The sweltering heat of summer can be harsh on all living creatures, including animals in your care.
Birds require special attention, particularly those living in closed places such as aviaries or pens. If you keep your ducks in an aviary, you must ensure they have what they need to stay cool on hot days.
Do you know how to prepare a pen or an aviary for the summer? How do you know if your ducks are overheating? And, of course, how do you keep your ducks hydrated on hot days? Continue reading to find out how to keep your ducks cool throughout the summer.
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How to Know If Ducks Are Hot?
Ducks can suffer heat stress when traveling in unsuitable conditions on days with high temperatures and little wind or when there are too many birds in a small space.
A mix of elevated temperatures and humidity or a lack of airflow in a small space often causes heat stress.
Since birds don’t have sweat glands and their average body temperature is relatively high (106°F/41°C), they must cool themselves by exhaling. This allows them to lose heat through evaporation from their upper respiratory tract.
Higher panting rates make it harder for the ducks to keep up the calcium levels required for their eggshells. As a result, female ducks often lay smaller eggs, eggs with thin shells, or fewer eggs in general.
If your ducks get too hot, you’ll see them do things other animals would do in the same situation. They will look for shade, drink more water than usual, show signs of being weak, and refuse to eat.
Signs your ducks are too hot:
- flapping wings
- drinking a lot of water
- refusing to eat
- being physically weak
- poorer egg output
- thin-shelled or smaller eggs
Tips to Help Ducks Stay Cool
1. Clean, Fresh Drinking Water
Water is essential for ducks to avoid overheating during the day. Your ducks, just like you, have a greater need for clean drinking water during the warmer summer months.
If you have ducks, you know they will love to make a mess and knock over the water bowl when they get the chance. This is because ducks are attracted to water, not just for drinking alone.
They have a natural desire to put their heads in the water. Why? Because it’s a clever way for them to clean their eyes and bills. Therefore, regularly replacing their water is essential.
Drip feeders are a convenient way to prolong the freshness of water without worrying about them splashing it all over the place. Drip feeders are also a good way to keep your ducklings hydrated if you leave the house for a while.
Whether you use traditional water bowls or drip feeders, put out more than usual and place them in the shade. You can also add ice to the water to keep it cooler for longer.
2. Water for Swimming
Your ducks are waterfowl, so it’s no surprise they just love to splash or swim every time and season of the year.
Allowing ducks access to water will have many positive effects on their health. Evidently, this is a fantastic method of cooling off on warm days. But being able to swim also protects ducks from parasites and helps them keep their feathers in top condition.
If you have a large pond for waterfowl, whether natural or man-made, you are in an excellent position. Your ducks will have the opportunity to naturally maintain a cool temperature by giving them a reliable way to cool themselves on hot days.
But don’t worry; to keep ducks, you don’t need to build a permanent swimming pond for them. There are simpler ways to provide a place for your ducklings to splash around.
To prevent plastic containers from being knocked over by ducks, burying them in the ground is a good idea. More importantly, it will maintain the water’s cold temperature for an extended time.
Set up multiple pools so that all the ducks are not competing to swim simultaneously.
Make sure the swimming pools your ducks use are located in shady areas so the water will stay cool for longer.
3. Access to Shady Areas
Ducks can find natural shade from the sun under the branches of shrubs and trees growing in their enclosure.
However, if you cannot give the birds access to natural plant cover, install a shade screen or a partially covered pen. If you choose to cover the pen, ensure there is plenty of natural ventilation and airflow.
It is very important that the ducks have access to shady places at any time of the day and that there’s enough shade for the entire flock if they all decide to rest at once.
4. Frozen Fruity Snacks
In the heat of summer, nothing beats a juicy, sweet, and refreshing fruit.
You can keep your birds healthy and happy all summer long by giving them a variety of the following nutritious snacks:
- apple peels
Place the fruits in the freezer for an hour before feeding them to the ducks, or cut them into small pieces, place them in containers with water and freeze them to produce fruity ice cubes.
By adding them to a water bowl, these yummy treats will keep your ducks happy and hydrated on any hot day!
5. Well-Ventilated Coop
The coop’s ventilation is fundamental to the birds’ well-being and should function efficiently throughout the year.
Ventilating the coop is also necessary for sanitary reasons and in ensuring that the birds are healthy. Ventilation allows fresh air to enter the birds’ house while at the same time removing carbon dioxide, harmful dust, moisture, and ammonia fumes.
Passive ventilation is a convenient and economical option that allows air to flow in from different directions through openings in the coop. So, when choosing a coop, ensure it has windows or other openings on opposite sides.
If passive ventilation isn’t enough or you live in a generally hot place, you may also need to use active ventilation. Active ventilation involves the use of electrical devices to circulate air. So, if necessary, you can install various fans in your coop.
In this case, it will be important to know if you can use electricity in your coop or if you will have to use solar batteries. This is definitely a more advanced and expensive solution.
Installing electricity in your coop may be your only option depending on the climate in your area. Explore using solar panels on your coop to reduce costs over longer periods.
When adding ventilation, it is necessary to safeguard the ventilated areas from predators using a strong wire cover. Also, remember to clean the vents often so that dust and dirt don’t block them.
If you live in a hot, humid climate, consider installing both active and passive ventilation to keep the air moving throughout the day.
6. Electrolyte Supplements
Birds pant to cool down when stressed by the heat, but too much panting starts a chain reaction. Excessive panting makes a duck excrete too much potassium and sodium. This causes an electrolyte imbalance that is extremely dangerous to the duck’s health.
But it would be best if you were careful about the number of electrolytes you give, and I always recommend talking to your vet about the right doses.
However, including electrolytes in your pet’s first-aid kit is excellent first-aid ethics for animals in your care in hot weather.
Prepared electrolyte supplements are available. But they’re also simple enough to whip up on your own.
Electrolytes for poultry that you can buy:
- Sav-A-Chick, Vitamins & Electrolytes
- Durvet, Vitamins, and Electrolytes for Poultry
Recipe for self-made electrolytes:
- One gallon of warm water.
- One tablespoon of white sugar or brown sugar, or molasses
- One teaspoon of baking soda.
- One teaspoon salt.
When using electrolytes, it is imperative that you follow the directions provided by the manufacturer and that you consult your veterinarian before using any homemade alternatives.
What Temperature Do Ducks Like?
Birds handle hot weather differently. The deciding factor when it comes to how they react to different weather conditions is the bird’s age and overall health condition.
Young birds, for example, do much worse than adult birds because their bodies haven’t yet learned how to deal with changing temperatures correctly.
But to be clear, ducks actually like cold weather. Ducks can live in temperatures below freezing, but on hot days, they are most comfortable when it is not more than 90°F (32°C).
Heat stress can harm ducks if not prevented or treated in time. You can do several things to prepare your ducks for the summer heat.
- First, ensure that your birds always have access to clean, cool water.
- Provide shelter from the sun.
- Never overcrowd your flock, and make sure your coop is well-ventilated.
- Having electrolytes prepared will also help your flock endure the summer heat.