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Badly broken leg Muscovy

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hello wonderful people, I have somewhat of a difficult situation regarding a duckling with a pretty bad femur fracture. I've written a very long description as to include as much info as possible but if I've missed anything please ask.
We adopted a 5 week old scovy that has spent all of its life with its siblings on a farm. We have an 8 month old scovy duck named Fergy that we saved and she has imprinted on myself and has lived inside since we rescued her from the roadside. The reason we adopted the young one was we need to get Fergy outside and I wanted her to have some company.

Anyway the young one attached immediately to Fergy and she seemed to love his company and the transition to living outside was smooth. The young duckling is extremely skittish and doesn't like humans one bit. It will stay by Fergy side all day unless she comes over to us. One day the duckling got itself stuck in a fence and when I walked over to free the poor thing it started thrashing about and snapped its femur. I was standing about a meter away and heard the snap. The duckling was still intent on trying to escape and dragged it's leg around, dangling like a rag doll. Upon inspection it appears the break is very high - near the hip area. The femur is definitely 100% snapped all the way through. The duckling has absolutely no control of the leg. You can literally feel the break and you can feel the sharp bone where it has clean snapped near the hip area.

Now let me first mention that vets are not an option here. There are none near by and even if I was to make a trip to a vet after a long drive the money is simply not something I can spare.
Overnight I tried to splint the leg and I separated the duckling to a quite spot with easily reachable food and water. When I checked on it in the morning it had thrashed about and pulled the splint off. When I went to check the silly duckling tried to run away being so skittish and it literally dragged this lifeless leg around while hopelessly trying to move which displaced the leg again, almost twisting it into a very unnatural backwards position. So I have now reset the leg into a position that is as close as possible to a natural resting posture based on the healthy leg and the position of the fracture. I've taped the leg to the ducks side (standard sitting posture) by running cloth duct tape all the way around the body and leg being careful to not tape the wings down and not too tight around the body of the duckling. This is the only way I can keep the leg in a suitable position to heal as the duckling is hell bent on doing more damage to itself by squirming and trying to run away. I should also mention that there is very bad swelling however the entire leg is definitely receiving blood flow. The duckling also reacts to pain further down the leg so there appears to be no noticeable nerve damage
For those of you who are still reading my novel - here are my questions.

Is this suitable treatment for the leg to heal? (even if the leg is later unusable)
Should I consider amputation?
Should I consider a quick and humane ending for this little duckling?
If the leg does heal how long should I keep it taped to the body of the duck?
What should I look for and monitor and in what time frame as healing occurs?
Are there any measures I can take to ensure that the duckling is comfortable while it heals?

I understand that ducks are tough animals and can cope with disabilities rather well so my primary concern is to ensure this duck lives a long and happy life even if it looses all function in the leg. Accommodating a duck with one leg is no problem for us as we love these animals. I just want to educate myself as much as possible so I can do what's best for this duckling here and now.
post #2 of 13

Immobilizing the joint was the first thing you needed to do.  If this was my duck, I would also restrict its movement putting it into a small dog cage.  Maybe you can improvise something with a shoe box so that it has ventilation and can see out.  If it doesn't sit still and continually thrashes about, the leg will take much longer to heal if at all.

I don't think amputation is a good idea because it will compromise its ability to swim.  At least if it has both legs it can paddle about in circles even if it doesn't have control of the injured limb.

Probably the most humane thing to do is to euthanize it.  I think it will be in pain for a long time because it won't want to stay still.


Thank you for sharing.

post #3 of 13

Oh, I read somewhere in BYC that broken legs can take a month to heal.

post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 
As soon as it happened I set the leg back and splinted it. I put the duck into a box on some towels with water and food right at its beak but over night it pulled the splint off and it popped the leg out because it was carrying on trying to escape. That's the only reason I taped it up. If the duckling moves now and drags itself about the leg will still be in place and it will stay set. I just can't get it to sit still though. It is determined to get up and drag itself around. I'm hoping that if I just leave it be the duct tape will be strong enough to hold the leg in a permanent 'sitting position'. Because there is no skin puncture I should be fine to leave the tape on for a few weeks and not risk any infection.
It really makes me wonder what the duckling is going through. On one hand I'm betting the duckling is in intense pain I'm sure it would sit still as to not aggravate the pain further, however on the other hand I think that for it to be willing to drag itself around and go about a normal day then the duck must be very resilient.
post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
Another question that just occurred to me is what if the leg doesn't set and heal properly? Is it possible the duck can survive and carry around a limp leg for the rest of its life?
post #6 of 13
post #7 of 13

Google chick chair and chick sling.



post #8 of 13

I have a two month old turkey that has been hopping around dragging a crooked leg.  It was lacking the nutrient "Choline" as a baby chick and I didn't know enough to add it to its diet.  Choline is apparently very necessary in the development of tendons and ligaments.  Anyways, as its leg started to turn backwards, I splinted it but nothing would keep the tendon from pulling the leg backwards.  I thought about euthanizing it because I didn't have the stomach to amputate it when the splinting never worked, but it had such a zest for life.  Before I splinted it, it would drag itself to the food and water and it loved preening in the sunshine.  The splint taught it to hop.  Anyways after I removed the splint the leg just flopped backwards again and I gave up.  It is a ghastly crooked leg but the turkey doesn't seem to mind it and it has become a great hopper.  I doubt its healthy leg will be able to bear its weight as it gets bigger, but I am going to let it live as long as it has quality of life. 

Your little duckling will want to swim.  The water will go a long way to supporting its weight.  Who know, you may find it can cope, like my little turkey.  Once it can't cope you will know what to do but you can rest assured that you did everything possible.  I know some people will probably smirk as they read this because they wouldn't spend this much time trying to heal an injury.  I am glad you are one of those who put life ahead of convenience. Your little duck thanks you for trying.

post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 
For anyone still following, I covered the little fellow's eyes and examined the break today. The bone seems to have started to set. It is still obviously fractured by touch but rather than dangling limp it has fixed itself to the hip again. It's obvious there will be some alignment issues but adequate recovery looks possible. He is responding to pain in the lower limb and blood flow seems normal. He is in good spirits and is trying to drag himself around to spend time with his mumma duck and is eating and drinking well. He is even making sure to drag himself out of his own excrement and he is preening himself. I'm optimistic anyway.
post #10 of 13

So good to hear.  Keep us updated.

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