Duck- Possible leg injury or illness?

Julia1848

In the Brooder
Sep 13, 2020
16
16
29
Sandy, OR
My Welsh Harlequin drake (all my ducks are a couple months old) recently (within the past week) began walking with a very exaggerated waddle. His neck moves from side to side A LOT, and he seems to be struggling some. He can’t balance on one leg to scratch himself like the others do- he sort of flops over. Everything else about him seems perfectly healthy. I picked him up today and looked closely to see if he had any obvious leg or feet injuries, and I didn’t see anything.
Any ideas?

I also took a short video of him walking. Hopefully the link works!
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1DzAZTfLoMtA0-ZBLe89tDmOcWot95HmM/view?usp=drivesdk
 
Last edited:

Isaac 0

Enabler
5 Years
Jul 19, 2016
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Your drake is not feeling well and looking at the video, I would say there is rather something neurological going on that's causing him to walk ataxic. Not only does his legs seem rubbery, but there are lots of uncoordinated movements going on the upper part of his body towards his head/neck.

It would be best if you get in contact with an avian veterinarian in your area that is familiar with treating poultry. @KaleIAm , lives in OR, and might know of a vet.

If a vet is not an option, we can attempt to help, but oftentimes these sorts of problems are serious and need to be treated with efficency.
 

Julia1848

In the Brooder
Sep 13, 2020
16
16
29
Sandy, OR
Your drake is not feeling well and looking at the video, I would say there is rather something neurological going on that's causing him to walk ataxic. Not only does his legs seem rubbery, but there are lots of uncoordinated movements going on the upper part of his body towards his head/neck.

It would be best if you get in contact with an avian veterinarian in your area that is familiar with treating poultry. @KaleIAm , lives in OR, and might know of a vet.

If a vet is not an option, we can attempt to help, but oftentimes these sorts of problems are serious and need to be treated with efficency.

Thank you! This is what I was leaning toward with his head movements 😞
 

Julia1848

In the Brooder
Sep 13, 2020
16
16
29
Sandy, OR
Your drake is not feeling well and looking at the video, I would say there is rather something neurological going on that's causing him to walk ataxic. Not only does his legs seem rubbery, but there are lots of uncoordinated movements going on the upper part of his body towards his head/neck.

It would be best if you get in contact with an avian veterinarian in your area that is familiar with treating poultry. @KaleIAm , lives in OR, and might know of a vet.

If a vet is not an option, we can attempt to help, but oftentimes these sorts of problems are serious and need to be treated with efficency.

All of the diseases I’ve read about that can cause ataxia in ducks (like botulism) seem to say the duck will die within 24 hrs. Since it’s been about a week, I’m not sure what to look into next. Unfortunately I won’t be able to take him in to a vet for at least 3 days. If anyone has any ideas for what to do in the meantime, that’d be great!

A little more info: His eyes are clear, his breathing sounds clear, his feathers are in order/clean and healthy, he is eating and drinking and keeping up with the rest of the flock. I wouldn’t think there was anything wrong with him if it weren’t for the uncoordinated movements. None of the other ducks are showing any signs of these problems
It is possible (though unlikely) that he may have gotten into some potting soil with fertilizer in it. However, the rest of the ducks likely would have eaten the same stuff he has, and they all seem fine.
 

KaleIAm

Free Ranging
6 Years
Jul 13, 2015
3,291
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Carnation, Wa
Your drake is not feeling well and looking at the video, I would say there is rather something neurological going on that's causing him to walk ataxic. Not only does his legs seem rubbery, but there are lots of uncoordinated movements going on the upper part of his body towards his head/neck.

It would be best if you get in contact with an avian veterinarian in your area that is familiar with treating poultry. @KaleIAm , lives in OR, and might know of a vet.

If a vet is not an option, we can attempt to help, but oftentimes these sorts of problems are serious and need to be treated with efficency.
So sorry, I'm in Washington near Seattle. I know several avian vets near here, including an emergency clinic he could go to anytime, but that would likely be too far?

