Best Heat Lamp for Ducks

Ducklings need heat.  A heat lamp for ducks can be either a traditional red heat light, a ceramic heat emitter, or a heat plate. The best source of heat for ducklings is a ceramic heat lamp or a heat plate.  We like the ceramic-style heat lamps as they are affordable, provide a lot of heat, and do not pose substantial safety risks.

Both heat plates and heat lamps work well for keeping your birds warm and happy, check out both and pick the right solution for your brooder and flock.

Ceramic Heat Emitter

We love a 75W Ceramic Heat Lamp.  The Ceramic heat emitters do not generate any light.  This allows the birds to have a normal dark night versus the traditional glass heat lamp that shines red.  The thick ceramic means that if it happens to fall it is less likely to break compared to the traditional glass.

heat lamp for ducks

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Ducklings Need Heat

Ducklings when they are born with their momma duck have all the heat they need to thrive.  The baby ducks that get sent to your home via the post office or picked up at your local farm store need supplemental heat.  Heat, water, and food, that is all a baby duck needs to get a good start on life.

A heat lamp placed above the brooder that you set up supplies the necessary heat.  The first week ducklings need the temperature to be around 95 degrees Fahrenheit. This imitates the warm fluffy feathers of their mother.

Ducklings under heat lamp

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Duckling Heat Schedule

  • It is ok to start to drop the temperature by 5 degrees or so every week for the first two to three weeks.
  • At this point, you can turn off the heat during the day.
  • Then for the next three to five only provide supplemental heat during the night.
  • If the weather is warm, they may not need any supplemental heat after the first couple of weeks.

Keeping Ducklings in a Brooder Warm

There are a few tricks to keep your ducklings warm in the brooder.  First, the location of the brooder matters.  For the first week, we keep our birds inside of the house.  This keeps the ambient temperature of the air around 67 – 70 degrees.  Along with the lamp, they are plenty warm.  If you will be placing them outside or in a garage area make sure that you protect the brooder from the elements, including drafts or wind.  A cool draft on a cold concrete floor can drop the temps quickly so plan accordingly.

The brooder should have a layer of bedding.  Turn on the heat lamp a few hours before the arrival of the birds.  This heats up the bedding material and provides a comfortable environment as soon as the ducklings get introduced to their new home.

Heat Plate or Heat Lamp for Ducklings?

A heat plate is a great option and worth the investment if you plan on raising many ducks.  The plate heats up from the bottom and the ducklings walk underneath it.  This mimics the heat from a mother bird more realistically than a heat lamp.  The heat plate has four legs that raise up and down.  Raise the legs as the ducks grow.  They have freedom in the brooder to come and go as they please from the heat source.

keep ducklings warm

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The biggest benefit of a heat lamp is they are less expensive.  It uses an existing lamp shade you may already have in your garage or workshed for projects.  A heat lamp does use a little more energy than the plates.  They also could create a problem if they were to fall into the brooder.  However, a well-secured heat lamp provides a safe solution for keeping ducklings warm.

How Long Do Ducklings Need Heat

Ducklings need extra warmth for at least the first couple of weeks.  Depending on your climate and the location of the brooder around week three they can be weaned off heat during the day.

Start after the first week by reducing the heat by raising the heat lamp a couple of inches to drop the temp by 5 degrees.  By weeks three to five the heat can be removed altogether, however, if in a very cold location supplemental heat at night may still be necessary.

Alternative Options for Heat Lamp for Ducks

The best alternative to a heat lamp for ducklings is a heat plate.  If you do not have a heat lamp or a heat plate bringing your baby ducks into your home will help keep the temperature higher.  Turn up the heat and add an electric heater in the room near the brooder.  Make a fire in your fireplace and place the brooder nearby.  While neither of these are ideal and your birds will likely still be cold.  Adding a warm blanket for them to snuggle into fresh out of the dryer could provide some heat for birds in a pinch.

The local feedstore will have heat lamps.  If you must choose an alternative heat source for your ducklings only use it while you are running to the store to get a new heat lamp for them.

Additional Duck Warming Tips

  1. No ducklings left alone.  Ducks should always have a buddy.  The more ducks in the brooder the more likely that there will not be an issue with them due to heat.
  2. Eliminate drafts.  Close windows and keep the ducks in a secure place.  If housed in an outdoor building it is important to check for cracks large enough for duck predators, especially rats, but also to keep cold air from spilling in.
  3. Add bedding.  A thick layer of straw or hay to cover the floor of the brooder helps keep their feet warm.  Pine shavings will also work well and is available in lots of big box stores in the pet section.
  4. Allow water to get to room temperature before making it available.  The water coming out of the tap in the later winter or early spring can be close to freezing.
  5. Use waterer that they can not get into and drench their light fluffy feathers.

Have fun raising ducklings.  They are super cute for a few weeks before they get juvenile feathers coming in so enjoy those special days and keep your ducklings warm and healthy.