If you consider getting ducks as an alternative to chickens, you’ll know they are great as both meat birds and egg layers.
They are also hardier than chickens in terms of disease resistance and weather resistance.
However, you might wonder if your ducks also need a heat lamp.
Ducklings will need some form of external heat for the first part of their life until they have developed a real layer of feathers to keep them warm. Any artificial heat source may be used so long as it raises the ambient temperature to 90° degrees Fahrenheit (32° C), and heat lamps are the most common source.
Keep reading more about heating your ducks, including how long they need it, alternative heat sources, and if they need a heat lamp as adults.
How Long Will Ducklings Need A Heat Lamp?
Baby ducks will need a heat lamp for at least the first six weeks until they have developed all their feathers.
Ducklings need extra heat when they are born until they have developed feathers.
The optimum temperature to start with is 90° degrees Fahrenheit (32° C), and lower it by 5 degrees every week.
The most common way to achieve this is using a well-secured heat lamp.
It’s easy to tell if the lamp keeps the ducklings warm enough if they are under the lamp but not huddled together.
If the ducks are avoiding the heated area, you know you’re dealing with too hot temperatures for them.
On the other hand, ducklings huddled together result from too cold temperatures.
Adjusting the distance of the heat lamp is an easy way to change the heat.
Watching the behavior of the ducklings is the easiest way to find the ideal temperature for them.
A thermometer will make adjusting to the right temperature easy, but the ducks might need warmer or colder.
During summer, the ducklings might only need artificial heat for the first two weeks of life.
In the winter, however, they might need heat for 6 weeks or more.
When setting up your brooder, put the waterer should be on one side, and the heat should be on the other.
Accidentally heating the water will cause bacterial growth and evaporation.
A mess-free waterer like this chick feeder and waterer kit on Amazon cuts down on messes and keeps the birds out of the water.
Good dry bedding of wood chips will go a long way in keeping the ducklings warm.
This will help them grow into healthy, clean birds quickly.
What Are Alternatives To Heat Lamps?
Using a heat lamp has drawbacks, including an unfortunate fire risk.
Taking extra precautions to keep it secure and avoid flammable material helps.
Using an alternative external heat source might be a better option.
Electric brooders are a great alternate heat source that is safer and easier to use than lamps.
Good models come with heat control built-in, automatically adjusting the right output.
While these are typically pricier than a heat lamp, they are a worthy consideration.
Heating pads built for chicks are another great option to provide heat for ducklings.
The pads provide heat from underneath, keeping the ducks’ feet warm.
The hot air rises to heat the rest of the enclosure.
Wrapping hot water bottles in towels is a non-electric heat source and may be used as a primary heat source, but it is best saved as an emergency option.
The ducklings need to be kept at room temperature, but the hot water bottles will provide enough artificial heat to keep the ducks healthy.
The water bottles will need to be replaced every few hours.
However, this is one of the few ways to provide enough additional heat for the ducklings without electricity.
In a power outage, this solution will help save the lives of your baby ducks.
How Cold Can Ducks Stand Without Supplemental Heat?
Keeping baby ducks warm is essential until they have developed their real feathers, with temperatures in the 80° degrees Fahrenheit (27° C) range too cold.
As they grow, ducks can withstand temperatures well below freezing and below what chickens can.
Ducks can withstand 20° degrees Fahrenheit (-7° C) without concern or extra heat.
Once it gets too cold, provide a heat lamp or space heater and a good shelter.
With cold weather, there are a few ways to help your ducks make it through the winter.
A constant fresh water supply is vital during cold weather and should be heated to avoid freezing.
By adding high-calorie and high-fat supplemental food to their diet, you’ll be able to give them extra energy during the night.
Feeding peanuts is a great way to achieve this with an easy treat your ducks will love and should be fed at night for the best results.
Ducks withstand cold temperatures well due to their layer of feathers and down to provide plenty of insulation.
They also have a thick layer of fat to keep them even warmer.
Ducks have evolved to stay warm even when they are wet, and this adaptation makes them one of the best birds for cold weather.
Related Reading: Can you move a duck nest with eggs?
Do Ducks Lay Eggs During Winter?
While ducks might not be as prolific layers as chickens in quantity, they’ll lay eggs in most temperatures, including winter.
Cold weather will still cause them to stop laying eggs, but even below freezing, they will still pop out eggs.
The egg-laying frequency will slow down in the winter, but with extra heat in their coop, you’re able to increase the quantity you get throughout the year.
Feeding high-quality food with plenty of fat and calcium to give them extra nutrients during winter will also go a long way.
If you’re deciding between chickens and ducks and want a more consistent supply of eggs year-round, go with ducks.
They are cold weather tolerant and will produce all winter in most climates.
Read next: Will ducks sit on unfertilized eggs?
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