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Keeping Ducks in Winter
Many homesteaders are adding ducks, or switching to ducks, over chickens on their homestead. There are many benefits to raising and keeping ducks, and homesteaders can find these continue in the winter. While both ducks and chickens are fairly cold-hardy, ducks are even easier to care for when the temperatures drop to freezing or below. In fact, ducks are perfectly fine even when the temperature drops to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Their waterproof feathers protect them from getting wet, and their downy feathers keep them nice and warm. Plus they have no combs or wattles to suffer from frostbite. We’ve put together a list of how to keep ducks in winter including how to keep ducks warm in winter when they’ll want to sneak outside and play in the snow and ice.
Keep Ducks Warm
- Make sure you keep their water outside their house. Ducks love to splash in their water and when it drops below freezing that water will become ice. This is especially important if you house your chickens and ducks together.
- Check your coop or duckhouse for drafts and block them. However, make sure there is still ventilation so that the air doesn’t stagnate. Outside, add a wind block so they can go out without getting too windblown and cold.
- This idea is a bit counterintuitive, however, do not add a heat lamp to your coop or duck house. Both ducks and chickens will suffer from shock and hypothermia if they go from an artificially warmed house to the frigid outside.
How to Have Happy Winter Ducks
These tips will help improve the quality of life for your ducks this winter, ensuring your flock is happy and healthy and ready to start laying eggs again in the spring.
- Ducks absolutely must have access to fresh, clean water. Water is necessary for their digestion and to clear out eyes and sinuses. Make sure it’s in a heated bowl and not a chicken waterer. They will struggle to get adequate hydration with the narrow trough of a chicken waterer.
- Do not give your ducks food without ensuring they have access to water.
- Egg production may go down due to decreased sunlight. This is totally normal and though less likely to happen with ducks than chickens, it can still occur. You can add light to the coop or duckhouse, but giving them the break is healthier for them.
- Keep your ducks on a high quality layer pellet. This will keep them on the right nutrition even when they’re not laying.
- Add extra treats like greens, and even scratch grains to increase metabolic heat at night.
- Increase protein and fat to improve their fat layer. Mealworms are a great choice
Our ducks and chickens love mealworms. We prefer Flock Party mealworms like those found here at Tractor Supply. We never have trouble getting our Runner Ducks into their house at night with a couple shakes of the mealworm bag. Plus, we know they’re getting a great, high-quality treat that helps keep them healthy.
- Look out for ice on the ground. Throw out some straw so your ducks can walk otherwise they can slip and hurt themselves or your chickens.
- Build up the litter on your duckhouse or chicken coop floor. Ducks sleep on the ground and this will help keep them nice and warm. You’ll also want to check and make sure they have enough space. You should have 4-5 square feet per duck.
Following these quick, simple tips you can keep your ducks healthy and happy this winter.