Diseases in ducks. Diseases in geese. Health concerns for ducks. Heath concerns for geese. What are diseases that waterfowl can get? What health risks do waterfowl face? How to diagnosis health problems in ducks and geese. What are the symptoms of health problems in ducks and geese? What is crop impaction? What is fowl cholera? What is duck virus enteritis?
If you are raising ducks or geese you should be aware of some health conditions that concern these birds. Because people often keep ducks and geese in crowded conditions, sharing the same water, the risk of diseases spreading throughout a flock can be high.
Note that this article is about health problems and concerns in adult ducks and geese, there are other conditions that are of more concern in ducklings and goslings.
Contagious Diseases in Ducks or Geese
Duck Virus Enteritis is a herpes virus that is a risk for all waterfowl. It is sometimes called the duck plague. Symptoms include the bird just not looking well, blood in the stool, diarrhea, and a nasal discharge. The bird may look like it cannot walk and might lay with its wings spread out. In further stages the birds may have convulsions and die. Death may occur within 4 days of the onset of symptoms.
Duck virus enteritis is spread though the water and contact with infected waste. There is no cure. This disease is more common in wild ducks so people who keep ducks in areas frequented by wild ducks should vaccinate their birds. This is a reportable avian disease.
Fowl Cholera affects not just ducks and geese, but other kind of birds too. Symptoms include green droppings, birds walking in small circles, birds with odd jerking movements, swollen legs or feet, watery eyes or nostrils, or simply the death of healthy looking birds.
Fowl Cholera can be spread by rodents; it is a bacteria that lives in dirty soil or water. It is more common when birds are overcrowded, stressed, and often after a spell of cold wet weather. Fowl Cholera may be treated with antibiotics, general good husbandry is also suggested to prevent this problem.
Newcastle Disease is a virus that is found in many birds, it causes symptoms such as a twisted neck, coughing, nasal/eye discharge, lethargy, and is often fatal. There is no proven treatment so prevention with vaccination is best.
Noncontagious Health Concerns in Ducks and Geese
Crop Impaction occurs when geese are grazing on tall, coarse grasses. This older vegetation may be too fibrous for digestion. Symptoms would be a goose that stops eating, looses weight, and if neglected, can die. You can feel your goose's neck, if you feel a lump this would be the impacted crop. This lump must be removed or the goose will die.
Drowning is a risk for young ducklings and goslings, their feathers may become saturated with water and they sink. After they are a week old this is usually not a problem however even older ducklings and goslings are still at risk of drowning if they cannot climb out of the area they are swimming in. As such if you have a kiddie pool for them to swim in you should put rocks for them to climb up on to get out. Even if you think the water level is high enough keep in mind that after splashing around they will have lowered the water level and may need the rocks to help them get out. If a duck gets into a swimming pool with chlorine or even mud and debris, this can also lead to drowning.
Gout can be a problem for waterfowl that are overfed.
Gunky Eyes, crusty eyes, or sticky eyes, can be the result of a bird not having access of water in which to dunk its head to clean out its nasal passages and eyes. You can wipe the bird's eyes with warm water, but it should have enough water in which to get its head fully submerged like it would in the wild. This is often a problem for ducks kept with chickens, since the owner does not provide deep water out of fear of their chickens drowning.
Hardware Disease is often associated with cattle (it is why some farmers feed magnets to their cows), but can be an issue for ducks and geese too. Hardware disease occurs when the animal eats bits of metal, nails and such. Symptoms will be depression and death.
Lameness is common in ducks and geese because their legs tend to be weak. One common condition in big geese is called bumblefoot and is the result of walking on hard ground. Keeping the geese on softer (grassy ground instead of cement) will help. If the ground is hard it can be covered with straw or grass clippings. Lameness also can be the result of a duck having its leg caught in a fence, or of being handled incorrectly. Resting the bird is a good solution. Keep it in a small pen with easy access to food and water.
Penis Paralysis occurs only in domesticated birds and is a problem when one male is kept with too many females. His is unable to retract his penis due to overuse.
Poisoning is a risk which is one reason people who keep water fowl need to be very careful about their use of chemicals, even salt used to deice the sidewalks. Poison used for rats or insects can be ingested by the birds.
Botulism is food poisoning that can be a risk if the birds are fed table scraps or left overs, or if they get into your compost pile. Most birds suffering from botulism will become listless and even partially paralyzed (putting them at risk for drowning).
If you cannot diagnosis what is wrong with your ducks or geese, contact a veterinarian.