Heat lamps are traditionally used to keep chicks and ducklings at the right temperature, but should they be used? There are two schools of thought. While one claims they are an unnecessary expense, the other says that heat lamps are vital to keeping your new additions alive.
Baby ducks need a heat lamp, at least for the first few weeks before their feathers are fully developed. This is because if they’re not at the right temperature, they’re at high risk of falling sick and even dying.
This article explores heat lamps for ducklings, why they need them and how to set them up. Read on to learn how to keep your baby ducks warm.
Table of Contents
- Do Ducks Need a Heat Lamp?
- How Long Do Baby Ducks Need a Heat Lamp?
- Do Ducklings Need a Heat Lamp at Night or All the Time?
- Do Baby Ducks Need Heat Lamps in the Winter and Summer?
- How to Set Up a Heat Lamp for Baby Ducks
- How To Keep Ducklings Warm Without a Lamp
Do Ducks Need a Heat Lamp?
Ducks are warm-blooded animals. They also need to stay warm in cold climates. Otherwise, too cold weather can harm their blood cells and body tissues, eventually leading to loss of life. That’s why the birds develop feathers to keep their bodies warm.
In the winter, ducks huddle in a group to keep each other warm. Their fluffy feathers protect grown ducks from falling ill from a cold. Therefore, grown ducks don’t require a heat lamp.
However, ducklings don’t develop feathers for a few weeks after hatching. During that period, the ducklings need heat lamps to keep their bodies warm. As a result, heat lamps are necessary if you want to keep strong and healthy baby ducks.
How Long Do Baby Ducks Need a Heat Lamp?
Raising baby ducks can be fun and fulfilling. However, you might lose the delicate cuties to cold if you aren’t careful. It’s therefore important to provide them with adequate heat for between 2 and 6 weeks, depending on the weather and how fast they develop feathers. You can achieve this using a heat lamp or two.
Although heat lamps are necessary for just the first couple of weeks, it’s important to gradually reduce the heat you provide and keep tabs on the weather.
Do Ducklings Need a Heat Lamp at Night or All the Time?
Ducklings do not need a heat lamp all the time. Although the heat source is great for keeping them warm at night, it emits a glow that might disrupt the birds’ day and night cycle.
In addition, running a heat lamp all the time is very inefficient and will result in huge electricity bills. Heat lamps can also be too hot for the developing ducklings, especially when their feathers begin to grow.
However, you must leave the lamp on in cold months as the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. The most important thing is to maintain the optimum temperature in the brooder.
Do Baby Ducks Need Heat Lamps in the Winter and Summer?
Surprisingly, ducklings need heat lamps both in the winter and summer. This is because the fragile creatures can’t withstand a small temperature drop.
Newly hatched ducklings are vulnerable to temperature change, especially in cold climates. As a result, you should always use a heat lamp to keep a steady temperature in the brooder.
How to Set Up a Heat Lamp for Baby Ducks
Setting up heat lamps for your ducklings is a fairly easy process you can do yourself. However, you should take a few steps to achieve the best results.
1. Prepare the Pens
Baby ducks should be separated from older birds during their brood period. This enables you to concentrate on their heat requirements without worrying about the coop being too hot for the older ducks.
Place the ducklings in a draft-free area on top of at least 4 inches of litter-like straw or pine shavings.
Hang a heat lamp around 18 inches above the bedding in their pen. A single heat lamp can provide enough heat for around 35 ducklings, so you need to add a second one if you have more. Set the lamp to 90 degrees.
2. Adjusting the Heat
After setting up the new heat lamp, observe how the birds react to it. If they are noisy and huddling up near the lamp, it’s probably not providing enough heat. You can either turn the temperature up or move the lamp down.
If the birds push to the side to avoid the lamp, it’s probably too hot or hanging too low. Adjust its temperature and height until the ducks move freely around the pen.
3. Reducing the Heat
As we’ve established, baby ducks don’t need a heat lamp once they develop feathers. As a result, it’s important to reduce the temperature as the birds continue to grow. You start at 90 degrees but lower the temperature by 5 or 10 degrees every week until it gets to 70 degrees.
If the birds still push away from the lamp, it means they can do without it, and you can get rid of it.
4. Pasturing Ducks
Once the ducks have completely developed feathers, you can let them walk around outside. If they go outside without fully developed feathers, they may get cold and eventually ill.
Let the birds outside for a small amount of time, but gradually increase it until they can spend the whole day outside. In fact, after they are fully developed, you can take them to an outdoor enclosure.
How To Keep Ducklings Warm Without a Lamp
If you don’t have access to a heat lamp, you can still keep your ducklings warm and healthy. Here are some of the most popular methods of achieving this:
- Congesting them: Although it might have its shortcomings, huddling many ducklings together helps them keep warm even in a cold climate.
- Straw bedding: Straw is a great insulator. As a result, bedding made from straw will be good for retaining heat and keeping the ducklings warm.
- Hot water bottles: You can buy hot water bottles at the store. Putting a few of these in a brooder will help keep the temperature warm.
Heat lamps are the best way to help your baby ducks to be warm and cozy. Always ensure that the brood’s heat lamps are at the right temperature and height.