Duckling has spells of walking back, shaking head...

zalea

Hatching
11 Years
Mar 21, 2008
9
0
7
West Virginia
My boyfriend and I got two ducklings from a local store. They are easter ducklings that they'd just gotten in that morning. I'm unsure what breed they are, but do know for sure that they are very young. One of them seems to be a bit older than the other, and we seem to be having a problem with it. We've had them for 3 days, and it's fine most of the time, but we've noticed that yesterday it started stumbling backward and tossing its head side to side. It only did this a little yesterday, and it seems to be doing it more frequently today. We haven't changed anything that we're using, and the other one seems fine. It doesn't seem to hurt the duckling when this happens; it just goes right back to whatever it was doing before it happens. But yeah, it just starts walking backward and shaking its head; this lasts for 5 seconds or so then is over.
We looked up several things online about duckling illnesses, and the ones that seem applicable have other symptoms that ours doesn't have. It doesn't have diarrhea, or trouble breathing, or anything like that. Just "moon walks" like my boyfriend calls it, and shakes its head. So while it doesn't seem to hurt it, we're still concerned and would like to know why it's doing that.
Does anyone have any ideas on what could be happening?
 

Dodgegal79

Songster
12 Years
Dec 1, 2007
570
8
151
Princeton BC Canada
Do you ahve a deep enough waterer for them?? Ducks need to be able to get their whole head in the water to clear out their nostrils. It sound like your are choking a little, make sure they have lots of water when they eat.
 

DuckLady

Administrator
BYC Staff
Premium Feather Member
13 Years
Jan 11, 2007
34,415
6,606
631
NE Washington State
Make sure you are feeding them non medicated gamefowl or turkey starter at 28% protein for 2 to 4 weeks. You can sprinkle brewers yeast on the feed as well. If you have it handy, Poly Vi Sol will give added nutrients as chicken starter doesn't give the added niacin that waterfowl need.

This sounds like a niacin deficiency.
 

Katy

Flock Mistress
12 Years
Jun 29, 2007
16,317
70
331
Kansas~50+ yrs of chickens
I agree with Dodgegal and wonder if they have deep enough water. They need drinking water deep enough to put their whole head under water. It's very important for them to be able to wash their nostrils out.
 

zalea

Hatching
11 Years
Mar 21, 2008
9
0
7
West Virginia
We thought it might be something like that, with choking a little bit. It seems to like to eat a lot of food at one time before getting something to drink, and the other one eats a little then runs to the water bowl right away. We've been feeding them some simple starter food, nothing medicated or anything like that.
We'll try the deeper waterbowl and see if that helps at all. I hope it does! They go through water very, very quickly. We've been using a smaller waterbowl so they don't get too wet right away, because they are definitely young, but we can definitely give a little bit bigger one a shot.

Thank you for all the responses. I'll let you know if it helps!
 

zalea

Hatching
11 Years
Mar 21, 2008
9
0
7
West Virginia
I replaced the water bowl with a bit deeper one, but I'm not sure that it helped because the duckling seems to not want to stick its head in... When it drinks it just takes tiny drinks and doesn't stick its head in like the other one does. I don't know why it does that, but after watching them both drinking I noticed it does that all the time. Is that something it will grow out of, or should I be worried?
 

Katy

Flock Mistress
12 Years
Jun 29, 2007
16,317
70
331
Kansas~50+ yrs of chickens
Have you let them swim yet? I always give mine their first swim when they're a couple days old. They usually have a good time dunking their heads and splashing. It needs to be supervised and make sure they don't get waterlogged and chilled. Be sure they're under their heat lamp to dry off when they're done. Just a few minutes at a time for the first several days. That might prompt him to clean his face better.
 

zalea

Hatching
11 Years
Mar 21, 2008
9
0
7
West Virginia
I thought they were supposed to be a little older before they actually start swimming, so I haven't let them do that yet. Maybe soon though. They do love their water bowl.

The duckling seems to be doing a little bit better today after we replaced the waterbowl with a bigger one. It's also been ducking its head under a bit more, unlike last night. Any of the little spells it has are very short, like two seconds, and don't seem to be nearly as bad as yesterday with the head shaking. In fact, there was about half an hour with none of them earlier before it decided to take a nap (and it usually doesn't have them when it's napping). So we are definitely hoping for the best, since that seemed to help a lot. With any luck, it'll be feeling better in no time!

Thank you all so much for the advice! I'll let you know how it goes in the next few days.
 

Katy

Flock Mistress
12 Years
Jun 29, 2007
16,317
70
331
Kansas~50+ yrs of chickens
I've always let my call ducklings go swimming for the first time at 2 or 3 days.....with me there to supervise. Just make sure they don't get waterlogged and chilled or they can drown.
 

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