Looking for some advice as to why my ducks are dying.. :(

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by ChickN'ChaseR, Feb 1, 2012.

  1. ChickN'ChaseR

    ChickN'ChaseR Out Of The Brooder

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    I incubated 12 of my Khaki Campbell eggs that I had gathered from various nests in my yard, 9 hatched. I also had staggered them with 8 chicken eggs, of which 7 hatched. This was my first attempt at ducks and the first ducks I had ever known were my 2 parent ducks that I bought for my daughter at Tractor Supply last spring. (Paddlefeet & Puddles) They all began hatching on Thanksgiving day, and by Saturday there were 8 ducks and 7 chicks. I was so surprised because I have no experience and I had so many power problems etc. and then at the last second one last duck hatched..Tiny Teena #9. When they were all feathering out we moved them to their Ducky home outside, but left a heat lamp for them until they seemed to not need that any more. Then gradually we opened their "yard" and let them have access to the "duck pond" (its a kiddie pool thats dug down into the ground) They were enjoying life very much and excited with all the new stuff to do and see and eat, then when they started swimming their chicken siblings all drowned except little Georgeanna who stands on a rock ankle deep and preens her feathers. Then one day we found Tiny Teena sitting alone next to the Blueberry bush and she was kinda lopsided with a leg all splayed out. She couldnt keep balanced and her head looked like it was too heavy for her. She also seemed to be paralyzed. I brought her in and set her in a warm bath to get her body temperature up because she felt very cold and we mixed up vitamin water for her but she died very rapidly right in my hands. She was half the size of the other ducks. That was extremely tragic for my daughter because that was her favorite duck and she hand fed that one because she said the bigger ones might bully her. NOW...my next smallest duck (TinyTim) has just died in very much the same manner, we brought him in last night when we noticed he wasnt keeping up with the others, and let him out to eat this morning because it was a sunshiney day, but when we brought him back in after his breakfast, he died within the hour. :( I just dont know what could be wrong. If any of you know of something I could do to preserve the lives of my other babies, I would be SO THANKFUL for any help or advise. They were started on Medicated Chick Starter, but have also had access to the Layer Chicken food and have had free run of the yard and whatever bugs and also the mosquito fish in their pond and now they are also getting some Flock Raiser. There are no pesticides of any kind in my yard or garden, also no pest control poisons. I just cant think what could be wrong, but it seems like the ones who have died were failing to thrive. They seemed very small compared to their peers. OK Ill stop now, sorry for such a long Ramble...Thanks in advance for any helpful hints or suggestions, have a nice sunshiney day. :)
     
  2. RavenStorm

    RavenStorm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    So sorry for you and your daughter!

    After reading your post, I checked through all my books about duck health since none of my ducks have behaved like yours before an untimely death. I really can't be sure what the cause of the deaths is, but I wanted to give you some options that might be variables to look out for.

    Medicated starter feed: Generally, most people will tell you to not feed ducks medicated feed. It's not that the actual medication in it will kill them though ... it's that as a whole ducks usually eat more than chickens do. Plus they wet their bills while eating and so get the medication into the water. In essence they can overdose themselves on the medication.

    Poor genetics: It's always possible that, since you claimed these ducks were failing to thrive, that nature is just running it's course and they weren't made to live in the long run.

    Improper diet: Check the nutritional values on your feed. Ducklings should be started off at a Crude Protein level of close to 20% for the first couple of weeks, then drop down to 15-18% till they are roughly 9 weeks, and then kept on maintenance of about 14% till they reach breeding/laying age. Just because they have all sorts of food available to them does not mean they are getting the nutrition they need. It'd be like you child living off of french fries all the time. Also, chicken feed of all varieties do not really have enough Niacin in them for ducks. They have some in it, but ducks require more; many people add a small amount of brewer's yeast to the duck feed to give them the boost.

    Something toxic: Perhaps there is a plant in your yard/pen/etc. that is toxic to the ducks. I used to visit a website that listed the toxicity levels of common landscaping plants ... I'll try to find it for you and post it here so you can take a look around your back yard.

    If there were other symptoms like odd breathing, nasal discharge, diarrhea (or just odd poop in general), or sneezing let us know because those signs could point to one of many very specific diseases.
     
  3. Trefoil

    Trefoil Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm also a newbie on hatching ducks, but when I started hatching duck eggs, I read somewhere that ducklings need more niacin than is provided for chicks. I bought niacin tablets at the drug store and dissolved one in their water. I don't know if it helped but I know it didn't hurt. That hatch (bought eggs from ebay) I had 14 out of 15 eggs hatch. 2 of them were much smaller than the rest and I lost one of them. After the one died I separated the other small one and the next 2 smallest out. And started them all on the niacin. By the time they were ready to get out of the brooder they were all the same size. As far as I know your duck's problem was either 1. injury (which doesn't really sound like it fits) 2. disease (have you added birds lately) 3. nutritional ( what it sounds like to me) or 4. parasites (?).
    As an aside. My first hatch of this year is in the incubator, but from last year and the year before, I bought many eggs from ebay (can't pass up the variety) and in winter/early spring have have generally very good hatches from them (90 - 100%). I bought 4 batches of eggs last summer and had terrible results( less than 50%) So am thinking heat is much harder on eggs than cold. Anybody else have that problem?
     
