Losing my mature ducks 1 at a time-desperate for help!


8 Years
Aug 23, 2011
Hi everyone! I started out with 25 runner ducks that I raised on organic feed from ducklings, they all seemed to be doing great. They are about 4 1/2 months old now and I am having a devestating time just keeping them alive and can't find info on a situation like mine anywhere online. The ducks are literally dying off one at a time, every other day, or every few days. They will start off seeming a little wobbly on their feet, and within the day will be having seizures and usually die that night/the next morning. I have never had more than one duck die or show symptoms at the same time, which makes it hard for me to believe it is a disease. They have an enclosed acre or so that they range in with a pond, and they are fed grower pellets as well when they come in for the night. Does anyone have any idea what might be causing this? I would like to save a few of these ducks but can't find any answers, I am down to 15 in just a few weeks of this phenomena occuring and it is killing us to go out to dead and dying ducks all the time. As it is I have lost all of my drakes already and won't be able to hatch any new ones out if I eventually get this under control. Please help! Thanks so much.
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What type of food is it that you are buying? Brand? I would call the manufacturer to check. I read something on Metzer Farm's site about a large die off and they finally found it was because the feed had some additive in too great of an amount by accident.

I would try changing food if you have stayed consistent with it.
Could they be getting into something poison, poisonous plant, etc?

Maybe check the water in the pond. Sorry I'm not much help just throwing out ideas.
Thank you for your ideas. I have been feeding them Green Mountain organic since the beginning, it is the only organic feed I can get in this area. I started with chick starter and then moved onto the grower pellets which they have been on for some time. These are feeds made for chickens but both feed stores that I frequent have told me they are fine for ducks as well, if there were a duck specific organic one I would buy that. I can try switching food, it just seems so strange that the food would kill them off one at a time, especially if there were something poisonous or a wrong amount of any given ingredient...but I am willing to give anything a shot. Also I have looked up lists of plants that are dangerous to ducks and none of them seem to grow around here that I can identify. This is so infuriating! I do appreciate the suggestions and please, keep them coming!
They are dieing from some type of toxins based on the symptoms that you have listed. Now you have to pin point where is this toxin coming from. It could be something in your pond (dead carcass) that is killing them off. Flushing them with epsom salt is what I would do. You need to get whatever bacteria or toxin that is in them OUT.

Also, could they have gotten into any insect sprays or poison?
No, we have no sprays or pesticides anywhere on the property, it's all organic. We have food grade DE but that is out of reach in the barn loft. How would I go about an Epsom salt flush?
Astrosheep, I pm'ed you a response.

kuntrygirl makes a good point. I also mentioned the possibility of toxicity in my message.

While you're trying to find out what's going on, vitamins/electrolytes/probiotics would probably be a big help to them.

Also, since you are down to a smaller number now, is there some way you can house them in a different location temporarily to see if keeping them away from whatever may be poisoning them helps?

Epsom salts is recommended for use as a laxative to help rid the ducks' bodies of poison. Be careful if you decide to go that route - more is not necessarily better. Storey's Guide recommends a pint of molasses or a pound of Epsom salts in 5 gallons of water.

A follow up treatment of activated charcoal (it's a powder - not the briquettes for cooking) may help absorb toxins from their systems. I would definitely be giving the whole flock some charcoal in their water. About three capsules per gallon is what I have used.

Even rotting vegetation can promote the presence of botulism in some cases.

I'm not sure what area you live in. Are there any venomous snakes, spiders, etc. where you are?

And there may be a feed problem. As I wrote in the pm, different ducks react differently to problems with feed, such as nutrient deficiency. Might not hurt to report your problem to the manufacturer.

If you have a vet or waterfowl rehabilitator around, see if you can at least get some kind of information or feedback from them. If it is a virus or bacterium that's affecting waterfowl in your area, they may be able to tell you what it might be.
Well, you can start by just adding epsom salt to their water.

Recommended amounts vary from 1 tablespoon in one cup of water to 1 ounce per 50 fluid oz ( two and a half pints) of water.

If necessary, introduce water into the mouth and throat with a syringe (no needle).

Can you keep them away from that pond for now until you can pin point where the toxin is coming from? Their feed wasn't wet or moldy was it? All bedding is dry with no mold?

What are you temps there?​

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