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When can I put my ducklings outside?

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I'm thinking about getting ducklings and I'm realizing I might be a little late, However we have very mild winters here, daytime temps will rarely be below 50, and nighttime temps are rarely below 32.

What I'm wondering is, and what I have had a hard time answering with the research I've done is: How long do I have to rear them inside? I know the answer already   -it depends, so what I'm looking for is help in estimating the time to see if I should just wait until spring. My biggest concern is that I have a small house, with a small room and 5 roommates so 8wks would be the maximum amount of time I would want them to be inside.

I read somewhere that they suggested keeping them inside for 12 weeks. 3 months! That sounds absurd to me.

Weather averages for my area: Arcata, CA

Oct: High:60, Low 45
Nov:High:58, low 42
(It is likely to have some nights in the high 30's, unlikely but possible to have some freezes)

I appreciate all help and shared knowledge!


Posts: 7926
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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If you are getting baby ducklings, it's probably too late.
Most of the hatcheries are already in winter mode, so selection is poor to none.

With any poultry, the bottom line is that they should be fully feathered out (not just fuzzy down) before they are thrust into the elements.  That's in the spring/summer...autumn/winter is another story.  Even forage food is becoming more scarce this time of year, and since they didn't have summer to improve their 'street smarts', it could be a long, harsh winter for them.  Not having their street smarts also leaves them more vulnerable to predators who also can get desperate as the cooler weather lingers.

If it were me, unless I were getting mature birds, I would wait for spring.

Posts: 258
goat chicken bee
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I have a slightly different viewpoint. I think the earlier you can get them outside, the better for their well-being and the easier they will learn to live outside. Now, this does come with some risk but I have not had major issues up to this point.  

Now, I'm not saying to just throw them out to their own devices. I think they should be in a pen until they are a bit older but that doesn't have to be inside the house. If I am going to put my birds outside before they are fully feathered, I will give them a lamp to keep them warm. I provide them as much food as they can eat until they are old enough to free-range. The pens I have are very basic and allow them to be on the ground so they can start looking for bugs and most times there will be grass for them to pick at (doesn't last long though). They have shelter from rain and an area where they can get off the ground in case it's wet (although ducks don't seem to mind).

I will say that keeping any amount of ducks inside the house for 12 weeks will be horrendous. They are poop machines! I had 10 ducklings in my bathtub for two weeks and my entire house reeked of duck poo. That's when they went outside...They were all fine. I actually didn't even give them a lamp because it was spring and there were enough to keep each other warm...
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