Muscovy Ducklings sick, infested, or otherwise dying

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by brewsacks, Jun 4, 2012.

  1. brewsacks

    brewsacks Hatching

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    Jun 4, 2012
    We recently acquired 5 muscovie ducklings (at a day or two old) to add to our flock of Buff Orpingtons. We've had them for 5 weeks. They spent their first week in the house with us, and then we moved them out to a chicken tractor with 5 new chicks. It's just a 4x8 tractor on our untreated grass. We move them every day, refresh feed, water, and swimming pond every day, and keep a brooder light on in the enclosed end, so they can warm up whenever they need to. One of them died of who knows what early on, so we were left with 4.

    About 7-10 days ago, while out on their daily 'escaped convict' run (we let all the little ones out for an hour or so and follow them around the yard as they relish their freedom and chase bugs), one duckling and one chick came up lame in one leg, inexplicably. Like they got into thorns or something. The chick hopped around on one leg until it recovered, but the duck never fully did, and died a few days ago. During that time though, all the ducks started acting strange. They were no longer as active as they used to be, and began acting like drunken sailors. Walking appears to be a major effort, because they're 'dizzy' and staggering. When they rest (which is most of the time), they shiver, shake their heads, scratch their heads, and fall over. It was like the one's lame leg affected them all with some mystery ailment.

    I've been poring over the internet, and unable to find much helpful. I spoke to the lady we got them from, and she told me that she's seen it before, and thought it was probably ear mites... they've dusted the ducks before to take care of it. She also suggested tetracyclene in their water, in case it was something else. The mites made sense, because when we put them in their pan to swim, which they don't enter much anymore on their own, they splash and seem to feel a little better. And mites in the ears would affect their equilibrium. And since we didn't want to treat 5 different things, just in case, and then not know what was actually the problem, we decided to attack the mite possibilities first. The guy at the farm store also thought mites were the problem, so we went with it.

    We dusted them (completely) with diatomaceous earth, 2 nights ago, and last night. We also did the chicks they are with (who are doing just fine, btw). The farm store guy thought they should be feeling better 'in a day or two.' I have to say that they're not AS wobbly, and a bit more active, but not marked improvement. Also, before the second dusting, we found one dead :(. I don't know if we just didn't catch it in time, or if they've got something else entirely going on. I've read about New Duck disease, but what doesn't add up there is that they improve a little bit after a swim, and when they're free to roam the wild yard with reckless abandon.

    They've been eating a mix of cracked corn, wheat berries, wheat bran, and millet mainly, although I can't say how much of that they're actually eating. We don't actually see them eat the feed, and since there are chicks in with them, we can't tell. They're not skinny runts though... they appear to be growing and staying pretty hefty. They love bugs, which is why we try to get them 'out' every day, because in their run the bugs wise up fast and steer clear... they only get fresh chases for the first 15 minutes or so of the tractor move each day (and now they're not chasing anything anyway). When they're out and free, they do chase more, but not as much as they used to. They also eat the clover and grass that they're on, or at least they did to begin with. They don't seem interested in much of anything now.

    3 days ago we tried giving them oatmeal with lots of sugar in it and spinach. If you google staggering ducks, you'll come up with a bunch of hits all quoting the same person who said that a duck found in this condition is hypoglycemic, and needs sugar immediately, or will die. It did seem to perk them up a LITTLE, but not much, and didn't last more than a few minutes. And how does a hypoglycemic duck in the wild get sugar? The pond's local 7-11?

    For the past few days, we've given them each a few earthworms each day in their pan of swimming water, and they gobble them right up, so that's good (I hope). It's the most excitement we see out of them anyway. We're also giving them a little spinach torn up in the water, and some oatmeal, but I can't say they're eating any on purpose... maybe only incedental to the earthworm diving.

    So, they're definitely not feeling well... they're wobbly, shivering, and lethargic. They look good though. We've noticed the tiniest bit of a runny nose several days ago, but nothing much. Their legs are pretty far apart sometimes when they walk, but I think it's due to the dizziness. They've never been on slippery turf for splayed legs to likely occur.

    We're down to 2 now, and I would say 2 of the 3 losses were due to whatever this is that's ailing them. We really would like to be able to save the last two, but are feeling a little helpless.

    Does anyone have any advice?
     
  2. Apyl

    Apyl Songster

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    Feb 5, 2012
    Necedah, Wi
    Are they getting niacin? Ducklings lacking niacin will have walking issues, act drunk, and can die.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2012
  3. brewsacks

    brewsacks Hatching

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    Jun 4, 2012
    We haven't supplemented niacin, as we were told they could eat the same grains as the chicks. It seems that the niacin supplement is a heavily debated thing when I've looked into it. We're willing to try anything at this point though! Have you actually seen this, and niacin helping? What do we need to give them to get them enough niacin?
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2012

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