I'm sure the more prominent members here on BYC get sick and tired of seeing the same topics come up over and over... So I apologize. I've done quite the extensive read through old threads here on the duck forum regarding ducklings that are sneezing. This topic seems to break down into two camps of thought...
1. "Your duck sneezed? Get it to the vet ASAP!"
2. "My ducks sneeze all the time and I've never had a problem."
So which is it?
I'm looking into this as I heard one of my Rouens start sneezing last night. This was a first. So naturally I was curious and a little worried. In trying to rationalize things I figure it must be normal for a duck to sneeze every now and again. I sneeze a few times a day. As does nearly everyone else. My dog sneezes. I've seen other animals sneeze. Sneezing (not continuously or profusely) is just the norm it seems.
The sneezing started when the ducks were up for a drink and a nasal clearing. And this is why I think it was happening... They outgrew the 1 quart waterer in their bin. It simply wasn't deep enough for them to submerge their nostrils to clear them out. So I upgraded to the 1 gallon waterer I had set aside. The channel is deeper and they're able to get their heads in and clear their nasal passages. They did this for the better part of 20 minutes. They'd blow bubbles, making quick little squirting sounds as their beaks went under the water and there was some sneezing (I assume more nasal clearing when they stopped dunking their heads). I then decided to give them their first swim a day early. Put a small container filled to the brim with warm water in their bin. They went to town and gave me some good laughs. Continued dunking their heads and splashing around. Picked them up one by one to towel dry so they were exposed to the cooler room temperature air for all of 20 seconds each before going right back to the warm brooder bin.
My six Rouens are now 1 week old. All seem happy and content. They are eating and drinking normally as best I can tell. They run around and chirp when they hear my voice. No discharge or fluids coming from their nostrils. They are not panting or breathing through their mouths. To test the sneeze issue I removed their water for 30 minutes last night at the point it looked like they were getting tired and weren't going to eat or drink for a bit. Still heard a few sneezes. I can't tell if it's just one bird sneezing or more than one. As the night went on I heard just one or two sneezes. This morning as they were laying together I heard one sneeze but that was it.
3 foot long, 18" wide rubbermaid bin with 24" high walls.
1 red bulb brooder lamp hung at varying heights above the bin. I adjust as needed as they are in the same room with the wood stove. I'm obsessive about making sure the temperature in the bin is right where I want it.
Temperature under the lamp side swings between 87.8 and 91.4. Temperature on the cool side of the bin swings between 60.2 degrees (early morning after the stove has died out) and 72 degrees when the stove is cranking. The bin is on the opposite side of the room as the stove. The ducks never seem too hot. I've not yet seen them try and escape the bin walls looking for a cooler place to be. They typically lay loosely huddled up directly in the middle of the bin. Never under the lamp. I figure if they were cold they'd move closer to the lamp's heat. If they were hot, plenty of space on the cool side of the bin for them to be.
I moved away from the paper towel flooring after a couple days and they're now on a 3" thick bed of soft pine shavings. They pick at the shavings quite a bit but I don't think they're eating them. Just playing and testing. Hasn't caused them to ignore their crumbles. This is really the only thing I can think of that may be causing a sneeze ... dust from the shavings. But there is no dust to speak of. I clean their bin once every evening, removing the soaked wood shavings and putting in a fresh layer. I have to till under their droppings and then empty the water catch pan, too. So it's a good 15 minutes of cleaning. But the ducks are in a clean environment.
Later today I'm going to put together a bigger brooder for the ducks and they already seem like they could use more space. In the meantime I'm keeping an eye on them, hoping the sneezes stay at level minimum.