How to Keep Your Ducks Cool in the Summer Heat
With Summer temps set to skyrocket it is important to remember your feathered friends who can't just blast the aircon to escape the sweltering heat. Despite being relatively heat tolerant ducks do still struggle with temperature extremes and can quickly develop heat stroke if proper cooling means are not provided for them.
Unlike many mammals, ducks do not have sweat glands. Without the ability to dissipate excess heat through sweating they must rely on panting, which takes longer and uses more energy than sweating. Ducklings in particular are more at risk of suffering from heat stroke so keep a close eye on your little ones. Now although we can't control the weather there are a few simple things you can do to keep your ducks cool, calm and comfortable in the heat of Summer.
If you have pet ducks then you already know clean water is a relative term. Those mischievous cuties can turn clean water dirty within a matter of minutes. Instead focus on providing fresh water for your feathered friends at least daily. It is best to have multiple sources that they can't knock over placed in the shade. Ensure you provide tubs or ponds that are big enough for your duckies to sit in to cool off. Add ice cubes or frozen icebricks/water bottles to the tubs to keep the water cooler for longer.
Ponds and little swimming pools are perfect to keep your ducks happy, especially as the temperatures rise. Not to mention the hours of entertainment you will get watching them splashing and diving around happily. If you don't have a pond a plastic kiddie pool, old bathtub, garden tub or any other large container will do just fine - ducks aren't picky.
Remember water will stagnate faster in the heat which can result in life-threatening conditions like botulism and mycotoxins so be sure to clean out those ponds and water sources daily with a splash of vinegar before refilling with fresh water.
You've probably already noticed your ducks will gravitate towards a shady spot and have a little nana nap there during the hottest parts of the day. It is important to ensure there are enough shaded areas so all members of the flock can escape the sun at all times of the day. The more shade the merrier!...and cooler!
A covered pen and shade cloth are excellent but don't forget nature's shade too. Planting some native trees and shrubs not only gives your ducks a shady spot to escape the sun but can also provide housing and food sources for native birds.
If you are setting up a duck coop it is important to think about how it can best serve your ducks. Placing it in a position that provides a fresh breeze and cross ventilation is an excellent way to safeguard against overheating. A raised coop design can provide a nice shady area for your ducks to take their daily siesta. And electrical and plumbing for fans and misting sprinklers are something worth considering when setting up your coop.
If you've already built your coop or you aren't ready for a full blown coop renovation have no fear. Plants some small shrubs, put up a shade sail and pick up some old yard furniture from facebook marketplace for your little ones to snooze under; they'll love their new digs!
Feed at Cooler Times
Your ducks naturally eat less during hot weather so it is best to provide a good quality food during the early morning and the evening before bed to ensure they still eat an adequate amount.
Top Duck Food Recommendations
Treat your ducks to yummy water-rich snack to give them a cooling boost. Watery treats like watermelon, zucchini, cucumber, lettuce and blueberries are a great option to get their bills going and their temperatures dropping. Why not try your hand at a little backyard vege patch full of 'watery' veges that your ducks have access to?
Another great option is to freeze some of their favourite treats into ice cubes and drop them into fresh water for your ducks to fish around for. This makes for a fun interactive game for them while also encouraging water intake.
Sprinklers and Play Mats
Why not let your ducks lose on some sprinkler play mats like these ones from Pawise and All for Paws?
Your ducks will enjoy exhibiting natural behaviours while they cool off under the sprinklers. These little rain showers will also help to cool down the surrounding air and soil. You could even set it up on a timer so you don't even have to lift a finger.
Summer is a beautiful time of year and can still be enjoyed by your ducks if you implement a couple of simple things to keep them safe and cool. If you think your ducks are suffering from heat stroke it is important to take them to a veterinarian for immediate care.
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