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Sneezing, some coughing- going through the flock

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by zooweemama, Apr 19, 2012.

  1. zooweemama

    zooweemama Chillin' With My Peeps

    I bought ducklings from a local feed store. 2 weeks ago yesterday. They said they were likely a day old when I got them. From the beginning I was given not so great advice (this is literally what I was told: ducks are stupid. you cannot give them food and water at the same time or they will overeat and choke and die. give them their water for 15 minutes and wait a half hour and offer food. then after a half hour give them back their water.) It's not actually all that easy to gather specific info on caring for ducks. I had read the opposite of that BUT I thought hey this is a mom&pop shop that is been here over 50 years- they gotta know their stuff right?

    Well over the course of 3 days- 2 ducklings died. After the 2nd death- I began offering their food moistened PLUS water at the same time. They did FANtastic. Occasionally I would see a duckling do something weird- a random sneeze here and there, stumbling but would be ok 10 minutes later, even once or twice found a duck on their pack paddling unable to get up- but then I would hold them for a minute set them back on their feet and they were fine and never did those things again.

    Well when they were about 5 days old I noticed one had a swollen eye and it had ickies on it- crusty. No bubbles or foam though. A day prior to that I had noticed there was a small wood chip in ones eye (a black one and I have 4 black ones and 3 look identical). I assumed it was from that wood chip. I offered that one a clean bath, neosporin and back in the bin with the rest. I did this for 3 days and her eye was really looking better. She was not sneezing- just rubbing her annoyed eye.

    Everyone was eating and drinking fabulous. Alert, active, noisy- normal stuff.

    Then around day 10 I noticed one of yellow ducklings (not Pekins ones) sneezing quite a bit. I made sure fresh water was offered. One day 11 I noticed her bff was also sneezing- I separated them into a 'sick brooder'. Day 12 I heard one of them 'coughing' and one of the black ducklings began sneezing. All 3 were now in the same bin. The rest of the black ones (3) were in another bin and were fine no sneezing or anything. My Pekins (4) were in their own bin also just dandy.

    Until day 14. I hear some occasional sneezing from Pekin bin and the blacks bin. GAH! I moved the one Pekin I could pick out that was sneezing into the sick bin.

    But at this point- it's totally pointless moving anyone. They've all been exposed to one another. This entire time I have been putting an electrolyte/immune system booster in their water. I have been trying my hardest to keep their bins dry- daily removing soiled wet bedding and adding fresh clean bedding.

    What I do note NOW though is that the bedding I had been using up until Day 10/11 is a very very dusty pine shaving. It made ME sneeze. I switched to a triple screen kind and there is very very little dust and when I do add it I have been taking great care since day 12 to add it slowly and then spread it out once I have laid it down. I am sure this did not help (the dusty stuff). But I had hoped changing to the triple screened it would have improved.

    I have not changed their diets- same waterfowl starter. They do get fresh water all through out the day. Plenty deep enough to submerge their entire head. But they did have a 2 day spread that I did not realize they could not do this in their waterer (I feel so bad about that).

    And despite the fast that about half of them are sneezing- everyone is still eating like ginormous pigs and drinking water like mad. They are all also very active and alert. Even the ones that had been 'coughing' are still otherwise acting normal.

    My concerns: I have a fresh batch of ducklings coming April 24th. The first batch will be moved into the coop (they will be almost 3 weeks old) but will not have access outdoors and will be safe from drafts and predators. I will be using the triple screen on the bottom of the coop floor to fill in cracks etc then topped off with a thick pile of straw. Their room to move with very large- much bigger than what they have been used to.

    Does this sound like CRD or some other infectious disease? I'm afraid my new babies will get sick. They will be kept away from (or my plans before most started sneezing) was keeping the new babies in for 3 weeks before also adding them to the coop. Now I'm stressing.

    I have no doubt I have stressed them out some- moving them around from bin to bin when they got bigger- then moving them again with new bin buddies because of the sneezing. And the Pekins recently have REALLY started freaking out whenever I do ANYthing with their bin. Water them, feed them, fiddle with bedding- they flip out and do a quivering huddle like I am going to murder them. The other sets (sickos and the blackies) all great me with curiosity and mostly pretty darn calm. Is that weird Pekin thing? They are going to hurt themselves with how much they flip out. I always approach each bin with a soft voice, using the same phrase "hi guys. how are you guys doing?" and call them by name for those that have them. When I reach in I reach in slowly- the Pekins no longer care they just flip out.

    I just wish I knew if I caused all this somehow- if it's horribly contagious- if they are going to die or get my new batch sick...I am just at a loss. If they ACTED sick beyond the sneezing (and 2 would cough a little on day 12 but aren't anymore) - I'd cry like a baby but I would cull the flock to prevent the new batch from getting sick. I want a strong flock not a sick one. :(

    ETA: I don't know if this is related but my big fatty Pekin (bigger than the others) has a wing that looks tender. Like someone started plucking the down off it. I can get pictures if needed. I have never kept birds before and ALL my supplies are brand spanking new so I hope I didn't do some huge mistake.

    Anyone have any words of wisdom or advice? Thanks so much!
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2012
  2. Wynette

    Wynette Moderator Staff Member

    Sep 25, 2007
    OH goodness, this doesn't sound good, and clearly you're distraught! [​IMG] So sorry!

    I have a few questions - please don't be upset by them.
    Do you have them under a heat lamp?
    How much space do they have? (not overcrowded?)
    When you say "bin" describe that - tell us about their brooder
    Have you contacted the store you bought them from and, if so, what did they say?
    Have you started any treatment, either chemical or probiotic, electrolyte, etc.?

