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Duck has problems with walking...?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Sunny Side Up, Jul 20, 2010.

  1. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    4,726
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    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    I have a young Pekin drake, about 4 months old, who isn't walking well. It seems to affect both legs, so it's not like he's limping, just sort of hobbling. Sometimes he moves better, sometimes worse. This morning I noticed he was sitting down a lot. There are no other symptoms, he's eating/drinking/pooping well, no discharges or swellings. He just has difficulty with getting from Point A to Point B.

    The other day my son put him in the duck pool, he stayed there for several hours. I guess he couldn't get himself out. When we lifted him out he was really hobbling, as if the time in the pool made his condition worse.

    He lives with other ducks and was raised with other ducklings his age, and none of them have had this problem. I think it could be congenital, I think the hatchery these ducklings came from has inferior stock. This drake was one of 4 that was given to me by a stranger, someone who got my name from the local 4-H. She had ordered ducklings for her kids then decided she couldn't keep them, so I offered to take them off her hands. I don't have her contact information any more. One drake had awfully spraddled legs, he walked like he had just been riding a horse all day. Another duck had twisted feathers on one wing. The other female duck seemed fine, and I have already re-homed these three. We had planned to keep this drake because we already have 2 other adult female Pekins.

    But now I want to either try to remedy his problem if possible, or sell him to someone for dinner. Please let me know what you think his problem could be, and if it could be fixed, or if it's contagious. I will start to give him the Poly-vi-sol vitamins (withOUT iron) to see if that helps. What else could I do?

    Anyone want a duck?
     

  2. Sweetfolly

    Sweetfolly Songster

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    Apr 17, 2009
    Kildare, Wisconsin
    How old were the ducks when you took them off your neighbor's hands? Do you know what they were feeding them?

    It almost sounds like a nutritional problem...maybe too high protein and a niacin deficiency, like they were fed chick starter for too long. [​IMG]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 20, 2010
  3. katharinad

    katharinad Overrun with chickens

    I would add niacin or brewer's yeast to his diet and see if that improves it in addition to the vitamin supplement.
     
  4. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Songster

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    Jul 30, 2009
    Charlotte, NC
    Definitely start with the niacin! It sounds like the people who had him were not very knowledgeable and had already done quite a lot of damage to the poor ducks under their care (spraddled legs result most often from inappropriate substrate in the brooder; mussed feathers could be a number of things but I wouldn't rule out mistreatment by a child given the conditions I suspect they lived under). Most likely, they were feeding them straight chick starter, which is almost always too low in niacin and causes problems exactly like what you are describing--not necessarily in all the ducks in a group, so the fact that the others did not develop symptoms does not mean they aren't deficient.

    To add niacin, you have several options. You can buy gel caps of niacin at the local pharmacy (CVS, Rite-Aid, whatever) and break them into the water. Try for around 250 mg per gallon of water--don't go much higher than that, because it can be toxic in overdoses. OR, you can buy brewer's yeast at a health food store or brewer's store and sprinkle it on the food (dosage doesn't matter as much--be liberal).

    What are you currently feeding them? If you're feeding straight chick starter, buy a bag of game bird starter and mix it half & half with the chick starter. This adds enough niacin for ducks while keeping the protein reasonably low (game bird starter is too high in protein by itself). Even if your chick starter says it's okay for ducks, that doesn't mean it really is. The only "all poultry" feed I know of that is adequate for ducks is Purina Flock Raiser.

    So, start with the niacin. If that is the problem, he should show marked improvement in a very few days--possibly even in a day.

    If he does not improve quickly, don't give up hope, and don't stop adding the niacin. Legs are a duck's weak spot, and if they're going to have problems, 9 times out of 10 that is it. Fortunately, they often recover spontaneously if provided healthy food, plenty of water, exercise or rest as necessary, and time.
     
  5. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    4,726
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    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    [​IMG] The poor guy can barely walk, he pulls himself along with his wings as he tries to hobble. It's pathetic. We keep him in front of the food/water dishes and he stays there all day. I put the vitamin drops on a piece of bread so he will ingest the whole dose. Do you think I could do that with the liquid niacin? It seems ineffective in a duck's water dish, they use it for bathing & rinsing out their beaks & don't seem to drink that much of it. I'll take a look for some powdered brewer's yeast I can put in his food.

