A Beginner’s Guide to Heat Lamps for Ducklings


So, you’ve just brought home your newest addition to your family — baby ducks! Cute and fuzzy, ducklings melt hearts. But, don’t be fooled by their adorable faces; ducklings are challenging to take care of.

The good news? Once you’re equipped with proper knowledge, caring for your ducklings is both easy and rewarding.

The most critical aspect to keeping your duckling safe, comfortable, and happy is learning how to give them proper amounts of heat. Ducklings need to live at a specific temperature, and without their mothers around to provide them that heat, you as the owner must step in to give that heat to keep them safe and happy.

Below is everything you need to know about heat lamps for ducklings.

Do Baby Ducks Need A Heat Lamp?

Yes! They do need a heat lamp. Using a heat lamp is the best way to provide the necessary heat for them while they are babies.

When they’re young, ducklings have difficulty regulating their internal body temperatures on their own. In the wild, baby ducks stay under their mothers’ protection until they’re around one month to two months old so that their mothers can help keep them warm.

The mother ducks use their down feathers to keep them warm. At night, they snuggle together to stay warm, which is how to keep ducklings warm without a lamp.

If you’ve adopted a duckling, you’ll need to provide them with warmth since they won’t have their mothers around. The best way to accomplish this is with a heat lamp. To ensure you’re keeping a warm enough temperature, you may also want to purchase a thermometer and keep it inside their brooder.

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When they are first born, set the lamp to 90 degrees. Then, drop the temperature by 5 or 10 degrees each week until you reach 70 degrees.

Check out this duckling temperature chart for more information:

Another question many duck owners have is if baby ducks need heat lamps in the summer. If your house is temperature regulated and you keep them indoors, then yes, you do. If you keep them outside and the temperature reaches 90 degrees or higher, you can remove the heat lamp. However, be sure to put the heat lamp back at night in case temperatures drop.

How Much Heat Is Too Much?

While ducklings do require heat to keep them healthy, too much of a good thing can cause problems. It’s important not to give them too much heat as this can cause health problems and even death.

As a result, many new duck owners wonder, “how do I know if my ducklings are too hot?” Luckily, ducklings aren’t subtle about how they’re feeling. If you notice your duckling is panting, breathing fast, or has moved away from the heat lamp, these are signs that your duckling is too hot.

You’ll also notice if they are too cold as they will group around the heat source and not move so they can conserve heat. If you see your ducklings huddled around the heat lamp and become lethargic, try raising the heating temperature in your brooder.

A healthy duckling will have a substantial amount of energy and, as a result, will run around the brooder. If you notice a rapid change in your ducklings’ behavior, such as becoming more lethargic, tweak the heat to see if that makes them feel better.

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Heat Lamp Logistics

Many new owners also wonder, “how far should the heat lamp be from the baby ducks?” Typically, you should hang a heat lamp 18 inches above the bedding.

You’ll need to purchase an infrared heater as a regular bulb does not have the power to create enough heat for a brooder. A 250-watt heat lamp will be sufficient and can even keep up to 30 ducklings warm. If you have more than 30 ducklings, consider purchasing more than one 250 watt bulb.

Make sure to use an infrared heat lamp with a hood and place it on one side of the brooder. Putting it on one side of the brooder is vital so that the ducklings have the option to stay on the cool side if they need to cool down.

To decrease the temperature, raise the height of the infrared heat lamp by moving it further away from the floor of the brooder. You can purchase a stand that is extendable so that you can continue to raise the light stand as the ducklings grow older.

If you must, you can use a heating pad for ducklings, but those are harder because it’s challenging to regulate the temperature. Additionally, if you have more than one or two ducklings, they all won’t be able to fit on the heating pad. Therefore, your best bet is to stick with a heat lamp and a thermometer.

When Do I Need To Turn Off The Heat?

Once fully grown, ducks will have their down feathers to keep them warm. Once they have these feathers, they do not need supplemental heat. Many duck owners wonder how long do ducks need a heat lamp? Until they’re fully grown and have their down feathers.

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Ducklings need the most heat at night, so you must leave your heat lamp on at night. It is safe, but make sure you buy a good brand heat lamp and follow all safety precautions.


When Can Ducklings Sleep Outside?

Once the ducks are fully grown, they can sleep outside. When ducklings reach about two months, they fully develop their down feathers that keep them warm on their own.

How Do I Know If My Ducklings Are Cold?

If your ducklings are cold, they’ll tell you by their behavior. If you notice they’re lethargic, don’t move away from the light, and huddle together, that’s a pretty safe bet that they’re too cold.

Do Two Week Old Ducklings Need A Heat Lamp?

Yes, they do. Two-week ducklings have not developed down feathers yet.

How Cold Is Too Cold For Ducklings?

It depends on how many days/weeks the ducklings are. Typically ducklings cannot handle temperatures below 70 degrees.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>