Now my Drake is sick


7 Years
Oct 3, 2012
Western Sydney, Australia
Hi All,

Yesterday about midday I noticed my drake was making an odd whistling noise and not chasing his girls. I found he had mud plugged in both nostrils and was breathing through his mouth. I put him in the laundry sink and cleaned him but couldnt dislodge it fully and he really objected to my prodding, so I put fresh water in the pond and just kept him in there. He ducked his head and furiously scratched at his nose. He didnt get both nostrils fully clear but he could breathe through them again, and proceded to preen, fossick and chase his girls as usual. I was watching him like a hawk.

Late last night I went to check on him and he was fluffed up in the corner just like Piper. I freaked and brought him inside. He had two doses of epsom salts in the first hour, then a dose of mild charcoal. His eyes were extremely dilated but not changing rapidly like Pipers were. His movements were a bit shaky and after he upended a water dish I decided not to leave one in. He was the first bird I ever hatched and he is very good to handle - he loves being pampered with a hot water bottle.

This morning he is doing really well, he's been very alert throughout. This morning at 6am he was curled up with his head under his wing on his warm bottle, my little cutey. He's now got a deep water dish and he's in the laundry where its warm. His pupils are still very dilated but overall he looks a lot better. Hes very thirsty and hungry, I gave him a little seed and he had another dose of charcoal this morning.

Im just doubting everything now. The seed mix I use now is different to the one I used a few years ago, and Im doubting the seed mix. Im also worrying about the DCP (dicalcium phosphate) I have never given it to them before. The big girls are fine, they have thrived on the new seed and the DCP but maybe its no good for the little ducks? I dont know, I just dont know. I know I can rule out things outside the pen, like the pigeon cage, because the drake never leaves the pen. Its something just affecting the little ducks, not the big girls.
If you're feeding them seeds, that could be part of the problem, especially if the mix contains apple or cherry seeds, which contain cyanide that's toxic to ducks. Also, too many seeds can cause impacted crops, and seeds in general are very high in carbs and can make ducks overweight. Plus, they don't have the nutrients and vitamins ducks need. I would suggest switching over to a pelleted layer feed made for ducks right away, and that will help. Also, you don't want them to drink epsom salt. It's a laxative, and when they're sick, the last thing they need is to be pooping out all their food and water. I would suggest you get him on a vitamin and mineral supplement right away. You can get them at most feed stores over here - I'm not sure about in Australia, but I would think feed stores would carry them. They'd be in the poultry section.

Otherwise, sounds like you're doing good, keeping him warm and isolated. Are there any other symptoms? Any kind of discharge, any wheezing, any problems breathing? I'm just not sure what this could be other than a nutritional imbalance. Usually respiratory problems are marked by nasal and eye discharge and problems breathing.
Hi mate,

Thanks for your reply. Ive been doing some research and Im sure its the DCP. The big girls are fine because they are constantly laying eggs so they are using the extra calcium, Piper who recently died was not laying eggs, and obviously the drake would not need it. I feel so STUPID Ive been shoveling in extra calcium because I thought with the warm weather the girls might start sitting and Ive poisoned my poor little ducks!

Im looking into pellets now. Im having a hard time finding some that are duck specific.

No discharge or wheezing. His eyes are clear but the pupils are dilating and shrinking, though not rapidly. He seems well and alert but not overly lively. Im going to take him out for a swim in a little while. He is having trouble walking but he does have a crooked leg that hes had since he was a duckling. His nostrils are clear now but he does seem a bit strange around that area, like his beak has taken a blow? Hes not wheezing at all now and he was all last night so Im taking that as a very good sign. I only gave a little epsom salt initially to flush him, now hes just having water and seed. Lots of fairly normal looking poops, if a bit runny. I think hes been preening too, he looks a bit cleaner. All very good. Ive just got to find some duck pellet and we're good to go.
Oh hi going quackers. Yes they have 2 water dishes cleaned twice a day which are deep and wide - for holding big pots. They also have a big pond cleaned out at least once a week. The seed is parrot and canary mixed with oats. Its only supposed to be a supplement, they dont get a lot of it because they free range on our quater acre block - sometimes out in the horse paddocks too!
Okay i see your not in the US(well neither am I lol ) but you have different options, i wouldn't use a parrot anything, i mean i do feed BOSS here(black oil sunflower seeds) and whole corn/oats but nothing like the seeds you can get for budgies or parrots( i have some of those too)