    I got these ducklings when they were 2 weeks old and fed them chick starter just like I do with all my other ducklings. My others are Khaki Campbells, perhaps these big Pekins are just more prone to leg disorders. At about 10 weeks my ducks spend most of their days in the yard foraging for goodies and eating the layer pellets with the rest of the chicken flock.

    I really hope to see some improvement soon or I will not be able to keep him.
     
  6. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Songster

    3,703
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    Jul 30, 2009
    Charlotte, NC
    You are right that large pekins tend to have more leg problems than smaller birds like a campbell. I had a pair of jumbo pekins in my first ever group of ducks, and they were horrendously prone to leg problems, the poor things. I would never go with jumbos again.

    I hope he gets better. The niacin really does work in the water--even if it looks like it's not all dissolving. The bread is not good for them to eat more than a tiny bit at a time, so I would stick with putting it in the water. They drink a lot more than it looks like they do. [​IMG] But brewer's yeast is also a good option.

    Unfortunately, it may NOT be a niacin deficiency, but it won't hurt to try and it may very well help. If you've always fed chick starter, that doesn't necessarily mean that there isn't a niacin problem--it often shows up in only a few birds, and rarely in all of them, even when a deficiency is present.

    Good luck with him. It's so hard watching them struggle.
     
  7. Sweetfolly

    Sweetfolly Songster

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    Apr 17, 2009
    Kildare, Wisconsin
    Quote:Yep - my Jumbo Pekin was thrown in for free when I got my Khaki Campbells; I just had to take her, otherwise she would have been the only girl left with 8 drakes! She has always limped. Her joints get swollen, and there have been times when she was under other stress, like when she's molting, when she can't walk and I have to tote her around. I give her kelp meal as a supplement, which really seems to help.

    I love her to death, she's such a character, but I will never get another Jumbo Pekin. It's just too terrible to watch her struggle to get around. [​IMG]

    Still, Sunny_Side_Up, I'd give your guy at least a week with supplemental vitamins to see if it helps before you give up on him!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 21, 2010

  8. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    4,726
    156
    281
    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    [​IMG] Hooray for NIACIN!!! [​IMG]

    I began to see a dramatic & swift improvement after dosing Nitrile, the hobbling duck, with the Poly-vi-sol, it really helped to put the liquid vitamin on a small piece of bread, he swallowed the whole dose that way. When I would pry his bill open & try to squeeze the drops down his quack-hole much of it would dribble out the side of his mouth.

    Then I found some Niacin sold in powdered form contained in capsules I could easily pull apart. I would pour the powder on a small piece of bread and moisten it a little with water, juice or jelly. Again, he would swallow the whole dose as he ate the bread. I know that bread isn't the healthiest snack for ducks, but it's a great vehicle for getting vitamins down their throat.

    I don't think he would have ingested as much, or improved so quickly, if I had put the vitamins in his water dish, or over his food. I think a lot would have been wasted, or ingested by the other birds visiting his dishes.

    The best thing is that Nitrile began being able to walk normally after his first full dose of the liquid multi-vitamin, and has gotten even stronger after a few more doses of straight Niacin. I gave him a capsule 2X a day for a couple of days. I will keep watch over him and have more Niacin ready to give him if he shows signs of leg weakness again.

    We named this drake Nitrile because we already have 2 other Pekin duck hens who, when they were cute little yellow ducklings, looked like little rubber ducks. Their names are Latex and Vinyl, and so their new companion needed a name that went with theirs.
    Nitrile & I both thank you for your help & support! [​IMG]
     
    CayugaJana likes this.
  9. katharinad

    katharinad Overrun with chickens

    Wonderful. Never mind the bread, wasn't his main diet anyway. Just a vehicle to success. I would suggest to add the vitamins/niacin to their drinking water once per month. It's not that they need large amounts on a constant basis, but a monthly booster is a good preventative measure. Also check your feed and see if it contains any of it. If not you may want to change brands or add the supplements once per week.
     
  10. b.hromada

    b.hromada Flock Mistress

    Carol, I just read this post. So happy your drake is getting better!! [​IMG] I need to remember this, if my goose or duck shows signs of distress!

    Barbara
     

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