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Do Ducks Need a Heat Lamp? (Answered)

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

If you have ever wondered about how to keep your birds warm during the cold season, then you should read this article to the end. Ducks are warm blooded birds and do not do so well in cold areas.

Do ducks need a heat lamp? Ducks do not need heat lamps to stay warm during the cold. This is because your birds have feathers and outer coverings which helps them stay warm when they are cold. Heat lamps may be necessary in winter where the temperature can be quite cold for ducklings. This ensures that if they are cold they can go under the lamp for warmth and also move away if it becomes too hot.

Do ducks need a heat lamp? Why is a heat lamp a problem

Do Ducks Need a Heat Lamp
Photo by Venu Gopal on

The one mistake I see most people make is assuming that because we as humans are cold then our birds are cold also

Not so true because birds have feathers which naturally helps them conserve heat and warm them up when the weather is cold

The one problem with having a heat lamp in your duck pen is the problem of fire outbreak

Imagine what could happen when you stick a 250 watt heat source with straw beddings and flammable material

Most of the time ducks do not need a heat lamp or extra source of heating in their pen

This is because they have feathers and which helps them generate heat and stay warm during the cold.

The only time a duck will need a heat lamp is when you are raising ducklings and they have not matured yet.

A heat lamp will help them stay warm before they have fully developed feathers.

How long does duckling need a heat lamp?

If you are raising ducks and they are not yet matured, their feathers are fully developed and as such cannot keep them warm

Therefore you want to ensure that you provide baby ducks with a heat lamp for at least the first 6 weeks

This will ensure that they stay warm and do not die of cold while they get their feathers

How cold is too cold for a duck?

Even though we know that ducks normally do not need a heat lamp to stay warm, and that they have feathers that helps them stay warm, there is a limit to the amount of cold that they can withstand

Generally ducks are just fine till temperatures around 20 degrees.

Anything below that and they can suffer frostbite on their feet which might lead to amputation and possibly death.

Can ducks tolerate heat?

Ducks can generally handle warm weather and summertime heat fairly well as long as they have a pond or pool to splash and play in.

From my experience having ducks and rearing them, I have not had any case where ducks suffer from heat stroke.

But you want to be observant especially when the weather is very hot and if you suspect any of your birds is suffering from heat stroke then you can move them to a cool spot and then place their feet in a cool tub.

So you want to watch out for signs of overheating such as panting, holding their wings out from their body, standing or sitting with their eyes closed and laying on their sides still and in obvious distress.

Here are some tips you can use to ensure that your birds remain cool even when the weather is hot

  • Provide them with cool and clean water. Set out more water than usual and place them in the shade so your birds can have easy access to them.
  • Ensure you provide a duck pond or swimming pool so your birds can splash or bath in during the summertime. You can use a plastic kiddie pool, horse trough, repurposed garden tub or even an old container
  • Make sure you offer shade to your ducks especially in the middle of the day when the sun is hottest. Shades will allow them to nap and conserve their energy during the hottest parts of the day.
  • Feed later in the day or overnight. One thing you will notice is that your ducks will feed less in the summer than in the winter. So you can help them and encourage them by putting out their feed early in the morning and then again just before dark. This will allow them eat when the temperatures are cool

What to use instead of heat lamps? How to keep ducklings warm without a heat lamp

Now that we know that heat lamps are not essential for ducks, what can we do instead.

Here are some tips

1. Make sure it is well ventilated

Make sure your duck coop is well ventilated.

I will suggest that you have cross ventilation so that air can move freely and the air is clean.

If there is one thing you want to focus on it should be the air quality in your duck coop.

According to this book I found on Amazon, as long as your ducks are sheltered from heavy rain and harsh sunlight, the duck coop cannot have too much ventilation.

A well ventilated coop also prevents dampness which in turn can cause frostbites.

This means you want to leave your coop doors open except in very extreme weather conditions.

2. Provide lots of clean and fresh water

Ducks require fresh and clean water to splash and bath in

It also helps them cool down in hot temperatures.

So you want to either commit to hauling buckets of fresh water to your birds everyday or you invest a heated water bucket

This is my favourite method and here is one that I totally recommend – The Farm Innovators Heated Bucket.

3. Make sure you keep their food in front of them.

Ducks have a very fast metabolism and the process of digestion creates heat which keeps your birds warm.

So you want to make sure your birds are well fed and they have constant supply of food.

What wattage of heat lamp for ducklings should I get?

I generally will go with a 40 watt bulb for my heat lamps.

This is because this provides just the right amount of heat and light for my birds without causing overheating

It is also very cheap and can be gotten from your local store or you can order it online from Amazon.


Ducks do not need a heat lamp to stay warm. this is because their feathers and body heat takes care of that function for them.

But baby ducks will need heat lamps to keep them warm before they are mature and big enough to grow their own feathers.

Photo of author

About the author

Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books


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