Wobbly Duck

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by wickedchickens16345, May 15, 2019 at 1:11 PM.

  1. wickedchickens16345

    wickedchickens16345 In the Brooder

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    I've got a three week old American Pekin who took a weird turn for the worse at some point yesterday.

    He's in a flock with three other Pekins his age, two 6 week old Khakis, and a rehomed older Khaki drake whose age I don't know.

    There are also eighteen 6 week old chickens of various breeds housed together. There's been no fighting or pecking, no abuse from the chickens. Everything has been going really well with every bird in our new flock.

    Except this poor guy, who I've named Lazarus. You'll understand why when I tell you about him.

    Two weeks ago, I found my mom's dog (we'll call her Satan) "playing" with Lazarus. She wasn't trying to kill him but she absolutely was using him as a chew toy. She had him pretty well scalped on the back and there was one barely-there puncture on the right side of his neck.

    I handled it immediately, got rid of the dog for good (she's back with my mom - I was only fostering her to be nice because we had more room but she was gone within minutes of my catching her in the act), and immediately bathed Lazarus, treated the wounds with topical antibiotic, made him a quarantine tote, had him on a seven day course of antibiotics, and everything pointed to a full recovery.

    Last week, after his feathers were more or less completely coming back in and his skin was covered, I placed him back with the flock and everything was going great.

    And then the rains came.

    The birds are in a 150 square foot uncovered run where I've been training them daily from 7 a.m. to dark for free-ranging. I fully understand the risks associated with free-ranging but after careful consideration we've decided it's what's best for us and we're doing what we can to make it as safe an experience as possible while still acknowledging that losses will happen eventually.

    I don't really want to get into a debate over free-ranging benefits versus risks here (I've had a couple of people with very strong opinions in the chicken mommin' community here locally get pretty vocal on their opinions and, while I respect them, I think it's up to everyone to decide their own free-range situation as the expert in their own geography, flock, etc.).

    Anyhow, Lazarus was happily free-range training with the best of them after his stint in Garage-Based ICU. But I noticed he was (a) not growing in line with the other two Pekins from the same batch of the same age and (b) starting to do the penguin shuffle. Walking seemed to be getting laborious for him, but I didn't notice any pigeon-toes or actual hobbling, swelling, bowing of the legs, etc. Just that he was getting around a bit slower. I chalked it up to the trauma of his interaction with Satan Pooch and let him do his thing. He's been doing everything the others do, including swimming/splashing, hunting for fresh kale and peas in his (cleaned daily) pool, and hunting the ground around his coop with vigor.

    Yesterday morning, as usual, I let everyone out and everything was normal. He was just as he always is.

    Last night, at dusk, I was letting everyone in and Lazarus was like a tiny yellow drunk. I mean he was barely able to get to his feet and when he did he was wobbling worse than me on a Friday night my freshman year of college.

    There was no apparent torticollis, though when I finally caught him and picked him up he definitely was more loosey-goosey with his neck, mostly just laying it on my arm rather than looking around him and squawking to his flockmates that I was pestering him. He was pedaling when he fell, but I think it was more in an effort to get back to his feet than an actual neurological symptom of something.

    I took him inside immediately and bathed him. He definitely wanted desperately to splash and submerge his head, but he could hardly stay on his feet for more than a few seconds. He really did try hard, though, and I managed to clean him up and get a look at his healing back and wing areas. To my dismay, once some of the mud came off, I saw that it looked as though some of his feather regrowth had been compromised. There was no obvious new trauma, but it did look as though he may have preened his little duck elbows a little too hard very recently.

    I gave him water and he definitely did his best to drink. Same with food. They are on a multi-species poultry starter, so I've responded to day by getting some niacin as a supplement and lots of niacin-rich treats (peas, salmon, and tuna in water).

    He has been coughing very slightly and very very infrequently. He does not honk or quack. He does peep and squeak and I can't detect a voice change, but I've never really heard him make more than a squeak or a squawk. Last night, following his bath and towel-wrapped snuggle time (this duck loves scratches behind the ears and purrs every night while we snuggle after baths), I went to check on him before turning in and was totally bummed to see him open-mouth breathing/panting. Not panting hard but definitely what I would call labored (though consistent and even) breaths with his beak open.

    This morning he was chipper, excited for breakfast and fresh water, but didn't seem to have moved around a lot in the tote overnight. He didn't make a lot of noise and I didn't notice any panting.

    He's under a heat lamp on fresh pine shavings (not flakes, nothing dusty), which are changed daily.

    His poo is resplendent, as poo goes. No obvious parasites, no color changes, no consistency issues. It looks like Lazarus poo always looks. Gray/white, regular firmness, normal amounts, etc.

    I'm curious whether anyone would suspect anything other than a niacin deficiency. My concern is that with the recent heavy rains we've had the flock has been reducing their pen area to straight mud and trampling their own poo into it. I did notice a couple of areas where there is what would probably be an attractive drinking puddle of standing water to a duck.

    This morning when I let them out I opened the fence and decided that I'd rather take my chances with the daytime predators and let them all free-range in fresh grass than keep scratching and grazing the poo fields.

    I'm just concerned that after his trauma with the dog two weeks ago he may have been immunocompromised and the wet ground in his pen may have contributed some sort of bacterial or fungal infection to his weakened system.

