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Ducks are particularly hardy so caring for ducks in winter is easy. I raise Pekin ducks now, but growing up we had Rouens and Swedish Blues (so pretty!) All three of these breeds are heavyweight ducks and their needs are pretty simple in colder weather – shelter, water, and food.
I remember my Mom always telling me that ducks just need shelter from the wind. They can survive some pretty coooold temps as long as they can get out of the wind. This past summer I built my ‘duck ark’ or duck house that looks like it could go afloat. But I won’t be trying that anytime soon!
The ‘ark’ is made up of a little house and little run. I wasn’t concerned about the small size since I let my ducks out everyday (Unless I go to town and know I won’t be home before dark. We have too many predators to chance leaving them out too late.)
The house has an opening to the run with no door. Most nights, unless is exceptionally cold or windy, the ducks sleep halfway in their house. On those extra cold nights they snuggle inside their house and are perfectly happy. They really are hardy birds.
Ducks need a LOT of water (which can be hard when it’s sub-zero out!). I often water my ducks twice a day because their water pan will freeze solid. They require water to soften and digest their food, and to keep their beaks/airway clean. If you watch a duck eat they’ll nibble some food then get water, nibble some food then get water, and on and on it goes.
Oh how those ducks can make a mess! I’ve come up with a plan to keep them out of the chicken coop/water. An idea I’ll share later on after it warms up a bit and I can work outside without freezing my fingertips off!
Both of my chicken houses have heated water bowls in the winter, but the ducks don’t get that luxury. Why? Because I’d be filling the water everyday anyways. They either get the water so dirty it turns into mud or else they just splash it all out. The little darlings. They LOVE water so much, they just can’t help themselves.
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Their watering bowl is a black rubber pan. I am able to turn it over and pop the ice out without cracking the pan and refill it every morning. On warmer days I fill up one of my larger buckets with water for them to play in and it’s deep enough to clean their sweet faces too.
When ‘Jemima’ and ‘Franklin’ were ducklings I fed them chick starter feed and supplemented it with brewers yeast. Ducks have a higher requirement for niacin than do chickens, so the brewers yeast added in the extra vitamins. I also gave them oats in addition to the chick starter. Thankfully as adults they eat a LITTLE less than they did as ducklings. Man oh man did they go through feed as babies!!
Now I feed them a layer crumble and let them free range every day. They have their own special feeder in the duck ark, but they go around and eat everyone else’s feed too.
Jemima is a great layer, so I’m excited to let her sit on some eggs this spring! Babies for everyone!
There you have it! Caring for ducks in the winter is easy as long as you provide shelter, water, and food to keep them happy and healthy.
Until next time, happy trails!