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Call Duck Leg Issues

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by joyce5430, Jul 21, 2011.

  1. joyce5430

    joyce5430 In the Brooder

    Jul 20, 2011

    This is my first post on here. I'm hoping someone can help. I have a hen and drake Call duck pair. I've had them for 2 1/2 years now. Last year Mama laid her 1st clutch of eggs. This year, her second. They were 6 months old when I got them. She must be a happy hen because, despite what I've heard, I've never had a problem with her laying eggs or incubating them.

    Last year she had 9 ducklings. Eight were healthy. One was born with it's legs sticking straight out the back. It couldn't walk, sit, etc. I named it Baby. I wasn't sure of the sex. I took Baby to a local avian vet who said he's never seen this before. Between the two of us, we rigged up a tiny harness to keep Baby's legs in their proper position. He/she was actually doing really well until I had to go out of town for a couple of days on a pre-arranged trip. I seriously thought about trying to smuggle it on the plane in my bra, but I couldn't risk getting thrown off! LOL I reluctantly had to leave Baby with a trusted friend. To this day, not sure what happened, but Baby died while I was gone.

    Ok, so, Mama duck just had her second batch. Eight babies healthy (again), but this time, two born with leg issues. Their little legs seem to want to go straight out the back. One is the same as Baby was, the other one is a little bit better. It can at least sit on it's own, but cannot walk. I've named them Puddles & Splash. They were born July 19-20. She had part of the clutch on the 19th (6) and the other four hatched during the night. No, I will not cull them. If this turns out to be a bad deal, they will be humanely euthanized, but until then I'm going to give them EVERY chance I possibly can. I pack them around in a washcloth in my bra while doing chores. They seem to like that. I brought them to work with me today. I have a dishpan with towels and a heating pad in it. I took some small, I mean SMALL, round tupperware containers and cut the bottoms out. I put a washcloth in there and sit them upright in it with their legs underneath them. It keeps them in a good position to eat and drink. This weekend I will be busy rigging up TWO tiny harnesses. I have the bottom of a plastic storage box to use for them to swim in for short periods of time. I thought that might help their leg strength. Of course, I will be right there helping them.

    What I want to know is this:::::has anyone else that breeds/raises Call ducks run into this problem? If you have, what did you do? What was the outcome? Needless to say, I will be pulling her eggs next year as soon as she lays them. There's obviously a genetic problem.

    If anyone has any feedback, advice, ANYTHING.....PLEASE let me know. I'd appreciate anything I can do to help them along.


  2. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Crowing

    Apr 14, 2011
    Central Oregon
    It's not necessarily a genetic problem. It could be a diet issue. It could be that the ducklings are laying inside the shell incorrectly.

    Nobody gets 100% healthy hatches all the time. It's not unusual to have the occasional weak hatchling, or spraddle legs, or bill deformities.

    I'll let someone who has call ducks address the issue as it applies to that specific breed.
  3. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England

    From what I've read here on the Duck Forum, you are doing a very good job and you are probably right that there is a genetic component to the leg problem.

    I have runners, so I don't know much that could help you that is call-specific. I suppose there is a slight possibility that the genetic issue could be mitigated with diet or supplementation (of Momma duck initially, and perhaps with baby ducks). I'd look into thiamine and niacin as possibilities.

    There are forum members with special needs ducks, so I hope we'll hear from them here very soon.
  4. joyce5430

    joyce5430 In the Brooder

    Jul 20, 2011
    Gosh, I would LOVE to hear from anyone with special needs ducks so I can start thinking about my options.

    As far as diet, wouldn't it affect all of the eggs tho? Why just one or two? I don't supplement with anything. Because they run around with the chickens, that's difficult. They forage in the grass, have access to mud and I feed my chickens FlockRaiser which is supposed to be good for all fowl.

