How to Care For and Treat a Sick Duck

How to Care For and Treat a Sick Duck

When sickness strikes a member of your precious duck flock, it’s like being struck by lightning. You’re sizzled by a high-voltage electric current of terror and pummeled with relentless internal echoes of “I don’t know what to do! I don’t know what to do!” You might not even know what happened. You might not even know if the duck is really, truly sick—it might just something in your gut telling you that something is not right. Regardless of the severity of the situation, you’re probably terrified, and you need help. Ease your panicked, lightning-struck brain with this list of the things that you need to do, no matter what the issue is. There are several important steps you must take with a sick duck to maximize her chances of survival and start her on the path to recovery.

Since you’re probably in a frantic frenzy and inclined to skim this article, keep in mind that most duck diseases are not going to result in death in a matter of ten minutes. The few that do are diseases for which there is no cure. If tragedy strikes and your duck dies, rest assured that there was nothing you could have done to save her in the ten minutes you spent not knowing what to do. Thus it’s okay to calm down and not skim this article: your duck will still be there when you return. Don’t skim.


The first step in caring for a sick duck is quarantine. If you don’t know what’s going on or if the illness might be contagious, don’t take any risks. Contagious diseases can spread faster than a wildfire, and your entire flock could be dead overnight. The quarantine area needs to be at least 40 feet from the rest of the flock because some diseases (such as mycoplasma gallisepticum) are airborne. You’ll also need to have separate food and water supplies for the sick bird. If she survives, the quarantine period must be 4-6 weeks to prevent the duck from spreading the disease to the rest of the flock once she returns. Sorry it has to be that long, but I don’t make the rules.

Even if you’re confident the disease isn’t contagious, pretty much any illness or disease warrants a hospital bed. It makes it easy to monitor and access the duck, and it also gives her a quiet place to rest and recuperate. In addition, looking at poop samples (which are a major clue in diagnosing illness) is difficult when the duck is mingling with others. There’s also the difficulty of examining and treating a duck while simultaneously slapping at mosquitoes and wiping windswept strands of hair out of your face.

Bottom line: take the duck indoors, regardless of the issue. A cardboard box, plastic tote, tub, dog kennel, or pet carrier will suffice as a hospital bed. Be sure the area is draft free but with plenty of ventilation. Also be sure it’s warm (80-85 degrees) because hypothermia is a common side effect of sickness. If it’s anything less than hot outside, it would be a good idea to treat the duck for hypothermia.

sick muscovy duck quarantined in crate
When we realized that something was wrong with Kiwi, we quickly moved her to this dog crate so we could monitor and take care of her easily. Fortunately, it wasn’t a sickness, only a sprain, but the crate still helped her rest and made it easy for us to check on her.

Catching the Duck

Once you have a cozy hospital bed ready, it’s time to catch the duck. If she isn’t very friendly, take care when catching her so she does not hurt herself or aggravate the problem. Try to be calm and slow. Don’t chase her; I doubt you’re Usain Bolt. Ducks can be astonishingly fast when they realize danger is hot on their fluffy feathered tails.

Instead, try to funnel her into a small enclosure, corner her, grab her, and try to hold her so she can’t struggle or injure herself. Treats or food may be used, but most sick ducks won’t eat, so a bribe is unlikely to work. Using a net to catch a duck is also an option. Grabbing her feet is not; ducks have extremely fragile legs. However you manage to do it, once you’ve caught her, gently place her in her hospital bed and offer her some water.


Many illnesses will quickly result in dehydration due to either reluctance to drink or reluctance to move to a water source. Thus, administering water is the first step you should take, no matter what the situation is, and especially if you don’t know how long the duck has been unwell. Adding electrolytes to the water is a good idea, as it can help alleviate stress, dehydration, heat exhaustion, diarrhea, and in general can improve the state of a sick duck. Electrolytes can be made at home. Apple cider vinegar is another good addition. It boosts your duck’s immune system, is a natural antiseptic, and is completely safe. Offer food as well, although she may not eat it.


The next step is examining the duck closely. Aside from whatever obvious symptoms caused you to believe something was wrong, there may be something you’ve missed. This will give you clues and maybe even lead you to your own diagnosis, and it will be helpful to your veterinarian.

sick duck
This duck is obviously not well. How many symptoms can you spot, just from this picture? (This is not my duck, so I don’t know what was wrong. It’s a rescue duck.) Photo credit: “Very sick girl” (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by tifotter

Here is a list of symptoms to check for:

