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Q: Can ducks and geese be outside during the winter?

A:

Yes! Ducks and geese have a wonderful fluffy undercoating beneath their feathers called "down" that is generally considered by outdoorsy-people to be the best insulation in existence. Ever had a down jacket? It kept you toasty-warm, right? Ducks and geese get to wear that jacket all the time. Lucky birds, I know!

In addition to their down feathers, ducks and geese have a layer of fat beneath the skin that provides even more insulation.


"Cold and snow? I'm *down* with that!"

But when conditions are the harshest, even the best winter coat may not be enough. If the temperature is going to be below freezing for long periods of time, your waterfowl will appreciate access to a simple, dry shelter, especially at night. Preferably, the shelter will be lockable, providing protection from winter's strongest winds and nature's hungriest predators. You will likely want to provide such a shelter for your waterfowl all year long, regardless of temperature, for predator protection.


A simple shelter provides protection from the cold.

Another tip: you may want to withhold swimming water from your ducks and geese during the coldest days of winter, especially if they are housed with chickens. They will inevitably splash cold water onto their flockmates, which will not be appreciated by the chickens! Also, in extreme cold, ducks and geese with wet feet from recent swimming may actually freeze to the ground if they stand in one place too long. If that happens, you'll need to gently pour warm (not hot!) water around their feet to set them free. Ducks and geese are uniquely qualified to be outside during winter, and may only need a little extra help when the temperatures plunge for long periods of time.