Probably being paranoid but how do you know if a duck is a little sick, or very sick?


5 Years
Aug 20, 2014
North Florida
So I figure its easy to tell if there is an obvious problem. How can you tell if they're starting to get sick?

I apparently have mixed internal feelings. I believe children and animals alike should be exposed to agents that can cause illness, so that they have strong immune systems. Also, I feel that if your child gets sick, 9 out of 10 times they'll be better next week whether you took them to the doctor or not. Helping the body fight infection, and reducing exposure and opportunities to fight, leads to a weaker immune system. Thus, the opposite, makes them stronger.

With that being said, now I'm worried they might be getting sick and I'm afraid that the worst will happen :) I can't help it. My logic and emotions are in conflict. I took them out to play in the grass Saturday and I had a little plastic container sitting there which had collected rain water, and had some larva and algae growth in it. They jumped right in and I thought about removing it, then decided "it'll only make them stronger, they're dirty ducks I'm sure they can handle it."

Since then, they've been poopping huge amounts, and getting everything wet. I changed out the water container, and now I think its poop getting everything wet and they might have diarrhea. They were eating and drinking plenty, I figure even if they have something, how can it stay in them for long?

Yesterday they had a bath, and I thought they were less playful then they could have been. Last night, I noticed they were staying wet a lot. I adding more dry bedding, dried them off, but it kept happening. Since last night, I did notice for the first time a much lower food & water consumption. Their behavior seems to not be very different, but a bit more 'peepy' and they seem a little bit less like they're having fun.

I feel really stupid. Like a bad parent. They're not even a week old and I made a bad call. They need time to get strong. The worse part is its difficult for me to tell whats normal or not. They're changing every day... But it seems at this rate, it is too much poop. I wanna know how to tell there are definitely symptoms, and how to treat them, as needed, or preemptively.. Actually, what should I do now, to be safe? And what should I do if I can tell there are definitely problems?
Noooo! I'm an idiot :( I'm going to assume this is my fault and related.. I just went to add some extra bedding, they were all in a cuddle pile. When they moved on the bottom was on soaking wet dead duckling

I'll be sad later for the one, and focus on the others now. Advise please asap. Off the top of my head I'm thinking, 1) wait a few minutes for responses, 2) call tractor supply and see if they sell antibiotics, 3) call & find a duck vet.. Those should take up enough time to come check back here.

*edit* I'm assuming its bacteria
Last edited:
How are they getting wet all the time? Maybe they just need a more appropriate waterer (one they can only get their little bills into to drink)? Ducklings that young should not have access to anything they can get themselves wet in (aside from supervised baths of course). They can get weak and sick quickly if they are not kept warm and dry at all times. That could be your problem, not necessarily the rain water? Ducklings poop ALOT (and it is very watery and gross), so that part does not seem abnormal to me. And as each day passes, there will be more and more poo.

I'm not saying they aren't sick from something else, but my first concern is how they are getting wet. Hopefully that is the issue and it is easily fixed.
I don't know how they're getting wet but it wasn't happening before. This is their new water container I added yesterday. I've watched them, its really confusing me how they're getting wet. I'm having to assume its a large quantity of water poop. I just moved their box 90 degrees to have more heat exposure. The wetness is all over, not concentrated around the water container.

I just took these pictures now, added bedding about an hour ago, and had it all replaced maybe 18hrs ago? I'm not sure how well you can see how wet it is again already, but you can tell some of the ducklings are wet. I think they're making the ground wet very fast (w poop) then getting bellies wet on some, then cuddling and getting tops wet on others.

This reminds me of the hatching fiasco. I think its part legit emergency, part me overreacting (because the crucial main cause of concern time has passed). Those calls took forever. They sent me to other calls, and people kept me on the phone way too long trying to sell me on completely unrelated things.

Here's what I'm thinking based on my convos:

1. They should not necessarily be sick. ***Also, something I have not pointed out here or on the phone. The container had small old remaining amounts of garden dirt which did have fertilizer.*** I'm thinking, I might be able to change out all the bedding again, and keep doing it, and they might be fine soon (or be fine now?)

