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 Post subject: Ducklings dying
PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 11:29 am 
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Hatchling
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Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I hatched 21 Runner ducklings late last week and have nearly lost the lot through death. I have been breeding ducks for nearly 20 years and have never experienced this problem.

Their incubations was a little doomed from the start, after being in the incubator for approx a week we experienced bad storms and subsequently were 'blacked out' for around 14 hours. They survived this although in the last 5 days before hatching we had temperatures in excess of 35 degrees with high humidity. I had to help a lot of the ducklings out as they weren't hatching properly and I was losing them dead in shell (this should have been a sign).

After they hatched we still had very humid weather for the first 2 days. For the first day they were all fine and all eating and drinking well (we feed them chick crumbles)(they are in a brooder under heat lamps with plenty of area under/away from heat).

Two days later I noticed a couple of the ducklings had developed what looked to be an eye infection where the outer lid was closing over the eye, with some white/cream discharge in the corners of their eyes. Eyes were closing and looked swollen. I cleaned all eyes with a saline solution 4-5 times a day and separated those that looked to be developing the conditions from the main group. I then noticed many of the ducklings stopped eating, and were slowly deteriorating - even ones not affected by eye infection. No matter what I tried they didn't eat and some even stopped drinking. This all happened in the space of 3 days and I am now down to just 3 out of 20! They are hunched up (cannot be cold as they are inside under 150W lamps) and are slowly withering away.

They have plenty of fresh water, fresh food and their bedding is changed 2-3 times a day.

I have never experience this problem and it is quite distressing when I don't know what has gone wrong. The season has been bad with extreme weather conditions and I am wondering whether the long period without heat at the start of their incubation could have been a factor.

Has anyone ever experienced this problem? Or any suggestions what could have caused this?

Thanks


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 Post subject: Re: Ducklings dying
PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 11:38 am 
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Golden Magpie
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I have no experience raising ducklings and you appear to be doing everything that should be done, so my advice is of little help.

Have you considered taking one or two dead or dying ones to a vet for a post mortem ?? Often a post mortem can be inconclusve without expensive follow up laboratory testing but just as often it provides the answer.

With two 150 watt lamps in the brooder I assume that the ducklings have enough room to move around freely and be able to escape the heat as and when they need to ? I also assume that their water source is deep enough for them to play in it and also fully immerse their heads to wash away crumble particles ??

Mike

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 Post subject: Re: Ducklings dying
PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 12:05 pm 
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Hatchling
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Hi Mike,

Thanks anyway.

Slight typo on my part, there is only 1x 150W lamp on them. They have plenty of room under and away from the light. Water dish is large and deep enough for them to immerse their bills and heads. Water is also changed regularly.

Thanks anyway for your reply.

Cheers
Jess


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 Post subject: Re: Ducklings dying
PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 12:06 pm 
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Flock Master
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Some questions off the top of my head although I think you've covered some of them...

Do they have plenty of room and no issues with them all being able to get to food and fresh water? Stress can cause a lowered immunitity which then could lead to infection being picked up.

As chookyinoz says, do they have deep enough water to put their whole face in? They do need this so they can clean out their nostrils and wash their eyes. Possibly they could develop an infection without being able to wash their face?

What is your water source? Is there a chance the water is high in cholorine or another chemical which could be affecting their health? I don't know what area you're from, has your water been affected by flooding at all?

Was the health of the breeding stock good at the time of collecting eggs? Good health is required for robust ducklings. Possibly you could try vitamins in their water as an added boost just in case?

Are the chicken crumbles fresh with no chance of mould? Two days into eating and then becoming sick might be as a result of food which isn't fresh? Have a really good look at the crumbles and if you're unsure at all, buy another lot from a different source.

Good luck finding out what the problem is, it would be very distressing to lose so many ducklings. :(

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 Post subject: Re: Ducklings dying
PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 12:34 pm 
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Hatchling
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Hi Roova

Thank you for your post.

In reply to your questions;

They have plenty of room to move. They are in large brooder with plently of space for all to move, and to get in and around their food and water. Their water dishes are deep enough for them to immerse their heads and bills for cleaning etc yet not deep enough for them to drown.
We are on a farm (luckily not affected by the floods) and our water sourse if fresh tank/rain water (our drinking water) so therefore no cholorine or other chemicals.

All my adult birds are healthy, strong and free range. So vitamins and lack of nutrients are not an issue.

My chicken crumbles are fresh (they were the first thing I checked) with no signs of mold. I have bought fresh food though just to be on the safe side.

Thanks again for your reply.

Cheers

Jess


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 Post subject: Re: Ducklings dying
PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 1:05 pm 
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Golden Magpie
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Jessa

Have a read of this thread and consider some of the points made pro and con.

viewtopic.php?f=5&t=7993690&hilit=free+ranging

Over the years I have seen a number of conditions that have been obviously dietary and the owners have exclaimed "how can that be - they free range"

I dont suggest its the answer in a nut shell but simply food for thought.

