How Cold Can Ducks Handle?

Ducks are quite resourceful and fascinating birds to keep in your backyard. They can survive almost anywhere thanks to their adaptability and hardy nature. Speaking of adaptability, ducks can withstand both warm and cold weather conditions better than most domesticated birds. So, taking care of your ducks in either summer or winter should not be a problem.

In particular, you should not worry about keeping your ducks comfortable and safe if you are living in a region that experiences chilly winters. Your ducks will undoubtedly handle low temperatures pretty well across the winter season.

Of course, your input in helping them transition from cold weather conditions to warm conditions will play a significant role as well. This begs the question, how cold can ducks handle?

In this article, you are going to learn more about how to keep ducks warm in cold weather, what to feed them in winter, and how to monitor their health throughout the chilly winter season.

Understanding Duck Feathers

Ducks’ feathers provide beauty and protection. They help keep your ducks warm and safe throughout their lives. The feathers are custom-built to enable your ducks to survive in extreme cold weather conditions experienced in winter months.

Typically, each duck has three main sets of feathers which include:

  • Flight feathers: Are mainly found on the tail and wings
  • Contour feathers: They give color and shape to the birds
  • Down feathers: They have little shafts

Each type of feather has its own distinct function although all of them play an integral role in keeping your ducks warm.

Flight, contour, and down feathers have waterproofing and insulating properties. These two properties help the feathers trap the heat or keep away moisture from accessing their bodies. Also, these feathers have preen oils which promote waterproofing properties. As a result, your ducks stay warm and dry even when they are subjected to colder temperatures.

How Cold Can Ducks Handle?

Cold winds, a few inches of snow, and low temperatures are valid reasons to keep your family indoors. How about your poultry, especially ducks? Remember, making these birds stay indoors may not be an easy option for you. At the same time, you may not want to let them get exposed to cold weather for too many hours. This calls for drastic measures to save them against cold conditions during winter time.

Fortunately, ducks have a layer of cold-resistant fat and several layers of feathers to keep the heat in and moisture out. They are also capable of tucking their feet against their bodies to stay warm. Plus, their heads don’t have cold-vulnerable combs. All these features make it possible for the ducks to withstand cold to a certain degree.

Even though they are cold hardy, quite a number of ducks have limitations to hold on to chilly temperatures. Most can tolerate temperatures of up to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything below this temperature calls for some assistance to keep them comfortable and safe.

Keeping Ducks Warm in Cold Weather

Ducks in the wild migrate from colder regions to warmer places. They do so in search of comfort, water, and of course food. Unfortunately, domesticated ducks have no freedom to follow a similar pattern of events to survive the cold season. They entirely depend on their owners to stay safe, and comfortable, and get fed, especially during the colder months. So, how do you keep your ducks warm and comfortable in winter?

The first step you must take to protect your birds during the colder winter months is to provide them with an appropriate shelter or coop. Their coop should have the right bedding materials and equipment to keep them warm, especially during the night.

Keep in mind that your ducks are more tolerant to cold conditions than chickens. Therefore, their coop does not have to be a little more sophisticated. An outgrown playhouse, a nicely renovated shed, or an unoccupied chicken coop can come in handy to save the prevailing situation.

Such shelters can significantly prevent your ducks from getting exposed to the cold and strong wind. These shelters can also keep out rain and snow. However, they should have proper ventilation to facilitate air circulation, prevent the growth of mold and get rid of excess humidity due to the build-up of moisture caused by ducks themselves while breathing.

You can as well enable your ducks to enjoy endless hours of comfort during the cold wintery period by providing them with soft and warm bedding. In this case, use basic standbys such as fluffy wood shavings and dry straw as their bedding material. Normally, this type of bedding will serve two major functions; to create loose air pockets that provide insulation and keep the ducks warm throughout the winter season.

Feeding Ducks in Cold Weather

Food is as essential to the ducks during the winter period as it is at any other time of the year. As a matter of fact, your ducks will need more food in cold conditions than in warmer periods because their bodies need to produce enough heat to keep them warm.

With that, you may have to increase their calorie intake to enable them to handle the winter conditions comfortably. Give them plenty of greens and protein-rich foods to help them grow more feathers. Most importantly, take advantage of your local commercial animal feed stores or agriculture extension officers for more advice on how to feed your ducks during colder months.

Apart from food, water is also a basic need for your ducks in wintertime. However, the winter season comes with its own share of problems in keeping water ice-free. Use a basic deicer or heated no-spill water to provide your ducks with fresh, clean water.

Monitoring Duck Health in Cold Weather

Your ducks’ health is also a matter of concern at any given time of the year including wintertime. For that reason, make sure to constantly monitor their health and growth progress. Aside from that, reach out to a local vet for vaccination and treatment of confirmed poultry diseases that some birds may display their symptoms.


Compared to other domestic birds, ducks are hardy, especially when raised in cold climates. That is why they are a great choice for those looking to raise poultry in areas that experience harsh winters.

Regardless of their hardiness, ducks deserve a warm and well-ventilated shelter, a nutritionally balanced diet, clean water, and comfort in the course of winter duration. Make sure to provide all these basic needs if you truly want to maintain a healthy, active, vibrant, and productive flock of ducks in your backyard.

avatar James
Hey, I'm James, a hardworking homesteader for more than 30 years. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes from tending my flock. I've raised chickens and ducks for eggs and meat for many years. I also have experience with other poultry too. Learn more

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