  • Is the duck eating? This is one of the biggest telltale signs that something is badly wrong.
  • Is she drinking normally, less than normal, or even excessively?
  • Are her eyes clear? Or are they cloudy, foamy, emitting a discharge, closed, or something else?
  • Are her nares/nostrils clear? Or are they runny, bubbly, or clogged?
  • Is she listless and depressed? Was she interacting with her flock members before you caught her?
  • Can she walk? Does she seem capable of walking, but reluctant? Is she limping or lame?
  • Are her feet normal? Or are there any abrasions, cuts, or swelling?
  • Is her vent area dry and clean?
  • What does the poop look like? Abnormal poop is a major warning sign. You may wish to take a sample of it, so your veterinarian can do a fecal test. A complete lack of poop, or very little, is also a red flag. (Don’t give your duck anything to eat or drink if you notice that she’s unable to poop.)
  • Do her feathers seem healthy? Or are they dirty and ragged? Has there been any unusual feather loss (not to be confused with molting)?
  • Are there any odd odors, in either her breath or the poop?
  • Is she vomiting, sneezing, coughing, panting excessively, or making any odd noises while breathing?
  • Is there swelling anywhere?
  • Is there blood anywhere, including in her poop?
  • Is she laying eggs normally? Or has she stopped laying? Or are her eggs misshapen, soft-shelled, or otherwise abnormal?
  • Does she show any ataxia or lack of coordination? Seizures? Muscle tremors?
  • Does her voice sound normal?
  • Is there any abnormal head shaking?
  • Is she itching a lot?
  • Are her wings drooping?
  • Do you see any parasites or insects on her skin or in her poop? Look closely under her feathers for signs of parasites.
  • Does her neck seem limp, extended, or oddly twisted (torticollis)?
  • Does her weight seem normal, or does she seem to have lost or gained weight?

In addition to the physical exam, think about these questions:

  • How long have symptoms been present?
  • Has she been laying eggs normally? Or has she stopped laying? Or are her eggs misshapen, soft-shelled, or otherwise abnormal?
  • Have you gotten any new birds recently?
  • Is there only one bird appearing to be sick, or multiple?
  • What is her diet? Has it changed recently?
  • Has anything else changed recently—her environment, the weather, the flock dynamics?
  • Has she had any other problems or injuries recently?

Write down a list of everything you notice.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Next, you need to diagnose and treat your duck, which is unfortunately the most difficult step. Here are your options.

  • If you don’t know what’s wrong with your bird, even after examination and maybe some frantic Googling, you should call a veterinarian.
  • If you think you know what’s wrong, but you can’t do anything about it yourself or don’t want to take the risk (such as if the problem seems to be a mycoplasma infection, which is hard to treat without a vet’s assistance, or if it’s egg binding, which you can probably treat yourself, but you may wish to let someone more experienced do it), call a veterinarian.
  • If you would rather not go to a vet, if it’s a last resort, or if it’s not even an option, many diseases can be treated at home.Even tube feeding, bumblefoot surgery, and coccidiosis treatment can be done at home for those who can’t or won’t get a vet to do it. It just requires a tough stomach, oodles of research, and an acceptance of the fact that things might very well go wrong.
sick duck at vet
A vet is the safest and best option, in general. Photo credit: “Mean Lady took me to the Vet” (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by tifotter

What if you don’t know a veterinarian?

I recommend having a veterinarian with knowledge of avian veterinary care before you even start raising ducks, but if you don’t know an avian vet, now is the time to find one. Here are some resources to help you in your search:

Association of Avian Veterinarians

Recommended Vets in the United States

Waterfowl Veterinarian Directory

Directory Listing of Poultry Veterinarians

What if you have a vet, but you can’t get an appointment until next week or some scarily long length of time?

It’s up to you. If the duck seems to be stable, not worsening, and not at death’s door, you might choose to leave her alone and just try to keep her hydrated and hopefully fed until you can get to a vet. If she seems to be in dire need of immediate treatment, or if you just want to help her as soon as possible, you can research and try to find out how to treat her yourself. But take care.

What if there are no avian vets in your area whatsoever?

Avian medicine specialists are few and far between. Many people have no access to one, or no access to one in the near vicinity. And is it really worth it to drive 100 miles just for a duck? For some, it might be, but for others, it isn’t. Treating a sick duck on your own is daunting, but take heart. There’s help for you yet.

Keep in mind that a vet is the only person who can reliably diagnose your duck. Anyone else, including you, is basically just guessing. Your chance of error is much higher than a vet’s, and your treatment capabilities are far from infallible. Nevertheless, treating your duck yourself is certainly an option and one I’m not against. If you’ve decided (or have been forced to) treat your duck yourself, there are three things you can do.

  1. You can ask for help on a forum or social media, but beware that they are not medical professionals and there is a very real chance that you’ll get bad advice. I’ve found that Backyard Chickens does have several very educated and trustworthy members who often provide quick, trustworthy advice to people with sick or injured poultry (of any species), but they’re still not a replacement for a real vet. Be careful with asking questions online.
  2. Second comes just plain old research. If you have any poultry books, take a look at their health section. Good old Google is a plethora of information, but as with forums, be careful, try to find trustworthy sources, and do as much research as you can before making any decisions.
  3. Thirdly, contacting your state veterinary diagnostic laboratory and sending them a stool sample can help you with diagnosis and treatment in the absence of a vet. If your duck dies of unknown causes, this will be especially important in learning what happened so you can prevent the problem from recurring with the rest of your flock.