Mike

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Retired Now - Have moved and can be found sitting on a boat with a bit of string in the water with a fish enticing safety pin at the end of it. Officially a Tuross Head resident.


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 Post subject: Re: Ducklings dying
PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 1:43 pm 
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Hatchling
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Hi Mike,

Thank you for the link. Interesting reading and I do agree with you. My ducks are fed morning and night on commerial food, plus free range during the day (throughout the year).

The whole situation has me stumped as this is the 4th hatch (and my last) for the season. All previous hatches were perfect and all resulted in strong healthy ducklings.

Appreciate your help.

Thanks
Jess


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 Post subject: Re: Ducklings dying
PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 4:11 pm 
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Flock Master
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Location: Gold Coast
Hmmm sounds like you're doing everything right, but there is something definitely wrong.

Can I ask where the brooder is? Do you have it in the kitchen where Teflon cooking fumes might be an issue? I believe Teflon cooked at a high temperature can emit fumes toxic to birds so I'm sure ducklings would be even more at risk.

If not the kitchen, are they somewhere else fumes could be an issue?

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 Post subject: Re: Ducklings dying
PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 4:35 pm 
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Hatchling
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Hi Roova,

No, they are nowhere near the Kitchen or any others area where fumes may be a problem. They are in a spare bedroom, where there is plenty of light and air circulation, way away from Kitchen/Laundry areas.

As mentioned previously I have been breeding ducks for approx 20 years and never in the entire time had this problem. Even may last hatch (in January) was fine. All healthy, beautiful birds. I am starting to wonder whether the long period without heat (due to our power blackout) at the start of their incubation has cause some sort of problem/deformity in the ducklings hence low immune systems and a weaker duckling.


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 Post subject: Re: Ducklings dying
PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 4:44 pm 
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Golden Magpie
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Location: Gulgong, NSW
Although, again ducks are not in my experience, generally with incubation issues the hatchlings are born weak and unthrifty but those which are going to survive get better and stronger once they start eating and drinking.

I am now wondering about some sort of aflatoxin in the feed. Aflatoxins come from moulds and fungi in feeds. Considering the weather Australia has been having and the then hot weather the bag of feed would have soaked up moisture and the moulds would have developed even if it wasn't clearly visisble.

The classic signs would have been very slow moving listless birds - perhaps even unable to stand or walk once they have been affected.

Mike

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Retired Now - Have moved and can be found sitting on a boat with a bit of string in the water with a fish enticing safety pin at the end of it. Officially a Tuross Head resident.


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 Post subject: Re: Ducklings dying
PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 4:46 pm 
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Flock Master
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Location: Gold Coast
Im sure you would have mentioned it but did the ducklings show any other signs leading up to death like muscle spasms, head twitching or leg contractions? Also what was their poo like?

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 Post subject: Re: Ducklings dying
PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 4:59 pm 
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Hatchling
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No nothing. Poo was fine - the usual.

I just noticed they started looking unwell. Very quite, hunched up, not moving around and their eyes were starting to close. After spending time watching them I realised they just weren't eating so I tried to help but with no avail. They were dying over night - it was all very quick, which makes me think disease or internal problems. I find it hard to believe it was disease as all my adult birds are healthy and they hadn't been in contact with any other birds/animals. Who knows!


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 Post subject: Re: Ducklings dying
PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 5:10 pm 
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Flock Master
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Location: Gold Coast
Maybe cocci? I think its unusual for ducklings to get it, but it can happen. Have you got any sulpha based medication to hand for the remaining few?

Im out of ideas now so am only left with wishing you better luck with future hatches. I'm sure this was just a horrible anomoly for you!

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 Post subject: Re: Ducklings dying
PostPosted: Thu Feb 10, 2011 12:23 am 
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Phoenix
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Clean out the incubator could be a bug in that.
But you actually alredy knew there was a problem as you had to help them out and we know once you do that the chances of survival is very reduced and does lead to many deaths usually in the first few days.Usually they have not probably absorbed the yolk but if you dont get them out they are going to die regardless.No win really.
This season has not been a great one for hatching ducks we too have had problems actually same as yours lost power,high humidity and any I helped out died in first two /three days although I had no eye problems.
I think it is a one off and hopefully things will be better next time.


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 Post subject: Re: Ducklings dying
PostPosted: Thu Feb 10, 2011 1:17 am 
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Gallant Game
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Location: Guyra, NSW
With the experience Jessa has with ducks and such high death rate I reckon something out of the ordinary has occurred and the blackout etc as the cause just doesn't seem feasible to me. This sounds like a highly infectious disease or a potent toxin of some kind
What is different - something must be different, (aside from the power loss). All I can suggest is consider every single aspect of what you do, water, feed, containers, people handling or entering property, new ducks etc to try to find what is different this time, which might provide the cause.

Might be too late now but antibiotics and antiparasitic agents could be worth a try if any have survived.
Good luck


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