Muscovy help! 2 mystery deaths and one now acting lame (on land)

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by RJSchaefer, Dec 14, 2013.

  1. RJSchaefer

    RJSchaefer Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Our barn is cold. We're a little like Little House on the Prairie, no electric in the barn, no running water, nothing. So far, everyone had been doing quite well. The weather warmed a few days ago and I had my fingers crossed we were in the clear until the next cold snap. Yesterday, we found one dead scovy. Today, another. No injuries, just dead. Both had been acting "slow" the night's prior, but it was dark and cold so I didn't think much of it.

    This afternoon, while taking out the buckets of hot water to unfreeze the waterer, I noticed that one of them was sitting near the entrance to the building and chirping. She's lame on one leg and her belly was covered in ice.

    All I could think to do was bring her in and set her in a tepid bath. She's happily swimming around, pecking at little crumbs of bread I threw in to keep her occupied. Not a sign of trouble with her leg to be seen.

    The two that died were female (I'm fairly certain, they're only 5 months old) and the smallest. The larger ones don't seem to have a single problem yet. They sit around in the snow with my Pekins and don't mind any of it one bit.

    Two questions then
    1. What is going on with her? Did she just get chilled/weak?
    2. Can I - for a few days - put her in the brooder with the month old scovies I was given or will that cause massive problems?
     
  2. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Running over with Blessings Premium Member

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    Very sorry for you loss. I wish I had answers for you but really don't. other than maybe they just weren't quite up to speed to begin with and the cold was too much for them, I don't heat any of my building and we have had temps in the teens with single digit wind chills, I just make sure everyone can get into deep bedding and out of elements and locked up at night. also fresh non frozen water is a must especially when feed is available for them. They need to have water when eating. If you bring her inside for a few days I don't think I'd keep her with your ducklings till your sure she is not contagious. plus she will have a hard time acclimating back into the cold if she is inside long. but if she is sick then she needs to be out of the cold so she can have a chance at getting well. Poultry vitamins would be a good thing to have to add to her water and also the adults just gives them an extra boost during cold weather. How is her leg now is she able to walk?
     
  3. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    Since the ones with the trouble are the smaller ones, I would say the temps are at the point where it strains the ones with high surface-to-volume ratios. Animals, all of us, lose heat through our skin and hold heat in our cores. Smaller animals have less to work with. I suspect it was hypothermia, but an illness could make that worse.

    I would get her in where it is warmer - doesn't have to be even above 40F, that's the low temp for my ducks, and it is because some of them just don't hold up well below 30F.

    Vitamins, yes, extra nutrients, deep bedding, fresh water, anything to reduce stress.
     
  4. Going Quackers

    Going Quackers Overrun With Chickens

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    I am sorry for your loss. What is your feed routine? we are wicked cold today, i had a -28C(-18F) windchill and was -18C(so -4f) today. My ducks, a few stayed in the barn, a few took shelter around the barn and trees. All were in tonight despite their differences and lack of me stalling them off lol cold makes for better friendships. My point being is it's cold, it is likely not the cause of death if a bird is well fed, has shelter and is NOT ill(barring types completely not suitable for cold climates).

    Here is where the trouble starts, there is a possibility of an underlying cause that you may not have been aware of, and when it's bitter cold(or extremely hot) this means animals who are compromised don't do well, hence why the young and old usually need special care.

    As for the leg? could be a slip, my place is an ice palace, could even get cut on ice.. etc, you say you've examined it though, so it's clearly not cut, is it swollen? inflamed? hot to the touch? I wouldn't put older birds in with younger ones that they don't know, that could cause a whole new group of issues.

    I would move her into the barn with feed/water, add some whole corn, scratch (ie, some high energy foods) and see how she does. The vitamins are an option as mentioned i have no experience with them so i'll defer to Amiga and ML for that.
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2013
  5. Speceider

    Speceider Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Not sure where to start with this....first, wind chill estimates from NOAA are meaningless as thery relate to birds....wind chill estimates the temperature bare human skin would feel at the ambient temperature and wind velocity.....ducks do not have bare skin and very different blood flow patterns so those measures don't mean much....also, surface area invreases at the 0.33 power, so an increase in body mass does not result in much of an increase in surface area...plus birds show a 15% better measure of thermal conductance (rate of heat loss) than mammals. I seriously doubt temperatures were the problem.

    Clint
     
  6. DStewart PDX

    DStewart PDX Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you give ducks warm water to bathe in on a freezing day, they will not realize how cold it is, go in the water, get wet, and then the water freezes into ice on them. This can terribly damage their legs! Never give ducks warm water in cold weather! If your duck water is frozen, give them liquid water to drink but not enough to bathe in! Warm water plus freezing temps can kill ducks.
     
  7. Going Quackers

    Going Quackers Overrun With Chickens

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    I certainly hope you were not referring to my mention i did that merely for reference and did include real temp.
     
  8. RJSchaefer

    RJSchaefer Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The water isn't warm by the time it hits the pool. I test it before I let the animals go near it, and it's possible 50 degrees (and drops rapidly). And it's never enough to bath in, just enough to put surface water out for them to clear their bills. They also have a chicken waterer inside which I take into the house to defrost/refill several times a day. I'm well aware of how bad it is to let an animal give itself a warm bath on a below freezing day. [​IMG]

    She's inside and her leg is better. But she's wheezing and tilting her head to one side. My husband's co-worker said it sounds like pneumonia, and all I can really do it keep her dry and with adequate water. I've got her in a little tub in my office with clean bedding and water just deep enough for her to cover her bill.

    I sure hope she pulls through. I think she's quite fetching. (Now watch someone tell me she's a he. [​IMG])
    [​IMG]
     
  9. RJSchaefer

    RJSchaefer Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Rockford, IL
    I'm going to go back a little, because I have this inkling it isn't pneumonia.

    A few months ago, my rabbits started dropping dead. I did necropsies on them and there was nothing wrong. Meanwhile, the ducklings (this same group) had a run of mystery deaths (about 4 over the course of 2 weeks). They had access to the rabbitry, as did the other ducks and chickens. This is the only group I had a problem with.

    Now this. I did some searching on pneumonia and saw "Avian cholera", which is caused by P. multocida (which is also extremely deadly in rabbits). It says nothing about the holding of the head to one side but does mention labored breathing. I don't think their conditions are unsanitary. I just went through last week and cleaned up the random debris they seem to drag in from outside, some particularly nasty straw, and put down a new layer of bedding as well.

    Can ducks carry P. multocida and succumb when under stress?
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2013
  10. Speceider

    Speceider Chillin' With My Peeps

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    While carriers for P.multicida have not been demonstrated, my experience with a couple of large die-offs of wild birds has led me to believe in carriers and the role of immunosuppression resulting in mortality. That being said, I am not convinced you are having cholera....it is very obvious upon necropsy, so I am not sure how it would not have been identified in the rabbits


    Clint
     

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