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Starving pekins?!

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Bettacreek, Dec 20, 2012.

  1. Bettacreek

    Bettacreek Overrun With Chickens

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    My flock free-ranges with supplemental feed of brewery grain and mash (mash especially for the winter, a 20% protein). All summer, everyone grew well and packed on the pounds. The pekins never really ate supplemental feed, only once in awhile, they'd come in to hog down feed. This morning, I left them all out and had a duck down. I brought her in and checked her over. She's shaking, has a little bit of something in her crop (feels like some corn from the field), but I brought some warm mash and water to her and she's not touching the mash. She is drinking, but not eating. I felt through the feathers, and she literally has no meat, she's ALL bone. I don't understand at all. They were all out rooting around in the dirt yesterday, the feed bucket ALWAYS has some food left in the morning (I leave a light 24/7, which is just enough for them to see). When I open the doors, they're eager to "escape" and get out into the fields. I haven't checked the other ducks yet, but at I did drag them all back for the warm mash, to make absolutely certain that they were eating. Why then, is at least one hen starved half to death, when they have food provided and accessible? Everybody else looks excellent, great broad breasts on the dozen cornish cross and the two BBW turkey hens, the boy turkeys are somewhat boney, but I believe that to be the royal palm in them (and the idiot BBB/Royal palm tom who foregoes food for sex). None of my layers are boney, they all have some meat on their bones. Do I need to start locking the ducks up, to "force" them into eating mash without getting all the exercise?! I would think worms, but nobody else seems to have any problems. :(
     
  2. DuckLady

    DuckLady Administrator Staff Member

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    If you didn't find any other obvious cause, the others might not be letting her at the feed, especially if she is the low duck in the pecking order.
     
  3. Bettacreek

    Bettacreek Overrun With Chickens

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    Jan 7, 2009
    Central Pennsyltucky
    I lost this girl. :/ I had her inside with wet warm mash and water by her. I checked on her, then five minutes later I went out and she was dead. I have three pekin hens left, and all three seem too boney, though not nearly to the extent of this girl. I'm not sure if this is because I don't have much to compare them to (I have mostly the meat breeds... cornish cross and BBW turkeys), or if they're all starving themselves. I made them eat today, rounded them all up and wouldn't let them leave until they had buldging crops. But, why? If they're simply starving themselves, why?! I can't think of anything else. If it were a parasite or illness, the 31 other birds would be showing problems as well, right? The way their behavior is (they never seem to eat, except out in the field or in the grass), and the fact that it's only them, I am leaning more towards them just not eating. When they DO eat, they're usually the jerks of the bunch, shoving everyone else around to get in. But, starving themselves doesn't make sense either. Are they so messed up in the head that they'd sooner starve to death and only eat field corn out there, than to eat some mash?!
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2012
  4. momo18clara

    momo18clara Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sorry about your ducks. My suggestion is to get a bag of whole corn, mix in a little flock raiser or layer pellets, and see if they like that better. My ducks don't seem to really like anything, but corn, altho they will eat a little of the other stuff sometimes.
     
  5. Bettacreek

    Bettacreek Overrun With Chickens

    5,517
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    Jan 7, 2009
    Central Pennsyltucky
    We're surrounded by cornfields here, and they're always out there picking at the leftover corn. They'll come in for corn when we give that, so that sounds like a really good idea... I only like to do mash (crumbles for inside/brooder birds), because of the water added makes it easier for everyone to eat without choking (they're all hogs here), but I can certainly mix in whole corn into the mash and see if that perks them up for eating it!!
     
  6. zooweemama

    zooweemama Chillin' With My Peeps

    I'm actually wondering if they are eating too much corn and not enough of anything else? Corn doesn't really have much to it. It is extremely low in protein and vitamins and minerals. It's about as good as feeding them bread. I equate it to feeding a 2 year old milk all the time...pretty soon their health suffers. They only want to drink mostly milk and since they feel full they don't want to eat any of the veggies or other foods that offer them nutrients their bodies need? I've seen what an all corn diet did to a BYCers ducks. At 4-5 months old I thought (and so did others) that the ducks were only a couple weeks old. No joke.

    I'm not saying for sure that is what it is but I personally am not sure I would want to offer yet more corn if they seem to forage on that in the field as it is. I would offer them some wet mash of a higher protein feed and keep them in for a while to observe them. Maybe offer some electrolytes in their water too to be more well rounded. You can send off a stool sample to a local vet and they can check for worms also.

    I'm sorry you lost a duck. :(
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2012
  7. Bettacreek

    Bettacreek Overrun With Chickens

    5,517
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    Jan 7, 2009
    Central Pennsyltucky
    They're going to be locked up tomorrow. I'll see how they do on straight mash and only add a few bits of corn if needed to tempt them to it. I just bought the new drake (last one was run over), and he looks slightly bigger than the hens, but nothing major, so I don't think that the corn affected their growth... Especially since it's only been in the past month or so that they've had all that corn down there in the field. How can I keep them happy, without killing them? Half a day in the room, half a day out, to make sure they fill up on mash first?!
     
  8. DuckLady

    DuckLady Administrator Staff Member

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    How are they pooping? Could they be blocked by compressed grass/corn/hay/anything like that?
    Is what food they eat getting all the way through?

    Sorry you lost your duck. :(
     
  9. Bettacreek

    Bettacreek Overrun With Chickens

    5,517
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    Jan 7, 2009
    Central Pennsyltucky
    Her last poo was a watery white, not really any brown in it. I'm not sure if that would mean blockage or if it's because she had nothing in there to poop? I'm not sure how the others are pooping. They are rarely at home, typically in the fields, so it's harder to catch them pooping. I'll have to check tomorrow while they're locked up.
     
  10. zooweemama

    zooweemama Chillin' With My Peeps

    I think dropping added corn and (keeping them locked up) just observing them would be really useful. That way you can more closely watch their eating habits, pooping habits etc. I hope it's something simple with an easy fix!
     

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