Raising Mallard Ducklings

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by LivGreeley, Jul 25, 2017.

  1. LivGreeley

    LivGreeley In the Brooder

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    Hi all, new to this forum but looking for some advice.
    I am a veterinary technician and trying to obtain an assistant position with my local animal control officer. With that said she's a coworker at my veterinary hospital and good friend of mine. A few weeks ago she got a call about two abandoned ducklings found in a residents swimming pool. Unfortunately one died from what we suspect was chlorine toxicity as they were in the pool for 8+ hours alone (homeowner went to work and came back with them still there, alone); the other survived and she asked me to keep an eye on him while she went to a training conference. Three weeks later and the little guy is still with me. I'm 99% sure he is a mallard and while I know a lot about small animals, companion animals and large animals I know nothing about ducks and poultry. I have been reading a lot and getting information from as many resources as I can but joined this community for some more specific help. Let me start with he swims in my tub or sink twice daily. He has a "play pen" with mirrors along with a little stuffed animal bird. At night or when I can't supervise he stays in a cat crate with shavings and a hot water bottle. I have been feeding him about 3 small meals a day and one larger one in the evening consisting of cracked corn, meal worms, and plain rolled oatmeal as well as greens.
    He was doing well but the tail end of my first week with me he seemed to have a weird seizure like episode where he rolled onto his back and couldnt correct himself. Even when I tried to stand him up manually he kept falling over. This lasted a few minutes before he recovered normally. My coworker veterinarian suggested a liver shunt (it happened almost immediately after feeding) or neurological problems, potentially from the chlorine. He has been fine since, up until yesterday he did this same thing on the newspaper lining his playpen. However it is glossy paper form an advertisement and it was wet and I assumed he slipped as he was able to correct himself on his own almost immediately. However, this evening this same rolling thing (it's almost like he's a turtle stuck on his back) happened while he was swimming in the sink.
    I always make sure to dry him thoroughly and keep water with him. He has a hot water bottle most days except for when it is well over 90*F with high humidity (I live in Boston and the weather has been fluctuating significantly recently). He grooms normally, he eats very well and I feel as though he is pretty normal as far as ducklings go except for these episodes.
    My questions are:
    1. Are these normal behaviors and if so what causes them? If they are not, how do I prevent them?
    2. I feel now that we've gotten to the point where he is otherwise thriving he needs a diet change. I have ordered some duckling meal and I have been reading about vitamin D deficiencies--am I able to supplement that somehow?
    3. We are assuming he was ~2 weeks old when he was rescued (~4 weeks now), so I know he likely imprinted on his mother and is "aware" he is a duck. With that said I know he would be killed if brought back to the wild now but has the potential to adjust well when he is a young adult. My fears are that he may have something medically wrong with him and will not thrive or that he will become too dependent on people to thrive. I do not want to keep him as a pet unless he shows signs of significant health problems that would cause him to fail. We don't have many wild life sanctuaries around here and the ones we do are currently at max capacity. while we agreed on no "heroics", I have definitely grown very attached and want to do right by him. I am determined to help him and hope to have him lead a normal ducky life when he's grown. If unable, I have already started talking to friends with farms and chickens to see if he could take up residency with them. My hopes is that if he is able to thrive he can leave if he chooses but if he cannot he isn't totally alone and has some source of human interaction to help him get along. I am torn, though, as to what is truly the right thing for him. Just wondering if anyone has had experience or advice on wild, singular orphan ducklings. I do believe in natural selection and am certainly not trying to be unrealistic but I do feel at this point he deserves the best chance possible and I want to make sure I provide that opportunity. I don't have much wildlife or poultry/waterfowl experience but I have helped hundreds of cats and dogs and horses, both on my own and with my wonderful team and I am determined to let this little guy have a successful end to his story too!
    Thank you, so very much in advance. Thank you for your responses and reading this short novella about my little duck friend (who we have dubbed Billip "Launchpad" Pato McQuack).
    Regards,
    Liv
     
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  2. shawluvsbirds

    shawluvsbirds "FAKE EILLEEN" Premium Member

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  3. shawluvsbirds

    shawluvsbirds "FAKE EILLEEN" Premium Member

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  4. LivGreeley

    LivGreeley In the Brooder

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    LOL I just read that thread and I'm so grateful there is someone else on here who doesn't know what they're doing either.
    Thank you for the reply. I'll get rid of the news papers in the pen; his crate is actually lined with a puppy pee pad and aspen shavings.
     
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  5. shawluvsbirds

    shawluvsbirds "FAKE EILLEEN" Premium Member

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    I don't wanna spoil the ending for ya. . but it's a happy one. :love
    Adding brewers yeast to their food for leg strength is what I've been told. If it is a niacin deficiency causing the trouble. .
     
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  6. Ravynscroft

    Ravynscroft For the Love of Duck Premium Member

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    Actually sounds like the duckling may be Niacin deficient, food needs to be supplemwnted with extra Niacin unless it is formulated with higher Niacin proper for ducklings... call your local feed stores and find out if one carries Purina Flock Raiser, get him on that ASAP... I would also pick up Nutridrench Poultry vitamins as well, mild wry neck can cause similar issues...

    If the Niacin deficiency is bad enough, brewers yeast added to his feed (1Tblspn per cup of feed mixed in) should help...

    Cracked corn is no good for poultry as part of regular diet, especially for ducklings... it's like potato chips, empty calories... get him on proper feed first, and give him a couple drops of the poultry vitamins 3x per day and see how that helps in a few days...
     
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  7. Michelle 0831

    Michelle 0831 Chirping

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    They will eat the newspaper too. Don't give them cedar shavings. Again, they will eat it. Good ole straw is safe! No more meal worms. Spinach in a bowl of water. Lots of water with food. Good ole flock raiser for ducks, geese etc, not chicken food.Crumbles are great for chicks. You can get everything you need and plenty of advice at your local feed store. Congratulations on your new pet! If u can't keep him, find a nice farm he live on. Try craig listing for rehome and go check the home. Be sure and put a dollar amount in the ad to ward off duck dinner diners!
     

  8. Wickedchicken6

    Wickedchicken6 No Rest For The WicKed Premium Member Project Manager

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    Hi Liv! That's very good of you to take this fellow in.

    I have zero experience with waterfowl. My husband brought home 4 duck eggs that survived the haying equipment...I believe they're also mallards. All four hatched, they've made it though the house brooder and are currently in the coop with the chicks that I had inside and the young EEs and guineas.

    I see Ravyn has already responded to the issues you are having. I was also going to tell you that it isn't normal for them to have issues as you're having. So far I have mine on chick starter that's medicated with Amprollium. I'd rather not have them on the Amprolium...but I've been continually adding chicks to the rest.

    The ducks do really well with chicks their own size. It's night and day how it gets them out and about. The ducklings seem to be comforted by having the chicks with them...lol.
     
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  9. Ravynscroft

    Ravynscroft For the Love of Duck Premium Member

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    Sorry, but spinach is not good for ducks... spinach binds to calcium and can cause issues in their development...
     

  10. shawluvsbirds

    shawluvsbirds "FAKE EILLEEN" Premium Member

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    Also if your duckling is not foraging outside to pick up grit it would be a good idea for you to look for some chic grit at the feed store. When it eats anything besides commercial feed and if it is not foraging outside where it can get it from the ground naturally it will need grit to help it digest its food.
     
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