Depending on where you live, there are some diseases you are required by law to report. If the disease is contagious, then it is very important that you get it properly diagnosed and, if necessary, report it.

Additional Notes

Hopefully, by this point, you have at least a tentative diagnosis and have some ideas for how to treat your duck, whether from a vet’s advice or from your own research. Here are a few tips on treatment and general sick duck care.

If you’re treating your duck at home, adding fresh garlic or oregano to the feed will boost her immune system. Garlic and oregano are also strong natural antibiotics that can actually take the place of the antibiotics a vet might give you, in some cases. Yogurt is also a good idea, but don’t give too much, as it can cause diarrhea in large quantities. The probiotics in yogurt will be good for her, and it can be especially helpful if the duck is egg bound. If the duck isn’t eating or drinking, you will have to force her at some point, probably via tube feeding. If you have a medication that must be administered orally, here’s how.

If you give the bird any drugs, check if there is a withdrawal time for the drug. The withdrawal time is the period of time after administering medication during which you should not consume either meat or eggs from the bird, to avoid consuming drug residue.

Consider euthanasia. Many diseases are difficult or impossible to treat, and putting your poor duck out of her misery might be the kindest option. The earlier you do it, the better. Don’t procrastinate and let her suffer needlessly. Here’s how to humanely euthanize a duck or chicken. If you don’t want to do it yourself, many vets, even those which do not handle poultry normally, will be willing to do it for you.

If, sadly, the duck dies, and you were never sure what was wrong, I recommend getting a necropsy to find out what exactly happened and what caused it, so you can take measures to prevent it from happening to other members of the flock. Some people do their own necropsies. Others send the bird to a laboratory to have the necropsy done.

Finally, think about where this problem could have come from. Illness rarely springs up out of nowhere. Other ducks could be at risk. You need to try to find out what caused it and rectify it, if possible. Consider these questions:

  • Is their diet balanced and complete?
  • Is their sleeping area dry and warm?
  • Is their yard and coop clean?
  • Does their environment smell? If there’s an ammonia buildup that’s strong enough for a human to sense, it’s strong enough to be harming your duck’s health.
  • Is their area large enough?
  • Are there varmints or wild birds around that could spread disease?
  • Is their water source appropriate? Ducks need water that is at least deep enough to submerge their entire head.
  • If they have a pond or other swimming area, is it stagnant and dirty?
  • Is there anything in their living area that could be poisonous?

Whether or not you see an area where you can improve, try not to blame yourself too much. We all live and learn, and sickness can happen in any flock, no matter how well kept. And no matter how hard you try, not all sick ducks can be saved. It’s heartbreaking, especially if the duck was a special pet, but sometimes it’s unavoidable.

On the other hand, many ducks do indeed recover. Ducks are incredibly hardy birds and can bounce back from the direst and most horrendous illnesses. I hope this article has given you hope, abated your panic and fear, silenced the “I don’t know what to do!” echoes, and shown you what path to take. All you need to do is prepare a hospital bed for your sick duck, catch her and quarantine her, offer her food and water, examine her and determine her symptoms, consult a vet if you’re able, get a diagnosis, determine a treatment, give her all the tender loving care you can, and then just hope for everything to work out for the best.

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  1. Pls i need assistance because it’s not the first and second i have three Muscovy duck but they all died as a result of sudden illness all of them had the same problem they can’t walk after they leyed egg which leads to their deaths i got confused because i have no idear the 1st & 2nd has 13 eggs while the 3th one have 6th eggs and they all died.

    Aminu sani
    1. Hi Aminu,

      I’m really sorry to hear that. I can’t say for sure what happened, but that sounds like egg binding. Egg binding is when an egg gets stuck in the oviduct. If you don’t intervene and help the duck, they can die from it. A bad diet, sedentary lifestyle, and internal parasites are a few of the things that can cause egg binding. Here are a few articles about it that might help you prevent this in the future and treat it should it happen again:

      Hope that helps!

