The topic of managing ducks’ (and geese’s) water needs in the winter seems to come up periodically on various poultry-raising boards. People always ask, “Can they just eat snow?”
The answer is no. While they don’t need to swim, ducks and other water fowl must have a liquid water source that they can fully submerge their bills in to keep their nostrils clear of dirt and food crumbs. They also require water while eating commercial feed or they will choke while eating.
We learned the hard way to turn off our outdoor water supply during the winter months, so we have to haul water from inside the house. The least-messy way to do this is in 5-gallon pails with securely-fastening snap-on lids. We have half a dozen of these which we fill in the bathtub and set in our basement by the walkout doors:
We have 2 heated water buckets and run an outdoor extension cord from the house to the duck yard:
We use an outdoor splitter to plug them into:
- Empty heated buckets daily because mud and food debris will build up quickly in them; ducks are a lot messier than chickens. Do this away from areas where you walk, since it will create an ice-slick.
- Use one 5-gallon pail of water to rinse heated buckets, then plug back in.
- Filk each heated bucket with a 5-gallon pail of water.
- Refill 5- gallon pails in the bathtub, snap lids on, and place by basement doors so they’re ready for tomorrow.
My ducks and geese are quite pampered since they have a large pond with a bubbler to keep an opening in the ice so they can swim in the winter, but this is certainly not a necessity.