Vet visit - Sieben has a calcium deficiency - the latest - good news

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Amiga, Jun 13, 2011.

  1. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    (I've added a reply to the bottom of this topic with the latest.)

    Hello, all, this is a topic to pass along some information that may come in handy for someone some day.

    Sieben's been laying eggs in the afternoon for a couple of weeks. These eggs have hardly any shell. At first I chalked it up to a few misfires. She'd lay normally for a few days, then back to the p.m. softshell. And she's been really draggy in the late afternoons. I decided to let the vet see her.

    Based on the exam and history, it looks like she's not getting enough calcium. There is no evidence of any other problem, such as parasites, tumors, infection, etc. The rest of the flock is doing fine - normal eggs, thick shells, plenty of energy . . .

    This confirms my feeling that ducks' ability to absorb nutrients is variable. Apparently also, some ducks and chickens don't eat free choice oyster shell.

    It's not just a matter of soft shells. Long term, calcium deficiency can affect other organs as well as the egg laying system. It can cause bone problems.

    But we seem to have caught this fairly early - calcium supplements have been started.

    I've worked to provide a good diet for the flock, and plenty of calcium. But Sieben needs a little extra boost to keep her healthy. Perhaps someone is wondering why just one or two of their ducks is having a problem. It may be that they need more of a boost than the rest.

    BTW, they don't eat spinach. But since they forage around, perhaps there's something she's eating that's interfering with calcium uptake. I'll watch her more closely in that regard, as well as give her the supplement.

    Update as of 6/17: Our technique for giving her the liquid calcium has improved. Beloved holds her differently - rather than two hands around, it's one hand under and one over. She's more calm that way, and somehow it puts her in a better position for me to hold the bottom of her mouth open from underneath (I do not ever want to hurt a duck - so I err on the side of being too light handed). I gently press where the bill meets the feathers. Very gently. Once she opens her bill slightly, I can slip the dropper in. We also changed from a plastic syringe to a plastic dropper with a long tapered end. I can get that into her bill without having to press it open very widely.

    These are the kinds of details it can be difficult for me to find when I need them, so I'm posting them here and hoping it helps someone else. Wish I could make a video, but holding the duck and giving her the liquid takes both of us, and all our concentration. And I don't know how a person with a camera would be able to get in close enough to see what we're doing anyway! It's quite the little family huddle.

    Regarding possible calcium uptake interference - she may have ingested some (not much) rhubarb leaf, as I have two plants at the edge of the yard. Gag! Very high in oxalic acid, a calcium blocker. I have fenced off the rhubarb plants, just in case.

    Two soft shelled eggs yesterday afternoon, so we have not yet resolved the problem. But we continue to work on it. Twice a day with Sieben, and night time calcium boost for the flock. The sixteen ounces I place in the veranda is gone by morning. Someone is drinking it, and I have seen Sieben take a few sips.

    Onward!
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2011
  2. gofasterstripe

    gofasterstripe Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have a duck that layes every day around 5pm and its always a soft shell...hmmm calcium deficiency, what did he say to give her to buld her up again
     
  3. duckyfromoz

    duckyfromoz Quackaholic

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    Thank you for sharing this experience with us here - it does a lot to help others understand that they can have a single duck that will need closer watching than others to ensure there health. A diet no matter how balanced isnt a " one size fits all" in some cases, handling the birds to check for weight, skin condition, feather condition and watching for signs like soft shelled eggs- weird poop and feather loss are all important to be able to notice if something is amiss with an individual bird.

    Please keep us updated as to if the supplementation works to harden up those shells- or if she has any other issues associated with her calcium deficiency.

    Not all my ducks lay in the morning. I have one that lays between 4 and 5 in the afternoon, but she hasnt got an issue with the shell- she is a young layer as well so I guess in time she may end up laying in the mornings. Because I care for some special needs ducks- I am aware that there are a few that do need extra nutrition. Stevie- Ray who is blind- for obvious reasons needs hand feeding when it comes to treats but I also give her vitamin supplements and she comes inside sometimes at night for a swim in the bathtub. Flippy hatched Thiamine deficient- and still gets a special diet even though she is nearly two years old.
     
  4. 70%cocoa

    70%cocoa Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Glad to hear that you've got an answer to the problem, and I hope the supplements do the trick! What are you giving her and in what dose?
     
  5. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    I'm giving her Neocalglucon, 1.8 ml (4 pound duck) once or twice a day. The flock is getting a little boost, too, with some calcium gluconate in their water.

    Yesterday I got most of the dose into her. This morning I messed up and didn't hold her head quite right - much of it fell out the sides of her bill. sigh. That's part of the "once or twice." I'll try again this evening.

