In addition to being extremely cold-hardy, ducks are also fairly heat-tolerant. Of course in the summer, as always, it's important to provide them with clean, cool water to drink and plenty of shade. Give them a kiddie pool to splash around in, and they'll likely be just fine no matter how high the mercury rises, but here are a few more tips to help your ducks beat the heat.
Cool Water - Eggs are mostly water, so therefore the process of laying eggs siphons much of the fluid your ducks drink from their bodies into the eggs. Access to plenty of water is critical year round, but especially in the summer. Clean water is relative when it comes to ducks, but providing fresh water and refilling the water tubs several times a day should suffice.
Put out more water tubs than usual, and place the tubs in the shade. You can add ice cubes or frozen water bottles to help keep the water cooler longer. Or add some frozen peas to the water for a fun treat. Your ducks will most likely stand in the water tubs to stay cool, even if they have a pool to swim in. That's fine, don't stress about it. They will still drink the water. Their systems are designed to be able to handle far more bacteria than humans can!
Swimming Pool - Your ducks will love splashing or floating around in a pool when it's hot. You can use a plastic kiddie pool, horse trough, re-purposed garden tub, pool kit or even just a hole dug in the ground and filled with water. If you can, set up a few pools so everyone can swim at once.
As with drinking water, 'clean duck pool' is a bit of an oxymoron, so remember that making sure the water is cool and fresh is more important than making sure it's crystal clear. Water stagnates quickly in the heat and can lead to botulism and other harmful bacteria, so refill the pools every day, dumping out the water from the day before and scrubbing the pool with white vinegar and rinsing it out well before refilling.
Shade - Shade is equally important. If your duck house is raised, the space underneath can provide your ducks respite from the sun. A shade screen or partially covered pen also helps. Planting shrubs and sall bushes around the perimeter of your duck run is a natural way to give your ducks places to relax out of the sun's rays. Even a small shrub will give your duck a cool spot to nap. You'll find your ducks will pick a nice cool spot and take an afternoon siesta on hot days, conserving their energy and staying as quiet as possible.
Cool Treats - You will most likely notice your ducks eating far less feed during the summer. This is completely normal. Try feeding them first thing in the morning and then just before you lock them up for the night, or even leaving them feed and water overnight so they can eat when it's cooler.
Water-laden treats will be very much appreciated by your ducks. Things like chilled or frozen watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumber slices, blueberries, strawberries, lettuce, marigold and rose petals are all favorite summer treats around here. Even better freeze them into ice cubes and then put them in a dish of water for your ducks. They will love fishing around in the water for the treats, which will help keep them hydrated in the heat.
Sprinkler - Our ducks love being squirted with the hose. Setting up a sprinkler in their pen, maybe on a timer, so they periodically get a spontaneous 'rain shower', will delight your ducks and cool the air down, as well as the ground, and help keep your ducks entertained on hot summer days.
Try to let your ducks out as early as possible in the morning and put them in for the night as late as possible. Be sure your duck house is well-ventilated and you might consider leaving water in the house overnight for your ducks. Normally I don't leave feed or water in the duck house, but if the overnight temperature is going to be 75 degrees or higher, I generally do leave a tub of water.
You might be tempted to leave your ducks out overnight in the pen or run where it's cooler, but if you do, be sure your pen is 100% predator-proof. It's very hard to make a pen safe enough, but at a bare minimum, welded wire or chain link fencing sunk into the ground with chicken wire or other smaller gauge fencing around the bottom two feet is necessary to prevent raccoons or other predators from digging underneath, ripping through or reaching through the fencing and grabbing ducks who tend to sleep up against the sides of a pen. The top must be covered as well with a heavy-gauge fencing. Chicken wire or poultry netting is NOT predator-proof.
Installing Nite Guard solar predator lights is also something I HIGHLY recommend. They will prevent predators from even thinking about coming anywhere near your pen - whether or not you lock your ducks in a house or coop at night, I recommend the solar lights. They are a small price to pay for peace of mind and your ducks' safety.
These few tips should ensure that your ducks stay happy and cool this summer when temperatures rise. Click HERE for some tips to help keep your chickens cool!
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