These are 5-week old ducklings and they look horrific. There were 17 of these hatched and as of today there are 5 ducklings left. How can such a thing happen?
Three weeks ago our sow Number 1 farrowed. This meant all of my attention went to Number 1 and her piglets. I also became very busy with the boar Bootleg who became sick and didn’t eat for nearly 5 days. With all of my time devoted to the pigs, I delegated the feeding of ducklings to someone else.
The result are these. These ducklings were overfed. Their crops expanded bigger than their bodies. These ducklings were also overfed with adult duck food: hog mash with rice hull mixed with chopped banana trunks. Such types of food given at enormous quantities block and damage the crops of these birds. This result to a distorted growth and shape of the ducklings and an appearance that make them look stunted or retarded. Their eyes are sunken and stark as if they were mad.
A couple of months ago, I was able to salvage a group of ducklings from a similar morbid fate. I saw the signs of overfeeding: blocked crops larger than their bodies, stark look in their eyes, wet and unruly feathers. If not too late, the ducklings may be rescued by changing their feed immediately to one that is easily digestible, for example, a simple pelleted feed base that has at least 14% protein. To help the ducklings unblock their crops, I placed a small basin of sand and water in their pen. Ducks use sand and small rocks to aid in digesting and grinding food in their crops.
However, 12 of these duckling were beyond repair. The remaining 5 don’t look any better. I didn’t see the problem sooner. For some reason, no matter how many times we explain, our caretaker couldn’t quite understand why animals shouldn’t be overfed. Out of a great love for the creatures, she became quite capable of killing them.
So, if you’re keeping ducklings, don’t overfeed them. Ducks are natural gluttons and they will gorge themselves, something which can be fatal to young ducklings.
As they say, if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. You can’t go on a holiday.