Should I be worried about little Lullaby? (Updated)


10 Years
Apr 17, 2009
Kildare, Wisconsin
Okay, so out of my three mallard babies - Sunshine, Rainstorm, and Lullaby - I lost my little runty white mallard, Sunshine. Then, I got worried because one of the other two, Lullaby, started squinting, had crusty, gunky eyes, and slept a lot. Now little Lullaby is giving me even more to fret about!

Lullaby's right eye is still icky. She scratches at it a lot, and has actually developed little bald patches above and below the eye. I think the itching is because I gave her a little bit of terramycin eye ointment, which goobed up her fluff - and she's very fastidious about preening and staying clean. After two days of terramycin, the crusty/gooey gunk cleared up and she got more active, but she still squints, so she's still getting plain eyedrops.

They're both about 6-8 days old, but Rainstorm is double little Lullaby's size. She is growing, but at about a quarter of the rate she should be. I had seen her eat starter crumbles from the feeder, but for some reason she stopped yesterday, and I noticed her poo was thin and clear, so I scrambled her up an egg with some poly-vi-sol, which she gulped down and went to sleep. She ate almost another half a scrambled egg this morning - but she still won't touch the crumbles in the feeder. If I dip her bill in it, she'll take a little nibble, rush to get a drink but won't go back to the feeder an eat on her own. It's almost like she doesn't like the taste - could it be that she doesn't like the brewer's yeast sprinkled on top?


Lullaby is just as active as Rainstorm, when I gave them their nightly bath last night, they both zipped around like loons and splashed and preened - but I'm worried about her small size - Rainstorm is getting big enough that he gets a little pushy sometimes. I think I'm doing all I can do to help Lullaby catch up (any other suggestions are most welcome!), but, at this point, how worried should I be?

And WHY are these little mallards so difficult!
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Sorry your little duck is having problems. Did you try leaving a little bowl of crumbles with no brewers yeast to see if she will eat that?
Yes - I've tried leaving her a little dish of plain crumbles, and the bigger one, Rainstorm, gobbles them all up!
I tried separating them so that they could still see eachother, but they both ran back and forth, dragging their bills across the bars and peeping their lungs out, and didn't care about eating or anything else.

She will eat yogurt - only if it has corn syrup or honey in it, and only off my fingers - not from a dish. She seems to have stopped growing altogether.

The best and most encouraging thing I've come up with is, because she drinks a lot of water, I've started putting crumbles in the waterer, and she seems to be gobbling up the "mush" from the bottom - and her poo looks pretty normal now - but I'm not sure if it's doing any good, since she's still so very tiny - but, for the moment, I'm going to allow myself to believe that she'll have an amazing growth spurt one of these days and be just fine.
Oh! Wet mush...good idea.

One of my Welsh Harlequin girls starting looking a bit "off" the other day. I tried giving her yogurt and she wouldn't eat it. I noticed she wasn't eating and tried to hand feed her her favorite treats. No go.

Out of desperation, I put some Poly Vi Sol in the water dish along with a cap full of organic Apple Cider Vinegar. The next day she looked better. I dosed the water again and she was perfect the next day, but she is smaller than her sisters.

It might be worth a shot to try the ACV and the Poly Vi Sol.
probably a silly question, but do they have access to water they can submerge their face in at all times?
The first time I raised ducks they got crusty eyes and I freaked out...changed to a bowl with a heavy jar of water in it to keep them out of it. Now I use a 1/2 gal milk jug laying on it's side with a head sized hole cut in it. Make sure their body cannot go through the hole!
Also mush is a great idea! mix it up fresh a few times a day...
Ducks are fragile in the start, but once they get going they really are hardier than chickens.

kinda like this...

OK here...I took pics of what I use...
As little ones I use a chick waterer for the 1st week. They are so small it works for them to submerge their nostrils...
Then I make this:

Then as they grow taller:

I'll even turn it around so they have to reach farther once they are bigger and messier. If you are raising them with chicks the chicks will use this fine too. Just float a nice green piece of lettuce on the top of the water to get them interested when you first change to the jug.
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I have often used a soupy form of duck feed when I have a duck in the ICU. Being Mallards, they like to root around in water to find food and will do it quite happily even if the water is made thick with feed. Chopped mealworms and cricket bellies are also a much loved food.
When I raised my last Indian Runners, Dawn was much smaller than Smoke. She also seemed to have an arrythmia and took breathes much faster than her sister. I was relieved as surrogate mommy at 8 weeks and now at 15 weeks Dawn is larger than Smoke.

She made me crazy when I was caring for her she was so delicate and got tired easy - then she seemed to grow out of the condition.

I just made sure they had deep water to dip their bills, fed them Poulin chick starter, yogurt and finely chopped kale as a snack at 1 week or so.
Thanks everybody for the advice and words of encouragement!

TheNewMrsEvans - They have a mason-jar chick waterer, with an extra little dish that they can dip their heads in on the side. I also had the thought that it would be beneficial for her to be able to clean her eye out on her own, so I've been letting them bathe in a paint pan (never used for paint of course - it has a convenient ramp built in and works great for ducklings!) outside in the afternoons - it's been in the mid-80's to nearly 90 degrees out the past few days. While they were out playing in the water, dabbling at the chopped greens I added to try and stimulate Lullaby's appetite, she saw a mosquito, lunged at it, and caught it! Definitely a good sign!

I have a sneaking suspicion that her stunted growth all traces back to whatever's going on with her eye. Today, the down above her eye was all sticking inside the eye again, and the eye was all squinted shut. After I gently pulled it out and tried to "style" it back in place three times today, I finally gave up and gave her a "haircut" by carefully trimming all the fuzz around her eye with some sharp nail clippers (which I had, of course, washed and disinfected). Hopefully, that will eliminate a lot of irritation and help keep germs from getting in there. It's strange that there's no discharge or "crusties" like there had been last week - but the eyelid looks funny - sort of crooked. I'll try and get a pic - she's a little upset with me since I took my nailclippers to her head

Wifezilla - I hadn't heard of giving apple cider vinegar before - I'm willing to try anything, and will give it a go - but what's the logic behind it? I have been putting a few drops of poly-vi-sol in her yogurt, and in the waterer. I was searching through old forum posts and found that someone said they had used infant rice cereal for ducklings that weren't eating - good or bad idea?

Again, thanks everyone - this is only the second batch of babies I've ever brooded (the rest of my duckies were found on craigslist as grown adults, or acquired from a family member who raised them) - I had Runners last year, and they all grew like weeds and thrived without ever giving me anything to worry about!

EDIT - Added pics. The first shows the size difference between Rainstorm and little Lullaby (excuse the mess - that was taken this morning before I cleaned their pen). The second was my best attempt at getting a shot of that troublesome eye - you can only sort of see where I trimmed off a gob of fuzz above it (again, excuse the mess - I was trying to get her to eat some scrambled egg - but it ended up scattered all over the floor
, and the crud at the end of her bill is the yogurt I was trying to feed her - which she doesn't show interest in tonight


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I'm glad I read this thread. I have mallards and one is freakishly smaller than the others and doesn't seem quite as strong. I will try and post a pic of her/him tomorrow. If you figure anything out let me know!

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