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duck watering systems for winter in cold climates

 
Robin Kyle
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This is going to be my first winter with ducks in Minnesota so Im trying to figure out the best way to give them more water than ice with the least work. I have 7 soon to be 5 Anconas in an urban environment in Minneapolis. Any ideas or set ups you know of that i should consider?
 
bud smith
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If you have access to electricity nearby you can get a heated pet bowl. It has a thermostat that allows you to control the water temperature.
 
Craig Dobbelyu
pollinator
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Location: Maine (zone 5)
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forest garden hugelkultur
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I give a large bowl of water outside of the coop, twice a day. It usually stays liquid for long enough for the ducks to get a drink, clear their nostrils and have a bath (about 1 hour on the coldest days of the year). I place it in direct sun and sometimes will place a large stone in the bowl to keep it thawed for longer. You could warm the stone inside or near a fireplace and probably have the water stay liquid longer. Ducks will play in water all day even in the coldest weather and I often find mine covered in frozen droplets of glistening water. That being said, I've found that as long as they can drink a few times a day, they will be just fine. Anything more than that is a bonus.
I tried a heated waterer for one winter but found that the ducks just ended up splashing all 3 gallons of water all over the place every day and I ended up with a mini mountain of ice near the watering station and risked burning out the heating element on the waterer once it was emptied. They do work well for chickens, but ducks just keep on flinging water around as long as it's available.

I've also noticed that ducks seem to have no trouble with eating snow. My ducks seem to show no preference for one over the other. I know that liquid water is preferable economically, but if the ducks don't care, I'm not gonna stop them.
 
bud smith
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From Craig's posting it is clear that the ducks will fling out all the water, in that case you might consider the setup from this link.
http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/725335/heated-dog-bowl-on-pine-shavings
It is suggested in the link that a large paver or stone be put in the bowl, this might limit the accessibility to the ducks in regards to taking a bath but wouldn't hinder them from drinking from the perimeter of the bowl. Perhaps making a cone that sits in the middle of the bowl might work also.
 
Lincoln Smith
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Location: Bowie, Maryland
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After years of hauling water to my pastured ducks in buckets during freezing temps, I love my new system. I buried a couple tanks in a compost pile, and now the water comes out at 60 or 70 degrees no matter how cold it gets outside.

Here's a video of the setup:

 
Dave Hunt
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Location: NJ
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Lincoln that's a pretty sweet setup! I think I might need to copy your setup for my own place. Do you have any idea of how much material is in that pile? Just wondering how big I would have to make my compost pile to mimic your same setup.
Thanks for the video, looking forward to trying this!
 
Charli Wilson
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Location: Derbyshire, UK
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That's really clever Lincoln!
 
Lincoln Smith
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Location: Bowie, Maryland
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Dave Hunt wrote:...Do you have any idea of how much material is in that pile? Just wondering how big I would have to make my compost pile to mimic your same setup.


Hi Dave,
Glad you like it and thanks for asking.

Here's what's in the pile:
2 IBC containers, each 275 gallons
2 loads of wood chips from a chipper truck, maybe 30 yards per load
1 dump trailer of sawdust, about 4 yards
50 big bags of coffee grounds
2 bales of straw on top

The tanks sit up on about 2' of the mix underneath them to raise them up so it's easier to drain the water out.
Next time I build a pile, I might go for 3 loads of chips -- as you can see in the video, I had barely enough to cover the tanks, and the sides are pretty steep. That said, the water has never gotten near freezing even with the tops of the tanks sticking out a bit.

Good luck!
Lincoln
 
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