Treating Mild Hypothermia in Ducks

Its bone chilling cold, we have been sitting between -35 to -38 for close to 24 hours, and we had a solid dump of snow of around a foot at the “warmest haha” part of the afternoon in full deep cold winter gear hubby cleared the lane. We were certainly happy to have the snow blower for this storm.

Here I was all worried about the larger livestock, the smaller rabbits and of course the purr pots, most of which are safely tucked in the house being lazy warm things on beds but there are two “farm” outside only so keeping a close eye on them in the croft.

The birds had been put in a lock down and they have a heat lamp in their main pen, the ducks main water had been made so they can drink but not bath in it.

One of the hens got herself into a pickle by sneaking in between the layers on the doorway and let herself get nice and chilled.. Why she didn’t move out of there is anyone’s guess.  She is a young hen, and its true that its her first bad spot of winter and like most of the ducks, they never seem to mind the cold, they are out in the snow, snow resting, snow bathing and enjoying the winter, she normally is one that sleeps in the outside hut but I wanted them all moved in due to the extreme cold.. but she clearly tried to get to close to going back outside.

Needless to say she was found on a check and now is currently in a big crate in my living room, she is being slowly warmed up.

Here are some Key points to raise the rates that this will be successful!

  • Use a damp luke warm towel to wipe the back /wings.
  • Wrap the duck in a warmed towel if possible, just put a number of your “livestock” towels that are clean into the dryer, so that way you can pull a warm one out as needed
  • You want to melt any ice/snow off their feet/legs and dry them up.
  • Once you have her dried but damp wiped down if needed
  • Put her in a box/crate with a soft warm ideally wool Blanket by indirect heat
  • You must warm the duck up slowly..
  • After the duck has had a 20 minute rest, bring out and start its movements if it can hold its head up.. if the head is still not held up.. wrap again in warmed towels, switch them out as they cool and back to the box.  If its head is up.. carefully and gently move its feet, toes and legs, don’t fight it.. if they are still stiff and can’t move things yet.. go slow.
  • Do not offer water or food at this stage, when bodies are this cool, digesting is hard work.
  • Help adjust the ducks legs so that they can sit properly under them..
  • Once you see them start to shift and tuck their feet/leg under themselves and tucking their head into their feathers on their own. Then you can offer them a small warm water drink. Better to have small drinks every hour and then two hours then big drinks.
  • Do not leave water in with the duck.. offer for a few minutes only at a time.
  • Please keep the duck in for at least 12 to 24 hours.
  • Ideally within 12 hours you will have a warmed happy ready to go duck on your hands.
  • Please check its feet/toes and legs carefully to see if you have any white spots, blisters and or how its movement is.

Update: Its the next day and our little hen is up, all looking good and ready to head back out to the hen house later this afternoon.  I am glad we caught her very early in her chill stage.  It could have been much worse if she had not been found as soon as she was.

Today is just as cold.. – 41 was our coldest and they say our “high” of the afternoon will be -28..  warm water will be hauled out for all the critters and multi checks will be done, I am hoping very much that we will have no issues today but I know that as the deep bitter cold extends day after day that it gets more and more likely that will have something crop up..


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9 Responses to Treating Mild Hypothermia in Ducks

  1. Brrrr. That’s cold. I had no idea ducks could get hypothermia!
    Stay warm out there.

  2. We had a hypothermic hen earlier this winter and used similar methods to what you said. Glad we were able to save her.
    It is a lot of extra work in the super cold to keep everyone safe and alive, and for some reason it seems the birds are the ones who end up getting themselves in trouble. Despite the heat lamp inside and an open door, they will choose to stay out in the cold to the point of death. I don’t understand them.
    We had a hen that stood in the water and her legs completely froze, she was alive and her body could move fine but she couldn’t move her legs. We also had a younger pullet fall in the sheep trough and though we have rocks in there so they can get out and not drown, the damage was done because she was wet in the bitter cold. The water trough is one of the downsides to free-ranging the birds with the large livestock. So now, on the really cold days, we keep the birds in their coop or their enclosed pen and give them their own water that they cannot climb into in any way. I don’t know why the birds are so clueless to the cold weather.
    Stay warm and safe!

  3. Pingback: Coldest Winter Snowstorm in 100 years | Just another Day on the Farm

  4. Widdershins says:

    Glad you saved Miss Duck, 😀 … and everyone else, including yourselves, are doing OK. 😀

    • Thanks Widdershin, I was so glad she was found on mid-afternoon checks, it would have been harder to spot her on evening check and I am not sure she would have made it till the morning check.. but that is the very reason you do them right. We are so far good!

  5. Pingback: Beware Cold Fatique in your livestock | Just another Day on the Farm

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