A few weeks ago I posted a video on YouTube about our Duck House Extension. In it I explained that some of our ducks had decided that our neighbor’s house was their home – meaning they had stopped returning to our home at the end of the day.
When we brought those ducks back home we decided we would harvest them as we needed them throughout the winter, and also that we wanted to keep some specific drakes around for breeding next spring.
Unfortunately, this may have been a bad decision.
Throughout last week we have had several ducks die, 1 per night.
According to the calendar, Winter has not arrived here yet. Nevertheless, we have had several nights in a row drop below freezing. We even had one night drop to below 20F. I know, I know, it probably gets a lot colder where you are and you might have already had your first snow. But for us this is a big deal.
I mention the weather because I feel it might be the root cause of the problem.
Livestock Feed and Water
I posted this story on YouTube before writing this post and people have been kindly offering their advice along the way, which is appreciated. One suggestion was the check the feed and water. Here is what I can tell you about that:
Their water comes straight from the tap. It is fresh and clean. There shouldn’t be anything in it that could cause a problem. I suppose I cannot rule it out simply by those facts, but it does knock it down my list significantly.
Their food is a combination of free range (for those that we allow to free range), store bought pellets and corn. The feed is kept in sealed metal buckets inside a shed. There is no way for rodents or other contaminates to get in their food.
Also, the birds died one at a time. I would have suspected a more sudden fall out if water or feed were the issue.
Staying Warm in Winter
One thing I haven’t mentioned yet is that the ducks that died were the very large drakes. My theory is this: It got cold, the ducks huddled, the big guy suffocated. You see – the first day it was the largest duck that died, then the next largest, and so on.
It is almost as if the ducks were huddling around the largest source of heat to stay warm.
Now, we do have incandescent heat lamp lighting in their coop/house. It is covered and one side is a shed. I really cannot see how the temperature would get so low that the temperature itself would be the issue. Also, again, I would have expected more to die, and I would have expected it to be the juveniles, not the large drakes.
The plan at this point is to put our trail camera in the coop and let it take pictures all night. Perhaps by watching their behavior we can find out what is happening. If they are not climbing all over each other for warmth, then we know there is something else that we need to investigate.
You can hear about the other items going on at the homestead and more details about our Livestock Problems by clicking the link or watching below: