Ducks are among the fascinating creatures around. Although they are so well-known, there is still much to learn about these animals.
Like, when can ducks go outside?
Key Takeaways on the Best Time to Let Ducks Go Outside
- Ducks can go outside when they are 3 to 4 weeks old, but only if the environment is safe and they can protect themselves from predators.
- Ducks should be fully feathered before going outside permanently. If the ducks are spending the nights out, the nighttime temperature should not be lower than 50° F.
- Ducklings can spend warm, sunny days outside under careful supervision when they reach 3-5 weeks of age.
- Ducks are fully feathered at the age of 6th-7th week, and it’s ideal to leave them outside then as they can regulate their body temperature.
- Pet ducks can sleep outside if the weather is not freezing cold, and they have a safe pen or shelter.
- Ducklings with baby fluff cannot stay outside as they cannot regulate body temperature. The ideal temperature for ducklings should be 50 degrees or higher.
Things to Consider Before Moving Ducklings Outside
Hatching duck eggs into young ducks and raising ducklings can be a rewarding experience. In fact, many people consider duck eggs more difficult to hatch than chicken eggs.
Most duck owners keep their young ducks indoors for the first few weeks to have better control over their food and water, temperature, and other important aspects of their daily lives. But most importantly, keeping ducklings inside protects them from diseases and predators that are common outside, ensuring they remain healthy and safe as they grow.
Dos and Don’ts of Letting Ducks Outside:
There will come a time when young ducks are ready to run around outside. Here are a few things to consider when moving your ducks outside.
Four-weeks old ducks are way too young to be taken outside. Wait until your young ducks are at least seven to nine weeks old before taking them outside. During this time, most ducklings are already fully-feathered and have lost their baby fluff.
Young ducklings’ primary source of insulation and warm protection is all their feathers. Feathers promote healthy growth and development and provide warmth and protection from the elements.
Ducks produce preen oil, stored within their undercoats and helps keep their plumage clean and water resistant.
They spread this oil from oil glands across all aspects of their waterproof feathers by grooming themselves with their beaks, ensuring they stay dry, fluffy, and well-insulated. Note that ducklings hatched in an incubator do not have these oils.
|Age (Weeks)||Outdoor Activity||Temperature Consideration|
|3-4||Begin supervised outside exploration||Above 50° F|
|4||Can move outside if temperature allows||Above 50° F|
|6-7||Fully feathered, can live outside||Above 50° F|
Young ducklings, in particular, rely on feathers to help them regulate body temperature and survive in harsh environments. As such, they are a priceless resource on which all ducklings rely for survival.
When to move young ducks is one of the most important decisions a duck keeper needs to make. We already know that feathers are vital to a duckling’s survival outside, but the temperature outside is just as important.
It would help if you waited until the temperature reached at least 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-6 degrees Celsius). Ducks are happiest and most active when the temperature is between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21° C). The temperature inside the brooder should be the same as the outside.
Only take your ducklings outside on sunny and warm days. Ducks living in warmer climates can go outside sooner than those that live in northern states.
Temperature is also the reason why older ducks fly south for the winter when the temperature drops.
Ability to Drink Water
Before taking your ducklings outside, they must learn how to drink clean water properly. Ducklings are typically taught how to drink clean water from a shallow bowl, plastic tub, slightly deeper water dish or pond by their mother or other adult ducks in their natural habitat.
This allows them to develop critical muscle memory to help them survive independently. Also, most ducks dip their beaks in the water to keep their mucous membranes moist.
Ducklings risk death if they do not learn this basic skill. If they know how to drink water properly, they can regulate their internal temperature and stay hydrated even in hot or cold weather. So, only take your ducklings out if they can drink water without potentially drowning.
Ducklings Ability to Swim
Ducklings must learn to swim before venturing out into the wider world. Unlike many other types of birds, ducklings are naturally drawn to water. They are naturally buoyant and can hold their breath for extended periods underwater, making them excellent swimmers.
Introducing a duckling to water at a young age is critical to ensuring its safety and well-being. A duckling could easily drown or become prey to other predators in the wild if not properly trained. At four weeks, allow your ducklings short, carefully supervised swims.
Ducklings are young birds completely dependent on their parents for protection and care. Because they are so vulnerable at this stage of development, ensuring they have adequate shelter before allowing them to go outside is critical. This is especially true in vulnerable seasons when extreme weather and predators seriously threaten these young animals.
When they are old enough, young ducks sleep outside. Water ducklings benefit from a shelter in a variety of ways.
It provides a safe place to rest and stay warm. You can place a heat lamp in the shelter. Heat lamps help keep your flock warm, especially when nighttime temperature is low. The shelter should have windows to bring in fresh air and natural light. Excess moisture can cause health problems for your flock.
A spacious shelter or DIY brooder made from a sturdy cardboard box or spare bathtub acts as a barrier against harsh winds, rain, and sunlight, which can harm ducklings’ health.
Apredator-proof shelter with good ventilation can protect your ducklings from hungry predators looking for fresh meat.
Generally, domestic and wild ducks and other poultry require a lot of floor space to thrive and be happy. If you have ducklings that you intend to take outside soon, you must consider the size of their outdoor area.
Ducklings and full-grown ducks require plenty of space to roam and explore. They may become agitated and stressed if confined in a small space, leading to behavioral issues and illness.
When ducklings stay outside, they should ideally have an outdoor pen at least several hundred square feet in size, with plenty of grassy playing areas, shade, and shelter from the elements.
Can You Train Ducks to Go Outside?
Yes, it’s entirely possible to train ducks to go outside. Here’s how you prepare your flock:
Begin by establishing a safe, confined area where the ducks can become accustomed to being outside. This area should ideally include a small pond or pool with warm water or in an ideal temperature where they can practice swimming and diving.
Handle ducklings gently. Once your ducks are settled in their new environment, begin exposing them to other stimuli, such as toys and noisy objects. This will help them become accustomed to common sounds and gain experience with various things. Evaluate your duckling’s growth and make sure its needs are met.
Next, increasing the ducks’ sense of physical activity is critical. You can accomplish this by allowing them to run around and play even when kept inside the house or barn. This could include items such as balls or obstacle courses that they can navigate using their natural agility and speed. Monitor your duckling’s behavior for any irregularities, especially in their first week.
Practice training the ducks to respond to your verbal commands by calling their names or clucking like a duckling when hungry or scared. Once they’re used to these prompts outside, ask for them more consistently whenever you take them out for exercise or playtime activities like flying laps around the yard or jumping into the pond from a great height.