Two very lethargic ducks

Weetamoo93

Songster
May 11, 2020
138
235
126
South Mississippi
My mother has a flock of barnyard ducks that live off foraging. Four ducks from this year's clutch have become ill within the last few weeks with two of the four dying. During my visit, we noticed two more (the third and fourth) stumbling during their morning whole corn treat. They've been separated for observation and, hopeful, recovery. My first thoughts are they are eating something in their daily forage or poor genetics as they are all from the same clutch.

Q&A:

1) What type of bird , age and weight (does the chicken seem or feel lighter or thinner than the others.)
- Campbell/Harlequin mix ducks, approx 7 months old. Both drake and hen feel underweight.
2) What is the behavior, exactly.
- Both are lethargic. Drake tripping and stumbling, often wings drooping. Crops were empty from night penning, but both have a good appetite. Drake has lost his voice, just as prior two now deceased drakes did.
3) How long has the bird been exhibiting symptoms?
- This morning was when we noticed. Two other drakes from the same clutch died within 2 days of presenting symptoms about a week ago according to my mother.
4) Are other birds exhibiting the same symptoms?
- One drake and one hen. 2 drakes with the same symptoms from the same clutch died a week or so ago.
5) Is there any bleeding, injury, broken bones or other sign of trauma.
- No signs of trauma
6) What happened, if anything that you know of, that may have caused the situation.
- The ducks free range all day so encounters and diet are fairly unknown.
7) What has the bird been eating and drinking, if at all.
- Drinking pond water, open water sources. Diet is free range with whole corn treats for morning release and evening return to pen. Gleaning what spillage from goat chow.
Since separation, we've offered diluted pedialyte (what was on hand) and mediated goat chow for something more substantial, only about a cup. They did not eat enough to fill crops. (There is also scratch and layena available for feeding)
8) How does the poop look? Normal? Bloody? Runny? etc.
- runny, white from what I can currently find since separating
9) What has been the treatment you have administered so far?
- diluted pedialyte and medicated goat feed (on hand)
10 ) What is your intent as far as treatment? For example, do you want to treat completely yourself, or do you need help in stabilizing the bird til you can get to a vet?
- self treatment
11) If you have a picture of the wound or condition, please post it. It may help.
- n/a
12) Describe the housing/bedding in use
- dirt pen and daily access to grass, woodland, pond
 

Eggcessive

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Apr 3, 2011
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I don’t know a lot about ducks, but it sounds like mold poisoning from the leftover goat feed on the ground or botulism could be possible problems. Botulism causes flaccid paralysis of the body starting at the feet and legs, and goes up the spinal nerves to the wings, neck, and eyelids. If come from eating dead animal or fish remains, or vegetation or maggots buried under water or under the soil without air. Mold poisoning can cause neurologic symptoms, weakness of extremities, loss of balance, and lameness. I would walk around your property where the ducks go and look for anything they could have gotten into. Sorry for your loss.
 

Weetamoo93

Songster
May 11, 2020
138
235
126
South Mississippi
I don’t know a lot about ducks, but it sounds like mold poisoning from the leftover goat feed on the ground or botulism could be possible problems. Botulism causes flaccid paralysis of the body starting at the feet and legs, and goes up the spinal nerves to the wings, neck, and eyelids. If come from eating dead animal or fish remains, or vegetation or maggots buried under water or under the soil without air. Mold poisoning can cause neurologic symptoms, weakness of extremities, loss of balance, and lameness. I would walk around your property where the ducks go and look for anything they could have gotten into. Sorry for your loss.

My thought was botulism as well. They wander over such a large range it's really hard to say if the source could be found or not. I'll have to brush up on my treatment for it.

I doubt the goat feed would be molded or spoiled because that's instant cleanup.

I think the odd part is that it's only the young ones, but maybe the older ones have developed a resistance of sorts.
 

Weetamoo93

Songster
May 11, 2020
138
235
126
South Mississippi
Other animals they share most or all their ranging with: goats, dogs, cats, chickens, a goose, cows, and horses. Cows and horses have access to same pond.

Not sure if that's worthy of note, but thought it may help to include.
 

Isaac 0

Enabler
5 Years
Jul 19, 2016
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Iowa
I agree with @Eggcessive it could be related to toxicosis. When you have multiple birds showing paralysis-like symptoms, it's likely there is an environmental/ or contaminated source they are eating from. During warm weather, stagnant ponds often become contaminated with clostridium botulinum spores which can cause similar symptoms to the one your birds are experiencing. Mycotoxins from moldy hay, seed, and mold can all be problems as well. Other bacteria like Pasteurella anatipestifer can cause problems in young ducks.

Any birds outside, need to be moved away into a safe area to protect them from such contaminated source. Birds experiencing symptoms, need to be hydrated with either Gatorade, sugar water or Pedialyte. Once you've got them/ or think they're hydrated, make an activated charcoal slurry with some water and drip some drops along their bill. Epsom salts and molasses can also be used, but don't work as well.

It would be helpful to see pictures, of their poop, and the ducks having problems.
 

Weetamoo93

Songster
May 11, 2020
138
235
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South Mississippi
My mother said the younger ducks only just started following the older to the communal pond, so the contaminated source is likely closer to the house. She's going to refresh all water sources to hopefully eliminate the source.

Poop from drake. 20201121_112423.jpg
Not certain of this is poop or mud, but had a semi slimy look.
20201121_112624.jpg

I'll try for more definitive poop pictures again in a bit (I'm working around my toddlers). I know the drake dropped that one.

Two ducks in foreground 20201121_112547.jpg
20201121_112552.jpg
 

Weetamoo93

Songster
May 11, 2020
138
235
126
South Mississippi
One more poop pic prior to leaving. Not sure who's pooping what, but mix of solid poops (left in photo) and runnier poops (right with white and solids). 20201121_135806.jpg

Can't recall what's "normal" for ducks since I've been away a few years now. I'll have her update me if their status changes as I've gone home. She gave them more pedialyte and they're eating and drinking. Later she'll change the water to epsom salt and molasses. She was changing open water sources that she has access and control over so hopefully there are no future incidences.

Thanks.
 

Isaac 0

Enabler
5 Years
Jul 19, 2016
24,258
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Iowa
The poop pictures look fairly normal. In the pictures they look pretty alert too, so hopefully, if you continue on hydrating them, and administering a laxative to get the toxins out, they'll be feeling better. Let us know how they come along.
 

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