Duck Raising, Part 6 Health

Disease Prevention and Control

Although much of chicken raising techniques and information are applicable to ducks, they are more resistant to diseases than chicken and other fowl. Proper management, sufficient proper feeding and housing, strict sanitary practices and an effective medication and vaccination program can prevent loss from a variety of causes. Diseases are a major cause in losses even in duck farms using precautionary measures. It is therefore important to be knowledgeable on disease prevention and control in the duck house.

Two kinds of diseases are infectious and non-infectious. Infectious diseases are caused by pathogenic viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites. Noninfectious diseases are caused by chemical poisons, toxins, environmental factors and inferior rations.

Prevention of diseases starts at the selection of stock. Stock should only be purchased from reliable and trusted hatcheries. Only healthy ducks should be raised in the duck house. Sick animals should be immediately culled and properly disposed to prevent spread of infection. Dead ducks must be burned or buried immediately to prevent flies from breeding on the decomposing animal and prevent maggots from being ingested by other ducks.

Newly arrived stock should be quarantined for at least two weeks before introducing them to the flock as
outbreak of diseases can occur by introducing carrier ducks to the flock.

Ducks fed with an unbalanced ration are prone to diseases, thus ducks should only be fed with properly balanced rations. Fresh, cool and clean drinking water should be provided at all times.


should be cleaned at least once per day. Dirty and polluted water is harmful to the duck’s health, affecting overall performance. Feeders should be strictly kept clean and dry. Ducks are highly suceptible to aflatoxicosis and wet feeders are prone to yeast growth and harmful bacteria, which are sources of mycotoxins like aflatoxin, ocratoxin and the like. Clean and dry litter should be provided at all times, as well as a well ventilated dry flooring or litter.

Pens should be constructed to secure the ducks from other animals like dogs, cats and rats that can be possible disease carriers. Pens must not be overstocked or overcrowded. Stress-causing activities should be avoided as these decreases production. Delivery trucks and outsiders should be prohibited from entering the production areas as they can be carriers of disease-causing organisms. Footbaths must be installed in strategic locations should entry of foreign elements is inevitable.

Live and mites may be prevented and controlled by spraying the ducks with insecticides at least once a year. This also controls other arthropods that can be detrimental to the health and production of ducklings. Decomposed feed must not be given to ducks at any time.

Production and health records must be kept and updated regularly. The farm should also be supervised closely.

Common Duck Diseases

Bacterial Infections

Ducks are vulnerable to a number of bacterial infections. It is difficult to make specific diagnosis as some cases involve mixed infections with two or more pathogenic microorganisms. The following are bacterial duck diseases that have been confirmed to be locally present.

Duck cholera

Duck cholera is the most common disease afflicting duck houses. This disease may be acute or chronic. It may be a localized or generalized infectious disease that has a high morbidity and mortality rate. Duck cholera is principally caused by the microorganism Pateurella multocida. Other pathogens such as Aspergillus, Clostridium, Escherichia and Salmonella have been associated with the disease.

Transmission of this disease may be by direct contact, ingestion of contaminated feed and drinking water and blood-sucking insects like mosquitoes.

Duck cholera comes in four forms characterized by their clinical manifestations. These four forms are locally known as buto-buto, dapa, tanga, and tuyo.

a. Buto-buto is a chronic form of duck cholera. This form is characterized by hard swelling of the leg joints. This form can persist for long periods. Affected duck may have a limping gait.

b. Dapa is characterized by the infected duck’s egg-laying posture, with its head and neck in stooping position. Other signs of this infection include ventro-laterai recumbency with twisted neck and head. Other symptoms are depression, weakness, appetite loss, excessive intake of water and absence of egg production. Infected ducks will refuse to leave watering troughs even if they are driven away. Morbidity can reach 90%, although mortality may be lower than that of Tanga form.

c. Tanga is the most acute form of duck cholera. This form of the disease may cause the ducks to die suddenly, assuming a recumbent position with extended head, open mouth, and open eyes in a staring manner. Some dead ducks may appear like statues and only close inspection reveals they are dead. Mortality rate of this form ranges from 70 to 90%.

d. Tuyo is a chronic form of duck cholera. This form is characterized by progressive emaciation and dehydration, weakness, poor appetite, and ruffled feathers that lack luster. Ducks infected with this form of duck cholera are very thin. Infected animals are skin and bones, thus the term tuyo. Tuyo takes place after a dapa outbreak. This form persists for weeks or months before death.

author: Carmela Abaygar, Marid Digest

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