10 things you can do to help your ducks stay cool in hot weather — Raising Ducks

10 things you can do to help your ducks stay cool in hot weather — Raising Ducks

Whew! It’s about 98 degrees in the shade here. Closer to 100 degrees yesterday. Supposed to be the same tomorrow. The ducks are panting. The chickens are panting. Our mostly-outdoor dogs are currently indoor dogs. The sheep don’t want to graze and just baa angrily at us from the shade of their favorite tree when they see us.

My eight-week-old Saxony and Khaki Campbell ducklings, meanwhile, see no reason to sit in the shade. Not when they could sit in the pond. They’re idly wafting around in the water under the full force of the sun, without a care in the world, only leaving the pond when they hear me clanking feed buckets and pans around. Are they just addicted to swimming or is the water really that nice? I tried it out. I waded in thigh-deep. The water was hot and not refreshing at all. I waded out in disgust.

You do you, duckies.

Anyway, maybe it’s not this hot wherever you are, but chances are there’s hot weather coming your way sometime within the next few months.

muscovy duck sitting under a shady tree

Heat stress in ducks is very real and can be very dangerous, even leading to death. It’s good to make preparations to help your ducks get through hot weather. So here’s some of what we’ve been doing and some things to keep in mind:

  1. Be sure all of your birds have easy access to shade, including any “outcasts” or individuals that don’t like being with the others. If your ducks are all crammed in one shady spot, add another source of shade.
  1. Put their water sources in the shade. If you put a pool under a shady tree, they’ll love it! Even chickens often appreciate having cool, shallow water to stand in.
  1. Give them cool water, or better yet, cold water with ice cubes. Ducks will be reluctant to drink hot water and may even become dehydrated.
  1. Add electrolytes to your ducks’ water when it’s extremely hot. Birds will excrete excess electrolytes during hot weather, leading to extra stress.
  1. Avoid feeding your ducks during the hottest parts of the day, and in particular don’t feed them corn. You may even consider giving your ducks access to food during the night so the bulk of their feed consumption is during the coolest part of the day.
  1. However, you can feed them frozen or chilled watermelons or melons. Or you could put frozen strawberries, blueberries, peas, or other treats in their pool or tub. Or you could fill a cake pan with water and treats, freeze it, and then give your ducks the frozen “cake.” You can even freeze their feed.
  1. Some ducks enjoy being sprayed with a hose, or sitting under sprinklers. You could also give your ducks an electric fan.
  1. In the coop, be sure there is as much ventilation as possible. Maybe you should even consider cutting more holes in your coop.
  1. Check on your ducks periodically to ensure none of them are showing signs of serious heat stress, which include lethargy, excessive panting, and limpness or unresponsiveness. If you think any of your ducks are overheating, bring them indoors or to a cooler place and place them in cool water.
  1. Pick eggs early! I usually pick eggs around noon or early afternoon because the chickens don’t lay early. Unfortunately, many of the birds like to lay on the ground where the eggs become exposed to the sun, leading to eggs that are half-cooked by the time I pick them. You can also expect a drop in egg production during very hot weather.

Some more resources and tips:

https://www.metzerfarms.com/blog/Keeping_Your_Ducks_Cool.html

https://www.fresheggsdaily.blog/2014/07/tips-to-help-keep-your-ducks-cool-this.html

https://www.smallholderfeed.co.uk/keeping-your-hens-and-ducks-cool-in-the-hot-weather/

Summer 2024 is fast approaching — keep cool!

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