Duckling emergency

Little Doe Homestead

In the Brooder
Aug 28, 2020
19
35
33
We are fairly new at raising ducks. This is our second year. We have 12 Cayuga ducks, about 1.5 months old. We're planning to breed them. Early last week, one of them had a seizure right in front of us, very suddenly. It went from playing with its fellow duckies to rolling around on the ground. The head goes straight back and the muscles all become very stiff, like in rigor mortise. We have her a syringe full of honey and electrolytes and she improved rapidly. Today, it happened again. I think she was down for longer because I didn't notice until the others came over. I'm giving the electrolytes and honey and it isn't working as well. She's not importing quickly. What is happening? It seems to be clearly a nutrient deficiency, I'm using a different brand of electrolytes. None of the other ducks have ever had anything remotely like this. Need help! She's on my lap right now looking very droopy.
 

AgnesGray

Songster
Mar 8, 2019
946
2,691
236
Ohio, US
My Coop
Poor duck! I haven't had this happen with my ducks but maybe someone else will have some suggestions. Could she have eaten something poisonous?
 

Little Doe Homestead

In the Brooder
Aug 28, 2020
19
35
33
No, I don't think so, they normally stick to a pretty limited range and they all forage together. Plus last time she got better really quickly with electrolytes.

Poor duck! I haven't had this happen with my ducks but maybe someone else will have some suggestions. Could she have eaten something poisonous?
 

AstroDuck

Songster
Aug 28, 2020
322
474
136
It sounds like something neurological especially since it's just the one duckling:/
 

Isaac 0

Waterfowl Fanatic
Premium Feather Member
Jul 19, 2016
19,758
74,484
981
Iowa
Hi, there, welcome to BackYard Chickens. So sorry to hear about your duckling, we'll try out best to help, but we'll need some more information.

What are they being fed? What is the expiration date on the bag? What brand of electrolytes are you using? You mentioned right after the administration of the vitamins, she improved rapidly? What kind of water, and feed dish is being used? What are they being kept in? Where did you acquire the ducklings? Is she eating and drinking? Could you post a few pictures of her poop? Is a vet an option?

Seizures in ducklings can be caused by a numerous amount of things, ranging from ingesting toxins, vitamin E or Thiamine deficiency, trauma to the head or neck area, neoplasms, metabolic diseases, and viral or bacterial diseases.

Ideally, and what I would do here, is start off by physically examing the duckling, from head to toe for anything alarming, then taking an anamnesis of the bird, and use that information to understand what condition would be more likely, e.g. "are more then one bird affected" if only one bird is affected this would make it less likely for it to be a viral or toxin-related condition.

I've had birds like this as well, and after I've done a physical examination, and past history check, I start off by checking their blood glucose levels using a blood meter to test if the bird is lacking sugars (this is often a prevalent problem with shipped ducklings (Hypoglycemia). I'd smear their blood on a slide, and stain it with a Romanowsky type stain, and look at their WBC and RBC morphology for any abnormalities, that might point towards toxicosis. I would additionally take some cultures from their feces and mouth to check and see if there might be a bacterial infection going on (premature ducklings where their abdominal area is still exposed can develop this problem). Of course, you probably don't have the supplies to do these diagnostic tests so you will have to treat by elimination.

If I were to suggest anything, I'd first suggest that you start this duckling on vitamins, specifically thiamine and vitamin E, for thiamine you can drip a few drops of Cattle B complex along her bill, and for the vitamin E you can give her one 400iu soft gel once daily. These nutritional problems (wry neck) are common in ducklings, and we can start by off by eliminating one of the more common causes of seizures. If we don't see any improvement, we can consider something else.
 

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