2. One is down, and I believe my actions caused it. To be safe, I can act and cover multiple bases. Pick one of the 3 detoxes I saw yesterday, and add vitamin/electrolyte powder. The I can also decide if I should get my hands on amoxicillin (most popular antibiotic mentioned over the phone), or use one of the easier to get broad spectrum antibiotics from tractor supply, or use some kinda of natural antibiotic. (One of the phone sales was thieves essential oil) (I'm sure there are others)

I'm thinking detox could cover fertilizer and clean system of other things, maybe biological illness. I assume Epsom Salts/Molasses/Activated Charcoal Powder are all equal choices. Antibiotic, I have not guess. Amoxicillin seems the popular recommendation by the 'pros.' Broad spectrum sounds better to me, in part because the pros didn't sound like they knew what they were talking about. Thieves essential oil or other natural idea has its own appeal.

They all seem fine.. My brain is kicking in again and starting to say 'you transformed into a girl, and then a crazy overly worried and overprotective mom.' The thing is, they all seemed fine this morning and then one died.. I'm going to add food back in, make water with a tiny bit of Airborne (for vitamins) and a bit of sugar and salt (energy and hydration) and see how they do on consumption. Then wait, think, google, and check back here.
Jesus I'm ridiculous. I'm definitely not cut out to have kids. I'd appreciate input, information, and advise; but I'm going to assume there is no immediate danger since they're all acting completely fine. Death is a part of life. The last 4 ducks that hatched were in bad shape. I had to help them, and 2 of those didn't make it. Maybe this was a 3rd one. Maybe it was my letting them play in bad water. Maybe it was just wet and on the bottom and died. Who knows.

As long as they're all acting fine, eating and drinking, and no one recommends otherwise; I'm not doing anything else. Pretty sure they did get diarrhea, which lead to the wetness. Pretty sure their systems are plenty cleaned out by now.. I might go med shopping just to have on hand.

This so reminds me of the hatching thing. First, a general question/concern post. Shortly after a dead :( Followed by an 'emergency' post. Then a freakout and nonstop researching. Hopefully it stops here, if not the next step is another death :(
Last edited:
That is the waterer? That could be part of the problem right there. We had one and I took it back the same day because EVERYTHING was wet within a hour. All mine did was play in it. I'm not an expert by any means but I do remember mine getting soaked with that type if waterer. We switched to a milk jug with a hole in the side and had way less mess.

This is my personal opion as well, I'm new to ducks so keep that in mind. I would not do antibiotics yet. You don't know if they are actually sick and it won't help if they didnt pick up a bacterial infection.
Last edited:
They were getting wet before that, I don't know if it could be the problem but I know know the one before this was a serious problem and they were less wet but I can change it up. There now appears to be a symptom, breathing like a dog.. I changed box 90 degrees again jic its heat, but they aren't moving away from it. I could only get a video of one doing it, but a few are breathing heavy and fast like a dog would after running.. like this
Mine pant when they are stressed or hot. Could either of those be happening? I hope someone else with more experience can chime in here. Are they dry right now and you are upping the heat?
First, I would use a different water container. I used a ricotta cheese container, and later a cool whip tub, with a hole cut out of the lid for their beaks, and then placed THAT inside a heavy ceramic dish that they could not tip over and that would catch any spills from the container. Also, you may want to try pelleted horse stall bedding instead of or mixed with the shavings. They absorb a LOT of water (turns from pellets into sawdusty crumbles) and helps keep things dry. Also, try using a puppy pee pad on the bottom of it all in case there are any spills; it helps to keep the wetness localized.

Also, you could try adding apple cider vinegar to their water (like Braggs, which has "the mother" in it). I have heard several people on here suggest it. I think it's a tablespoon per gallon of water, but someone please correct me if I am wrong. I think the electrolytes are not a bad idea either if they are sick or stressed.

They will likely outgrow the brooder soon--probably a week, judging by the size of the brooder and how many babies are in there. They grow so fast--mine have basically doubled in size each week.

You will not be a bad parent. You will be a great parent. You are concerned about your little ones, and doing tons of research and seeking advice in trying to determine the correct course of action. Believe me, there isn't a parent alive who doesn't second-guess their actions--and if I found one, THAT would be the parent I would be concerned with.

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom