DHV? 5 of 6 ducklings died within minutes.

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by zettakay, Mar 11, 2013.

  1. zettakay

    zettakay Hatching

    Mar 11, 2013
    Five of my Six ducklings died suddenly (2 Pekins and 3 Mallards). Terrible – Healthy and bouncy all day then all 5 died within an hour. All the signs of Duck Hepatitis Virus - lethargic, lost balance, paddling spasmodically, and died within minutes of symptom onset. Several had the typical opisthotonos. We had bought them about 24 hours before from Tractor Supply. I called Tractor Supply right after our babies died and all their ducklings were just fine. Any other theories of what may have killed them? The ducklings had never been outside and were using the same bedding and food being used at the Tractor Supply.

    Anyone know how DHV could have been transmitted to our ducklings an isolated brooder? Could our spring water be the culprit? We live very near a river with many wild birds (Mallards, Muscovies – wild and domesticated, Heron, etc.). Our spring water is untreated, but has proved very clean in recent water tests. The spring is fenced too so no birds would be in that water.

    I don’t want our poor lonely last duckling to be alone. I’m hoping she lives. I also don’t want to bring anymore home if we’re making them sick somehow. My 11 year old is heartbroken and so am I, Any suggestions? I’m new at Ducklings….

  2. jdywntr

    jdywntr Songster

    Oct 31, 2009
    Somerville, AL
    Sorry for the losses.
    DHV is typically only found on large commercial farms. Theoretically they could have become infected at the hatchery. If the other ducklings at TSC are ok I doubt it is DHV.

    What is the brooder temp? Are you sure they were all eating and drinking ? Did they get wet and then chilled?
  3. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    Sad to hear about the ducklings.

    Please consider jdywntr's questions. Ducklings can be overheated, underheated, chilled, dehydrated......and if you haven't had experience with them, you might be surprised at some of their needs.

    You are right to pause before bringing more home.

    Are there any fumes that may have affected them? Could you describe their brooder setup? What kinds of activities were they involved in?
  4. What type of bulb were you using in the brooder. I have heard of these symptoms when ducks are exposed to teflon coatings. They may also have been dehydrated and drank too much way to fast.
  5. zettakay

    zettakay Hatching

    Mar 11, 2013
    The brooder was a large plastic tub with a brood light purchased at TSC (250W bulb I think, but will have to check when I get home). I did not have a thermometer in there as the ducklings seemed comfortable - moving around eating and drinking. They napped at times snuggled together at different spots of the brooder (not always under the light - not far away from it). All were eating and drinking and peeping contentedly. As I was making dinner they were snuggled up, napping in the middle of the brooder box (the light is on one end adn they were about halfway away from it). I was in the living room for about 30 minutes after dinner and heard one peeping (loud like an alarmed peep not a contented one). One was unable to stand and was crying for the others who were on the other side of the brooder. The brooder was warm, but he felt somewhat cool. The others seemed fine - eating and drinking - running from my hands touching the sick one. Within 5 minutes it was dead - paddling spasmodically and with marked opisthotonos. Then two of the others (who had been contently running around minutes before) collapsed with similar symptoms. All died within 20 minutes except for the last one to die - it seemed fine for several minutes then had the same symptoms and a very limp neck. They were all dead within an hour. The only time they spent out of the brooder was when we let them splash in a few inches of warm water in the kitchen sink to clean off some of the TSC gross off them. They went from warm water to a warm brooder box on the counter until they dried off. They loved the water and were content and active for several hours after this.

    Thanks for all your kind feedback. There are just somethings you can't learn from books. I hate to think we failed to give them something they needed.
  6. hogster160

    hogster160 Songster

    Feb 13, 2013
    New Carlisle, Indiana
    I don't have ducks, but I have a question. Is the brooder in the kitchen when you were cooking and were you using a teflon pan? Same effect of the light bulb coated with teflon. The fumes from an over heated teflon pan sets fumes off that are deadly to birds.

    Toxicity of overheated non-stick surfaces

    Many reports from bird owners claim that their pet birds died after the owners used non-stick cookware around the birds.[11] The cause of this phenomenon is polytetrafluorethelyne (PTFE), a chemical used in the manufacture of industrial non-stick coatings. When they are overheated, the resulting combination of particles and gasses emitted from the surface is extremely toxic when inhaled for only a short time. PTFE becomes dangerous when the surface is heated over 202°C (396 Fahrenheit).[12] The most common source of these non-stick coatings is DuPont's Teflon, but there are other brands that produce non-stick coatings. PTFE-coated surfaces should be used extremely carefully in households that contain birds (good ventilation and never permitted to cook dry), as there are no warnings on these products about the dangers. There are a number of safer cooking options, including stainless steel, cast iron, and enamel.
    Other sources of PTFE include some wafflemakers, irons, and self-cleaning ovens, among other things. People using PTFE-coated surfaces in a household that has birds should make sure that the stove is never left unattended while something is cooking on it, and the kitchen in particular should be well ventilated. A pet bird should not be kept near the kitchen due to the proximity of these fumes when cookware is overheated.


    Not sure if this pertains to ducks or not, but being a small feathered friend, I thought I'd at least mention it.

    I am so sorry to hear of your loss.


    edited for spelling :(
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2013

  7. zettakay

    zettakay Hatching

    Mar 11, 2013
    How terrible.
    Maybe it was that. I was cooking with cast iron and we strive to have a chemical free home. Never even thought the bullbs might be the culprit. They used the same ones at TCS.
  8. PuddleSplash

    PuddleSplash In the Brooder

    Mar 11, 2013
    Yikes! So sorry for the losses.

    And I'm :/ now too - we brought ducklings home last night from TSC and have a red brooder light on them. Not sure what to do here...
  9. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Loving this country life Premium Member

    It is not the red heat lamps that are a problem it's these: http://www.backyardpoultrymag.com/i...t_bulbs_toxic_to_chickens_the_full_story.html best thing you can do for your ducklings is to buy a thermometer to keep track of temps in brooder, too hot can kill and also too cold can cause chilling and kill. first week 90 each week there after drop temp by 5*. making sure ducklings can get out from under lamp if they want too. largest brooder you can afford.
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2013

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