TerrieLacy and other duck folks, need your help please. *UPDATE*


Still chillin' with my peeps
Mar 13, 2008
East South Central (West KY)
I just lost a Pekin female, approx. 1 1/2 yrs. old. About 1 1/2 mos. ago, she had a severe bout of coccidiosis -- yes, I took her and her companion to the vet, and that was his Dx. His recommendation was to keep ALL the poultry on this place on the medicated chick starter as their everyday feed. (He was the vet who helped me deal with the coccidia and Marek's issues last Spring). I had switched everyone over, and all seemed to be doing fine. The two ducks seemed to be feeling fine, and were putting on a little bit of weight. They are not tame, apparently they weren't handled much as little ones and do NOT like to be touched. Nevertheless, a few days ago I got in a quick "feel-exam" and noticed they were both putting on a bit of weight and were not as thin. Yesterday they were both acting normal, and went in for "bedtime" just fine. This morning when I talked to them as I was coming through the run gate to go to their pen and open their door, only the drake answered, very softly and tentatively. I stepped inside, and sure enough, Abby was on her side, dead. There was a caramel colored liquid that had pooled around her beak. There was no liquid/poo around her vent at all. I had to go somewhere and did not have time to bury her immediately because the ground is like CONCRETE here (10" and counting short of normal rainfall for this time of year) and would have to be deeply soaked b/f I'd be able to dig. When I got back this evening, he was still sitting beside her (I had moved her out of their sleeping enclosure (wire-wrapped 10x10 chainlink kennel w/ a doghouse inside) with plans to bury her when I got back. He refused to leave her -- the only way I could get him into the sleeping pen for the night was to bring her body in first, and then he came in. I took her body back out with me while he was busy eating. Two questions -- any ideas on what might have caused her death, and should I try to find him a companion? If so, a very young one? An older hen? ??? I need you duck owners' expertise & wisdom, please!
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First off, I'm so sorry for your loss-what an incredibly sad story-heartbreaking.
I absolutely would get him a companion to help ease his loss-one of a comparable age, I would think would be your best bet.
I have no idea what could have happened to your girl, but again, I'm really sorry
I am so, so sorry for your loss. I too would get him a companion. The only way you are going to know for sure what happened is a necropsy. It could have been so many things. I would want to be sure the coccidia issue is gone before I brought new ones on the property too. Have the other re-tested to be sure he is negative. Again, so sorry.
Ah... I'm so sorry. That is sad to lose one of a pair, especially when you only have that one pair. I would definitely get him a friend (although being around some of your other birds will probably help for the time being). I don't know that the same exact age would matter *that* much as long as you pair him with another mature bird if possible. I can't say for sure about the cocci. I will defer to your vet on that.

What I can say for sure though is that the warnings against feeding medicated feeds to waterfowl are for the most part unwarranted. The vast majority of medicated feeds today (and actually for many years) are medicated with Amprol, which is safe for waterfowl as are several other commonly used medications. I have not seen much issues with cocci in my waterfowl (don't think I have ever had a case in the couple decades I have raised waterfowl), but the treatment of choice is an anti-coccidiostat and affected birds generally tolerate that quite well.
I have to agree with all that. I have raised thousands of migratory/ornamental waterfowl over 25 years and I always give them medicated starter, coccidiants do not hurt them. Also it in waterfowl does seem to be very rare, cant think of a single case I have had in ducks, even over the years when some chickens had it 1 brooder down.
Problem with coccidia is , it weakens the entire bird, body, and immune system. In this weakened state, they can then catch about anything and die from the combination of the 2. Corid is an excellent treatment for it and can be put directly in the drinking water if you do not want to continue to by expensive starter feed for all your birds. One 16 once bottle is like $20 and will treat a couple hundred gallons of drinking water. Dont let it stop you though, definitely get some more. As for the be sure coccidia is gone deal, well that's never going to happen as bad as I hate to say it. It's present in the ground most everywhere and especially once you have had an outbreak of it.
At this point there is now way to kill it. You can put coccidia organisms on a stainless steel table, bleach it, pour gas on it light it on fire, and re test it and there will still be viable organisms on the table (no joke! they are that tuff) One saving grace is, adult birds generally in good health, do not suffer from them. Their immune systems generally fights them off. Main concern is for chicks and growing birds of all kinds, thats why it's medicated for in starter feeds. Also, there are many different strains of it, some work better on different drugs, also over time, the individual strains will become resistant to certain meds, so it's a good idea to rotate treatment or prevention meds to combate their resistance to it.
In the past feed companies used arsenic as coxidostat, that was poisonus to waterfowl.

However now all feed industry brand names use amporium I believe, which is OK for all birds including waterfowl.

However the obsolete myth that medicated feed is "poisonus" for ducks still persist.

I have some duck eggs in my bator and I plan to start them on medicated chicken feed.
Thank you all so much. I will try to find him a companion asap. As for the coccidia never being gone, I knew that (unfortunately) from when we had the first major outbreak a couple of years ago.
I am going to try to get a load of sand so that when the rainy season starts, there won't be pools or ponding water. Again, thank you for all your help.
First- the dosage of coccidiostat in medicated feeds is a preventative, NOT CURATIVE, dose. Second- in most medicated feeds the coccidiostat is amprol and it works by starving the coccidia of a B vitamin that they hog. Unfortunately, this means giving your birds vitamins while treating them with amprol can NEGATE the effectiveness of the drug.

Amprol is SAFE for waterfowl,.. however sulfa drugs are hard on birds, all birds, and even minor overdoses can cause significant hepatotoxicity. Waterfowl are very easily overdosed on these sulfas because they drink/eat more than the chickens and landfowl the dosages are built for... so avoid sulfas... buy from the feedstore or online a packed of powdered amprol to add to the water at the prescribed dosages, and don't fuss with the feed.

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