      Hannah Miller

    2. I have a rescued duck. I’m not sure on her age and she has improved considerably since I took her in. She seems from what I can tell to be trying to lay an egg. She hasn’t ever payed eggs before so this would be her first. I know only what I have found through research about ducks, so my knowledge is extremely limited. I have read about egg binding. How do I tell if this is going to happen or is happening? She seems to be energetic and eating drinking happily in between her bouts of laying down. It’s when she is laying down that concerns me. She gets really sleepy so much so that her head will loll and wake her up. Her butt moves as if she is having contractions but as of yet no egg. I noticed this last night. I interact with her many times throughout the day so I’m relatively confident it just started last night. How long is it before I should worry? Should I bed worried? I’m not sure what to do. I didn’t think she would start laying anytime soon since her previous owner said she was about two months old. Obviously her age is incorrect. She was kept indoors her entire life, until being put outside to her own devices. She came up on my porch and I have been caring for her ever since. I don’t know if she is healthy enough to even lay eggs and I have been trying to supplement her diet with worms and greens. She seems to be relatively happy. I’m just worried because until I can accommodate her better she is living on my porch. I was not prepared for a dick so am doing my best with the current situation. There is a lot of foot traffic in and out of the porch. Will this cause her more problems with laying?

      1. Hi Tasha,

        Has she been pooping? If she hasn’t, that’s one of the main signs of egg binding, and is the reason ducks can die from egg binding (death will occur in 48 hours or less if she’s egg bound). Ducks that are egg bound also tend to be inactive and don’t drink much, and tend to stand like a penguin. Fortunately, to me, it doesn’t sound like she is.

        The head lolling is normal for ducklings, but I don’t see it happen with adults much. I don’t know if it’s anything to be worried about, though. As for the contractions, I’m really not sure. I’d suggest checking if she’s pooping and examining it. There are pictures online of normal and abnormal poop so you can compare. Also make sure she’s eating well. Beyond that, if everything seems fine, I don’t think you need to be too worried, but do keep a close eye on her in case there are further developments.

        If you’d like, you can send me a picture of her, and if she’s not mature yet, I should be able to guess her age. I can perhaps also tell you how healthy she is based on her size and feather condition, if you’re not sure. What is she eating? Greens and worms are great supplements, but in order to have enough protein for egglaying, she needs to be eating a good balanced layer feed. (Chicken layer feed is fine for ducks, although if you can find waterfowl-specific feed, that’s even better.) Also make sure she’s getting enough calcium. Most duck raisers offer their birds crushed eggshells or oyster shells for calcium.

        She should probably have a nest available. Some breeds, such as Runners, don’t really care where they lay, but others, such as Muscovies, love finding dark, hidden nests. I had a duck that made a nest under an unused tractor bush hog attachment, which was so low to the ground she couldn’t even stand up, and grass was grown up all around it, so it was completely dark underneath. My chicken nests have a flap of tarp hanging in front of them to provide privacy. If you make her a nest, try to make it dark and private.

        Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions.

        Hannah Miller

        1. She is definitely pooping. I have to clean off my porch 3 or 4 times a day. She is drinking eating preening walking around and stretching her wings in between laying down and napping. I tried to make an area that was kind of hidden on the porch for her but she doesn’t really want anything to do with it. I was told she is a Pekin Duck. I was not aware until this occurred that ducks would lay eggs in the absence of a male and laying feed. She is on an all flock feed. It was difficult for me to find even that. Which is why I am supplementing her with the worms and greens. I honestly hadn’t planned on her laying eggs. I was just trying to help her. I would love for you to look at photos of her and give me your opinion. I’m just shooting in the dark by myself. I’m not sure how to post pictures on here. Could you explain to me the process, or we could even trade emails. I can send a couple of short video clips of her so you can see it happening. I would really appreciate any advice you can give me. I have tried looking up poop pictures of normal duck poop, but didn’t have much luck. She fluctuates between a solid looking mush, wet splats, and a mix between the two. Her more solid looking ones have like a whitish coat on them. Is this normal?

          1. Hi Tasha,

            I don’t think it’s possible to put images on this comment form, but here’s my email address: address When I reply to a comment, you should get a notification that I’ve replied in your emails, and you can also reply to that notification email if you prefer.

            All flock feed sounds great, and the poop sounds normal to me, as long as you don’t see any worms in it (they can be very tiny and hard to see, though). And yes, all adult female birds will lay eggs at some point no matter what their circumstances, unless they’re extremely sick or unhealthy. Pekin ducks usually lay 125-225 eggs per year.

            Hannah Miller

        2. My female duck has started slinging her head to the left an has feathers missing a round her left eye other wise seams ok lay eggs eating I had her separate from males but she got out last night an running with them today can someone help me

          1. Hi Sueellen,

            I’m sorry for the late reply. It sounds like maybe she got a head or eye injury. I’m not a duck health expert, so I don’t know if I can really help much. Is she doing better now?