    I want it to be niacin. I want it to be only a niacin deficiency so freaking bad but I'm just not sure. Should I start another prophylactic course of antibiotics just to be sure? He'll be getting electrolytes and probiotics with his feed and water for the next two weeks, as well as both a niacin powder supplement and niacin-rich treats while he remains in the ICU. But I'm concerned there's more to it with the wetness we've had lately.

    What should I look for? What would you duck moms do?
     
  2. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Loving this country life

    I think he'd be better off with liquid B complex it seems to really help them much more than just the niacin by itself. TSC has the best one in the cattle dept it will say injectable but just peel of the foil and use a dropper to give him 1 ml daily over something yummy. Mine love meal worms. Pekins are known for leg issues they grow so fast. And this injury probably compounded things If all wounds look healed then probably no need for antibiotics. But if you can find a vet that will see him that is always the best route having someone who can actually examine and treat.

    :welcome
     
  3. wickedchickens16345

    wickedchickens16345 In the Brooder

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    Thanks so much, Lydia. I never even thought to look in the cattle aisle. I'll go check it out today. I'm seeing some pigeon-toed features of another of the Pekin babies, so I'm going to go ahead and just give them all supplements for the time being. The older Khakis and the adult Khaki seem fine. Now that they're free-ranging I don't worry so much, but I definitely want to arrest the problem with the remaining two Pekins before they get to Lazarus' state. Poor man. He has been eating peas, salmon and tuna since last night. I'm also working on finding a duck specific feed for the ducks, and am pretty sure I may have to separate their living quarters again to ensure that the ducks are getting only duck feed. I feel so sad for Lazarus, but he really was spunky last night in the bath, and he was significantly more chirpy this morning.

    I did pull him from his tote and let him roam the yard for a short while yesterday, but he basically just gave up and laid down. He can't stay up for more than a few seconds and he looks tired. I hate to keep him in the tote all the time, but if the short exercise periods are exhausting or hurting him obviously I don't want to do that.

    I'm having trouble finding information on prognosis of ducks who've had leg deformities or issues from niacin deficiencies but then receive treatment. Do you have any idea how long it should take to see a difference or what changes to look for? What should I hope for in terms of his future ability to walk without assistance? I'm wondering whether I need to start looking into something to help him get around the yard or if he could recover the use of his legs with treatment.
     
  4. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Loving this country life

    Go to Metzers web site and read about niacin deficiency in Waterfowl (ducks). It may take a much as a few days to a month to see significant difference depends on how long and the severity but if it is a niacin def the b complex should def help. Sounds like his attitude is great and that means a lot in recovery too. Your doing a great thing here sticking with him. Hopefully you’ll see even more progress pretty quick once you get him on the b complex. Thanks for the update!
     
  5. quackiemama

    quackiemama Crowing

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    The B Complex really helped my little one with a completely curled up foot. After a few days of treatment and swim time she is walking completely flat footed. Just has a little curve to her outside toes. Hoping your little guy gets to feeling better. :welcome:hugs
     
  6. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Loving this country life

  7. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Free Ranging

    Sorry your duck is having issues. :(

    Please, I somehow didn't catch what your standard feed is?

    I also free range, MOST of the time. Everything poultry keeping seems to be very personal as far as what works or doesn't. So many said you CAN'T free range Silkies... well, I did for over 3 years and didn't have a single (adult) loss to predation. They said chicks can't go outside until fully feathered... my chicks love being out very early with a huddle box... No one should really be harassed about their decision.

    Hope you are enjoying BYC, welcome! :frow
     
  8. wickedchickens16345

    wickedchickens16345 In the Brooder

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    Thanks again, Lydia, for all the advice. I did pick up some of the B Complex from TSC for cattle and I'm VERY hopeful it will make a difference for him. If not, I'm fully prepared to either buy or make a sling with wheels to get him back to being a full-fledged flock member. He'll be an inside duck at night, but he definitely deserves to have as full a life as he can. I love him desperately. He falls asleep on me every night after bath time, and he loves scratches on his chin and behind his ears. He's my little buddy. Love him to death. I'll keep y'all posted on how he's doing. He's a sweet, happy little thing and he makes me happy. <3

     
  9. quackiemama

    quackiemama Crowing

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    You are a good duck parent :hugs
     
  10. wickedchickens16345

    wickedchickens16345 In the Brooder

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    I picked up the B Complex and added it to his dinner. He didn't eat as much tonight and it looks like he hadn't had much of his water either, but I think the increase in niacin might be helping. It's too early to tell really but he made a little noise tonight and he was super spunky at bath time and to my dismay he even let me know when he was ready to get out of the towel and back into the tote. Once in the tote, he actually did pretty well trying to stand up and preen himself. He still has no balance but he was making a lot of effort and actually doing much better than he has been. It's still too early to tell, but I'm hopeful that the supplement will help. I also added it to the water shared by the chickens and ducks. From what I understand, you can't really overdose them on it unless you pour the whole bottle in and I want to make sure that at least the other three little Pekins are getting it. One of them has basically stopped growing whatsoever, and the other looks to be a little bit pigeon-toed. So before they get to Lazarus' state I wanna nip it in the bud. Fingers crossed that it works for all of them, especially Lazarus.
     

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