Ask the Expert: Ducks

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Is My Duck Going Mad?

I have a very interesting inquiry regarding the behavior of my crazy ducks. Currently, I have a pair of Muscovy ducks and my hen is nesting. My drake has become incredible “needy” in the absence of his lady, and is driving me mad. I live on a bit of land where the dogs rule, so during the warm months my back door is always open.

When Groucho starting nesting, Daffy decided that I was the most important person in the world. Not only does he follow me around the yard like a lost puppy, but he listens for my car to pull in the driveway so he can meet me at the door, invades my house (and refuses to leave!) any chance he gets, pushes past me when he sneaks into my living room, peeps into my spare room, and just today climbed up a very tall piece of outdoor furniture to peep into my back door windows.

I am curious about this behavior because my White Crested acted in a similar way when his ladies nested last spring.

My searches have turned up very little as to why a drake would act this way. Is it loneliness? Or perhaps a protective behavior? Please respond to this with any information or anything I can do to end the madness!

Annie Carey

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Interesting! I don’t know that there is any research on this type of thing. I raised Muscovy ducks when I was young, and they did seem to like looking in windows of the house, etc. (I don’t recall them ever trying to actually come in, however!) We had a bit larger flock, too, so they always had other ducks around.

In my experience, when ducks are paired off like this, the drake often sits fairly close by the female and her nest. If there are other males around (of the same species), they would often form a group.

There is quite a bit of work on imprinting in birds, and I suppose this could be related. So, maybe the drakes are imprinted on you and are trying to form that group?

I guess one solution might be to get more ducks, so they have some other companions.

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Ducks Versus Chickens

We have both ducks and chickens and the ducks lay every single day no matter what one from each of them. And the chickens do not do that at all. We get 10 eggs some days and 18 the other. So my question is, why don`t the chickens lay one egg each every day like the ducks? Why is that such a big difference?

Julia Donoso

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Hi Julia,

That’s an excellent question! Both chickens and ducks are raised for many different reasons; one of which being egg production. When given a good environment to live in and good nutrition, then egg production, whether it’s a chicken or a duck, really depends on the breeds you raise. Chickens especially have been bred over the years for certain traits, egg production being one of them. Mediterranean breeds are especially efficient layers. Many heavy breeds are good layers that keep producing through the winter. In ducks, often the smaller bantams lay fewer eggs than the larger breeds. So to sum it up, beyond how they are raised, it’s really the breed or type of bird you raise that determines how many eggs you’re going to get.

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Duck Question

I have read the article on the Muscovy duck in a recent edition of Backyard Poultry, and found it very interesting and resourceful. I live in South Florida and for the first time a duck has decided to make us foster parents. It’s a great experience to see a new egg every day. I’m trying to research a bit more but can’t find the answer to my question. Sorry if I sound a bit stupid, but interested in the why.

Two weeks ago, she laid one egg. I found this odd. This past week, I found egg number two. Today Sunday, on my way back from church, I saw egg number three. Why does the duck lay one egg at a time and does not sit on the nest to keep them warm or whatever?

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Just curious. Thanks for any information to educate me better.

Cathy Sagastume, Florida

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Hi Cathy,

How wonderful to foster a duck!

Ducks do not start sitting full time on their clutch until they feel they’ve got enough eggs. That’s usually around a dozen. Once they’ve got enough eggs, then they will start sitting full time. This insures that all the eggs get started with development at the same time and the ducklings will all hatch at about the same time.

Good luck with your Moscovy

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Duck Feeders?

We have just gotten Pekin ducks. I have been looking for a duck feeder, but no one seems to have them. What do you suggest? I have been using a pan or just on the ground, but now I have attracted a lot of wild birds and the feed is costing a lot more.

Vidia

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Hi Vidia,

We ran your question by our writer Lisa Steele, as she has ducks and often shares tips through her Facebook page, Duck Eggs Daily. Here’s what we came up with.

Traditional gravity chicken feeders don’t work well for ducks because they can empty them very quickly onto the ground and also since they get their feed wet, they tend to clog up.

We just use secondhand stoneware casserole dishes or the large rubber tubs that the feed stores sell. Not much else is going to be better. As far as wild birds, we would suggest feeding your ducks overnight. Especially in the summer when it’s hot, they’ll eat far less in the heat of the day and prefer to eat when it’s cooler. Of course that means leaving them water inside their house as well — and that can make a mess. Also the feed in the duck house will attract mice, but our ducks will catch and eat mice.

