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Need help with Pekin ducks in winter!!

 
Nick Lino
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I need some guidance as to how to handle our 2 Pekin ducks in the winter. I am a new duck owner as they kind of came with the house when we bought it...They are currently free range and stay in the front yard in and around our pond all day. Now as the temperature has significantly dropped to around 20 degrees and the pond has started to freeze over I am unsure how to care for them in a cold climate. We have a coop on the other side of the yard that I left open with food in the hopes they would make their way over to it but they still remain in the pond. I had a floating duck house that they never went in so I pulled it into the shore hoping they would go in it but they still won't. I'm worried they are going to freeze. I want catch them and they run back into the water if we go by then when we try to go but them. From what I understand from the previous owner they just left them out,to their own devices. I feel like that's not ok, but maybe it is?? Does some one have any advice,on how I can get them out of the water and into the coop or do will they be ok to be left alone??
 
Craig Dobbelyu
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Posts: 1251
Location: Maine (zone 5)
65
forest garden hugelkultur
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Ducks can be pretty cold hardy and as long as there is water to play in, you bet your arm they'll be there splashing away. It's not the cold that will do them in but rather a lack of shelter. It sounds like you've got some places for them to go once they feel the need, so I really wouldn't worry too much about that. just make it easily accessible and comfortable. A little straw or wood shavings will pretty much do it. You can put food in there to entice them in. You might have to "leave a trail of breadcrumbs" to help get them on the right track.

As for the pond... Once it freezes over they'll either be stuck in or out of it. Once it's firm enough to walk on, you'll have better luck catching them but there's always a chance they could get locked in or under the ice. I had a run in with this a while back. You can read about it hereDuck under Ice... A rescue Story

I'd probably put the floating shelter back in there, as it might be there usual winter shelter once the pond freezes up. iI you manage to catch them then you can try homing them to a shelter by locking them in it for a few days and proving lots of food water and things to entertain them. They might eventually get comfortable enough to call it "home". Then, once you let them out they will continue to rely on that as their shelter from crappy weather.

If all else fails, rely on them to do the right thing for themselves.
 
Nick Lino
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Thanks for your help. It's just very strang to me. I woke up this morning and at 6 am when it was 5 degrees out there they were still in the pond. We have an aerator so I know part of the pond won't freeze over and I see their feathers on top of other parts of the ice so I know they can get out of they want. I tried leaving a trail of food to the coop but they didn't seem to fall for it. I've been able to catch the make before but the female I haven't had any luck. I'm worried I will be able to get the male and lock him up but then the female will be left out alone. I figure if I leave them both out at least they can keep each other warm. I wonder if the aerator is bringing up warmer water from the bottom of the pond and that's why they seem to be staying there? The picture shows what I'm currently dealing with.
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Craig Dobbelyu
pollinator
Posts: 1251
Location: Maine (zone 5)
65
forest garden hugelkultur
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Sounds like everything is going well then. Not only is the aerator bringing up warmer water but it's also kicking up tasty duck treats too. It's no surprise that they are hanging in there. My ducks never seem bothered by cold. They've been out during -30F weather as long as it's not too windy. I'd say you've got a pretty decent deal there for them. Just be on the lookout for predators that might be lurking about. Foxes and such will start coming in close to find those extra large easy meals. I had a fox in my field today working his way to the chicken coop. He seemed pretty confident until my 95lb guardian dog caught sight of him. The dog closed the distance pretty fast but I called him off before he caught up with the fox. I'm sure the fox will be back, but now he knows there's competition. Fun winter games I guess. cat vs mouse, dog vs fox. ducks vs ice. LOL


Good luck
 
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