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Keeping bantam ducks safe and comfortable during the cold winter months involves a bit of planning. There are some gorgeous breeds out there to choose from including Call Ducks and East Indies, both of which are adorable breeds full of personality and character. The great thing about keeping bantam ducks is they don't need a lot of space, they are relatively hardy and they are pretty easy to feed. As a real bonus, they are great fun to watch and they make wonderful pets!
As previously mentioned there are quite a few breeds of bantam ducks to choose from which includes the following:
All poultry need extra help when it comes to food and housing during the colder winter months. The ground is often frozen and hard so they can't forage for food, ponds are frozen and there are no tasty insects or worms around either . As such you need to buy in good quality duck food bearing in mind that you should never feed any medicated food to waterfowl. If you have ducklings in the flock, make sure you feed them specifically formulated duck starter food because if you give them chicken or turkey starter feed, your bantam ducks may well end up with a condition called "Angel Wing" or sometimes it's called slipped wing.
Ducks like to nibble away on things all day but they need to be fed at least two times a day, once in the morning and then again in the afternoon/evening, with the night meal being the most important because this is when ducks tend to fill their crops. A full crop helps keep your ducks warm during the colder nights.
The problem with leaving feed down, is that it could lead to a mouse or rat problem. It's far better to offer your ducks just enough grain, fresh vegetables like sweet corn, carrot peelings and peas in the morning so they can fill up their crops before removing anything and then doing the same thing in the evening so that no left-over food is left around at night.
You will soon know what your ducks like and dislike by the left-overs they leave in their dishes and this allows you to cut down on waste which in turn makes feeding your birds less expensive over the winter months simply because you know what to put down for them and what you should avoid.
When the weather turns that cold that water freezes, you need to make sure your bantam ducks have access to fresh, clean water at all times. Domestic ducks don't actually need to be on the water all year but they do need to have access to it so they can clean their beaks when they eat. Not only this but if you place shallow dishes around their housing, they can get in it and this helps keep their feathers waterproofed throughout the winter.
All the water, whether it’s for drinking or swimming in, needs to be changed every day and ideally this should be done several times a day, even when the weather is cold. The thing to bear in mind is that by keeping the water warmer, you are creating better conditions for harmful bacteria to grow in so it's important to change it as often as you can and avoid leaving any dirty water around.
Grit is important to poultry and especially so in the winter time because the ground may be too hard for your ducks to find the amount they need to stay healthy themselves. The best size grit to give bantam ducks is No 1 which is chicken size. You can mix copious amounts of this together with oyster shell which provides crucial calcium and manganese as well as the vital vitamin D3 which replaces the lack of sunshine. You should leave bowls of grit around so your ducks can help themselves to it all through the day.
It's best to avoid deep littering during the winter, instead it's a good idea to give your duck house a thorough clean out at the end of October and then use good quality oat straw which is neither sharp nor is it slippery providing the sort of insulation your birds need to keep them warm. The added bonus is that it will contain a certain amount of seed heads which ducks like to forage on.
If you put sand down after having cleaned the floor first and then add around 3 inches of straw on top of this, it provides the perfect foundation for a winter bed for your birds. The sand acts as a barrier and soaks up a lot of the wet that ducks create around them. You should clean out your birds at least once every seven to ten days to prevent any harmful bacteria from thriving which is something you need to avoid at all costs.
It's also important to keep an eye on your ducks toe nails which may get too long if they are not allowed outside where they would get to wear their nails down naturally. You need to clip their nails with great care being particularly careful not to trim them too far back which may cause them to bleed. If this does happen, put a tiny blob of super glue on the affected nail which should stop the bleeding immediately. However, you need to make sure the toe is dry first.
Ducks do well even when temperatures get pretty low as long as they are inside and out of the wind and snow. If you want your ducks to produce eggs over the winter, you would need to set up a heat lamp which encourages the females to lay and sit.
If well cared for, bantam ducks can live a very long time – up to 15 years and even longer! This means keeping them is a long term commitment and one which you need to take very seriously always ensuring that your birds are well cared for throughout the year and this is especially true during the colder and therefore more demanding winter months.
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