Another option is to just put out the feed for a bit in the morning and then again just before dusk. The ducks will get used to eating their fill at those two times, and then foraging or rummaging for bugs and worms the rest of the day, or you can give them cut grass, weeds and garden trimmings during the day that won’t attract wild birds or mice.

Have fun with your ducks!

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Do Ducks Need Grit in a Bowl?

Hi! I have five Pekin ducks as pets. I have offered them granite grit and sand for grit. They really prefer the sand over the grit. I had been using play sand, but since I need to buy more, I am wondering, what’s the best kind of sand to buy for them?

Laura Snyder

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Hi Laura,

We can’t tell how and where you’re raising your ducks, but ducks do not need grit offered in a bowl or feeder as chickens do. The key is that ducks are usually raised on the ground so they get into plenty of dirt on their own. By foraging and scooping up bugs and other goodies, they are getting plenty of dirt and grit from the environment. The only people who need to worry about grit are people raising show ducks or keeping them in wire pens, which is not a good idea because it can lead to all sorts of foot problems.

Good luck with your ducks!

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Adopting A Wild Duck?

We live on the lakeshore, and there is a lone wild duck left behind during migration south. Can we house her with our chickens? We have two coops, one with three Barred Rock hens, and the other with five Golden Buff pullets.

Napi

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Hi Napi,

We would be worried about this compromising your biosecurity. There is likely a reason the duck is not migrating. If it has a disease, it could transmit it to your chickens. Also, since avian influenza is a recent issue in poultry in North America, we think there is some risk that the duck might be carrying it. They can carry this virus without being sick, but can transmit it to domestic poultry and make them very sick.

If you decide to take the risk, you might try to quarantine the duck before mingling them. This likely won’t eliminate the risk of avian influenza, but it might decrease the risk of some other potential diseases.

Also, you may have local laws that prohibit this. It would be best to check in with your local fish and wildlife service before you decide to adopt any wildlife.

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Sick Duck 

I have a Khaki Campbell duck that is very sick and has been going on for almost a month. I have tried giving her activated charcoal in her water but to no avail, I have also been giving her some wheatgrass powder in her water. We gave Ivermectin to our whole flock a few months ago. She only eats when I force and then barely. She is still drinking and when I let them free-range she will eat a few leaves. She is losing weight quickly and can be quite “Tipsy” or unstable on her feet, although she does not seem to have too much trouble walking.  We have one other duck, a Pekin, that is showing no signs of sickness. We are going on vacation for a week leaving Saturday and our neighbors will take care of our flock while we are gone and they are unable to administer any medication or anything so a cure has to be quick or she just has to not die while we are gone. Also, the vet is not an option for us. 

Thanks, 

Calvin 

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I really have no idea what this might be. A veterinarian might be able to find something, but even that may be difficult without sacrificing the duck.  

I guess you might try giving it some added nutrients in the water since it is still drinking. Other than that, you may have to consider the duck’s quality of life at some point, and consider euthanizing her if she seems to be suffering. 

Sorry, I’m not more help. 

Ron Kean 

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Black/Bloody Duck

We have two scovies. We have a house for them inside a large run that they share with four chickens. One of our scovies‘ caruncle and the top of its head has turned black and her one eye seems affected by this. Can you help us out with what it is?

Byron Frescatore

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Hi Byron,

My first thought is that this looks like pecking damage. Are the hens pecking at the duck? You might try to separate the duck until the area can scab over, if that is possible. You might also try to give the chickens something to peck at instead. A bale of hay, or vegetables, or something similar can work well. I’ve seen people hang a head of cabbage, as an example. I’d suggest something fairly low in energy (calories) and high in fiber, if possible.

Since you mentioned that it turned black, is it possible that the duck had a bit of frostbite? That could have caused the black coloration. I still suspect that the others are pecking at it, but that might have been the start of it.

Hopefully, they won’t continue to peck. That can be a bad habit to break, once it has started.

Good luck with them!

Ron Kean

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I want to thank you very much for responding and the info. The area is cleaning up now and she seems to be better. 

I appreciate, more than I can express, you taking the time to reply.

Thank you,

Byron Frescatore

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Saxony Ducks

Hey there! Absolutely love your website. What a great resource trying to figure out how to get some ducks on her property. My main goals are pets/eggs/action for my two-year-old. We are on five acres in Florida and I already have a set up from the previous owners who raised hogs. So I just need to convert the pen. We have a pond.