  2. I have a bit of an interesting duck puzzle….
    i have 2 khaki Campbell ducks (2 years old as of may) and i got them a bit after their second birthday. They were both daily layers until fall, when Beethoven (the smaller one) stopped laying for a month starting in October and then she molted. Nearly as soon as she finished molting, her sister Schubert started her molt but layed right up until her feathers started falling off. Halfway though Schubert’s Molt, Beethoven started laying again, and has been doing so daily. Schubert never did start laying again, and we didn’t really think anything of it because ducks don’t typically lay in winter until we started noticing how CRANKY she’s gotten since her molt; she side-necks us constantly now and BITES. Before she molted, Schubert was laid back and flirty.
    Due to bad weather my sister and i have taken to putting diapers on the girls and letting them roam the house so they won’t be cooped up but also won’t be killed by heavy piles of snow falling off of the roof. It was when we were changing Schubert’s diaper that we noticed a serious problem with her poop… it was NOT the consistency it usually is, there’s very little of it, and the other day my sister said she found GREEN SLIME in Schubert’s diaper. I thought maybe egg bound or the fluid build up thing, but i took her to get looked at and and Betsy did not find an egg, fluid build up, or foreign objects of any kind… she can’t find anything wrong at all.
    Other than the crankiness, biting and poop, she’s normal in every other way. She’s preening fine, her feathers are beautiful and definitely waterproof, she’s doing the happy ducky dance at all the usual things, bathing normally, eating and drinking normally, not avoiding movement, and her sister is showing no signs of any problems at all… Beethoven still flirts and loves being loved on and her poops are normal.
    They both live in a dog kennel by the back door inside the house. The bedding is wood pellets for moisture absorbancy and hay for foot comfort and the kennel is totally cleaned daily. They have 2 water containers that they can dunk their heads in up to their shoulders that we scrub clean when we clean the kennel and we keep the water topped off. When they’re in the yard they have a pool during non freezing weather that is dumped and refilled every other day and during freezing weather we put them in the bathtub for water time. They’re on Layer feed with some protein food mixed in because there isn’t much in the way of bugs available to them right now and they get 4 cups total of feed plus veggies (Beethoven is especially bad about eating my house veggies, especially the broccoli)
    The pen is scooped daily except when it’s raining so hard the poop gets washed away and we can’t find it and we check daily to make sure no trash found it’s way where our dogs or ducks can get to it.
    We don’t use aerosols or pesticides or any harsh chemicals around the house or in the yard.
    NONE of the animals are ever unsupervised when they’re out together.
    Any ideas? Everyone else I’ve talked to is stumped…

    1. Interesting. Some types of green poop are normal if the duck has been eating greens, but other types are not. If you take the greens out of her diet for a few days and she keeps making green poop, then I think it’s likely something is wrong.

      Did this abnormal poop happen on just one instance or is she now doing that consistently?

      You took her to get looked at–you mean you took her to a vet? Did the vet see the poop? You might try sending a fecal sample to a vet to get it tested for worms and such.

      A bacterial infection is the most likely possibility if something is indeed wrong, although some types of parasites can also cause problems like this. I’m not an expert on duck poop or health problems, but there’s a member on the Backyard Chickens forums who is. Here are a few threads on BYC about poop with pictures showing normal and abnormal poop: (This one is really good. I’d suggest reading the entire thread.)

      I’d also recommend posting your question on that forum if you would like more help, since this is about all I can do.

      Hope that helps!

      Hannah Miller

  3. Thanks for your reply!
    Yes, we did take her to the vet, the only vet we could find in the state of Alaska that has duck experience and she happens to live in the same town.
    The not pooping enough is happening consistently but the green poop was a one time thing so far. They had more than their weight in greens all summer long because I’m a gardener with gardener friends and they eat everyone’s (thoroughly vetted) weeds and trimmings and never once have i seen a green poop out of them, even when they poop on the deck on the way out to the yard . Schubert and Beethoven hadn’t had any greens for a few days when Schu did the green poop, so the poop couldn’t have been greens :/
    The fecal sample was negative for anything, which makes sense because if it were those, then Bae duck would be sick, too, so we started researching duck vets in other states and found five that would do a phone consultation. Most of them were also stumped and only one had any ideas; she said that some ducks need more greens than others and that when greens are more scarce in the winter time, Schubert’s problem may be a seasonal thing and that she’ll probably go back to normal when it’s warm and she’s wading through tasty greens again(right now the only greens their getting are trimmings from the few veggies i’ve pulled inside for the winter and people’s unwanted salad greens). She recommended trying electrolytes, which I’d ordered on the suggestion of another duck-keeping friend before phoning the out-of state vets so hopefully we’ll get it soon and it’ll help 🙂

  4. Hello, recently my duck was attacked by a fox and her neck seemed damaged. SHe couldnt hold it upright. She had no visible wound until later that day two uncture wounds were found on her neck. After some reseach, I decided to cut away the feathers and bath the wounds. My father suggested some Cheno repuntion incent repellent to protect the wound. After some healing powder was put on. The wound seemed to look worse after. It was better off left alone. Her poop stinks and is green and light green combined. I am very worried for her. She just lays there, she cannot walk properly and is not able to eat, she takes water but not a lot. I keep telling my father we have to put her down. I dont know how though, a vet would be too expensive. Any suggestions

    1. Hi,

      I’m so sorry for the late reply. I missed checking for comments for several days. I hope you have found a solution. Just in case you still don’t know what to do, here’s my answer.

