We love our ducks on this homestead.
They have a quirky personality that makes them so much fun to watch. When their tails wriggle or they waddle around, quacking to each other, it makes for better entertainment than any TV show to me. Ducks are low maintenance, they give us fresh eggs, and they’re fun…what more could you ask for?
Raising ducks in the winter when it’s cold, snowy, or icy isn’t hard. All it takes is a few extra steps of care and some planning ahead, and your ducks will be just as happy as ever. They can be great egg producers all year long.
First, give them some extra straw or dry leaves in their coop and run area. This will help keep them off the cold ground since they don’t roost like chickens. We lay a bale of straw each time, and do this about 2-3 times throughout the winter. The old straw gets collected and placed in our compost pile, then new straw is laid throughout the coop. The ducks will settle into the straw, and build nests to lay their eggs. This makes it much easier to find their eggs instead of the daily hunt, too. If you collected dry leaves in the fall, they will make great bedding in the duck coop. They will compost down easily and give the ducks some protection from the cold ground.
Keeping their water from being frozen is important, as ducks LOVE water and need it to eat their food. I use several heated bowls and buckets around their coop so that I don’t need to worry about chipping away frozen blocks when it’s -30° outside. Since ducks are not the neatest animals with water, we remove it at night. Otherwise, all they will do is play in it and make a mess. You can find the heated water bowls we use here.
If you have raised ducks for any length of time, you know that they are not neat with water and like to splash it around. In cold temps, there will be ICE on the ground. Instead of watching our ducks slip and slide all over, we place straw or dry leaves around the water buckets by burying the water buckets in 2-3 inches of material. Ducks like to run their bills over the ground to forage, and salt may hurt them. That’s why we use straw or leaves around the buckets. It gets replaced often to keep the pile from growing too large. The old material always goes in the compost pile.
Another great idea I have seen for keeping the water buckets off the ice, is to place the buckets inside an old tire. The ducks will learn to climb on the tire to get to the water, which can help minimize the spilling and the consequent ice build up.
In the winter, ducks will not be able to forage for food as easily with snow and ice everywhere. You will want to make sure that they get enough high quality feed, sometimes planning on double rations daily, depending on the temperatures. The colder they are, the more they seem to eat. That, along with fodder and treats such as cracked corn, fruit (like berries or apples cut into tiny pieces), and cabbage shreds will help keep them happy and healthy.
Special things to remember when keeping ducks in the winter: Ducks do NOT need extra light to continue to lay. They also do NOT need a heat lamp in their coop. Heat lamps can become a terrible fire hazard, especially if the coop is not specifically wired for lighting. Ducks have layers of fat and feathers that will keep them warm, even when they are wet. Our ducks are 5-7 years old and still continue to lay 5 eggs a week in the winter without light.
As you can see, duck care in the winter is pretty easy. You can keep a happy, healthy flock all winter long, even in the coldest of areas! Do you keep ducks? What are some tips you have for winter care? Be sure to pin this for later!