Anyway, after reading some articles you provided, I really love the Saxony ducks. However, I can’t seem to validate they are a good choice for South Florida. Would love your insights on the best hot weather breeds, and if Saxony would indeed work, or rather that they are a cold climate bird? Thanks SO much!

Deidra Johnson

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Hi Deidra,

Most of the different breeds of ducks (with the exception of Muscovies) are derived from Mallards.  They can handle a variety of climates pretty well.  As with other animals, I would suggest providing shade, plenty of clean, cool water, and ventilation if possible.

They should do well!

Ron Kean

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Keeping One Drake and One Hen

I have a female Pekin and male Cayuga. They are 23 weeks and she just laid her first egg today. My concern is I do not want to purchase another female, but will she be over-mated? What can I do? What ducks mate for life and what does that mean?

Carol

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Hi Carol,

Young drakes can have a strong drive to reproduce and can become aggressive. There is no guarantee your hen will be overly mated, but there’s no guarantee she won’t. The recommended ratio for a flock that stays together all the time is one drake for every four to six hens. If you are limited to the number of birds you can keep, it’s a good idea to add at least one hen.

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Keeping Drake with Chickens

I have a lone drake and two hens, can I put them together?

Teresa Almond

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Hi Teresa,

Drakes, especially young drakes, have a strong drive to reproduce. They are also not selective about mating with their own species. The answer to your question is yes, they can live together. But you’ll need to keep an eye out for your hens. Are they being overly mated? Are they becoming stressed? If those problems arise, it’s best to find some female ducks so your drake can have a flock of his own.

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Khaki Campbell Tail Feathers

Bubbles is a 15-year-old Khaki Campbell hen. This year her tail feathers curled up like a drake. I’ve heard this can happen when there are no drakes present, but I have four other drakes in my flock. She stopped laying about three years ago. Is this normal old age in a duck? My second question is Goldy, an 11-year-old Goldstar hen, has started laying eggs like she was three years old again. The last two years she averaged about a dozen eggs a year. This year she has already laid 74 eggs. Is this healthy for her and is it normal? She is outlaying my three-year-olds right now. The only thing different is the girls found my compost pile and have feasted on worms.

Ken Zimmerman, Swainton, New Jersey

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Hi Ken,

The presence or absence of other drakes is not a factor with your Khaki Campbell hen. This phenomenon is not terribly rare in older females of other bird species, however, so it’s not surprising it would happen in ducks. As you may know, most female birds have one functioning ovary (the left one). Early in development, the right ovary stops developing. Some tissue is still present, however. If something happens to the left ovary (such as the development of a tumor), the tissue of the right ovary often develops into an ovotestis. This tissue secretes hormones that cause the “hen” to develop male characteristics. So, it’s likely that something has happened to your duck’s left ovary, causing her to develop curled tail feathers.

There’s really no explanation why an 11-year-old hen would have such improved egg production. It’s not unhealthy for her. It’s probably normal, but there’s not a lot of records kept for 11-year-old hens and their egg production! Keep doing whatever it is you’re doing with them because it’s certainly working!

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Ducks and Chickens

We had 12 ducks all different breeds. They were in with the chickens. A few months ago, we lost eight ducks. They were not able to walk, they got skinny, and after they died there was green poop on their body. They died one after another, week after week. Now we have four ducks left. Do you have any reason why they died? 

Terri Hinshaw, North Carolina

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Hi Terri,

While it’s difficult to know what disease the ducks had, the symptoms (esp. green droppings) may give a hint.

There is a viral disease (duck viral hepatitis) which causes similar symptoms — green diarrhea, listless birds that stop eating, ducklings that can’t walk, etc. It can be spread on shoes, equipment, and/or by wild birds (sparrows, starlings), or rodents. If that is the problem, there’s not much that can be done. Improvements in biosecurity (disinfecting shoes or wearing clean boots, keeping wild birds and rodents out) can be helpful in the future. The remaining ducks could be carriers, so new ducks may be infected if the old ones are still there.

Another possibility might be Pasteurella anatipestifer, though that often causes respiratory symptoms as well. It is a bacterial disease, so antibiotics can sometimes help, though not always.

Again, these are just guesses. For a firm diagnosis, you’d need to find an avian veterinarian, or contact your state veterinary diagnostic lab. You could contact your extension office too. They may know of an avian veterinarian near you.

Sorry this isn’t a definitive diagnosis. It’s difficult to guess what disease they might have without further testing.

