I have been accused of being too attentive to the animals entrusted to my care. I will admit that I am not one of those people that acquire animals just to corral them behind a fence and forget about them, letting them fend for themselves. You can learn a lot about animals if you take the time to observe them on a continuous basis. You can even learn their "language". For instance I know when there is something threatening in the yard by the noise my little 1 1/2 pound bantam rooster makes. Certain noises from him send me to the window or out the door to check. It is the reason I have him. He may be small but he does all the rooster things that the big boys do including defending the girls.see story here I know when one of the hens has been cornered by one or both of the ganders after trespassing on their territory by the kind of racket the geese make. It is different from the other vocalizations they make and I have had to rescue more than one chicken who has had the misfortune of getting on their bad side. Ducks on the other hand don't have as many vocalizations as geese and chickens so I have to depend on knowing visually if something is amiss. This I have learned the hard way.
This year I decided to increased my duck flock so that I could meet the demand for duck eggs. After raising 9 ducklings and finding homes for 4 drakes I have ended up with a total of 8 ducks. Three of them are my original girls that I got last year and the other five are new and about 3 months old. Starting about 10 days ago my young ducks started getting sick one at a time. The first time, I had stuck my head out the door to check up on everyone which always brings them running. One of my Rouen ducks was missing and he was never separated from the flock so I went looking. I found him floating on the pond barely able to move and just minutes from drowning. He was unable to lift his head out of the water and he was paddling feebly with one foot. I quickly grabbed a leaf rake and placing it under him pulled him to the edge of the pond where I could lift him out. (I was ready to go in after him if it had been necessary.) Since I had already been through this last year I was pretty sure I knew what was wrong with him. So into the house grabbing the "pet" towels as I went, I placed him on the kitchen island and started giving him Epsom salts water with an eye dropper. (2 Tbs. dissolved in a cup of water). You wont use all of it but this is a good amount to make. By early next morning he was recovered and ready to go out with his friends.
Now about this time you are probably wondering how I have so much time to baby sit my birds. I probably wouldn't have noticed this ducks absence if it hadn't been for an incident a few days earlier. A coyote had crept onto our property and after attempting to snatch one chicken and getting only a mouthful of feathers it successfully snagged another one on its way out. Lucy the WBG
|Lucy,WBG (like Phd. for dogs)|
Botulism poisoning seems to be fast acting. Especially if you don't recognize the early signs. Often by the time you notice something is amiss it is too late to save them and if your duck or goose happens to be swimming when symptoms begin they will drown. The earlier you get to them the better your chances of saving them. That said here is a list of symptoms listed in order.
The bird starts moving slower and starts separating itself from the rest of the flock. You will question weather or not you are seeing something off in your bird.
They seem to not be able to see you when you approach them.
They will take a few steps then sit down.
They become unable to walk or walk like they are drunk.
When they sit you will notice their head starting to waver around like they are drunk. This gets much more pronounced as symptoms progress.
Eventually they are unable to raise their head progressing to laying flat with legs out behind.
Twitching and convulsing.
Inability to swallow.
|Convulsing duck throws its head around.|
I have become quite expert at seeing the early symptoms because in the last week I have had 5 ducks affected and lost one. The last time I had two ducks showing symptoms at the same time and it is because I was working out in the yard that I noticed something just a little off. The sooner you get to them the faster they recover and it is much easier to get them to take the Epsom salts water. In fact they seem to actually want it and will drink out of a bowl if you find them at the very early stage. However you will need to direct their bills into the water because they don't seem to be able to see it. My last two ducks took two hours for the one that was only showing signs of blindness to 8 hours for the other one that
was beginning to stagger.
|Paralyzed flat duck|
I have no idea what it is in my yard that is causing this but for now my ducks are going to stay locked up in their pasture with only an occasional supervised walk to go play in the pond. Botulism poisoning is usually caused by ingesting rotting or spoiled things such as dead animals or produce. I don't have either on my property but I have noticed an abundance of mushrooms and toadstools lately. Probably brought on by the rain we are having. The duck that got sick last year got sick at the same time almost to the day as these and it only seems to be the young ducks that are affected. Maybe they don't know enough to not eat the mushrooms. So far this week we have had no sick ducks for about 4 days and counting. Either they have learned not to eat the bad stuff or locking them in is keeping them safe. It is sad to watch them stand at the fence gazing longingly at the pond. Especially since the geese and the older ducks get to go play in it. I will let them out again when I feel comfortable doing so. I will also be watching them like a hawk.