Duck Hot Tubs And Waterbugs

Coraline_HottubIt’s frigid here today. With wind chill, it’s in the single digits. The ground is rock hard, water frozen solid. Appropriate shelter for outdoor animals is a must on these winter days, and warm food and water help add some comfort. We pull on our balaclavas, like ninjas, and do the farm chores.

Muscovy ducks reputedly don’t have the same requirements for water (i.e., a pond) that other duck breeds do. Supposedly, enough water for them to clean out their nostrils (nares) suffices. While that may be true with regard to minimum water requirements, ours love a wading pool or even a puddle to splash around in.

These days, the wading pool is frozen solid, so we’ve been filling up a thick rubber tub with water and sheltering it in the barn. It still ices up on very cold days, but we pour in buckets of warm water to prolong its liquid state. The ducks love it, and they treat it like a hot tub! A steamy soak on a cold day must feel pretty great. Add some warm water to their feed and it’s porridge – a big hit with the ducks.

WaterbugsSomeone said that chicks look like “waterbugs”…this is a strikingly accurate description. The little ones scurry around – and scatter – like waterbugs. Those “waterbugs” are getting bigger and bolder every day. One jumped up on top of the brooder plate and another saw it and decided to do it, too. The top of it should be poopy in no time. While most people don’t appreciate poop, a farmer is glad to see a chick poop because that’s what a healthy chick does: eat, drink, poop, and sleep (punctuated by periods of running around). No “pasty butts” here – these chicks got probiotics in their very first drink of water. Keep on pooping, waterbugs!