      I too think this sounds too severe to treat, if you can’t take her to a vet. Putting her down might be the best option, indeed. Quickly chopping off her head, despite being bloody, is actually the easiest and most humane method as it causes instant death. Another option, while not so easy but presumably equally humane, is ether:

      Hope that helps!


  5. Hi, I have this Muscovy that way laying awhile back before she was infested with a Newcastle disease by a drake I mated with. It has being two months now after her treatment and she has given me a single egg. She also refusing mating with the new drake I got and always closing one of her eyes. Could it be she hasn’t fully recovered or it will take sometimes for her to start laying again. Thanks

    Ola Olamilekan
    1. Hi Ola,

      I’m not a medical professional and I don’t know much about Newcastle disease. But I’ll try to help.

      First of all, how do you know it was Newcastle disease and what sort of treatment did she get? There is no treatment for Newcastle disease. (It’s a virus, like the new coronavirus, so antibiotics don’t work against it.) Newcastle disease is also extremely rare in the USA nowadays, and is even more rare in ducks (it primarily affects chickens). But if you’re not in the USA, it’s more likely.

      I’m not sure if she could still have it. Survivors are usually sick for 3-4 weeks, and they carry the disease for about another month. I don’t think she’s still sick. However, your drake is probably at risk of contracting it now. It may be too late, but please separate him until you’re sure she is no longer sick.

      As for refusing to mate, that may be unrelated and normal. She might just need to get used to him, but also, many Muscovies don’t seem to accept drakes, and thus the drakes have to chase them down. That’s normal, and I don’t think there’s much you can do about it.

      There are several causes of eye problems, all unrelated to Newcastle disease. How long has it been like this? It could be an injury/scratch, an eye infection or a sinus/respiratory infection. I don’t know of any diseases that cause a duck to close its eye. One more possibility is vitamin A deficiency:

      The lack of eggs is probably related to the stress of the sickness and eye problem, plus the addition of the new drake. If she molted, that could have also stopped her laying. And winter could have also had an effect. Once she’s healthy again, she should start laying again.

      Sorry you’re dealing with this. I hope you find a solution soon!

      Hannah Miller

      1. Thanks Hannah for taken out of your precious time to reply my question. The reason my girls are not laying is due to molting because they went back to laying after they are done and mated successfully with another drake. They both have 24 eggs in the same nest and only one of them is sitting on their eggs as the other not seems to care about incubating the eggs. Though, she occasionally checks out the nest but she has not shown any signs of brooding. Is this normal

        1. Hi,

          I’m glad you were able to figure out why they weren’t laying!

          It’s normal for a duck to not always go broody. I have some Muscovy ducks that have never gone broody, others that go broody every single time they lay, and others that go broody on some clutches but not on others.

          24 eggs may be too many for one duck to successfully incubate, though. I wouldn’t let a duck sit on more than 20 for fear that they might not be able to cover them all and thus might let some get cold and die. But if it looks like she’s covering them all, maybe it will work out for you anyway.


  6. Hello everyone! First time duckling owners they are around 6 weeks. Looking for some advise and help please.
    I have a inside xlarge brooder with currently pine shavings or chopped straw access to clean water (duck separator) fresh bedding and all the yummy food a duck could ask for!
    All three ducks 2 pekins and 1 indian runner have been eatting and drinking normally even the duck in question has been running around like a cheetah duck and exercising .
    I noticed about three days ago one of my pekins was panting like a dog a few days passed and my still active Pekin is now wheezing, sneezing occasionally and almost like hacking every once in awhile. Frantic for a solution I’ve scowerd the internet for all possible options picked up amoxicillin incase I needed it but I’m unsure if that is the route I should go. Now i keep finding my other pekin panting occasionally and I’m terrified if could be spreading. . . . Yes they could both be cooling off yes they can gain access to cooler and warmer areas of the brooder. I’m unsure what to do or where to start should i start with Oxytetracycline? Should I just treat all three if anyone can give me some helpful tips during this pandemic since I’m unable to go to a vet I’d greatly appreciate it thankyou❤🦆

    1. Hi Regina,

      First, I’m not a vet and am not an expert on health problems. If you’ve already done a lot of research, I may not even be of much help. But I’ll try.

      Do your ducks have access to water deep enough that they can dunk their entire head in it? It doesn’t have to be available all the time (it would be too messy in a brooder, anyway), but in order to keep their nares healthy and clean, ducks need to be able to wash and submerge them on a regular basis. Do you see any discharge or buildup in the ducks’ nares? You should be able to see straight through the nares.

