Lost a Duckling and Looking for Answers

FarmerSeth

Chirping
May 3, 2020
35
30
69
Idaho
Hello BYC,

I lost a duckling at 3 days old a couple weeks ago and I just can’t figure it out. She was fine, energetic. Then by noon she was acting lethargic, and in the evening she couldn’t stand, couldn’t control her head, and had head/leg spasms. Died within a couple hours. Any ideas?
-she seemed to be eating/drinking fine
-she had been in a brooder with week-old chicks most of the time since we brought her home. Didn’t notice any pecking or anything
-She had a protruding umbilical (belly button) that I was told was normal but looked pretty strange)

Anyway, I’m looking for ideas of what might have happened, as well as what I could have done differently to prevent this in the future. Thanks so much.
 

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333113

Guest
I am sorry for your loss.

I have to say that having raised ducks for nearly ten years, I don't think a duck should have a protruding belly button. It may not have been a real problem if she were raised with other ducklings. While ducklings will not peck at a protruding belly button, chicks will. And chicks can cause some real damage to one another.

However, it's difficult to say whether that was definitely the problem. There is just not a body of knowledge on the causes of early death in poultry.

I would say for next time to get a couple of ducklings to keep together and separate from chicks, and check to make sure they look completely normal to you before you buy them.
 
3

333113

Guest
For future reference the Merck veterinary book is online. I have found that it's a major reference for vets who don't remember much about poultry from vet school.
I have a hard time navigating around in the book, partly because I am biology-word challenged. But here is the main book link.

https://www.merckvetmanual.com/

What I do is do an internet search for the symptoms and add "Merck" to my search. Sometimes it takes a couple of tries. For example, when I typed in, "protruding belly button poultry duck Merck" I found this as the second link returned:

https://www.merckvetmanual.com/poultry/duck-viral-enteritis/duck-viral-enteritis

Fair warning, this can include graphic descriptions of how to necropsy to investigate the illness. But it has an enormous amount of information.
 

FarmerSeth

Chirping
May 3, 2020
35
30
69
Idaho
I am sorry for your loss.

I have to say that having raised ducks for nearly ten years, I don't think a duck should have a protruding belly button. It may not have been a real problem if she were raised with other ducklings. While ducklings will not peck at a protruding belly button, chicks will. And chicks can cause some real damage to one another.

However, it's difficult to say whether that was definitely the problem. There is just not a body of knowledge on the causes of early death in poultry.

I would say for next time to get a couple of ducklings to keep together and separate from chicks, and check to make sure they look completely normal to you before you buy them.
Thanks — yes. All good advice. This duck was an unusual circumstance and I got her all alone. I had considered that the chicks might peck her, but I took that risk as opposed to her possibly not thriving if she was alone.

the people I got it from said the belly button issue was common. You’ve never seen that on a duck before?
 

FarmerSeth

Chirping
May 3, 2020
35
30
69
Idaho
For future reference the Merck veterinary book is online. I have found that it's a major reference for vets who don't remember much about poultry from vet school.
I have a hard time navigating around in the book, partly because I am biology-word challenged. But here is the main book link.

https://www.merckvetmanual.com/

What I do is do an internet search for the symptoms and add "Merck" to my search. Sometimes it takes a couple of tries. For example, when I typed in, "protruding belly button poultry duck Merck" I found this as the second link returned:

https://www.merckvetmanual.com/poultry/duck-viral-enteritis/duck-viral-enteritis

Fair warning, this can include graphic descriptions of how to necropsy to investigate the illness. But it has an enormous amount of information.
Gold mine! Thank you so much!
 
3

333113

Guest
Thanks — yes. All good advice. This duck was an unusual circumstance and I got her all alone. I had considered that the chicks might peck her, but I took that risk as opposed to her possibly not thriving if she was alone.

the people I got it from said the belly button issue was common. You’ve never seen that on a duck before?
No, I haven't. But I have had the same four lines of ducks for years, so maybe it's just not a common problem in my flocks. And maybe it's common in their flock. I have to say, though, that I haven't seen it in ducklings at the stores or swapmeets, either, or in my friends' ducklings.

When you think about it, each of us just has a small sample of the breed. That's why it's a good idea to do what you are doing, getting opinions and observations from different people.
 

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