  4. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    My gut reaction is botulism. That can come from them getting into decaying material, from a carcass or even plants. Having a pond, there may be something in or near the pond that they are getting into.


    Get them away from the pond ASAP, put activated charcoal into their water (not briquettes for grilling, but you can get capsules from the drugstore, open them up and sprinkle the charcoal in the water). Charcoal is used to detox overdose patients.

    Clean fresh water in abundance!

    There are other possibilities, such as something viral. But for now try to find rotting things in their area and get rid of them.

    And please keep us posted.

    Your state ag college may do necropsy at no charge - that is an option if you want to know exactly what happened.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2012
  5. ChickN'ChaseR

    ChickN'ChaseR Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank You All for your advice!! I was carried away by life's circumstances and I am sorry I did not get back to my posting in time..After reading the advice posted in response to my poor lil duckling disaster I have decided you are all too smart for words! So, I just want to thank you all VERY MUCH, THANKS. I now am firmly convinced that my duckies died because:
    A) They were at a disadvantage from hatch, and were smaller and maybe perhaps in the natural world would not have hatched at all.
    B) Malnourished. :( This part makes me cry. I wish I had known about the Niacin requirement, it may have saved them. The feed store told me ducks don't require anything special, and "if you have chickens...just give these guys the same food and they'll be fine.' (That's what I was told by the Tractor Supply person who sold me the parents.)
    C) Both. They were the "Runts" AND were lacking in nutrition and so could not make it until I figured out the problem..They may have been OK with the inadequate nutrition until I figured out what was lacking..IF they had been stronger to begin with.

    Since Teena and Tim have "gone to God" (God and the angels keep our beloved pets for us and pet them and love them and while they are in God's care and keeping we don't need to worry about them.) We have had NO MORE LOSS OF LIFE. I have since changed the ducks food..the kibble part...and we have moved them to a large pasturing area. I should be able to tell which are drakes here pretty soon I hope. We are planning to rehome a pair or two after we know who is who, Only if there are any locals who are interested. I did not know that a duck could eat soooo much!! They have all gotten so big there are Six "babies" and Paddlefeet and Puddles of course, ONE turned out to be crested like Daddy...her name is Ducky Daddles.

    (Eight IS enough...especially when it's eight DUCKS)
     
  6. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Running over with Blessings Premium Member

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    So happy to hear no more loss of life, no where are the pictures? [​IMG]
     
  7. azhenhouse

    azhenhouse Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, I have found that the feed store employees don't really know much about poultry. They are always giving out wrong information, and I get some pretty strange looks when I ask for certain products for my ducks or chickens. Please, don't be yourself up over the loss of your ducks. I know this is easier said than done, right? Life is a about learning, and now you know a little bit more about ducks than you did before.

    As far as extra ducks that you want to re-home, this site is a great place to start. You can go into the Buy, Sale, Trade forum or Where am I? Where are you!

    Good luck!
     
  8. azhenhouse

    azhenhouse Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Charcoal is something I don't have in the poultry medicine cabinet. My ducks have been eating left over leaves that fell off the trees last fall. The snow is melting, and they think they are treats. Probably need to do a little raking today, as I don't want to be dealing with botulism. How long does one administer charcoal to ducks if it is needed.
     
  9. rainplace

    rainplace Interstellar Duck Academy


    That was my gut reaction also. Early last year I posted my first experience with botulism ( https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/471491/botulism-leg-paralysis ) I drained the pond and left it dry through the summer, waiting until the rains came to fill it back up. However, that didn't stop botulism from creeping up here and there. Occasionally a chicken will get it, and I have had another duck get it. I still haven't found the cause. When I see it present, the first thing I do now is make sure they have water, if it's far enough along that they won't drink on their own, I use a syringe and feed them water (being careful not to aspirate) I didn't know about adding the charcoal to the water. I will also add this to my medical bag as well.
     
  10. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    I have added about a teaspoon of finely ground (activated) charcoal per half gallon of water, daily until improvement. A couple of times, while I think it helped, the ducks had such serious problems that I lost them anyway. But if I see that the ducks have gotten into something like a dead mouse [​IMG] or mushroom of questionable edibility, even for the ducks, I use a little charcoal for a day just in case.

    I bought some capsules at the pharmacy, but I have also made my own. We burn clean hardwood in a woodstove, and I take out little charcoal chunks and grind them up. This takes time, but it's something that can be fun. I like the feeling of doing something for myself that saves me a few bucks. But it is just as great to buy the ready-to-use stuff, because what matters most is taking care of the duckies.
     

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