    Any pointers for making sure I get it all down her precious little throat? I suspect I didn't make sure her neck was extended - I was concentrating on gently getting her to open her bill. My beloved kindly holds the ducks while I medicate.

    The calcium gluconate I am giving in a separate water bowl - 16 ounces of water with 4 teaspoons of calcium gluconate. Sieben was the first duck to drink some, which made me feel better. Others joined in, and they finished it overnight. I'm thinking of adding the c.g. water to their food. I add water to their laying feed anyway, since it's a mash and easier for them to eat if it's damp or wet. On the other hand, the separate bowl seemed to work - I just don't know if everyone drank some.

    Sending this on with prayers it may be of some help. I plan to post an update after a while.

    Pax et lux
     
  6. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    It's been a couple of weeks, I think . . .

    We've been managing to get about half the dose in her daily, due to illness (my assistant) and Sieben's ability to close her throat.

    I am getting better at holding her head with her neck extended and tilted slightly upward, beloved is getting better at holding her still.

    She's actually getting more patient, it seems.

    In the last five days or so, we've only had one soft-shelled egg. And we're getting one or two more eggs a day altogether. Doc sez to finish up the Neoglucan, then keep the flock on a bit of the calcium gluconate for a while.

    It just may be that with all the slugs and worms and other stuff to eat, they're not eating as much of the layer mash, so not getting proportionately the calcium they need. So, they may need more calcium supplementation in the summer and fall than in the winter, when all there is to eat is in the feed tray. 'nother thing learned.

    I strongly recommend the plastic droppers with an elongated narrow end that slips into the bill fairly easily. The one I have holds 1 mL. I also find I can hold her from above as well or better than from below. Draping her so that her belly rests on an arm seems to be more secure for her - she doesn't wiggle as much as when we hold her with two hands surrounding her.
     
  7. duckyfromoz

    duckyfromoz Quackaholic

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    Thanks for the update ... Glad to hear things are improving for her.
     
  8. pips&peeps

    pips&peeps There is no "I" in Ameraucana

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    Birds need plenty of D and D3 to absorb the calcium, otherwise you are wasting it.
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2011
  9. Duck_feeder

    Duck_feeder Drowning in feathers!

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    pips&peeps :

    Birds need plenty of D and D3 to absorb the calcium, otherwise you are wasting it.

    I agree 100%. Calcium is useless without the vitamin D.

    You can use vitamin supplements, but I always prefer going with a more natural route by adjusting diet - especially with fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) that can build up in the body until it reaches toxic levels.

    If you can survive the smell, feed your ducks canned fish (canned in water, not oil) like mackerel, salmon, herring, or sardines (not tuna or other low fat fish). I recommend running it through a blender or food processor to chop up the bones to avoid choking (keep the bones - great natural source of calcium). Lots of protein, calcium, and vitamin D all in one treat. Be forewarned, this can get really stinky - I gave our ducks mackerel once and they smelled fishy for a week (but they **LOVED** eating it)

    I buy frozen brine shrimp (pet store) and frozen seafood mix (people store) and put one or the other that in their treats a couple times per week. Crustaceans are generally high in vitamin D

    Feeder fish is a great way to stimulate your ducks and give them a lot of extra calcium.

    If you can keep your duck in the dark for 12-14 hours per day she'll stop laying eggs thinking that it's winter (our ducks take 1-2 weeks to stop). That'll give her a chance to recover from overlaying.​
     
  10. Duck_feeder

    Duck_feeder Drowning in feathers!

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    Quote:Are you using a syringe or a spoon? With a syringe (small diameter without a needle of course), you can insert it down her throat and empty the contents directly into the crop.

    Here is how I usually do it when I have to do it myself (I'm right handed so you might need to switch hands in the instructions if you're a lefty).

    1. Prep some of your duck's favorite treat and put it somewhere out of sight but easy to access
    2. Prep the syringe and keep it somewhere convenient
    3. Sit down and hold your duck on your lap facing away from you
    4. Place your left hand on the ducks chest and slide it up until you're cupping the head and bill. Gently push the head and neck against your chest. (ducks will move their head back and down to escape. Your left hand keeps the head from going down and your chest stops is from going backwards.
    5. Using your right hand, carefully pry open the duck's mouth. Once it is open put the tips of your thumb and index finger (left hand) partially in her mouth to keep it from shutting.
    6. Now that your right hand is free again, grab the syringe
    7. Carefully slide the syringe down the duck's throat. Don't use any more force than you would pushing against your own eyeball. If you feel resistance, try to tilt the duck's head up more.
    8. Carefully press down on the plunger and dump the medicine directly into the crop.
    9. Pull out the syringe and let go of your duck.
    10. Apologize for manhandling (duckhandling?) her by offering her favorite treat. (this is important to prevent long term trust issues)
     

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