How to Keep Ducks Warm in Cool Weather

Keep your ducks warm and happy in the winter months with these easy-to-follow tips.

Related To:

Keeping Ducks Warm

Line of Sitting Ducks

Photo by: Photo by Lisa Steele

Photo by Lisa Steele

Ducks are extremely cold-hardy due to a nice thick layer of body fat and soft down under their waterproof feathers.  They actually need very little in order to be comfortable in cold weather, but there are a few simple things you can do to keep your ducks happier and healthier through the winter months.

Offer High-Energy Treats 

All through the winter, especially right before bedtime, high-fat, high-calorie treats such as cracked corn, warm oatmeal or peanuts will help to keep your ducks warm overnight as their body works to digest them. These calorie-dense treats will also help to put on a bit of extra weight for winter which will keep the ducks warm as well. Since weeds and grass are scarce during the winter, your ducks will enjoy chard, kale or other cold-crop leafy greens to munch on. A head of cabbage will keep them busy and help prevent boredom.

Raising Ducks: A Primer on Duck Housing, Diet and Health

Learn what ducks eat, and how to ensure they are comfortable and healthy.

Provide Straw Insulation

Straw has wonderful insulating properties. A nice thick layer of chopped straw on the floor of your duck house will be appreciated. Ducks love to snuggle down into the bedding at night to keep warm. Use additional bales of straw for 'insulation' along the inner walls if you live in an extremely cold climate and have a large house for them. The straw bales take up the cold ‘dead’ space and make it easier for the ducks to warm their house using their body heat.

Lay some straw down in the run or pen as well so your ducks can get outside for some fresh air, but still get up off the snowy, cold ground. If you notice your ducks hopping from one foot to another, or holding one foot up and only standing on one foot, it's likely their feet are cold. Ducks are just fine down to temperatures around 20 degrees, but below that they can suffer frostbite on their feet which could lead to amputation. In addition to the straw, wooden planks, benches or even low stumps in their pen will help the ducks get off the frozen ground and keep their feet warm. Ducks sometimes seem to enjoy sitting right in the snow, but you might notice that they pull their feet up off the ground and tuck them into their feathers and against their bodies for warmth. 

Provide a Well-Ventilated House

Ducks emit lots of moisture when they breathe as they sleep, so be sure your duck house is well-ventilated. Vents should be plentiful and positioned up high, not at floor level.  Don’t be tempted to heat the duck house. Heat lamps are a fire hazard and the heat actually creates additional moisture which can lead to frostbite. 

A Guide to Duck Houses

See these six things to consider when building a home for backyard ducks.

Create a Windbreak

Your ducks will enjoy being outside on sunny winter days, but they don’t seem to like being exposed to the cold winter wind. Make a wind barrier in one corner of the pen with a tarp or sheets of plywood so they can enjoy some time outdoors on all but the most blustery of days. 

Provide Fresh Drinking Water 

Ducks need access to water at all times during the day.  A heated dog water bowl makes an inexpensive waterer that won’t freeze in the winter. Ducks don't necessarily need to swim during the winter, but they will enjoy a deep tub of water a few times a week so they can dunk their bills and heads and maybe even hop in for a quick bath. 

Like any animal, your ducks will appreciate a bit of extra TLC come winter, and be far happier and healthier if you take these few steps to ensure they stay warm on those frigid, blustery days.

Next Up

Raising Ducks: Caring for Ducklings

Here are a few tips on raising baby ducklings to help you get started.

Raising Ducks: A Primer on Duck Housing, Diet and Health

Learn what ducks eat and how to ensure they are comfortable and healthy.

How to Protect Plants From Frost

Protect shrubs, flower and vegetable beds from frosts and freezes with these pro tips and garden hacks.

8 Natural Mood Boosters to Help Battle the Winter Blues

Prioritize your health and wellness with these winter mood boosters, from light therapy lamps to energizing essential oils.

How and When to Bring Houseplants Inside for Winter

Houseplants that have spent summer basking in the great outdoors need a little TLC before moving them inside for the winter. Get tips on how to successfully transition your plants from summer to winter.

Warm Old-Fashioned Cocktail Recipe

Perfect for relaxing on a cold winter night, this drink will warm up the evening with a hot version of the classic cocktail.

Hot-Buttered Bourbon Cocktail Recipe

For a comforting and yummy twist on classic hot buttered rum, try this bourbon cocktail to keep you warm all winter. It’s a cozy drink that's perfect for chilly winter nights.

Blood Orange Hot Toddy Cocktail Recipe

Swap out the lemon in your standard hot toddy with the sweet raspberry citrus flavor of seasonal blood orange for a delicious variation on the classic cocktail.

Amaretto Sugar Cookie White Cocoa Cocktail Recipe

Try this decadent twist on white hot cocoa during chilly months. The smooth almond flavor of Amaretto liqueur adds warmth, while the whipped cream and cookies are fun garnishes for this grown-up version of hot chocolate.

How to Make a Hot Chocolate Charcuterie Board

Whether hosting a dinner party, game night or looking for a special treat for the kids, you can’t go wrong with a big pot of hot cocoa served up with all the fixings, including candy, cookies and mounds of marshmallows.

Go Shopping

Get product recommendations from HGTV editors, plus can’t-miss sales and deals.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.