Duckling tragedy. wish to avert another one, advice please
Hi, I am new here, sorry so long, i am just trying to give all possible relevant information
have a small holding with many free range chickens and ducks, turkeys, guinea hens and geese. I had ten mixed ducks previously, purchased from McMurray hatchery, and had no problem raising them. I have also raised day old Muscovy's. Never had a problem til today.
Five days ago i purchased six little mallards at TSC. They have been healthy, and have been on flock raiser feed. They drink well water from my well, the same source that i feed all my stock and my home. They live in a 100 gallon horse tank, empty, with shavings in the bottom, a little second cutting hay, and they have a heat lamp hanging over the edge. they can move closer or move away to regulate their own temperature needs.
I cleaned the feed and water bowls, and refilled, changed the litter, ( shavings) same bag, and replaced their little bit of hay. The brooder has a heat lamp and the temperature was fine. The ducklings appeared happy and healthy, and crowded around to play in their little fresh water . They did not appear hungry, and did not dig into their food. which was unusual.
I finished my remaining chores, 45 minutes tops, and returned to find all of them dead. they had their heads and necks stretched, and their legs stretched out and were lying on their backs in a semi circle. they already looked stiff, even though they were freshly deceased.
i did not change the feed, water, shavings, they were all from the same bag, or source previously used. Can anyone give me an suggestion so to what might have happened. I do want to get more ducklings, and i do not want to fail them so badly again
Since no one else has responded, I'll give it a shot. Smell the feed for freshness or mold, and look for a date on the bag. By digging deeper into the bag over the past couple of days you might have reached some spoiled feed. That's my best guess, and I hope you get better responses from those with more experience.
Sorry you lost your ducklings.
thank you 3 dogs
I appreciate your input. I had about decided the same thing, and have discontinued using the food!
I agree. Botulism will kill quickly. Most feed will have a date code stamped on the bottom of the bag. It's a good idea to check.
Check the hay to be sure that wasn't moldy, as well.
5 days. It could have been anything. They might have been handled at TSC by someone with sick poultry at home and it took 5 days to incubate.
They don't usually die all at once if they got chilled in shipping. But ducks should have restricted water the first day that they arrive, and they might not have been done when they arrived at TSC.
Everybody dying all at the same time, after getting fresh feed, does make the feed suspect. Check with your local farm extension agent and see if they have access to a laboratory that can test feed. If the feed is bad, the feed company owes you new ducks.
Not that the extension service cares about 5 ducks, but they do care about bad feed getting out and affecting huge numbers. It's worth asking.
They don't all usually die at once if feed is the problem either. Same with diseases. There are few diseases, in ducks especially, that take only 5 days to incubate. I've never restricted water for the first day. Even if that were necessary, they would not be affected 5 days later, and surely not all at once. Bad feed is not always the fault of the manufacturer. Poor handling and storage in shipping, at the grain store, and at home can make good feed go bad too. You might as well ask the clerk at your local drug store as most extension agents. Nowadays in many areas they're as useless as tits on a bull. Worse even, because tits on a bull don't give you false or incorrect information.
In my experience, other than improper care and temperature, the main cause for duckling death is impaction from bedding. That still doesn't fit in this case, as they wouldn't all die at once from that either. I wonder if someone added something improper to the feed or water, such as a child. A cat or a weasel could get in there and kill them all, in some cases with few outward signs. She doesn't say where they were housed, but if in a barn, there's the possibility that very cold water right from the tap could shock them all, esp if they were dehydrated to begin with, and all rushed in for it at once, if their previous water was empty. I imagine it's in the 40's today in NJ. I wouldn't expect that temperature to kill them in 45 minutes, even if the heat lamp were completely out, but high temperatures could. I'd like to know that it was actually measured with a thermometer, rather than hearing just that it "was fine", before ruling that out as cause too. Fumes from an exhaust or chemicals come to mind also.
I would also suspect an environmental cause. Individual animals simply do not all respond at the same instant to pathogens. 45 minutes is a very tight window so whatever the cause, it had to be pretty severe. Is there a chance that the sun could have come up or come though a window and spiked the temperature? Overheating can kill in minutes whereas chilling would take a while longer.