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Ducks are generally hardier than other poultry. In practical duck rearing the diseases of importance are duck plague, pasteurellosis and aflatoxicosis. The only method of prevention of aflatoxicosis is to eliminate the use of feed or feed ingredient having fungal or mould growth. Effective vaccine against duck plague is now available. Duck virus hepatitis is another disease and that could cause heavy mortality of ducklings, when they occur. Some of the diseases that may affect ducks are given below.

Duck Plague
Adult birds are mostly affected by virus disease. It is characterized by vascular damage with tissue hemorrhages and free blood in body cavities. The Lumina of intestine and gizzard are filled with blood. There is no treatment for the disease. The birds can be protected by Duck Plague Vaccine, available in the country, which is given at the age of 8-12 weeks. Duck plague can be prevented by vaccination however, no treatment for these viral diseases is present and secondary infection should be prevented.

Duck Viral Hepatitis
It mainly affects ducklings of 2 to 3 weeks of age. It is characterized by an acute course and primarily hepatitis. There is no treatment for the disease. The breeding stock can be immunized by attenuated strain of virus before the commencement of egg production. The day old ducklings can be protected with attenuated virus vaccine. The disease is not stated to be prevalent in India.

Duck Cholera
It is an infectious disease, caused by bacterial organism Pasteurella Multocoda in ducks over four weeks of age. There is loss of appetite, high body temperature, thirst, diarrhea and sudden death. Most common lesions are pericarditis, arthritis, petechial and echymotic haemorrhages under the skin (Pink skin), in visceral organs, over the serous surface and intestine (Haemorrhagic enteritis). Liver and spleen are enlarged. Sulpha drugs and vaccination can control the diseases. Vaccinate the birds with duck cholera vaccine, first at the age of 4 weeks and again at 18 weeks. Treatment through Enrocin or 30 ml Sulpha Mezathine (33.1%) in 5liter of drinking water or 30-60 ml of Sulpha Quinoxaline in 5 Ltrs of drinking water for 7 days or Erythromycin or Rabatran Granules or Neodox-forte or Mortin Vet or Workrin or Kayasol. These drugs can be administered under the Veterinarian’s guidelines.

Food poison is a serious problem in both young and adult ducks. It is caused by ingestion of bacterium that grows on decaying plants. Avoid ducks scavenging on decaying plant material. Treatment through Epsom salt in drinking water which acts as purgative.

Ducks are resistant to internal parasites. The infestation is prevalent only among those ducks which have access to stagnant water, over-crowded ponds and small streams. The parasites include flukes, tape worms and round worms. These causes decrease of nutrient assimilation by the bird and anaemia due to toxic material excreted by them, destroying the red cells.

The external parasites are an infliction rather than an ailment. These include lice mites, fleas and ticks. These cause irritation and annoyance leading to loss in egg production. They also transmit many disease producing organisms. However, these are not commonly found on water-fowls as in chicken.

It is a condition caused by aflatoxin produced by the mould Aspergillus flavus in the feedstuffs such as groundnut, maize, rice polish and other tropical feeds on storage. Improper drying of grains, rain and humid weather favour the mould growth. Ducks are very susceptible to aflatoxin content in the feed. Out of the four types of aflatoxins commonly found viz, B1, B2, G1 and G2. B1 is the most potent toxin. The minimum toxic dose for ducks is 0.03 ppm or 0.03 mg per kg in feed.

Aflatoxin produces liver lesions and results in death when present in high concentration. Lower doses produce chronic effects such as lethargy, unthriftiness, hepatitis and delayed death. There is no specific treatment for aflatoxicosis. When the source of aflatoxin is removed from the feed, birds make rapid recovery.

Vaccination Schedule for Ducks

S. No Name of the vaccine Route Dose Age of ducks
1. Duck Cholera (Pasteurellosis) Subcutaneous
Ducklings, Adults
1 ml 3-4 weeks
2. Duck Plague Subcutaneous
1 ml 8-12 weeks

( Source: www.vuatkerala.org )


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