Weak duckling, please help

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by MimiEggs, Feb 13, 2013.

  1. MimiEggs

    MimiEggs Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 12, 2012
    Rusk, Texas
    I received 2 female Pekin ducklings from McMurray Hatchery on Jan 30. Got them home and put them in my XL plastic bin makeshift brooder, added water with vitamin supplements, and of course feed and everybody was happy. About day 7 I noticed 1 of the ducklings was smaller than the other, and also not moving around as much. When she did walk around she seemed a little wobbly on the legs. My first thought was okay once you get the food and water in here, this bin thing is rather small and there isn't that much room "to move around", maybe she just needs "more room" to encourage her to get some exercise.

    So, moved the ducklings to our chick brooder which is inside our chicken coop. Measures 2 ft X 4 ft, and is 3 ft off the floor. Added pine shaving (large sized) and turned on the brooder light. I added the ducklings and hung around for 10-15 minutes to see how they would like theri new home. Larger duckling was running all over the place as if to say, "hey this is great!" Smaller, duckling was tentative but moving around.

    I check on them 3 or 4 times a day, replace water with vitamin supplement also 3 or 4 times per day, pick up and remove clumps of poo, talk to them, cuddle and hand feed some feed. Friday and Saturday all was well. Sunday morning I go out to do my morning routine and walk in to find the smaller duckling on her back paddling the air! I have no idea how long she was like that. I scoop her up, calm her down, place her back on the brooder floor, she takes one step and ends up on her back again! I spend several minutes cupping her in my hands on the brooder floor, get her to drink some water, and hand feed her a small amount of food. After a little while she seems to be okay and begins to take some wobbly steps. She finds a comfortable corner and takes a nap. I leave thinking, "What the hell just happened?"

    So now I am going back every 2-3 hours scared to death of what I might find. Every other time I go out there she is on her back paddling the air. Monday morning I go out there and she's paddling the air! So about now I am freaking out and I am kicking myself in the butt, and rethinking everything I have done for the last 4 days. I also call the Vet and make an appointment, by the time I get there she just wants to sleep in my arms.

    Upon Vet exam:

    Smaller duckling: weight 342 grams, temp 105.2, stool sample shows no intestinal worms, lung sounds clear. Vet can find nothing wrong besides wobbly legs and general weakness.

    Larger duckling: weight 540 grams, temp 105.4, stool sample shows no intestinal worms, upper air sacks sound groggly, lower air sacks sound clear. other than air sack sounds Vet can find nothing wrong with this duckling.

    Prescribes .25 Baytril twice daily for groggly sounding air sacks, see ya later, have a good day, come back if ya need me.

    Get the babies home, move them back inside so I can monitor 24/7. This is Wednesday morning, she does seem to have perked up some, she is also awake and alert. She is still on the weak side and I am still finding her on her back paddling the air at least 3 times a day, only now I can tell when it happens from the other room and I go running to get her righted.

    Suggestions, comments, advise?........please help
  2. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    Are they crested?

    It sounds neurological, but you have been giving extra vitamins. . . .

    She could have sustained an injury in transit, I suppose . . . .

    Wracking my brain on this one. . . .

    Do the vitamins have electrolytes? I would try electrolytes and probiotics as well.

    What are you feeding them? Might the feed be slightly moldy? I might try a different bag of feed.

  3. MimiEggs

    MimiEggs Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 12, 2012
    Rusk, Texas
    First 10 days they were on a certified organic broiler starter ration(purchase for our meat chicks). My concern with this feed was that it had the consistence of powder and I was worried they would "inhale it into their lungs", also by day 5 on this feed the smaller duck had some pasty butt issues. So I switched them over to Purina Start and Grow as this is the only starter available in my area. The supplement I put in their water is a Vitamin and Electrolyte solution.

    Oh yeah, ducklings are White Pekin.