You don't necessarily need a dedicated duck feed, i am using a pullet grower right now as the duck growers here lack in calcium(my ducks do best at a 1%) and are to high in protein(18%) so the pullet grower mixed with the grains(corn, oats and BOSS) is my formula, my scovies and buffs all free range the farm too.

Do they have access to grit? i realize they free range, but you know i still put some out for my flock regardless, just cannot always be sure they can access enough. You will probably notice i do not feed layer that is because of my drakes, i just offer free choice oyster shell.

I am not sure what else to advise, i wonder whether he has a nasal infection?? you sound like your on the right track for care however, perhaps others can chime in as i have not had this occurrence with my birds.
Hes out having a swim right now. I gave the water and dishes a good scrub and let him out with the flock. Hes having a tough time on his bum leg from being confined all night and seems a bit tired but otherwise well, chasing the girls. I will bring him in again tonight, how long I leave him with the flock depends how he feels.

I dont give them grit because theres plenty of gravel and stones but I'll look into it. The seed is relatively new - I used to feed them a horse mix that was mostly corn and lupins but my feed place closed down and I cant get it anymore, the new horse mix is very powdery and Im afraid it would go off fast in the heat and how wet they get the food, so I just switched to a similar mix from the supermarket.

Im sure Ive poisoned him and poor little Piper on calcium. A few months ago the big girls were looking really poor, and at the same time my stallion came down with mysterious symptoms. We found out the new property is calcium deficient due to runoff from surrounding market gardens, so I started giving the ducks a bit of calcium too and they started looking really beautiful on it. The last few weeks Ive just been shoveling it in, because all my girls sat from Nov to Feb last year, and every single clutch went DIS by 3 weeks, I was just devastated. I wasnt sure if the problem was the cross breeding, poor mothering or calcium so I though with lots of calcium I could rule that out, and their eggs have been lovely and hard so I thought I was going in the right direction. I just didnt factor in what it was doing to those who ARENT laying!
Oh yeah, definitely move away from the parrot seed. It's not even good for parrots! Seriously. Sounds like you pinpointed the problem. I dunno if Mazuri makes feed in Australia, but they're a good brand. Also, you don't have to do duck feed specifically if you can't find it - they also make stuff like "All Flock" which is to be fed to multiple types of poultry. You could also go with chicken pellets too, as long as the protein is about 16%. The good thing about that is also that you won't have to add any extra calcium; all they need will be in the feed. You could offer oyster shell in another dish in case you're worried, though. That way, they will take what they need and no more. Glad to hear he's doing better!

Edit: Here's Mazuri's website if you wanted to look into it:
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Thanks for that, checked it out, nothing in Australia!

Ugh, My partner, me and my 2yr old all have the flu, Ive already persuaded my partner to go to the newsagent on the way to the doctor (ive waited for a magazine for about 2 months) I wonder if I can convince him to go to the pet store too?

Im the kind of person that has to fix things NOW so Im a bit frantic about the feed right now. Realistically though hes been fine on seed its just the excess calcium thats making him sick ( I hope thats it, anyway) so the pellets can wait a day or two.
Do you guys have the equivalent of Tractor Supply down there? I think you'd have a lot more luck at that kind of place than a pet store. Then again, I know nothing about pet stores down there :p Hope you guys feel better soon. The flu is awful. Oh also, in that earlier post, I meant you won't need to add extra CALCIUM, not protein. Please forgive me, it's late here :lol:

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