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Tips for dealing with an egg-bound duck.

COUNTRYSIDE: Our female Muscovy duck was found to be critically egg bound, with two very large goose-size eggs, one in front of the other. The first one to come out was the largest.

My questions are: Can that be prevented with different feed or other types of preventative measures? Number two: What can be done to save the bird if that happens again?

Our local feed store advised us on how to determine if she was egg bound, and that we lubricate her vent in hopes that the eggs would slide Out. Unfortunately, she was so very swollen and inflamed we could not find the opening of the vent initially. My husband and I both worked on her. One held her on the counter, and the other gently lubricated her vent with oil, until the vent opened, and the tissue was able to stretch far enough to see the egg. Even dilated to about 1-1/2 or two inches in the circumference, the egg was still stuck. The shell, like all of her previous eggs, was very hard. If we knew just how bad she was and the size of the egg, we could have put her down, however I really thought that she had a good chance.

The first and largest egg broke on the way out. (We knew that could be bad if any shell pieces remained inside of her.) However, " the second egg quickly followed, and we saw no bleeding or broken eggshells in the discharge.

I inserted some antibiotic ointment up into her vent (again, no eggshells or bleeding noted), and added some electrolyte powder and bird antibiotics the feed store donated to our cause. Several hours later she was drinking fluids well, perky, and looked considerably better. We patted ourselves on the back for a job well done, and my poor daughter rejoiced, as it was her duck.

However, the next morning she had crawled off her bedding, was extremely lethargic, and died while I was holding her.

The signs and symptoms of her condition: she was lethargic, not taking her feed but only water, she was very fat and puffy looking not only around her vent but the entire area from her back legs to her tail. Upon palpating her lower abdomen we could feel the eggs inside of her, just above the opening of her vent.

One positive side of this is that we have learned a great deal. I know what to look for in case there is a "next time" and will keep a much better eye on my layers in the meantime.--Liz Doroud, San Andreas, California

It sounds like your duck had insufficient calcium intake. The 8th Edition of the Merck Veterinary Manual states egg binding may be due to factors other than low calcium, but the response to calcium therapy is dramatic in many cases.

The bird may become weak or collapse. Gentle palpation usually reveals an egg in the abdominal cavity. An immediate calcium injection (IM) is recommended, along with increases in temperature and humidity (this will allow the muscles around the vent to relax). Heat can be transferred by placing the bird on a plastic bag filled with warm water.

After the bird has stabilized (about one hour) you can attempt to "milk" out the egg. Percutaneous aspiration followed by lateral pressure to collapse the egg is another treatment. Laceration of the oviduct rarely occurs. Antibiotics are recommended for most egg-bound birds.

Merck goes on to say that excess calcium intake isn't thought to cause health problems in most cases, excess vitamin D3 can cause harmful calcium accumulation in tissues such as the kidneys.
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Title Annotation:The henhouse
Author:Doroud, Liz
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Jul 1, 2004
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