It’s the middle of summer, and it is boiling outside. Nobody wants to complain – after all, the bitter chill of winter is likely still fresh on your mind! – but there are some considerations you need to make when raising livestock, including ducks in the summer heat.
Ducks are enjoyable animals to raise, especially in the summer when they can really enjoy splashing around and getting wet.
The best part about raising ducks in the summertime? The water doesn’t freeze!
However, there are still some considerations you need to make when raising ducks in the summer heat. Here’s what you need to know.
What Temperature is Too Hot for Ducks in The Summer Heat?
Although ducks are known for their fun-loving, water-worshipping ways, the reality is that it can sometimes get too hot for ducks.
A common misconception is that ducks do better in the heat, but they actually prefer the cold. Unlike chickens, who are typically most comfortable at around 45 degrees or higher, ducks can thrive in temperatures as low as 20 degrees.
That’s not to say that they can’t handle colder temperatures. In fact, ducks can thrive in sub-zero temperatures provided that they are given adequate protection from frostbite, which can damage their limbs.
When it comes to high temperatures, try to keep them under temperatures of around 90 degrees.
Although ducklings need to be kept warmer than this – usually around 90-92 degrees for the first three days of life, than 85-90 for the next seven, with temperatures dropping by gradual increments after that – older ducks prefer to be kept cool.
Of course, you don’t have any control over how hot it gets outside. You can, however, keep your ducks cool by providing them with access to shade, water, and plenty of well-ventilated areas to rest.
10 Tips to Follow for Raising Ducks In The Summer Heat
As long as they are given plenty of water and shade, ducks generally do quite well in the heat of the summer. Follow these tips to keep your ducks cool as a cucumber this summer – and beyond.
Cool, Clean Water is Key to Keeping Healthy Ducks In The Summer Heat
As is the case with raising any livestock, providing plenty of cool, clean water is essential to keeping your ducks healthy.
Remember, eggs are mostly water – even duck eggs, which contain far less moisture than chicken eggs.
Laying eggs takes a lot of fluid from your duck’s bodies, so you will need to provide them with plenty of water at all times but especially when it’s hot. Put out additional water tubs (the more, the merrier!) and put them in the shade so that your ducks will be encouraged to drink. Add some ice cubes or frozen water bottles to the tubs to keep the water cooler for longer.
You may find that your ducks tend to stand in the water tubs, but that’s not a problem. More than likely, you will have to refill the tubs more often, but they will still drink the water and stay hydrated.
Using an automatic watering system for your ducks is totally fine. In fact, it’s recommended that you use one of these systems if you are away from home all day and can’t get back to feed and water your ducks during the day.
By using an automated system, your ducks will always have exactly what they need. What you need to watch out for, though, is using nipple waterers.
Ducks can use nipple waterer – but with one caveat. Although they can get their drinking water from the nipples, you need to be careful about only providing them with this kind of watering system.
You see, ducks need to drink and need to submerge their heads in the water fully.
This helps them with grooming – the water helps keep their eyes clean – but they also need it to eat their food.
The takeaway from all this? If you use a nipple drinker system – a great option for keeping drinking water clean, by the way! – make sure you provide them with another source of water to dunk their heads.
Give Them a Swimming Pool or Pond
If you’ve ever raised ducks, you probably already know this fact to be true – ducks love to swim! Give them plenty of opportunities to splash around throughout the year, but especially in the summer.
When the mercury begins to rise, there’s nothing your ducks will love more than taking a long dip in a swimming pool. A pond will work, too, and be more low-maintenance – but of course, this may not be an option for everyone.
Instead, you can use something as inexpensive and easy to find as a plastic kiddie pool. Any garden tub or large container will work, too.
It can be tough to keep a swimming pool clean, so make sure you refill the pools daily, dumping out the water and scrubbing the pool with a bit of white vinegar. This will help keep algae and bacteria out and keep the water fresh.
Even just letting your ducks hang out in a sprinkler will work wonders. Ducks love the spontaneous showers provided by a sprinkler!
Consider setting one up on a timer so that now and then, your ducks get a burst of water – with no extra work required by you!
Feed Later in the Day
Whenever possible, feed your ducks later in the day (or even overnight). You will likely find that your ducks eat much less in the summer than they do in the winter, but you can help them stay cool by only feeding them in the early morning and again right before dark.
That way, they can eat when temperatures are nice and cool.
Shade is of the utmost importance to keep your ducks cool, especially in the middle of the summer and in the middle of the day, when the sun tends to be the most intense. You’ll notice that ducks try to find a nice, shady spot to relax in the heat and try to conserve their energy at these times.
