Winter is a time of slowing, of stillness, and sometimes of death. Everything slows down in the winter, with many animals hibernating or at least minimizing their energy expenditure.
The same is true for our livestock. Chickens, for instance, will usually cease laying eggs in the wintertime.
But ducks are known for their far greater cold weather resistance compared to chickens, and this begs an important question: Will ducks continue to lay eggs in the wintertime, and if so, how many?
Yes, ducks continue to lay eggs through the winter in most cases, though they usually slow down compared to the spring and summer months. The reduction depends on many factors, but you can expect anywhere from 15% to 50% fewer eggs.
This is great news if you would love a supply of farm-fresh eggs all through the winter. Not only will ducks cheerfully deal with the weather that would freeze a chicken solid, but most of the time they will go right on reliably laying eggs. It’s true!
But if that sounds like an asset or if you’re just considering adding a flock of ducks to your life, keep reading because there’s so much more that you need to know.
How Many Fewer Eggs Will a Duck Lay in Winter?
It’s difficult to say with any certainty… Worse, there isn’t a ton of data concerning the total laying reduction that various breeds undergo in the wintertime.
But what we do know is that ducks do typically continue to lay in the winter and they also, usually, slow down compared to warmer months.
Generally speaking, you can expect anywhere from a 15% to 50% reduction in the number of eggs that your duck will lay. This depends on many factors, including:
- ✓ individual proclivities,
- ✓ weather,
- ✓ nutrition,
- ✓ stress,
- ✓ amount of light that the ducks receive,
- ✓ and more.
Also know that it is possible, through careful optimization, to moderate this slowdown if you can make sure your ducks stay happy and healthy and have what they need…
Will Ducks Lay All the Way Through the Winter?
Yes, often. Although not every breed will do so, and there’s often a period of time when ducks completely stop, most will lay straight through the winter assuming they are still healthy and in their laying prime.
Again, great news because you’ll have eggs a plenty with even a very small flock of ducks!
Do All Duck Breeds Lay in the Winter?
As a general rule, yes, at least concerning domestic breeds. But seasonal breeds usually won’t, and this is because their reproductive cycles are closely tied to the seasons and migratory activity.
And again, even for domestic ducks this will be impacted by various factors, including the intensity of the cold and the overall health and nutrition of the duck. But assuming you’ve got good layers you can expect them to go right on laying when the weather gets cold.
Does it Ever Get Too Cold for Ducks to Lay Eggs?
Yes, it can, although this varies once more based on the breed, quality of a duck’s shelter and more. The rule of thumb: when temperatures drop below 20°F that is when you can expect ducks to knock off the laying.
But keep in mind this isn’t just what the thermometer tells you: if your ducks have a warm, toasty coop or other shelter that stays considerably nicer than the outside temperature, it’s entirely possible or even likely that they will keep laying even when it is much colder than this outside.
On the other hand, some ducks really seem to take the chill poorly and will halt laying even when they go out in such weather for a few days, taking it as a signal that they should stop altogether. You’ll just have to wait and see!
How Can You Increase Wintertime Egg Production?
There are several things you can do to beat the wintertime “dip” when it comes to egg laying, or to encourage a stingy hen to go on and keep cranking out eggs.
For starters, make sure your ducks have adequate shelter. Ducks do really well in the cold, better than chickens, but they still benefit from having a suitably warm pen.
The right sort of nesting environment will help them stay comfortably warm and thereby promote the laying of eggs.
And think twice before adding a heater! These things are notorious for causing coop and shelter fires which are devastatingly destructive and will easily kill your ducks.
Also, make sure you maximize their nutrition and get them everything they need in their diet. As always, they’ve got to have a supply of fresh, unfrozen water in order to safely eat their food.
They don’t necessarily need an unfrozen body of water to swim in, but you might need a heater to keep their drinking water in a liquid state.
Don’t forget to add additional interesting foods as required, supplemental vitamins and minerals, and more to keep their health tip-top. Nutritional and calorie deficiencies are leading reasons for reduced production even when the weather is warm.
Consider increasing the amount of light that your ducks get in the wintertime, too. Although not strictly required, additional light, and particularly light from daylight spectrum bulbs can promote a quicker, regular laying schedule in the winter.
But do remember that ducks still need periods of darkness in order to rest and sleep normally, so you don’t want blaring lights inside their shelter all the time.
And lastly, just take care to reduce stress and keep their lives as enjoyable and calm as possible. A stressed duck, whatever the cause, is more likely to stop laying especially when it’s already cold out.
Will Ducks Still Get Broody in Winter?
Yes, ducks can still get broody in the winter time although most owners report that they are less broody generally when it is very cold. Definitely good news for you, as that will make your life a little bit easier when it comes time to collect those eggs!
Can Ducks Hatch Their Ducklings in the Winter?
Yes, they can, assuming that the eggs are fertilized and that they can be kept at the required temperature.
Depending on how good your breed and individual duck is at brooding, they will be more or less successful, but another rule of thumb is that you’ll have far fewer viable ducklings hatch in the winter time than you would when it is warm out.
That’s because winter is a time of death, remember? Ducklings are dramatically more vulnerable to cold weather and moisture during cold weather than adults. They’re incredibly delicate little creatures and if anything, whatsoever goes wrong they can easily die.
This doesn’t mean naturally hatching doesn’t happen, it can, but don’t expect your moms to take care of business if you’re trying to expand your flock naturally. Best to make them wait for warmer weather if you’re going to go that route.
Is it Possible to Safely Raise Ducklings in Winter?
Yes, it is, if you want to do it yourself. If that’s something you want to attempt, you probably already know that it means you’ll need both an incubator and a brooder.
Only these two tools, along with the skills to properly maintain and care for the eggs, are what’s required if you want to give your ducklings the best chance of survival during frigid winter weather.
This means you’ll need to be prepared to attempt the process indoors in a climate-controlled environment, but keep in mind that even something as innocent as repeated cold drafts could negatively impact the development of the eggs or the health of the ducklings.
Make sure you pick your spot for incubation and the brooder box wisely to protect both eggs and ducklings from drafts and any other hazards! Do that, and they’ll be ready to join the flock by springtime.
Tom has built and remodeled homes, generated his own electricity, grown his own food and more, all in quest of remaining as independent of society as possible. Now he shares his experiences and hard-earned lessons with readers around the country.
Find out more about the team here.