Sick Duck

Over the past week our beloved Kimchi duck has been suffering from seizures. As this post is intended to hopefully help others, I’m not going to keep you in suspense. It’s been two seizure-free days thus far. She’s also eating/drinking normally and engaging in her normal activities.

How it started:

Roughly a week and a half ago we noticed her doing this weird bill shaking thing, like something was caught on it. Although we can’t say for sure that these were seizures, in hindsight, they certainly appear to have been.

Starting on Monday we started noticing things that were clearly seizures. She’d start violently flapping her wings, dragging herself across the ground, ultimately crashing into a fence or some other obstacle. These events last between 20-30 seconds ending with her contorting her neck backwards and then eventually returning to normal. It would take her 10-15 seconds to recover after which she would stand, walk a little ways and then sit back down. These events where happening about once every two to three hours.

So what did we do? Well, as one would expect we hit the internet scouring the various forums and websites to better understand why she was seizing and what we could do. Luckily we found a number of forum threads that started us down the right path.

The general sense that we got was it was due to one of four reasons: nutritional deficiency, poisons from ingested metal, infection, or congenital defect. So we did what we could ourselves to start.

Niacin is apparently a fairly common nutritional deficiency for growing ducks, and Kimichi was doing plenty of that. I jokingly refer to her as Gigantor. She’s 11 weeks old and already starting to dwarf our fully grown Cayuga and Blue Swedish ducks Sasha and Maverick. Yes, she’s a Pekin, so she should be bigger in the end, but at 11 weeks, wow. But I digress.

On Tuesday we went to our local feed store, Lee’s Feed, in search of these supplements. Although they didn’t have any, they did have a product called Poultry Nurti-Drench (plz support your local business, but if you can’t find it there, you can get it on Amazon). This product has Niacin in it, and is used to help nurse sick poultry back to health. We added about a half ounce of it to two gallons of water and set it out for all the ducks. That evening Kimchi seemed to have fewer episodes. Things where looking good.

Wednesday morning upon waking, we went to check on her. She’d clearly seized over night and/or in the morning as she was quite dirty. As a result we decided to give her more Poultry Nutri-Drench, but directly via syringe. Although she was still drinking, it was reduced and we didn’t think she was getting enough. We dosed her with 3ml (probably closer to 2ml as a fair bit ended up on her face and breast :-/).

Not only did the seizures continue, they increased in frequency, albeit shorter in length. By the end of the day, she’d had probably about twenty. Ugh…

As the day progressed we became increasingly worried and weren’t sure what to do. Was it really a nutritional deficiency or was there something more nefarious going on? Although we had been giving her Poultry Nutri-Drench, it wasn’t pure niacin, so we decided to just get some human niacin supplements, crush them, and add them to their drinking water (350mg/gal water). She didn’t seem to be getting better. She was not only seizing more often, she was also twitching a lot and developing sores on her wings.

Wednesday evening we finally decided to call an avian vet in our area- we were going to seek professional help. Except, due to the Newcastle poultry virus, no local vets were seeing poultry :-/. We were forced to address this on our own.

Over the course of a day or so, we started noticing significant improvements in her. She quickly went from that twenty seizures in a day to zero, zip, nada. Needless to say, we were quite happy to see them seemingly disappear.

As I mentioned in the open paragraph of this post, we’ve been seizure-free for two days. Hopeful to see that continue to be the case.

Update: April 13th, 2020

Thought we’d give y’all an update.  Despite the rest of the world being on fire with the Coronavirus, we are happy to say that our beloved Kimchi duck is doing great.  Hasn’t had a seizure since this post was originally published.  On occasion we put some of the Poultry Nutri-Drench in their water for good measure, but have also gone long stretches without it.

Leave a Reply