How to cure sick ducks?
August 21, 2005 9:49 AM   Subscribe

Sick ducks in need of help.

We have two Pekin ducks, each about 2 months old, living in a pen in our backyard. They get plenty of food (cooked rice, "starter" mash, and plants and insects they find on their own) and clean water (from our tap and from a nearby stream). Daily exercise is achieved by waddling about the yard freely. Today they are ill, acting sluggish and slow, without all their normal exuberant quackery and fun. They have no appetite and drink little water. Can somebody with duck experience please help us get them flapping again? If it helps: we do not use pesticides on the lawn and their suburban stream appears clean.
posted by soiled cowboy to Pets & Animals (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The only one who could diagnose your ducks from a distance is an animal psychic. Get those sick duckies to a veterinarian!
posted by ottereroticist at 11:15 AM on August 21, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks otter, but I'm guessing (hoping) that their symptoms may be of a common duckie ailment which somebody with some experience might be able to identify. But if their condition doesn't improve soon, we will take them to a vet.
posted by soiled cowboy at 11:35 AM on August 21, 2005

IANAV, and I have no experience with ducks. I strongly second the advice to see the vet. But two things I can think of that could be involved are a) ducks need grit. Can they pick up enough pebbly stuff/coarse dirt where they live? And b) you mention you feed them starter mash. You do know that medicated (i.e., chicken/turkey starter) is bad for waterfowl, right?

And I guess I'd worry about the actual cleanliness of any "suburban stream." I mean, you let your ducks poop in it; what do you think your upstream neighbors do?
posted by bricoleur at 1:09 PM on August 21, 2005

I totally misread the first two words of your post...

The problem is, the symptoms you list are the beginnings of quite a few different ducky ailments. Without an examination or further symptoms it is almost impossible to guess. Like bricoleur I would be very suspicious of that suburban stream and the potential nasties that may be lurking within.
posted by Tenuki at 2:06 PM on August 21, 2005

Response by poster: Bricoleur, what is the problem with starter mash for waterfowl? I'm not sure if it's medicated or not, it came in a plastic bag repackaged by the feed store. This is what they recommended. They don't actually eat much of it as they prefer the rice and veggies. The ducks get plenty of grit from the dirt and mud they play with in the yard.

Thanks for the link, Tenuki. I had a look at that earlier, but our duckies are displaying symptoms from those listed on that site. I am now wondering what might be in that stream. We'll try keeping them out of it once they've recovered.
posted by soiled cowboy at 3:02 PM on August 21, 2005

I don't know exactly why medicated mash is not recommended for waterfowl; I only know that every book about poultry management I've ever read (not that many, but enough) makes it sound as though medicated feed will positively kill them. Starter mash for chicks and poults (turkeys) usually has amprolium added, which is a coccidiostat. Coccidia are intestinal nasties that can easily halve a young flock. But apparently amprolium, and its ilk, are toxic to ducks and geese. The feed store probably knew to give you non-medicated feed, but you could call them and ask. Good luck; I hope the ducks perk up soon.
posted by bricoleur at 5:30 AM on August 22, 2005

Response by poster: We identified the problem and the ducks are feeling better already. It seems there was mold growing on the mash. We skipped the mash last night and this morning and the ducks are back to their usual happy flapping. Bricoleur, we're looking into changing their feed, I'll make sure the next brand we get isn't medicated. Thank you all for your insights.
posted by soiled cowboy at 2:18 PM on August 22, 2005

That's good news, cowboy. Thanks for sharing it.
posted by bricoleur at 8:46 AM on August 26, 2005

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