    What else should I supplement with if it is diet? I'm going to take them to my vet and see what he says. Maybe he's seen this before or has some ideas.
  5. CelticOaksFarm

    CelticOaksFarm Family owned, family run

    Sep 7, 2009
    Florida - Space Coast
    Ducks need niacin too that wouldn't be enough in the chicken feed. Brewers yeast sprinkled on their feed would help with that. Our ducks, geese and chickens get fed separately to keep up with dietary needs.
  6. joyce5430

    joyce5430 In the Brooder

    Jul 20, 2011
    Good thing to know! Thanks so much! The babies are at least eating good. I'll get a pic posted on here as soon as I can. This is the sort of situation that makes me really thankful that I work in a 1-girl office with a really understanding boss!
  7. duckyfromoz

    duckyfromoz Quackaholic

    Jan 11, 2010
    There are many different reasons for a deformed duckling- and you may never know for sure exactly which one it may have been that has caused this problem in your ducklings this time around - and its doesnt mean tha both years the cause was in fact the same.

    I had a few issues with leg problems last year with some Indian Runners - Ducklings were hatching with deformed hocks and slipped tendons. I switched to a better incubator- and it hasnt happened again. I have had two hatch with leg issue since- but not the same. This time around they have had hip issues from being positioned incorrectly in the egg. Both had a leg that poked out towards the back that they had trouble keeping under them while they were very small- but as they grew the leg was able to come in under in a more natural position.

    Ruling out something each time your duck hatches seems a cruel way to work out what the cause is- but its also not something you may have any control over. Humidity and temperature can be two such causes. Genetics and diet- well you can not set the eggs- or feed a better diet- but it may still happen anyway.

    I still have Ollie living inside the house. His tendons slipped while still in the egg on about day 24 - with all the movement of him trying to get into position- and then trying to hatch- his hocks were also dislocated by the time he hatched. The bones had been growing and were deformed meaning there was nothing that could be done to help him. he is a happy boy who lives in a childs portable cot. he goes outside with supervision in goos weather and LOVES having a swim. Sadly ducks like this often have other issues stemming from their disability - which you also need to help with as they grow and age.

  8. lilchick

    lilchick Songster

    May 23, 2008
    Williamsport In.
    I found that if the duckling is late hatching it can also have leg problems. Recently had one I helped hatch out in the incubator. It's legs stuck out behind and it scooted around. So I named it Scooter.

    I used the bandaid hobbles which seemed to allow Scooter to sit in a normal position with legs under him. Apparently one leg was a bit shorter than the other.

    I gave him and another tiny call to a friend for her two girls. They continued the bandaid treatment as well as water therapy in bathroom sink. Finally he grew out of it and is doing fine.


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  9. joyce5430

    joyce5430 In the Brooder

    Jul 20, 2011

    Can you tell me more about the bandaid hobbles? Or send a pic or something that would give me a better idea of how to do that? It's little feet are curled up also. I took 2 tiny pieces of cardboard, put them under it's feet and wrapped all of that with a tiny strip of vetwrap. That seems to work with keeping the feet splayed.

    I checked with my feedstore and the feed I buy is Flock Raiser. It is for ducks. Sadly, one of the babies died the other day. I put the other one on Avian Charge to give her/him a boost and some Tetramicine because it was sneezing some. I've been trying different things with regard to it's legs to try to keep them in their proper position, but I've had limited success. I'll keep trying until I find something that works. I've been keeping it's stress level down as much as possible. I pack it around in my shirt (in a washcloth). It's one week old and seems to be pretty plucky. Eyes are bright and energy level is good.

    Sleep (for me) is the problem also. I no sooner turn out the light than it starts "cheeping". I get up, offer food and water, but sometimes it just wants to snuggle it's little head into my hand. Well, sleeping with something that tiny is not an option, so I wrap it in a handtowel with it's head toward the open end so it can breathe and that seems to calm it. BTW, the reason I keep referring to it as "it" is because I don't know what the sex is and I'm trying to stay on the fence with my emotions and not get too attached until I know it will survive. I lost the one last year after 2 weeks and I was just devastated.

    Gosh, I hope this baby survives and I can give it a normal life. This is stressful!
  10. joyce5430

    joyce5430 In the Brooder

    Jul 20, 2011
    I've tried putting this duckling in water, but it's little legs just flail out the back and it can't really swim because it can't get the legs underneath it.

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