    As I am wracking my brain trying to figure out what the problem is I see that the Purina feed is medicated. There is a warning that says: use as the only source of Amprolium. Now I am wondering if this medicated feed could be an issue, so will immediately change back to the powdered certified organic feed and will wet slightly so they don't inhale it into their sinus cavity. Wish the feed stores carried wild game starter but they don't.
  4. duckins

    duckins Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 29, 2012
    Gladys, Va
    Sorry this is happening lost one at 5 days now I find myself paranoid when I check the other babies even though their going on 3 weeks. Not sure what's going on but medicated feed can be deadly, hows their temperature in brooder if possible she needs to be seperated if shes weaker and the others are active they could be trampling her and making it difficult to get to the feed and water i would also place rocks or marbles in waterer to make it shallow in case she has a spell and could drown. My farm store does not carry non med starter but the Tsc which is 40 min away does. Do you have something like Tsc or southern states around you.
  5. jdywntr

    jdywntr Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 31, 2009
    Somerville, AL
    Amprolium is okay for ducklings. Switching their feed back and forth is going to cause problems but I doubt that is what is wrong. But do stop switching them. A powdery feed should be wetted down for ducklings and needs to be changed often to avoid spoilage.

    Check the temp in the brooder. It should be around 80-85 max.

    Make sure you are dosing correctly with the supplements.

    Is the duckling eating/drinking/pooping?
  6. MimiEggs

    MimiEggs Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 12, 2012
    Rusk, Texas
    Have not yet switched food today so will nix that idea. Temp is 85 degrees in brooder. Yes she is eating, drinking and pooping just fine. There are only just the 2 ducklings in the brooder so I can't seperate her out as the other one would have a fit, they are definitely bonded to each other.
  7. Going Quackers

    Going Quackers Overrun With Chickens

    May 24, 2011
    On, Canada
    Didn't want to read an not comment, firstly your so fortunate to have a vet give you an all clear. Here, you can forget that. Anyways, i agree with jdywntr don't keep flipping feeds. Eating/drinking and eliminating properly is a good sign.

    I'll admit have no experience here, not encountered these sort of issues. I'd almost be inclined to speak with McMurray Hatchery in regards to the issues your having, but i am not familiar with this hatchery so i have no idea if they are helpful or not.

    GL< i hope the wee one stabilizes, it so worrisome.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2013
  8. MimiEggs

    MimiEggs Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 12, 2012
    Rusk, Texas
    As of this afternoon I think maybe I can see some improvement. At least she has only flipped over once today. My husband has been insistent that I "take them outside to run around in the grass", thinking that she just needs exercise and that they are not moving around enough in the brooder. I have resisted this thinking it is too cold outside (average daytime temp here is 65) for a duckling that is not feeling well. Brooder pen is 3 ft square, is that too small for 2 ducklings at 2 weeks old? Earlier today I gave in to his request and took them out in the grass. First they sat there like where the heck are we? I walk a few feet away and called them to me, and surprisingly they came (?). The larger one was standing tall as she quacked on over. The smaller (weaker one) walked over but her body was set closer to the ground, like her body was heavy to hold up. But hey she walked. I repeated this process of walking away and then calling them to me for several minutes. Each time they would follow, with her sort of squatted down closer to the ground but walking all the same. As long as she appears to be improving I will do this again several times a day.

    I don't know what the problem is? She's just "weaker" than her sibling. Hopefully the antibiotic and increased exercise will do her good. I thought about calling the hatchery but what might they say, "we'll send you a replacement"? I don't really "want" a replacement, I want this one to be well and healthy. Perhaps she is the result of a difficult hatch, or perhaps the trip from Iowa to Texas was very stressful, who knows. Yes I am fortunate to have a Vet 5 minutes away I can take my girls to, and if necessary there is also an avian specialist an hour away. Lord help me if that becomes necessary I will have to do it on the down-low as my husband would absolutely have a conniption fit, LOL [​IMG]

    Thank you all so much for your input into this mystery. I will post an update here as things progress.
  9. The Howards

    The Howards Chillin' With My Peeps

    This was my first thought too. We have a crested and as a duckling (with exception to the weakness) your little one sounds a lot like ours. She was (still is) a weeble wobble, smaller than the others (still is) and I would often find her on her back kicking her little legs for all she was worth. Exercise did her a world of good. Make sure you are giving them some niacin, brewers yeast is good.
  10. calmwinds

    calmwinds Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 10, 2013
    I might try a touch of honey on my finger put into her bill a couple of times a day. That has worked for me.

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