Duck health problems

duck feet problem, duck foot problem, bumble foot, duck foot infection

Bumble foot, before and after treatment

Bumble foot  It’s a good idea to occasionally check the bottom of your duck’s feet for sores or other duck foot problems. Sometimes ducks will get cuts and scrapes on their feet from living on rough floors or from tripping over their food dishes. The Bumbles occur when staphylococcus bacteria gets into the cut and causes an infection. Staph is present virtually everywhere; even on the skin and nose of healthy individuals (humans!). Hospitals are especially rife with Staph. One of my runner ducks was under a lot of stress, as she had been laying eggs for almost 12 months straight. In the two years that I’ve had her, she’s never had a foot infection, and then suddenly she was sprouting 3 ulcers on each foot. The infection occurred at a time that I had neglected to feed her anything other than the Chicken Layer Feed she normally gets and a bit of Romaine lettuce. It also doesn’t help that this particular duck never likes to take a bath. Some people bring their ducks to the vet to get the Bumbles surgically removed, which is extremely effective albeit pricey. I decided to try a change in diet with my girl before anything more drastic and my own small ‘operation’. I cleaned a sewing needle with rubbing alcohol and gently poked the black entrance area of the bumble, which was already hardened by the bacteria. Be sure to do this with gloves as Staph can easily pass from duck to human! After creating a small hole, I soaked her foot in salt water to draw out the toxins and then applied Hydrogen Peroxide to the wound area. Hydrogen Peroxide bubbles when it comes into contact with bacteria, that’s how you know it’s working. At this point, some people will bandage the foot to keep it clean and dry, and even purchase duck shoes. Here’s a link to a recommended seller of duck footwear & diapers, Party Fowl. In my case, I didn’t wrap the wound and it still healed up nicely. An effective natural Antiseptic ointment to rub on the infection is Derma E ( Tea Tree Oil and Vitamin E, sold by Amazon ).

Even though my duck free ranges throughout the day, she still couldn’t make up for the nutrition her body needed to fight an infection. Instead of corn for dinner, I started feeding her white rice, Chinese bok choy / gailan, chopped up chicken ( chicken has lots of good B vitamins), and occasionally fish and shrimp. If you have an oriental grocery store near you, buying Chinese vegetables is a cheap and healthy alternative for your ducks compared with what they sell at large commercial grocery stores like Publix.

I continued to let her roam around the backyard unaided. Within 3 days, the swelling went down 20%. Within a week, her bumble had completely squished down on it’s own. I think if you recognize the early stage of bumbles and give your duck a diet high in natural vitamins, their immune system should be able to jumpstart and heal on their own. Granted, be sure your duck gets plenty of sunlight and exercise – I’ve seen a lot of house ducks suffering from Staph even though they live in “clean” houses. Bumbles can be caused by rough surfaces, ie wire cages, concrete or cement floors, tripping over rocks, walking on pavement etc. If a change in diet doesn’t help cure your duck’s bumble foot and it continues growing bigger and grosser, take your ducky to the vet! Bumble foot can kill.

Soft Shelled eggs
Ducks that lay too many eggs are prone to laying eggs with defects, small holes or no shells. Duck egg problems are the first warning sign that your duck is lacking calcium in his diet. It’s important to buy oyster shells ASAP and mix it in with their feed, as it takes a few days for their body to accumulate the new source of calcium. Oyster shells are sold inexpensively at your local feed store. You can also grind up old egg shells or buy lots of fresh leafy greens, as they are a natural source of calcium. Another alternative is to mix raw black sesame seeds in with their food. Sesame is a good natural source of calcium, zinc, fiber, vitamin B1, magnesium and phosphorous. Black Sesame, Bok choy, gailan and other chinese vegetables sell cheaply at asian markets.

soft shell eggs, duck egg problem, soft eggs

soft shell egg

Soft shell eggs can also be a symptom of a sick duck – ducks who suffer from avian influenza often lay defective eggs. One of my hermaphrodite duck’s first symptom was dropping his/her penis, and then laying one soft shelled egg. Unfortunately the oyster shell came too late, and an egg got stuck inside her body. Feed stores sell antibiotics such as tetracycline, a broad spectrum antibiotic for about $10 for 181grams. A vet will sell them to you for twice the price. Sometimes you can get the egg to pass by letting your duck sit in a warm bath and coating her clocoa with vaseline. If after a few hours the egg does not pass, you should prepare to bring her to a vet. Treatment with antibiotics alone will not save her life. It will cause her to get better temporarily, but then crash as the source of the infection has not been removed. The little bits of egg shell stuck inside her body will cause her much pain, and each one needs to be meticulously removed by an avian specialist.

Parasites one of the full grown domestic runner ducks I got was infested with feather lice. To treat her, I used Richard’s organic dog shampoo ($9 on Amazon). I had to soak her thoroughly in water mixed with shampoo so the shampoo could permeate underneath her feathers. Lice like to live near the tail and neck so it’s important to rub it in. If a bath doesn’t completely rid your duck of parasites the first time, try one more wash a few days later or a quick dunk in a chlorine pool. This shampoo can kill dog ticks so it would probably work with mites and other bird parasites.

Twisted ankle the subject will walks around with an ungainly limp. In most cases, the duck can heal itself. As for any foot problem, please check the bottom of your duck’s foot! Sometimes there’s something sinister under there which will require antibiotic treatment or a trip to the vet. Once, I found that a carpenter ant’s butt had pierced the bottom of my duck’s foot and was hanging there, causing much discomfort.

Hip dysplasia / malfunction I had one duckling which had this defect from birth. She had a sort of limping gait and her legs would vibrate just like an old dog when she tried to crouch down. Eventually she seemed to recover from it herself when she laid more eggs and I gave her daily massage. It almost seemed like the eggs would straighten out her hips, as she could walk better every time just after she laid. Strange indeed..

Splayed / Spraddle Leg poultry that lives in slippery/confined conditions tend to suffer from this. The best way to fix it is to tie those legs together and let them set! more on spraddle leg

Poked(Gouged out) eye I had the misfortunate of witnessing my duck’s eyeballs get gouged out, one by one! Read more about him here. Duck eyes can regenerate quite well on their own. After he was poked in the eye I cleaned the wound with antiseptic and applied antibiotic ointment. He healed well on his own in the safety of his cage.

Angel wing  geese/ducks that are fed food that is rich in high-protein and growth supplements will find their appendages growing in crooked.  Read more on Angel Wing

Dry, cracked feet/legs this occurs when the subject does not have enough water to drink and wade in. When ducks are dehydrated, their feet become awfully dry and starts to peel. When a duck is very thirsty he will continually rub the top and bottom of his beak together.

Choking I’ve only had this problem with domestic ducks, never my wild mallards. Domestic ducks were bred to take on weight and eat like crazy. They’re not that adept at ripping and tearing and making their food smaller before swallowing.  The best way to remedy a choking duck is to mix vinegar  with water and pour it down their throat. It’s important to make sure the duck is breathing and doesn’t choke on what you just gave him, so be gentle!

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