Someone, over the past couple of weeks, has asked me how the Muscovy ducklings are doing? Well, right now they are thriving.
Molly (their Mum) had 17 babies in the middle of May. This was a month earlier than she had hatched her babies last year. May here was bitterly cold and very windy.
Molly was still very proud of her babies and was delighted to show them off to whoever called. Then when they were about 10 days old, I could only count 16. One was gone. Without a trace. We’ve never discovered what took it. A preying bird? No idea.
When the babies were about 2 weeks old I noticed one of them was panting and having difficulty breathing. I called my neighbour, Annette, who’s the resident Doctor Doolittle. Bless her she came around immediately. By the time she arrived a couple of minutes after I called her, another had started this panting.
We thought they had eaten something and that they were choking. We tried massage, olive oil, anything we could think of, but it didn’t seem to ease their difficulty. One actually died that afternoon.
This was all just as we were heading into a crazy busy time with AirBnB guests. Annette kindly took the sickly duckling away with her to nurse it over the weekend. Then a few days later 3 more started the same panting.
The upshot despite antibiotics all 4 died within a week. We were heartbroken.
Then another just ‘disappeared’ another predator.
Some of the 10 remaining ducklings developed milder panting symptoms so we dosed them with porridge mixed with dandelion and/or nettle tea. Apple cider vinegar was also added to their water.
What caused this panting? The vet suggests mouldy hay (we don’t have hay here), or stagnant water – again we’re not sure where they could have accessed stagnant water – but we do allow free ranging on the property.
It is truly awful when an animal/bird you have nurtured and fed dies. Especially so when they haven’t had a good old shot at life.
In retrospect maybe I am at fault that I didn’t take more eggs away from under Molly. Seventeen babies were just too many for her to mind.
The remaining 10, at almost 7 weeks old, are thriving, thankfully. They are loosing the ‘baby’ look, and are starting to develop wings….. but they are still incredibly cute!