Your Winter Duck Coop: Keeping Ducks in Cold Weather 5

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By Heather Harris of The Homesteading Hippy

Raising ducks on your homestead is fun. They are full of personality, enjoyable to watch and relaxing to be around. When the weather is warm, they are very low maintenance. Fill their pool with fresh water, add some yummy nourishing food, and collect the fresh eggs. In warm weather, they don’t even need a duck coop. (More on getting started with ducks here.)

In harsh, cold climates there are some simple tactics for keeping things hospitable in the duck coop.

Raising ducks in a cold, harsh, winter environment is a bit different, but not difficult. It takes a few extra steps of care and some planning ahead, but your ducks can be happy egg producers all year round if they have a duck coop to escape the nasty weather.

Give them some extra straw in their duck coop and run area.

Since most duck breeds don’t roost like chickens do, they are on the ground all the time. This will help keep them off the cold ground. We lay a full bale of straw down two to three times throughout the winter. We collect the old straw for our compost pile, then new straw is scattered through out the coop. The ducks will settle into the straw, and build nests to lay their eggs in. This makes it much easier to find their eggs instead of the daily hunt, too.

Think about how you will keep their water from freezing.

Ducks LOVE water and need it to eat their food. To make sure they have water on hand during the winter, 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 degrees below. We have to fill those buckets two to three times a day, as they seem to spill their water everywhere. (Ducks are not the neatest animals with water.) We also remove it at night, since all they will do is play in it and make a mess. 

Here are some more ideas for preventing your duck’s water from freezing.

Along with the water spillage, in cold temps, there will be ICE.

To combat slipping and sliding all over the place, we use straw around the water buckets by basically burying the water buckets in straw two to three inches deep. The straw helps to minimize the formation of ice. We replace it often with the old straw going into the compost pile. I have also seen people place their water buckets inside old tires to help minimize the spilling and ice forming. 

Keep them fed.

Since ducks will not be able to forage for much food when there’s snow and ice everywhere, you need to make sure that they get enough feed. We usually plan on at least doubling their food rations each winter. That, along with fodder and added treats such as cracked corn, peanuts, or cabbage shreds will help keep them happy and healthy.

Ducks do NOT need extra light to continue to lay.

They also do NOT need a heat lamp in their coop. Both are a terrible fire hazard, especially if the coop is not wired specifically for lighting. The layers of fat and feathers that ducks are equipped with keep them warm, even when they are wet. Our ducks are five to seven years old, and still continue to lay five 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?

meHeather and her family live in Northern Indiana where they work hard at raising 80% of their own food each year, including chickens, turkeys, ducks, quail, rabbits and a large garden. Join their (mis)adventures at The Homesteading Hippy or laugh with them on their new YouTube series.

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5 thoughts on “Your Winter Duck Coop: Keeping Ducks in Cold Weather

  • Erica Lynn


    I just want to confirm I read this right…Ducks do NOT need heat lamps? We live in New Brunswick, Canada where it can easily hit -30 Celsius, with this in mind they would still be fine with the proper amount of straw/wind coverage? Also, with the heave amounts of snow we receive what size coop should they have? as they will definitely not be willing to go play in their run. I have always raised meat ducks and am now looking into getting some runner ducks to add to our collection of 31 loving various fowls

    • Heather@Thehomesteadinghippy

      I live where the winter temps get to -30F. No, not as cold as you 🙂 but, the ducks will have a layer of fat under their skin that keeps them warm. Heat lamps that would have to be close enough for them to get a benefit would be a huge fire risk with the water and straw around. If you are concerned, I would add additional straw for them to stay off the frozen ground.

    • Liza

      Erica – HI! I also live in NB, and raise ducks (Pekins, Khakis & Calls) in our freezing cold winter months.
      I just make sure they have a place out of the wind (they winter in one of our barn stalls) put lots of straw down…and on nights when I know the temps are dropping really low – I make some warm oatmeal or even quinoa for their little bellies.
      They do really well in the winter…a lot better then my chickens do!

  • Jessica

    What about their pond? We were thinking of draining it and leaving it empty for the winter. Any thoughts/advice in that area?

    • Kris Bordessa Post author

      They do need access to water, though it doesn’t have to be a pond. Maybe a heated waterer? (They’ll try to swim in it if they can!)