      Just in case it could be the problem, what temperature is your brooder? Brooder temperature should be reduced by 5 degrees or so every week, so at six weeks old, they can handle temperatures as low as 55 degrees easily. Depending on what the normal room temperature is where the brooder is, you may not need a heat lamp at all anymore. Pekins get overheated easily, more than other breeds.

      What’s the air like in the brooder? If it’s smelly, if there isn’t enough ventilation, that can be a major cause of respiratory problems. Unless it’s too cold where you live, it would be good if you could move them out of the brooder. It’s easy for health issues to form in brooders since they are so small and difficult to keep clean.

      Pine shavings can sometimes irritate ducks’ lungs and cause wheezing. Try switch to just the chopped straw temporarily to see if that might be the problem.

      If the water, temperature, and pine shavings aren’t the problem, here’s a list of diseases that could cause the symptoms you describe, although I suspect you’ve already read about most of these:

      Respiratory infection:
      Avian influenza:
      ( is a great website!)
      Infectious Laryngotracheitis:

      There are several disease on this list that I think are unlikely (such as gapeworm and avian influenza), but I included them just in case.

      As for the amoxicillin and oxytetracycline, I don’t know. Sorry! I hope you can find a better answer from someone else. I’m not on Facebook personally, but I’ve heard that there are duck groups on there with avian vets that may be able to help you. I did read that it’s not good to administer both at the same time as it may reduce the effectiveness of the amoxicillin, at least. I don’t think it will hurt to try one of the antibiotics just in case it helps, but I’m not sure.

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with this and I hope your ducks recover and you find a solution soon! Good luck!


  7. Hi Hannah,

    I have a Khaki Campbell duck with a hurt leg. I put her in a small pen to isolate her. I was thinking she might heal faster if I put her in our pond. I am thinking she can get around better floating in water and that might help her eating and healing. Just curious if you have any thots about the pond idea. She seems healthy otherwise. We aren’t sure what happened to her leg.

    Paul Terrance Farley
    1. Hi Paul,

      Sorry for the late reply. Letting her swim is probably a good idea. Swimming takes most of the pressure off her leg, but I doubt she’ll want to be there 24/7. You might try alternating letting her swim and keeping her in a small pen so she can’t move around and hurt her leg further. I had a duck with a sprained leg last year and that’s what I did.

      Is there any heat or swelling? Can she move it and get around (even if she limps a lot), or is she totally not using it? If she’s not using or moving it at all, it might be broken, in which case you will need to splint it and keep her in a small cage or pen. If it’s just a sprain (which is fairly common in ducks), then she should recover before long without needing much extra care.

      Also, did you check if it’s bumblefoot?

      I hope she’s doing better already, or will recover soon!


    2. I have 15 Ducks and all have blocked noses. I talked with a vet and one was put on antibiotics for infected eye. How do I treat the rest of the flock? I have cleaned everything and make sure their pond and wade pools are clean. Vet said to just wait and hope all clears on own. They free range in my back yard with my chickens and turkeys. The ducks refuse to go in to coop they sleep in the yard under my apple trees. I tried to Google how to treat a flock so they can all get better but there is no web site that says how to trade a flock only how to treat one that is isolated. Can you help with how to treat all of them.

      1. Hi Donna,

        I’m so sorry you didn’t get a response earlier. I’ve been unable to keep up with these for a while and am just now catching up. Are your ducks doing better? Did you find out the cause of the blocked noses? Often the best way to treat multiple ducks at a time is to put the medication in their food or water so that all of them will receive it. It’s more difficult if you’re require to give them all oral medications, but still, 15 ducks isn’t that many. It’ll take some time, but it’s certainly possible to individually medicate 15 ducks every day.

        I hope your ducks recovered. 🙂


  8. Hi, I have a 3 day old duckling. He can’t walk by himself and we are tube feeding him because he won’t eat. I don’t know how to cure/help him. What should I do?( I can’t take him to the vet because of coronavirus)

    1. Can you see anything physically wrong with the duckling’s legs?

      Is the duckling pooping? Sometimes ducklings don’t eat because they can’t poop.

      Is it drinking? Put some electrolytes in the water, as that can often help a weak duckling.

      What sort of food do you have? Try wetting it. You can also try chopping some greens into tiny pieces and putting it in the duckling’s water.

      Be sure to give the duckling niacin. It may not help the lack of appetite, but niacin deficiency is a common cause of walking problems.

      Ducklings don’t need to eat for their first 2 days or so (because they’ve just absorbed the entire yolk sac), but they should definitely be eating by day 3. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this and I’m sorry I can’t be of very much help. I’m not an expert with duck health problems. Good luck! I hope the duckling will recover!


  9. Hi there, I have a 1 year old female duck who is having laboured breathing which you can see in her chest and her mouth has remained open. She is eating and drinking normally as well as still walking however she isn’t her normally bubbly self. If anyone has anything that would help me I would greatly appreciate it as I’m very worried about her and am a first time duck owner

    1. Hi Erika,

      I’m not a health expert, but here a few ideas of what might be causing this.

