Okay well, about 2 months ago I got about 8 breeds of ducklings. They have all been doing fine until today. I keep them in a pen at night and they free range all day after the morning feed. This moring one of the Mallards was just lying there, it looked dead. When I picked it up I noticed a little life so we sat there and tried to get it to drink some sugar water for energy and hydration after about 30 minutes it passed away. We noticed 2 other ducks acting a little strange and slow so we put them in a small pen with plenty of food and water. This evening we pulled up and saw 3 Welsh Harlequins and a Pekin just lying there all layed out like they were dead or toxic. The symptoms are slow, lackadasical movement, wandering around (not with the flock) lack of interest or fear, and in the later stages just plain layed out, barely moving, slight twitching like seizures, no eating or really drinking. I don't want to prejudice an experienced diagnosis but it really appears that they got into a big bag of cannibis, they didn't, or some mushrooms, or a bottle of vodka. After this springs drought followed by a lot of rain in the last 2 weeks there are mushrooms all over I know many are poisonous and some are hallucinagenic. I've looked through their droppings and in the areas they play during the day and can't find anything. I was hoping it would pass but now one's dead and four are in intensive care. btw the other 2 we put aside this morning seemed to be doing well enough this evening so we put them back with the others so we could use the space for the four sick ones. If any one is familiar with these symptoms or what I might be dealing with please help. Thank you! Also would a vet be able to autopsy one and tell me? And if so, about what would that cost?
Please Help! My ducks are dying!
Featured Stories on BackYard Chickens
This looks like some kind of toxicity, but it could be something infectious.
Keep giving them clean water (I know it's relative with ducks).
Necropsies can be done and depending on where you are, the price will vary. Contact the land grant university of your state and see what they can do. I recently had a necropsy on a duck that had died from egg yolk peritonitis.
I'll look in Storey's Guide and see what I can see.
Here is what Storey's Guide says:
If it's botulism body feathers may loosen and be easily extracted. it normally kills in 3 to 24 hours, but some birds may recover.
The toxin is found in soil, spoiled food, decaying animal and plant matter.
ducks should be confined to a clean shady yard or building and immediately provided fresh drinking water with a laxative added - either 1 pint of molasses or 1 pound of Epsom salts per 5 gallons of water. Birds that cannot drink on their own should be treated individually.
You may want to flush out the contents of the esophagus withg warm water by using a funnel and rubber tube inserted into the mouth and several inches down the esophagus.
every effort must be made to locate the source of botulism.
Toxicity from other sources:
fertilizer, salt, lead, herbicides, pesticidces, rodent slug or snail bait, leguminous plants and their raw seeds; cottonseed meal, tobacco and rhubarb leaves, foxglove, potato ines, green potatoes, eggplant leaves, there are more
no treatment is mentioned in this section.
My thoughts: I'd try the botulism treatment.
How hot is it where you are? what kind of cover do they have to protect them from overheating? Water to swim in?
I had some baby ducks die years ago and i took one to the vet to be autopsied. The little ducks body was sent off to the lab and when the results came back it stated that some type of harmful bateria was found in the stomach. The little ducks had gotten the bacteria from algae in our pond. A vet could help you with your problem. As for the cost, it depends on what vets charge in your area. You could call one and they would tell you. Your ducks have eaten something that was toxic to them and a vet can do a autopsy and found out find it was. I hop this helps.
Amiga: Thank you very much for your help. A bag of bad potatoes was thrown out in the last few days, this may be of some concern, we will get rid of them and the potatoe eyes first thing. I will consider the list of other toxic sources and continue my investigations...
We're in Southern Louisiana and it is very hot now, however the ducks have plenty of high grass, and shade trees. Also they spend most of their day in a ditch about 60 feet long 6 to 8 feet wide and 1 foot deep. With the recent rains it stays flushed out and full. Plenty of small crawfish, tadpoles, water bugs and such. The adult ducks go into the swamp, our 25 acres is surrounded by swamp, except for the road in, and 80 yards from a river.
LaBaze: I don't believe they have lost weight. The one that died was a Mallard, smaller than the Rouens of the same age but about the same size as the other Mallards. As for the Welsh Harlequins, 2 were a little smaller and one was a little larger. I think due to the male/ female difference in size at this point. The Pekin is of course largest of the bunch. In relationship to their siblings they all appear to be appropriately sized. Mybe I'll be able to weight them in the morning for a more clinical comparison.
ps We drive past Covington on our way to church, you registered on our Anniversary, and my wife totally agrees about the bubble wrap...
shefowl: Thank you, I am definately interested in making sure that if this is a toxicity problem I can find out and do my best to keep in from happening in the future. Losing a few ducks a day to bad weeds or bacteria is no way to run a farm...
Thank you all, I'll keep researching, checking these posts, treating the ducks, and posting my findings.