@Julia1848 Let me know.
 

Isaac 0

Enabler
5 Years
Jul 19, 2016
24,274
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Iowa
All of the diseases I’ve read about that can cause ataxia in ducks (like botulism) seem to say the duck will die within 24 hrs. Since it’s been about a week, I’m not sure what to look into next. Unfortunately I won’t be able to take him in to a vet for at least 3 days. If anyone has any ideas for what to do in the meantime, that’d be great!

A little more info: His eyes are clear, his breathing sounds clear, his feathers are in order/clean and healthy, he is eating and drinking and keeping up with the rest of the flock. I wouldn’t think there was anything wrong with him if it weren’t for the uncoordinated movements. None of the other ducks are showing any signs of these problems
It is possible (though unlikely) that he may have gotten into some potting soil with fertilizer in it. However, the rest of the ducks likely would have eaten the same stuff he has, and they all seem fine.

Here is an avian vet in Salem that might be able to see your bird :

https://www.oregonvma.org/clinics/amazon-veterinary-diagnostics

In the meantime, it may be good to make him a little pen so he can see the other ducks, but limit his activity, and allow him to be near feed and water during the day. Adding vitamins to his water, or some electrolytes may be good too.

Determining what his problem is will mainly rely on diagnostic tests and a physical exam. Looking at how he walks, it could be related to spinal or neurological damage. Other things that come to mind would be toxicosis, like heavy metal poisoning, or bacterial-related. Metabolic diseases like Cancer can cause similar problems.

In the meantime, just provide some supportive care. Keep an eye on him.

Let us know what the vet says.
 

Julia1848

In the Brooder
Sep 13, 2020
16
16
29
Sandy, OR
Here is an avian vet in Salem that might be able to see your bird :

https://www.oregonvma.org/clinics/amazon-veterinary-diagnostics

In the meantime, it may be good to make him a little pen so he can see the other ducks, but limit his activity, and allow him to be near feed and water during the day. Adding vitamins to his water, or some electrolytes may be good too.

Determining what his problem is will mainly rely on diagnostic tests and a physical exam. Looking at how he walks, it could be related to spinal or neurological damage. Other things that come to mind would be toxicosis, like heavy metal poisoning, or bacterial-related. Metabolic diseases like Cancer can cause similar problems.

In the meantime, just provide some supportive care. Keep an eye on him.

Let us know what the vet says.
Thank you! There is an avian vet in Lake Oswego as well I may look into.
 

Julia1848

In the Brooder
Sep 13, 2020
16
16
29
Sandy, OR
UPDATE: Since I wasn’t able to go in to a vet, and I don’t really want to stress my duck further, I chatted with an avian vet online and sent her the video of the duck in question. This was her response:

“Got the video. He definitely has neuromuscular abnomalitites. I'm sure you looked up ataxia in ducks. Botulism would have killed him by now. Other possibilities are lead toxicosis, but he would be getting worse, if that was the case. Head trauma is a possibility, but not likely in his environment. There are some bacterial diseases that could be treated with antibiotics, but if that were the case, he would be showing other signs to go along with whatever disease he has. He could have had some sort of a brain insult from a migrating nematode larvae that went through his brain causing damage, but not killing him. If that's the case, he may never fully recover, but he may never get any worse. I would say it's something like that, since he doesn't show any other signs of anything else. He may always be a little ditzy and wobbly.”

She also suggested worming all of the ducks, which I will do. I have also given some electrolytes/vitamin supplements.

So far though, his condition hasn’t changed. He still seems happy and healthy other than the uncoordinated movements. He’s eating, drinking, swimming, and preening normally. He can also run and keep up with the others, he is just wobbly. So hopefully he either stays the same or gets a bit better. I’m okay with a wobbly duck as long as he isn’t suffering. So far he doesn’t seem to realize he’s wobbly. His behavior/temperament/interactions with the other ducks hasn’t really changed at all.
 

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