      1. Heat stress. A panting duck is often a sign of heat stress.

      2. Respiratory infection. This is relatively common in ducks. Contacting a veterinarian would probably be a good idea if you think this sounds likely.

      3. Egg binding can cause lethargy and difficulty breathing.

      4. Aspergillosis also causes lethargy and respiratory issues.

      5. If this issue didn’t last long and she has recovered by now, it’s possible she just got something stuck in her throat.

      Also, be sure to check if her nares are clogged. And be sure she has plenty of water, deep enough to dunk her head in. Ducks’ nares get clogged easily if they can’t wash their face regularly.

      I hope that helps and I hope your duck recovers!


    1. Hi Bonnie,

      Egg binding is the most likely cause of a duck not being able to poop. Research that and see if you think the symptoms match.

      Gastrointestinal obstruction is another possibility. You would probably need to find a veterinarian if this is the problem.

      A warm Epsom salt bath might help. Epsom salts are a laxative, so normally you shouldn’t let your duck drink an Epsom salt bath, but in this case it might even help. Please research more or ask a professional before taking this advice though. I’m not a duck health expert.

      I hope your duck will recover (or is doing better already)!


  10. Hi there,
    My 9 month old (all white) male Muscovy has dirty feathers, and fluffs his feathers alot, almost like he’s trembling –except he’s not. He even does this to a small degree while he’s eating. Other than the dirty feathers and the fact that he seems to walk a bit more slowly than he used to, he seems fine. His appetite is good. I checked his feet and see no injuries there. His eyes, nares, mouth, and vent all look normal. The other 7 ducks in the flock all apear well.
    The ducks eat layer pellets along with my chickens and they have a 6.5 acre propery to free range on, with 2 small ponds.
    I wonder if he has a nutritional dediciency of some sort. But if that was the case then i would think i would see it in more of the ducks, not just one. Or perhaps there is something wrong with his oil gland so he can’t keep himself properly clean?
    It’s currently winter here, which means lows of around 0°C at night and highs of around 5.
    Any thoughts would be welcome. Thank you.

    Colleen Alexander
    1. Hi Colleen,

      White Muscovy drakes seem more likely to be dirty than other ducks. They also tend to dislike bathing. I’ve had white drakes that were never clean, even right after molting, and I’ve seen other people’s drakes who were the same way.

      There’s definitely a point where the dirtiness would be abnormal, but I’d have to see him to have an idea if he looks normal or not.

      I’m not sure about him fluffing his feathers a lot. Again, I’d have to see a video to know if it was normal. (Feel free to send me pictures/videos if you want. I’m not a duck health expert by any means, but I might still have some idea.)

      His feathers might also just be worn out because he hasn’t molted yet. He might look better after molting. But if this is beyond the range of normal, here are the most likely causes:

      1. Oil gland issues are definitely a possibility. He could have a clogged, underactive, or infected oil gland.
      2. Nutritional deficiencies are also a possibility. Certain individuals are often more sensitive to imbalances while others are better at coping.
      3. Unsanitary conditions
      4. Dirty bathing water

      Does he have wet feather? The main symptom of wet feather is being unable to stay dry and waterproof.

      He might need extra protein. Feathers need a lot of protein.

      What brand of feed is he getting? It might also help to switch to a higher-quality feed. Mazuri, Nutrena, Blue Seal, and Purina are good choices.

      Sorry for the late reply again, but I hope that helps!


  11. I have a baby duck about a month old , she feels coldish and she falls on her side with her legs pulled back to her tail , i don’t know what to do . her brother or sister is with her and he/she is fine but she is sick and i want to help her ?

    Monique Beukes
    1. Hi Monique,

      I’m so sorry for the late reply. How is the duckling?

      That doesn’t sound good. I would suggest quarantining her and finding a vet. Other than, I don’t know what you can do. I’m not an expert with duck health problems, so I can’t tell you what’s wrong.

      I hope the duckling is doing all right and is recovering or has recovered.


  12. I had 4 baby ducks and one by one they start developing a bluish hazy eye then progress to twitching and die. I have lost 2/4. Now one other has developed the blue hazy and I know it’s going to progress to the same and die. Is there any thoughts as to what this is?

    Nicole Rodriguez
    1. Wow. That sounds bad. If possible, I would get a necropsy done. If you have any other birds, be very careful not to transfer any possible diseases to them. Did they show any other symptoms at all?

      I can’t give you any diagnosis, but look into avian encephalomyelitis. It may not be that, but it sounds like it could be a virus or disease. The other possibility is a toxin in their environment. Be sure they have fresh air and no ammonia in their environment, and try to rule out toxins in their bedding and food.

      Hope the other duckling or ducklings survive.