You can use a shade screen or a pen that is partially covered – this will provide your ducks with the shade they need, as can a raised house where your ducks can crawl beneath and nap.
Even something as simple as some bushes planted around the perimeter of the duck run can help your ducks relax out of the rays of the sun.
Offer Watery Treats
Be mindful of what you feed your ducks. Watery treats, like zucchini, watermelon, blueberries, and cucumbers are all good options to encourage your ducks to eat and keep them cool. You can even throw cooling herbs, like mint, into your ducks’ waterers.
This will encourage them to drink and help them stay cool.
Another fun way to keep your ducks well-fed and to encourage them to drink? Freeze some of their favorite treats inside ice cubes. You can freeze up peas, rose petals, marigold blossoms, or bits of lettuce.
Drop the ice cubes into the water, and your ducks will go berzerk (in a good way, of course)!
Give Them Good Ventilation
Although temperatures tend to drop at night, remember that you will still need to provide ways to keep your ducks cool and well-ventilated in the evening and overnight hours.
Letting your ducks sleep outside in an attached night run can help, but you need to make sure this run is predator-proof.
Use half-inch welded wire to stop raccoons, minks, rats, weasels, and other predators from getting to your ducks and their eggs. Make sure the run is covered and buried to prevent animals that like to fly as well as those that like to dig!
Let Them Out Early
Provide your ducks with as much outside time as possible. No matter how well-ventilated your duck house is, it’s going to be a lot hotter in there than it is outside. Get your ducks outside as early as possible in the morning and put them in for the night as late as you can.
Using an automatic door opener can help, as you can reprogram the times you want them to go inside or outdoors.
Keep plenty of water in your duck house overnight, too. This can be messy, but it’s a far better option than allowing your ducks to succumb to dehydration in their house overnight.
Don’t Rely on One Source of Water.
Many people who raise ducks assume that they don’t need to put out fresh drinking water for their ducks since they have a pond on the property. Big mistake!
Although this can work well during the cooler periods of the year, your ducks might get sluggish and not want to walk as far to get to the water during hot weather.
Because of this, you should also put out tubs of drinking water where your ducks can find them. As we said earlier, the more drinking water they have, the better!
Plant Watery Veggies
Flood your vegetable fields? What?
No, that’s not what we mean.
There’s a quick permaculture-friendly solution you can use to help your ducks beat the heat of the summer. It involves planting “watery” vegetables where your ducks can get to them.
Ducks enjoy eating pests like slugs and bugs. Slugs and bugs tend to be attracted to vining crops like melons, squash, and cucumbers. Plant a few of these vining crops where your ducks can get to them.
In all likelihood, they’ll be attracted to the bugs and slugs, eating those before they target your vining plants. Eventually, the fruits will mature, and you can let your ducks eat those, too.
This will not only serve as a great source of nutrients for your ducks but can also provide them with extra water during the hot summer months.
Watch for Signs of Heat Stress – and Parasites
Ducks generally do quite well in extreme temperatures, even in the intense summer sun. You should, however, watch for signs of heatstroke and heat exhaustion.
Some to watch out for? Panting, standing or sitting with closed eyes, holding their wings away from their bodies, and drooping wings are all things to pay attention to.
If you suspect that your duck is suffering from heatstroke, move it immediately to a cooler spot outside. Lethargy and loss of appetite are also some telltale signs to pay attention to.
You can also place your duck’s feet in a tub of cold water or offer sugar water, which can help a suffering duck bounce back quickly.
Parasites Are More Common for Ducks In The Summer Heat
Another thing you need to watch out for when raising ducks in the summer is parasites. Although parasites can affect your ducks in all weather, most parasite species tend to be more common in hot, wet weather.
Ducks that are heavily infested with parasites can succumb to symptoms like weight loss, poor egg production, diarrhea, and occasionally, even death. Your ducks are most likely to become infected from feed, soil, or water contaminated with worm eggs.
Some of the most common types of parasites include coccidia and gizzard worms. Both are severe issues to watch out for.
Parasites can be treated with anthelmintic drugs, like levamisole or tetramisole. An easier way to prevent parasites is to keep all housing clean and clean feed and water containers daily.
You may find that you need to clean everything even more often during the summer months. Be vigilant, and you can prevent parasites from becoming a problem. This can be done not only during the summer months but the rest of the year too.
Help Your Ducks Keep Their Cool This Summer
With the hot weather in full swing, many people are wondering how to keep their animals cool. In some parts of the country, summertime can be downright unbearable. It’s hot, it’s humid, and you’re definitely not the only one feeling the heat.
Ducks, like all other animals, need some protection from the summer sun. If you have ducks and live in a warmer climate, these tips should help you keep them happy and healthy.