How cold is too cold for ducks?
Right, so maybe not the biggest biggest question in the US of A but, still, a real query that has risen to the top of the What the Ducks! search stats for the past few (freezing) weeks.
“How cold is too cold for young ducks?” the worried waterfowl aficionados repeatedly type. “When is it too cold for ducks?” goes another variant. “Can ducks get too cold…” Well, you get the, er, snowdrift.
Now, I may not be as experienced as Dave Holderread, Cherie Langlois or Carol Deppe but I’ve learned a coupla things about a coupla ducks over two cold-weather seasons. So, here’s my take on ducks and cold weather— it all depends.
It depends on the size of the breed.
It depends on the health of the duck.
It depends on whether you live closer to the equator or the Arctic Circle.
And, perhaps most importantly, it depends on whether you can be described as relatively carefree about poultry or whether you’re better characterized as a full-blown Helicopter Duck Parent.
I cop to the latter.
Therefore, as a card-carrying member of the HDP Club and based on two New York area winters with four-five ducks of three different breeds, my basic system goes like this:
Above freezing: I don’t worry.
Between 21-32° F (daytime): I have to keep water bowls on the sunny side of yard and check for ice forming, especially if it’s not sunny. (Ducks always need drinking water.)
Between 10-20° F (overnight): I put the ducks in the coop instead of the straw bale-enclosed pen.
Under 10° F and/or in very high winds: ducks go into the garage in a temporary shelter consisting of a kiddie pool filled with pine shavings, surrounded with plastic garden fencing, several packing boxes and an MP3 device playing lullabies. OK, maybe not that last one.
And that’s it. I realize it’s not totally comprehensive coverage of the popular Duck vs. Cold conversation but I do hope that anyone who randomly discovers this post may find its humble contents useful.
Oh, and one other thing.
No matter how chilly it gets, please resist letting the ducks stay in the guest bedroom. I mean, once they figure out how cozy it is where you live, they just might never leave.