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Sick Duck

My duck has been sick for a week. He has an impacted crop but has developed an upper respiratory infection. I have been treating him with poultry Rx and have separated him from the flock. He has bubbly eyes with discharge and doesn’t really want to preen himself. I made him stay in the pool and thought he was enjoying the eye relief but he now seems weak. What can I do?

Laura Basile

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Hi Laura,

Here are some ideas to explore. An impacted crop would severely limit your duck’s ability to get adequate nutrition. Usually, a bird with an impacted crop does not last long if it’s not treated. Aspergillus or Hardware disease may be the problem. Also, if your duck is not preening and is sitting in water it’s likely to be chilled which would lead to weakness. Ducks need to preen to distribute oil through their feathers. This keeps their feathers from getting wet while they are swimming and it keeps them insulated. The eye bubbling sounds like a respiratory infection.

It’s hard to diagnose from a description, so if you do have a nearby veterinarian, a visit would probably be best. A veterinarian can access all the correct diagnostic tools and prescribe medicine and treatment if necessary.

Good luck with your birds!

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Response from Laura:

Thank you for your response.

Unfortunately after 10 weeks of trying everything in my power to heal him, he seemed to get better then worse again and continued to get weaker. He got to where he could hardly walk, despite all the care I was giving him, and I couldn’t watch him suffer any longer. We put him at peace on Monday but not all was lost. I have researched so much on ducks that I am confident I can care for my remaining flock without hesitation. I’ve learned way more than I ever thought there was to know about ducks. It was a sad but peaceful day here as we put him to rest. I was having a growing concern of his presence infecting the rest of my flock, even though I kept him separated. It’s hard to find a forum for ducks so if it’s ok with you I will save your email for the future, should I need to reach out again.

Thank you again. He was dear to my heart.

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Muscovy Duck Babies Abandoned

Hi, I’m really hoping you can help me. I live in Miami, Florida and have a situation with Muscovy baby ducklings that are in danger. Of course no wildlife rescue group will help me since they are not protected here. So Mama duck and her 12 ducklings have been visiting my front yard for the past five to six weeks. I’ve fed them regularly and they’ve always hung out at or very near my home. But suddenly, about three days ago, only the ducklings showed up. Mama was nowhere to be seen all day. The next day, the same thing. I became worried for their safety and decided to catch and trap all 12 of them (what a mission that was!). Even after all the noise they made, no Mama appeared. So I had to assume something really bad happened to her and she was gone for good. I’ve been keeping them in a crate, safe and with plenty of food and water but they refuse to eat. Then today (3rd day of her gone missing), Mama suddenly appeared! I was so happy! She was wagging her tail and they all ran up to her and they all walked away together. But several hours later, I saw the babies all by themselves, again, all huddled up in my front yard. No mom to be seen.

I am so saddened by this! I now have to assume that she is abandoning them on purpose! Or maybe they are refusing to follow her? Either way, I’m so worried for their well-being … they are unprotected and not eating. I know it’s especially dangerous overnight.

Do you have an idea of what could be going on and if there’s anything I can do to help? I don’t know how long  Mom will be gone for this time and if she’s even coming back! Is it best that I trap them again? Or leave them out for Mom to come back for them again? I know they wont make it without protection! Thank you so much in advance for any info that you can provide.

Cecilia

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Hi Cecilia,

It may seem heartless, but in cases of wildlife babies in the spring, it’s often best to let nature take its course. Sometimes the mothers are nearby and although we think the babies are not being watched, they really are.

It’s surprising they won’t eat, especially since the mother had been feeding them before. You may want to provide feed, as you’ve been doing before (when the mother was with them), and maybe some sort of shelter if that’s a possibility. A guess is that the mother may have started a new nest, for another hatch. At five to six weeks of age, the ducklings should be able to be on their own, other than being able to avoid predators. So, if they are in an area that will keep out predators, they are probably okay. They were most likely stressed from being caught and kept in a crate, and that’s why they didn’t eat.

Beyond that, there’s not a lot that you can do.

Hope this helps!

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Muscovies Eating Fire Ants

I have a question I’m hoping you can answer, I was reading your article about Muscovy ducks and I saw where you talked about them eating ants. Someone mentioned me that they will eat fire ants too? I currently have free range chickens and I would like to avoid using poison on my property to get rid of fire ants and was thinking about getting a couple female Muscovy ducks but wanted to make sure that they do eat them before getting a couple. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks,

Elinor

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Hi Elinor,

This is a question we ran by one of our writers, Lisa Steele. She advises that Muscovies are “awesome” at bug control. Certainly better than ducks are. She feels that if anything would eat fire ants, it would be Muscovies. However, she wondered about putting a bunch of Diatomaceous Earth on the ant hills. That would help control the fire ants without using harsh chemicals.

