With the onset of summer, we adjust our general lifestyle, including our dressing style and the time we spend outdoors. Domestic birds like ducks, turkeys, geese, and chickens equally feel the discomfort of the simmering summer sun.
Worse still, they spend all day outdoors and can’t do much to deal with the situation. Therefore, they require your extra care on hotter-than-usual days.
So, what temperatures are too high for ducks, and how can you tell they are too hot?
Luckily, this article is here to answer these questions and give you 11 tips for keeping your ducks cool on the hottest days. Read on to find out more!
How Hot Is Too Hot for Ducks?
Under normal conditions, ducks can maintain safe body temperature levels provided they get sufficient water and shade. However, the extreme summer heat renders the situation unbearable sometimes.
How to Tell if Your Ducks Are Hot
When the ducks’ core body temperatures increase above average, they react in various ways. The aim of their reaction is to lose heat and maintain their core body temperature.
Some of the signs of heat stress in ducks include:
- Seating or standing with eyes closed
- Increased water intake
- Obvious distress
- Not moving
- Lying on the side
- Raised or droopy wings
- Reduced feed intake
Moreover, some of these reactions, such as panting, involve muscle action. Muscle action generates more heat energy and could further increase core body temperature. (source)
Thus, the birds showing these signs need immediate attention. You should move them to a shady and well-ventilated space and immerse their feet in cool water.
Luckily, there are several measures you can put in place to prevent such emergencies. Here are eleven tips to help keep your ducks cool in the extreme summer heat and to avoid heat stress and stroke:
1. Build Them a Pond or Swimming Pool
Did you know that ducks love swimming? These birds would love it if you allowed them to splash around all year, especially during summer.
When temperatures rise, they will appreciate nothing more than diving into a pond or pool.
2. Offer Them Sufficient Shade
Shade is the most effective way of keeping your ducks cool from the day’s heat. Also, the natural shade under trees has sufficient airflow, facilitating perspiration.
If you rear ducks, you must have noticed them trying to find a shady spot as temperatures soar during the day. When it comes to providing shade for your ducks, the options are endless. You can:
- Construct a partially covered pen
- Use a shade screen
- Plant some bushes along the perimeter of your duck run
- Construct a raised duck housing; ducks will love the cool shade underneath
3. Ensure They Get Out Early
Ensure your ducks spend as much time outside as possible. Regardless of how efficiently ventilated your duck housing is, it will always be hotter inside than outside.
You can use an automated door opener to program the time you want them to go outdoors or inside.
4. Offer Them Water-Dense Treats
Ducks automatically reduce feed intake to minimize metabolism as it gets hotter.
You can also add some cooling herbs to the waterers to entice them to drink more water. Moreover, freezing their favorite treats is another fantastic way to keep them cool and well-fed.
5. Change Feeding Time to Early Mornings and Late Evenings
Ducks reduce their feed intake in scorching summer, as discussed above. But this consequently reduces their productivity. You can help to counterbalance this by feeding them early in the morning and late in the evening.
Alternatively, you can leave food in their housing overnight. Feeding your ducks when temperatures are low helps keep them cool and productive.
6. Plant Many Watery Vegetables
They attract pests like bugs and slugs, which ducks enjoy feeding on.
Eventually, when the crops mature, likely in the summer, you can let your ducks feed on them.
7. Provide Adequate Clean and Cool Water
Thus, laying eggs takes up much fluid from the birds’ bodies.
Therefore, you should provide sufficient water to keep them hydrated, especially in the extreme summer heat. Place the water in the shade to encourage your birds to keep drinking.
You can place frozen water bottles in the water tubs to keep the water cool for much longer. Also, you need to clean the water tubs and replace the water regularly to ensure it’s clean and safe for your ducks.
8. Make Sure Their Housing Is Well Ventilated
Proper ventilation is crucial for your ducks’ housing. Poor ventilation slows down perspiration and evaporative cooling.
9. Install Multiple Water Points
Many duck keepers sometimes assume that one water point is enough for them. Besides the pool, ducks need separate freshwater drinking points. A single source of water could work during cooler seasons.
But in the summer heat, the birds may get weary and unable to walk to the pond. Therefore, installing as many water points as possible where your ducks can access them easily would be helpful.
An automated watering system can be beneficial, especially if you are away during the day. The system will ensure that your birds have a constant fresh water supply.
10. Watch Out for Parasite Infestation
Ducks suffer parasite infestation through contaminated water, soil, or feed. And the prevalence of these parasites increases in the summer. Among the most common parasites affecting ducks are gizzard worms and coccidia.
Proper sanitation of your birds’ housing and water and feed containers is the best way to keep away parasites. Also, regular checks by your vet can help detect and treat any infections in time.
11. Monitor Them Closely
Closely monitoring your ducks during extreme summer weather is essential. By closely observing them, you can identify and replace dirty drinking water since the ducks will keep splashing around.
Also, you can easily spot heat-stressed birds and attend to them in time, thereby saving their lives.
When the summer heat is in full swing, many poultry farmers wonder how to keep their birds cool. As you can see, you can take many steps to protect your ducks from the hot and humid climate. These tips will help keep your ducks cool and healthy and make their summer enjoyable.
I wrote this article from my experience raising ducks and the following sources: