Do Ducklings Need Heat Lamps?

Do Ducklings Need Heat Lamps?

Do ducklings need heat lamps? Yes, they do. But you don’t just start off by providing them a heat lamp because they need it. There are some other things to consider in providing heat lamps and keeping your ducklings warm.

There are few similarities in caring for a newborn duckling and baby chicks, but there are also some differences.

Here are a few steps to follow:

You will need to provide ducklings with a brooding area with food and water, heat and proper bedding. Let’s talk about the heat.

Provision of heat lamps for your baby duckling is very important. You can make available for them a heat lamp with an infrared bulb because regular light bulbs might not supply enough heat.

The heat lamp should be selected considering the number of baby ducklings you have. Measure the temperature under the center of the light using a thermometer. Hold the thermometer directly under the light at the level of the ducklings head.

You can also use a stand alone outdoor thermometer. Place it directly under the lamp on the floor of the brooding area.

The temperature for the first ten days is better to be approximately 98 degrees Fahrenheit, which should be reduced as time goes by. It should be reduced by 5 degrees Fahrenheit each week until it has reached 70 degrees Fahrenheit. You reduce it by reducing the height of the heat lamp.

For the first few days, your lamp is better to be hanged 12 to 15 inches above the baby ducklings. It should be raised as your ducklings increase in size and height. The heat lamps should never come in direct contact with the ducklings to avoid causing burns.

Do Ducklings Need Heat Lamps? Steps to Keeping Your Ducklings Warm

Use of brooding box

You use a brooding box to keep ducklings warm. The ducklings are allowed to stay for about 24 hours after they have been hatched from their shells. After which, they are moved into the broader. You can use a cardboard box, a plastic storage container e.t.c. as your brooding box.

Make the box to be well insulated. You can use wood shavings or old towels to lay the bottom of the box. Don’t use a newspaper or other materials that may be slippery. Using a box that has too many holes around it is not advisable.

Brooding lamp

Install a brooding lamp for the ducklings as they need to be kept warm especially the first few days after hatching. You can use a 100-watt bulb to start but, as I said earlier, it should not come in contact with the ducklings. Also, make provision for a place they can cool off if they need to.

Periodically check the placement of the heat lamp. Adjust the heat lamp whenever it needs to be adjusted.

The ducklings when cold will tend to gather under the heat lamp, in this case, consider getting them a higher wattage heat bulb.

When they are overheated, they will normally scatter out and breath heavily. Here, consider moving the heat lamp further away from the ducklings.

Use of Eco glow

You can use an eco glow to keep your ducklings warm. The eco glow provides radiant heat just like a heat lamp, but it’s less hazardous than the heat lamp. While using an eco glow, you don’t need to be disturbed about the bulb burning out.

The eco glow is more beneficial if you plan to brood multiple batches of ducklings over the years. It’s not quite very cheap but it’s worth the price.

How to Use the Eco glow

You start brooding your ducklings using the Eco glow at a temperature of 90 degrees for the first day. Lower the temperature by 7 degrees every week (one degree/day) until your ducklings have had enough feathers to go outside.

Rule of Thumb Temperature Chart
  • 1st week 90 – 84 F
  • 2nd week 83 – 77 F
  • 3rd week 76 – 70 F
  • 4th week 69 – 63 F
  • 5th week 62 – 56 F
  • 6th week 55 F

By the sixth week, your ducklings should have had enough feathers to go outside, except if your area is very cold.

NOTE: The same as with chicks, be sure to watch your ducklings to ensure they are comfortable. If they are huddled under the lamp, they are cold, if they are panting or at the far side of their brooder area, then they are too warm.

How to Raise your Ducklings

Brooding Area

The brooding area for your ducklings should be kept clean and dry. It should be well lit and ventilated.

The brooding area should be secured from animals that endanger the life of your ducklings. Dogs, cats, coyote, rodents and the likes shouldn’t have an opportunity of getting into the brooding area.

Check the brooding area very often to ensure your ducklings’ brooding area is safe.

Take the ducklings outside for some few hours whenever the weather is warm. This helps them exercise. Allow them to run around for a while while the sun shines.

They should remain in an enclosed space to avoid getting lost or being exposed to danger.


Proper feeding of your ducklings will help promote good health and increased yield/productivity. Duck and chicken starters can serve for feeding your ducklings. Do not use medicated feeds.