Hope this helps get rid of your fire ant problem!

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Success with Pekin Duck Hatching?

I have a Pekin duck fertility question for you. I remember reading that female turkeys “contain” so they only actually have to couple with the tom once. I was wondering if ducks are the same way? And if so, how long would she still lay fertile eggs?

I have a pair of Pekin ducks. She lays a lot of eggs and sits on them quite often. The cage is 7’x7’x4′ high, with a 3′ wide x 7′ shelf to run around on. I have a small pond for them (a concrete mixing tub) and they love it. I am wondering as I am able to hatch the eggs, maybe he is bothering her so much that she does not sit long enough?

If she is fertile after a coupling for a few days, I was thinking of moving him to the other side of the cage and giving her time and peace to perhaps raise the ducklings.

Thank you for your time

John Bailey

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Hi John,

Ducks are about the same as chickens. Both are prey animals and are designed to make the most of their reproductive capabilities. A duck can lay fertile eggs for about two weeks after she is separated from a drake. Once she lays an egg, it has about 10 days or so before it starts to lose its viability.

With that said, you can try separating the female. Pekins, and really most domestic ducks, aren’t generally known for being broody. In order for them to set, they usually want a dozen or even more eggs in their nest before they’d consider the task.

Good luck with your hatching!

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Male-to-Hen Ratio?

I have Muscovy ducks and I want to know if I need a male for each hen?

Winnifred Badgerow

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Hi Winnifred,

No need for one male for each hen. That will lead to over-mating. A good minimum amount is one drake for every four to five females.

Some side notes on Muscovy gender traits: Many individuals believe that Muscovies are more of a goose than a duck. For instance, they do not quack. Many people like this trait since they are “quiet” ducks. The males make a “hissing” sound while the females make a sound known as a “pip.” This “pip” is a very exotic sounding call. It is somewhat similar to a flute quickly alternating between the notes F and G. Also, their eggs take longer to hatch than other duck eggs — 35 days. Unlike all other breeds of ducks, Muscovies did not originate from the wild Mallard.

Good luck with your flock!

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An Unruly Duck

Why is my duck chasing and harassing my chickens all of a sudden?

Jammie Mittlestead

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Hi Jammie,

We would guess that you have a male duck and not enough female ducks. We would recommend at least three to four female ducks per drake. And separating them is a good idea if it gets to be too much. We have had other readers say their drakes have injured their hens trying to mate.

We hope this is helpful!

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An Unbalanced Duck?

Hi, I’m a reader of Backyard Poultry and I look forward to each magazine. Last spring, when I picked up my order of ducklings from the local feed store, I noticed one of the clerks putting four ducklings into a box.

When asked what she was doing, she informed me that these particular ones would not make it, and because she couldn’t stand to watch them suffer and die she was putting them out of sight. I volunteered to take them home and see if I could give them a second chance. One would not eat, even when fed hydrating fluid, would not swallow, and died within two days. Two ducklings, after hydration, melded into the rest of the flock and there was no telling any difference from the others.

However, one duckling, a Rouan duckling, would eat and drink but was unable to keep its balance to stand. So we made an eating and sleeping station, a wheelchair and a separate place to sleep and play from the others. He is now 5 months old and still has no balance as he falls over on his back. He swims, preens, stretches his wings and does everything else a duck is supposed to do except walk.

Have you ever heard of this before? His feet and legs are strong and he can take a few steps but always falls over. Sometimes he can right himself but not for long. Also we have noticed that when in the water (his own private kiddie pool), he constantly scratches around the location of where his ears are supposed to be. I have not been able to locate his ears, but I know he hears me because when I call out to him when I come to feed him and put him in his pool, he answers me with his duck quacks.

Do you have any suggestions of anything else we can do to help him?

Gerrie Whitley

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Hi Gerrie,

We both looked at your question. We definitely feel you deserve an award for persistence for keeping your duck this long! It sounds like you’ve done a great job with him.

