Common diseases in ducks

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Ducks exhibit greater resistance to most diseases and parasites than do most domestic fowl. As a consequence, medicated feeds for ducks are used less often than with chickens and turkeys. Presently, there are feed medications available to control the common diseases of ducks: colibacillosis, fowl cholera, salmonellosis, and necrotic enteritis.

Colibacillosis is a common disease in ducks caused by the bacterium Escherichia coli. E. Coli can cause embryonic and duckling mortality by infecting the yolk sac. Infection of the digestive track and air sacs is most common. Infected ducklings appear droopy and listless and exhibit diarrhea and ocular discharge. Cleanliness of the hatching eggs and good management in the hatchery are necessary for prevention of Colibacillosis. The combination of sulfadimethoxine at 0.05% of the diet and ormetoprim at 0.03% of the diet for a duration of 7 days can reduce or prevent mortality from Colibacillosis in baby ducklings.

Fowl cholera is a contagious disease of domestic ducks and other birds, caused by the bacterium Pasteurella multocida. Sick ducklings refuse feed and exhibit diarrhea and mucus discharge from the mount. Mortality may be as high as 50%. A concentration of 0.44% chlortetracycline (400 g/ton) in feed is effective in reducing mortality. Treat infected ducks for 5 days. Chlortetracycline binds to calcium in breeder feed, thus a low calcium diet (0.6-0.8%) should be used during the 5 day treatment period.

Salmonellosis is a common disease of ducks caused by a variety of serotypes of salmonella. Infected ducks are listless, dehydrated, exhibit diarrhea, and show signs of incoordination, and head tremors. Mortality is about 10%. Salmonellosis can be treated with chlortetracycline (.044%) or sulfadimethoxine-ormetoprim (0.04-0.08%) in the feed.

Necrotic enteritis is a common infectious disease of breeder ducks. The exact cause is not known. Infected ducks are weak and unable to stand, and their digestive tracts are swollen and filled with blood-stained fluids. Mortality is high, approximately 40%. A concentration of 0.02% neomycin sulfate in feed for 2-3 weeks can reduce mortality.

The effectiveness of a disease prevention program, regardless of feed medication usage, is best under good management and sanitary practices. Try to keep houses clean and dry, and do not allow mud holes and slimy areas to form. Always consult a veterinarian for proper medication usage or if a disease problem is persistent or serious.

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