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Ducks and Freezing Weather

Alison Thomas

Joined: Jul 22, 2009
Posts: 933
Location: France
We have 3 Indian Runner ducks, 2 now 8 months old and 1 is 4 months old and 2 Muscovies who are 4 months old also. They have a big duck house beside the pond but they ignore it. The weather has turned extremely cold all of a sudden - down to -10C/14F - with an icy NE wind blowing. The pond has frozen solid. So we moved their duckling house over to the pond area to see if they felt more comfortable with that. Nope - they choose to sleep on the ice!!! I'm worried because my little Toots, our single little hatchee Runner duck (the 4 month old) was shivery all day today and a little bit slower to get up than the others. Is it normal for ducks to sleep out on the ice
Jami McBride

Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 1909
Location: PNW Oregon
Hi Alison, What you have said is so true - ducks prefer to be 'out in it'. However, they are not impervious to cold, hence the whole flying south thing.

The two types you've listed are NOT flyers, and there in lies your problem.

If it were me I would fence them in, using chicken wire, somewhere like the south side of a building. Provide good wind block, hay piles and cover from rain/snow. bushes are what they prefer to use.
I've hand raise all my ducks. So when I put one of their eggs in hay inside a large dog igloo with a heat light taped to the inside they will spend some time inside, but this isn't easy, and I don't believe more wild ducks would use it at all. So managing a warmer area is the best you can do. I've had friends heard their ducks into their barn, but containing ducks gets stinky fast so deep litter is really needed.

Ducks feet/toes can get frostbite. Watch how they are walking. When they are only taking a few steeps, then sitting and repeating this their feet are in danger.

For your convenience use a couple buckets for their water. Swap them out several times a day with warmish water. Feed clabbered milk, if you have a milk supply, to beef up their protein and fat levels which helps them off set the cold. Make sure they have kelp/mineral source.

They will probably still stay out in the cold, but with lots of insulation in the form of dry straw/hay/leaves, and wind/rain/snow blockers, they will make it through just fine.

Walter Jeffries

Joined: Nov 21, 2010
Posts: 1027
Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
We live in the mountains of northern Vermont. It gets a lot colder here, the ponds have long been frozen and the ducks, geese and chickens all like being out in the weather. The ducks and geese have a three sided shed they can go into if they want but I almost never see them in there. They're happier sleeping out under the stars. When they were little they liked to go into a box at night. That was back during the summer but then as they grew they switched to camping out.

They're tough and well insulated with their feathers. Plus they probably have high metabolisms.


Sugar Mountain Farm
Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
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subject: Ducks and Freezing Weather