Provide a shallow pan for feeding the ducklings. Pour the feed inside the shallow pan and allow the ducklings to gather around it. Fill your pan according to the number of baby ducklings you have. Ducklings need about 2 tablespoons of feed each per day. Add water into the ducklings’ feed and make it into a mash.

You are to increase the quantity of their feeding as they grow in size. When they’ve gotten to a particular size, you can switch from duckling or chick starters to giving them regular duck feed. Don’t ever give bread to your ducklings.

Give the ducklings small pieces of chopped fruits and vegetables. Make sure to chop the fruits and vegetables before giving them to your ducklings because the ducklings does not have teeth. Avoid giving your ducklings Onion.

Always provide fresh water for them. Just make the water deep enough so they can submerge their head and drink from the water source. They should only be able to get their heads inside the water to help clean their nostrils, but their bodies should not be able to enter the water.

Your ducklings can have a chick waterer for the first two weeks. After the first two weeks, you can use something deeper that can allow them deep their heads inside but not get their whole body inside.

When your ducklings are well feathered, they will enjoy some water for swimming. Make sure they can always get out of the water or they will drown. You can put a ramp they can use to get in and out of the pool until they are large enough to come out on their own.

Summary of Things Needed to Raise your Ducklings

  1. Brooder – a dog crate or cardboard box layed with straw, old towel, a spare bathtub
  2. Heat lamp or Brinsea Eco glow (will be best if you can afford to invest in it)
  3. Thermometer
  4. Feed – regular duck or chicken starter feed (should not be medicated)
  5. Brewer’s yeast
  6. Shallow bowl for water – a bowl that is enough to submerge their head to feed and prevent their body from getting in.
  7. Shallow bowl for food – a small terracotta planter base works well

Other Ways of Keeping Them Warm

High-fat Foods

You can give your ducklings foods that contain high fat and calories at night before bedtime. Their body works to digest them as they are asleep and by so generating energy to keep the ducklings warm. Examples of this high fat and calorie food include warm oatmeal, cracked corn, and peanuts.

Straw Insulation

You can use straw to insulate the duck house. Straw has a nice insulating property. Lay chopped thick layers of straw on the floor of the duck house. It can serve as a bedding and ducklings snuggle down into them at night to keep themselves warm.

Proper Ventilation

Your duck house should be well ventilated be cause ducks emit moisture while asleep. Position of ventilation should be high up and not at the ground level. Don’t ever attempt heating the duck house. The heat lamps are enough to create the amount of warmth they require.

Wind Barrier

In as much as ducklings like being outside during sunny winter days, they don’t like the cold winter wind. This endangers their lives. Use a tarp or sheets of plywood to create a wind barrier at one corner of their pen.

Raising Ducks Instead of Chickens:

1. Health

Ducks are usually more healthier than chickens. Ducks are less exposed to mites and some other external parasites than chickens. This is because they spend more of their time in the water than in the field.

Ducks have more stronger immune system than chickens.

2. Cold Tolerance

Ducks have more fat layers than chickens. They are more tolerant to cold than chickens. Ducks have thick under coat and waterproof feather.

3. Eggs

Duck eggs have higher fat and lower water content than chicken eggs. This makes duck eggs perfect for baking. Duck eggs are also larger and richer in flavour. Duck eggs also have long shelf lives because their shells and membranes are thicker than that of chickens.

4. Pest Control

Ducks are good for pest control in the environment. Ducks eat slugs, grasshopper, cricket, worms, spiders, e.t.c. Chickens are usually more selective of the kinds of insect to eat than ducks.

5. Ducks are Super Friendly

Ducks accept new comers easier than chickens. They don’t mind whether the new comer is a duck or a chicken, they go along with any easily. Chickens will normally squabble and confront new comers until the newcomers are established to fight for themselves.

Ducks have friendly and calmer nature than chickens. Domestic ducks might tend to be inquisitive sometimes but they are usually never aggressive.

6. Moving Your Ducks and Chickens Around

Ducks can be herded. You can use one or two ducks to herd the others, or you can walk behind the ducks extending your hands sideways. Chickens can not be herded.


You may want to try the Brinsea Eco glow. It works for ducklings. They can always hide under it when they are cold and also come out from under it to eat and do other things. It is adjustable and saves you a lot of stress.

If you stay in a very cold area, you may use both a heat lamp and the Eco glow to make sure your ducklings are kept warm. You can use both for the first two weeks.

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