We are not sure what’s wrong with your duck. If you have access to a veterinarian, you may want to have him checked. The veterinarian can do a much more thorough investigation than we can. There is one thing you mentioned that did pique our curiosity — your duck scratching near his ears. The ears are important for the sense of balance (in birds as well as mammals), so there could be a connection. The problem is that we don’t know what to suggest you do about it, even if that is the issue.

We think it’s a possibility that the duck has an infection in its inner ear, but it’d be surprising if he lived this long with it, and if it didn’t get worse.

Given that, you could try giving an antibiotic, though we don’t know what antibiotic, or what dosage, to suggest. And it’s definitely a long shot!

We’re sorry to be so vague. We wish you, and your duck, the best of luck!

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What Will Get My Ducks Back in the Coop?

Hello! I have two sets of questions. The first: I have 21 Rouen ducks who were originally housed in a 10x10x3-foot-high coop surrounded by a 30-foot by 30-foot fence. I collected eggs every morning in the coop. I then moved the coop and fencing near a pond, and after a week allowed the ducks to go to the pond. Now they will not return to the coop in the evening. Eggs are now laid everywhere, sometimes even in the water.

Is there a way to retrain them to return to the coop in the evening? They do return to the coop in the morning when I put feed out in the coop, but then leave again.

I plan to add Toulouse geese to the flock.

My second set of questions: In Gail Damerow’s Chicken Health Handbook, rye seed poisoning is mentioned on pages 140, 153, and 155. Does this rye seed mean rye grass or rye (the grain)? Does she mean the seeds bought from a store in order to, for instance, plant rye grass for a cover crop? Or is it the seeds from the mature plant itself? Also, do ducks and geese get rye seed poisoning?

Thank you for your time.

Duke Weilbacker

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Hi Duke,

Okay, to your first question about your ducks. It’s definitely not safe for your ducks to be out on the pond at night. So, you’re right to try to get them back in the coop. Here is our suggestion: Feed them at the coop in the evenings and not the mornings. Make sure to add some special treats, too. Once they’re in the coop to eat, then shut the doors so they’re safe. That should also take care of your egg problem since they’ll lay in the coop in the early morning, and once they learn the habits of where they are getting their food, they should make it a habit to return to the coop.

On your second question, we reached out to Gail to ask her, and here was her response: “What was commonly called rye seed poisoning when the first edition of The Chicken Health Handbook came out in 1994 is now known to be caused by ergot, a fungal disease of cereal grains and wild grasses, including rye grain and ryegrass. Ergot favors plants growing in cool, wet weather and is more likely to infect chickens foraging in contaminated fields rather than from commercially harvested seeds (due to improved harvesting methods). However, because ergot is bitter, a chicken is unlikely to eat enough to become seriously ill. Ergotism is described on page 251 of the completely revised 2015 edition of The Chicken Health Handbook.”

Best of luck with your flock.

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Adopting A Wild Duck?

We live on the lakeshore, and there is a lone wild duck left behind during migration south. Can we house her with our chickens? We have two coops, one with three Barred Rock hens, and the other with five Golden Buff pullets.

Napi

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Hi Napi,

We would be worried about this compromising your biosecurity. There is likely a reason the duck is not migrating. If it has a disease, it could transmit it to your chickens. Also, since avian influenza is a recent issue in poultry in North America, we think there is some risk that the duck might be carrying it. They can carry this virus without being sick, but can transmit it to domestic poultry and make them very sick.

If you decide to take the risk, you might try to quarantine the duck before mingling them. This likely won’t eliminate the risk of avian influenza, but it might decrease the risk of some other potential diseases.

Also, you may have local laws that prohibit this. It would be best to check in with your local fish and wildlife service before you decide to adopt any wildlife.

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Do Ducks Need Grit in a Bowl?

Hi! I have five Pekin ducks as pets. I have offered them granite grit and sand for grit. They really prefer the sand over the grit. I had been using play sand, but since I need to buy more, I am wondering, what’s the best kind of sand to buy for them?

Laura Snyder

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Hi Laura,

We can’t tell how and where you’re raising your ducks, but ducks do not need grit offered in a bowl or feeder as chickens do. The key is that ducks are usually raised on the ground so they get into plenty of dirt on their own. By foraging and scooping up bugs and other goodies, they are getting plenty of dirt and grit from the environment. The only people who need to worry about grit are people raising show ducks or keeping them in wire pens, which is not a good idea because it can lead to all sorts of foot problems.

Good luck with your ducks!

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Please note that although our team has dozens of years of experience, we are not licensed veterinarians. For serious life and death matters, we advise you to consult with your local veterinarian.

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