A thin duck, no obvious reason for weight loss

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Kimmyh51, Aug 19, 2018.

  1. Kimmyh51

    Kimmyh51 Songster

    Nov 16, 2015
    The other day I caught one of my ducks breaking into the vegetable garden and realised when I picked her up that she was extremely thin. As in her keel was like a knife and every other bone was clearly defined, no fat on her at all."

    She is fed a balanced diet consisting of pelleted feed, soaked fermented or sprouted grains with molasses, and blood, meat and bone meal, plus vegetables, vitamins and minerals. She is in a run at night with a group of other ducks, no social issues or pecking order problems seen, 3 of the other ducks ar her siblings and preferred social group. They are feed around 5pm and most nights there is still food sitting in their bowls at midnight so there shouldn't be any issues with having to compete to get to food first.
    She is about 10 mths old, not laying and of her 4 siblings I got her with, 2 are normal weight two are actually lookin a little porky!

    She has no physical symptoms, energy and behaviour is normal, vent clean and normal size, eyes clear, nares clear, breathing fine, legs fine, feet fine no bumblefoot, no signs of external parasites. I put her in a separate run for a couple of days to observe and feed up, and she is eating well, but not like she is starved, ie eating good meals and enthuastically about her fav treats, but picking at stuff she isn't so fussed on,

    Faeces look normal, no visible worms etc. I have wormed her with abamecton under her wing. Have not given any antibiotics as I can't see any evidence she has any sort of infection.

    Have researched possible causes of weight loss and came up with only worms and coccidiosis, and the latter it would seem that she would,probably have diarrhoea, or blood in faeces, and be looking unwell etc which she isn't.

    Her feathers are smooth, shiny and not broken etc. behaviour seems normal.

    Anyone got any ideas as to what other causes might be behind this?

    or ways to try and put a bit of weight on her? While she seems perfectly healthy, she is so thin, I worry that she's got no reserves in terms of staying that way...

    Have been handing a number of ducks for various reasons in the last week(I have around 100 domestic and wild rescued ducks) and every other duck I have handled has been a normal weight.
  2. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Feathered friends are awesome

    What breed? And do you keep your rescues separated from your own ducks?
  3. casportpony

    casportpony Team Tube Feeding Captain & Poop Inspector General

    Where do you live?
  4. chickens really

    chickens really Crazy Call Duck Momma

    Possibly she is getting pushed from the feed. Try adding in another feed station..
    Flockandfowl46 likes this.
  5. Kimmyh51

    Kimmyh51 Songster

    Nov 16, 2015
    Hi to answer the questions above, I quarantine my new domestics from the flock when they arrive. I don't separate rescue from domestic after quarantine, as all get the same health care. Obviously if a duck was sick with something controls I'd separate.
    There is a chance of heavy metal poisoning, mainly because a year ago I had a bad rat problem caused by a neighbour putting food scraps on his compost which was right beside my fence. Anyway my neighbours son (not the one with the compost) offers to shoot some. Much as I didn't want to go that route, snap traps and other instant kill humane methods were not working and after finding one duckling dead with obvious injuries from a rat and two re missing, it was a case of the rats or my ducks. So I accepted my neighbours offer to bring the air rifle over. When he brought his air rifle over, it turned out he only had lead pellets. So I told him he couldn't shoot lead here, so I called a gun store locally, and made it very clear to them, multiple times I wanted a non toxic shot that could be used around ducks without being a health risk to ducks if they ate pellets. They gave me a price for copper pellets and assured me they were non toxic if ingested by ducks or ducklings.
    So silly me, went off and purchased what I was told was totally non toxic copper pellets, confirming again in the store that they were OK to shoot in duck enclosures.

    Later discovered they were copper coated lead and just as toxic as lead. As soon asI found out, I tried to search the areas where they had been shot to find any pellets but was impossible, I couldn't find a single one.

    So it is possible she ingested one. However she had none of the symptoms of lead poisoning, like being hunched up, green vent discharge, lethargy etc.

    I live in New Zealand, South Island

    I have seen her go up to feed and not be in any way challenged. And I always make sure their main feed in the evening, I put in many, many food bowls, as an estimate around 25-30 bowls for around 100 ducks. I also keep refilling those bowls until ducks have stopped eating and gone to sit, swim etc and left bowls with a good portion of food in them.
    If she is being prevented from eating by other ducks, it's very subtle, could there be a pecking order happening under the radar with no obvious physical confrontations? Lol

    (now I have this vision of ducks in furtive spy type roles nodding at ducks who can eat, and holding a wing across their throat in some sort of ominous threat to slit the throat of any duck (of non khaki Campbell ancestry) who ventures towards a bowl that belongs to the 'khaki Campbell triad' hehe)

    What I have noticed is her and her friends deciding to spend their time trying to get into the vegie garden or compost instead of feeding at dinner time. And also spending their events hanging around beside the pen where their drakes have been housed (put of necessity due to spring season drake gang rapes etc)
    Tonight I put a tray of food and water down there beside the drakes so if they didn't want to leave their boys for dinner, they could eat with them....
    I am confident that it is not a lack of access to food that is behind this, but either something medical I havent figure out yet, or some reason she might be distracted and choosing to do other things rather than eating enough food.

    Can't remember if I mentioned, don't know if it's relevant, but when I got her and her 4 siblings, they were all thin (not emaciated like she is now). I remember they followed me when I came to view them, and followed me then my car, from inside their pen, when I left, which most ducks I've experienced, don't do, especially to a complete stranger. I feel that the previous owner, who didn't know much about ducks, might have been under feeding them, not to the point where they were being starved but so that they were always hungry and focused on food.ie never getting quite enough.

    All of them gained weight after I got them and all were quite food orientated to start with. Two are now bordering on porky the other two are normal for their size...
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2018
  6. Kimmyh51

    Kimmyh51 Songster

    Nov 16, 2015
    I did do a fair bit of research on this after the copper pellets that turned out to be copper coated lead saga. Weight loss is the only symptom she had though, no lethargy, no loss of appetite, no problems with coordination, or neurological symptoms etc etc. just the weight loss.
  7. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Feathered friends are awesome

    Maybe try adding some poultry vitamins to her water that may stimulate her appetite? and what about worms are they prevalent in your area? Parasites can cause them to go off feed and become skinny or make them ravenous and they will still be skinny. In any case to treat just her with wormer or even to make sure she is getting wormed you'd probably have to isolate her maybe with a buddy.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: