthy organs. So I would take a deep breath and keep them in a while longer, even though it is more work, because I want my ducks to live long and healthy. A few weeks at this end could save me some heartache later.

    What else do you feed them besides peas?
     
  3. superchemicalgirl

    superchemicalgirl HEN PECKED

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    Thank you very much for your response and thoughts. I'm not too overly worried about them being inside, yeah they're gross, but I'll have to clean their waterer and floor whether they're inside or out. I just don't want to baby them too much (after all, they are Maine ducks - we're not known for months of nice weather) or keep them inside longer than necessary. I think they need fresh air and "sunshine" because the basement gets kinda dank.
    They get good feed, they're currently down to Blue Seal's 16% protein pellet, they started at higher protein for the first 3 weeks or so. Everything else is just snacks or treats to get them to "like" me. They will eat dried meal worms and grapes, plus the frozen peas out of my hand. They will also eat some greens in their water (right now it's kale, it was on sale). I mentioned the peas a lot above because I find it strange that they absolutely LOVE them frozen.
     
  4. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Overrun With Chickens

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    Normally at that stage my ducks would be outside. But it is the middle of winter and you are getting some cold temperatures.

    I like to acclimate more gradually and you've got a pretty big temperature difference between inside and outside. So if they were mine, I'd have them outside during the day, to get them hardened off, and then inside at night. I'd wait for a break in the weather, when it was going to be a bit warmer and drier and then they would go outside for their permanent move. If it gets colder again after that, they will be OK.

    If they are not already outside all day, start increasing their hours outside.
     
  5. superchemicalgirl

    superchemicalgirl HEN PECKED

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    I just want to be smart and say that it was negative 16 about 10 days ago, so I did *technically* wait for it to warm up ;)

    Also, if I'm waiting for a warm spell, it could be May!

    In all seriousness, thank you VERY much for your thoughts and input. I believe I will try and keep them outside during the day when I can and when it's above 30 degrees. I'll continue to monitor the situation and keep them outside all night when it's feasible temperature wise.
     
  6. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    You've got a sensible plan, thanks for joining us on the Duck Forum!

    (And by the way, with the weather we're having . . . temperatures all over the scale! We are all enjoying the 52F today. Ahhhhhhh. Even little Achtie, at the height of molt, is fine outside today.)
     
  7. superchemicalgirl

    superchemicalgirl HEN PECKED

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    And it is snowing here today not fair that you get 50! I've had a veritable parade of chickens molting here... even subzero some of them don't seem to care others molt and hide in the nestbox when it is 50 degrees out.

    like I said I'm totally comfortable making decisions on chickens and weather but I'm still too new to ducks. I love those crazy stinkers just as much as my chickens. Thanks again for the advice.
     
  8. superchemicalgirl

    superchemicalgirl HEN PECKED

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    They've been outside during the day now when I'm able to do it (can't on work days). Today it's 28 as a high, they've been outside since about 6 am when it was colder than that. Tonight it is going to only go down to 20 - and tomorrow it's actually going to be 40ish for a high.

    I'm thinking that today is my day. It's going to be cold Tuesday night, down to less than 10, so they'll obviously come inside for the night when it's like that.

    But what do you think of tonight?

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    Edited to add that I chickened out. Figured if they had to come inside Tuesday night, that they might as well be inside tonight and tomorrow night, too. Maybe next weekend.
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2012
  9. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Running over with Blessings Premium Member

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    They actually look fully feathered and grown so If they have a house thats free of drafts I'd say go for it. They'll snuggle if they get cold.
     
  10. superchemicalgirl

    superchemicalgirl HEN PECKED

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    Tonight is the night. Their house isn't draft free, but it has a tarp over it which significantly reduces the wind. There's a few inches of loose hay in it for them to snuggle down into.

    Unfortunately this weekend it's going to hit negative 10 again, so they'll be back inside, but they seem to really enjoy it outside.
     

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