    To be honest, I would NOT put the new ones anywhere near these, as it's clear you have something contagious going on and you'd be just SICK if the new babies got whatever it is.

    If you must use the same brooder, please don't just clean it well, also disinfect it with Oxine solution, or Virkon or something of that nature.

    I'm so sorry you're going through this!
  3. zooweemama

    zooweemama Chillin' With My Peeps

    I'll answer them in order and totally not upset by the questions at all.

    Heat Lamp- yes the red ones. I have them rigged to a dimmer so I can increase or decrease temps as needed.
    I have them in large plastic totes. I don't know how large but I am 5 7 and weigh 135 and could easily curl up in them and close the lid.
    The store told me to give terramycin. That's pretty much all they said. And considering the feeding advice I got- I am hesitant to ask for more advice honestly.But before then- just the electrolyte (above) in their water. No other additives.
    Last night I gave them a dose of the terramycin in the water the feed store sold me. I don't know if that is good or bad- I'm at a loss. I am hesitant to offer more because I don't know what it is you know? Killing 10 baby ducks is not something I wish to do unless it have to.

    To minimize how much space the food/water takes up I actually use coffee cups. Easily washed and sterilized. Since only 3 or so ducks a time in a bin they are sit around the food or water and don't fight for access. Their water cup is rinsed out 2187362793 times a day and refilled with fresh water.

    I will be buying all new totes honestly. I am really paranoid. And will split them up right away. I had all 12 in one tote for the first 2 days. Then 2 died and I split them up- 5 in each tote. After a week I put them all in 3 totes. 3, 3, and 4.
  4. Wynette

    Wynette Moderator Staff Member

    Sep 25, 2007
    No lids on the totes, correct?

    Regarding antibiotics, it's never a good idea to start and then stop them before the recommended time, because that creates resistance to them - if you should need them in the future, they MAY not work as well for you. That said, I am personally not an advocate of using antibiotics for respiratory illnesses, but everyone has their comfort level. Also, Terramycin is a general antibiotic; not one that is specifically formulated to treat respiratory illness. If you ARE going to treat, please use something that's more targeted (I can't say what that would be for ducks, for chickens, Tylan or Gallimycin are good ones I have read).

    It sounds like you are doing all you can for them! They have food all the time, are warm, and as dry as ducklings can be. I don't think dusty shavings could be the culprit. That might cause a sneeze or two right after you added it, but it would not continue. Gosh, I wish I could think of something for you to do other than antibiotics, but I just don't know enough about ducklings. So sorry!!! Hopefully, someone else will come along & post, but again, I DO think you are doing everything you can!
  5. zooweemama

    zooweemama Chillin' With My Peeps

    And I ordered them before all the 'sneezing' started happening. I arranged for a later shipping date so that I didn't have 18 ducks in my house. :| I bought my new batch from Metzer's and I know it will be a healthy batch so I am REALLY stressed out about what to do here. :(
  6. zooweemama

    zooweemama Chillin' With My Peeps

    No lids, no way. I have them in the livingroom right now- best ventilated room in the house.

    I am pretty anti- antibiotics normally. Unless my kids are really sick and they know what's wrong and it's for sure bacterial. (antibiotics don't do beans for viruses) I just freaked out.

    Thank you so much for taking the time out to read my novel and help!
  7. Wynette

    Wynette Moderator Staff Member

    Sep 25, 2007
    Goodness, I'm not helping you at all! I feel so badly for you and wish I knew more about them. Do you have any duck books you can look into to find potential issues that are common? I don't think you answered - did you contact the feed store to let them know? If you do so in a helpful way, they'll be more likely to tell you if anyone else has had issues...
  8. zooweemama

    zooweemama Chillin' With My Peeps

    So far CRD seems to fit the bill although they are not stumbling around or lethargic or anything. I recently noticed a few breathing fast. Looking back I'm not sure I started with a perfectly healthy bunch because the 2 that died early on did weird things like falling over and the second seemed ok but then suddenly he just keeled over. In a short amount of time. And every now and then I have noticed odd behaviors but since this is my first time doing it- I don't always know what I am looking at. I have 2 books and have read them cover to cover (but skipped the breeding portions). So I do have some basic knowledge but very basic. All my friends raise chickens. I am the ONLY one who decided to try ducks and I'm struggling because there is so little info on ducks vs chickens. Which is probably why so many people do chickens. :)
  9. zooweemama

    zooweemama Chillin' With My Peeps

    I took them outside today. It was about 75. I put them in the sun with access to part shade. About 4 hours of sun. :) Almost no sneezing - just the normal random stuff. They all ate and drank like piggies. They even caught the bugs thy flew by (gnats and things). If you remove the sneezing the only other thing that I notice is the murky eyes on some of them. I'm going to take them back out tomorrow - its suppose to be almost 90 degrees so I will give them a pan of water to play in for a bit (really get their noses wet). Just a few at a time. I'm attaching a pic of their fresh clean bins - I haven't put their food:water back in when I took the pic.
    They are suppose to move to their coop Saturday.

    I guess I'll attach the image in another post - my phone wants to add it in weird places.

    If it doesn't make sense - I blame autocorrect. Sent from my sweet iPhone 4s.
  10. zooweemama

    zooweemama Chillin' With My Peeps

    Here are there "brooders" until Saturday when they are 3 weeks old and move into their big duck coop. :)

    If it doesn't make sense - I blame autocorrect. Sent from my sweet iPhone 4s.

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