We haven’t been doing any blogging for the last few weeks because we’ve been dealing with a bunch of sick ducks. The ducks were doing just great until they were about 2 weeks old, and one night my husband noticed that Megatooth was sitting down in the brooder and looking very listless. Over a 12 hour period, she went from looking normal, to bad, to worse. It was a real shock to us since they had been thriving since we got them. We weren’t sure what the problem was at first, but the most glaring symptom was her weakness and wobbliness on her feet. She didn’t want to walk on them, and frequently collapsed. We were also horrified to see Megatooth go into spasms that we initially thought were seizures. (Later on, I came to the conclusion that she was most likely just panicking when she couldn’t regain her footing, although there might have been a neurological component too). I was very confused. From all I have read about ducklings, I knew that leg problems were most likely a result of feed that is deficient of niacin. I was feeding the ducks with chick starter, which has less niacin than ducks need. But to make up for that, I was supplementing their feed with Brewer’s Yeast, which my duck-raising guide recommended. So although the symptoms pointed towards a niacin problem, I really couldn’t understand how that could be the issue since I had been so careful about it.
To make a long story short, Arp ended up taking Megatooth into the vet to see what was up. I was not originallyÂ planning to bring the ducks to the vet, but when the other ducks began to show some of the same kind of leg weakness, I knew I had to figure this problem out rather than lose the whole flock.Â The vet’s diagnosis, which I’m still not entirely sure I agree with, is that all the ducks had a nutritional deficiency that originated from the egg due to poor feeding of the mother.Â Since we bought the ducklings from a hatchery, I would of course have no way to verify this.Â The vet said there was a small possibility that the duck had encephalitis, but there was no way to prove that with a live duckling.Â Either way, we were not to blame, which made me feel better.Â So at the vet’s direction, we began tube-feeding Megatooth and giving all the ducklings a vitamin-B complex by mouth several times per day.Â It sure is fun to force vitamins down a ducks throat!Â (They don’t like it very much, for some reason).
Sadly, the tube-feeding and vitamins failed to work with Megatooth.Â Although the other ducklings went back to almost normal as of today, Megatooth didn’t make it.Â We were sad to see her go.Â She was the first of our Khaki Cambells to be noticed due to her more obvious egg tooth (hence, her name) and her more lightly colored feet and bill.Â We have wondered whether her lighter coloring was an early indicator of the deficiency that killed her, but so often duck illnesses seems to be more about guessing than knowing.Â I’m also sad that she died because that was the one duck name that was basically chosen by M.