Duck Farming, Disease Prevention & Control

Ducks are more resistant to diseases than chicken and other fowls. Losses from various causes can be minimized through proper management, adequate appropriate feeding and housing, strict sanitary practices, and effective prevention medication and vaccination program. However, even with all precautionary measures, substantial losses are incurred in duck farming operation due to various causes. Duck diseases are those caused by pathogenic viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites while noninfectious types are due to chemical poisons, toxins, inferior feed or ration and environmental factors.

Useful Tips in Preventing Duck Diseases

Some tips to prevent ducks from being infected by diseases are as follows:

  • Purchase stock from reliable sources or hatcheries.
  • Raise only healthy stocks. Sick birds should be culled immediately and disposed of properly to avoid spread of infection.
  • Feed ducks with balanced rations. Ducks fed with unbalanced ration are prone to diseases.
  • Provide cool, fresh, and clean drinking water at all times. Clean waterers at least once a day. Highly polluted water is detrimental to the ducks’ health and can affect overall performance.
  • Provide clean and dry feeders at all times. Wet feeders are prone to the growth of yeasts, harmful bacteria, and harmful molds which are sources of mycotoxins such as aflatoxin, ocratoxin and related toxins. Since ducks are highly susceptible to aflatoxicosis, the above activity should be strictly followed.
  • Keep ducks of the same age in the same pen and provide them with the same medication.
  • Keep the farm and its surroundings clean. Ducks should be provided with clean and dry liter and well drained areas.
  • Provide well ventilated with dry flooring or liter. Do not overstock the animals in the pen.
  • Secure constructed buildings so that dogs, cats, rats and other possible disease ventords cannot enter.
  • Minimize activities that can cause stress to the ducks and thus lower its production.
  • Burn or bury dead ducks as soon as possible to avoid flies from breeding on the decomposing mater. This will also prevent infected maggots from being eaten by ducks.
  • Prohibit delivery trucks and visitors from entering the production areas as disease organisms are often introduced into the farm by these delivery vehicles and/or visitors.
  • Install footpath in strategic locations to prevent entry of infective agents into the farm.
  • Vaccinate ducklings against duck cholera with polyvalent bacterin if available. Give antibiotic-vitamin-mineral supplement to suppress build-up of bacterial infection and improve the ducks’ health condition.
  • Spray the animals with insecticides at least once a year to control lice and mites, beetles and other arthropods that can cause annoyance to the ducks.
  • Avoid giving decomposed food such as snail, shrimps, fish, and meat which may contain virulent microorganisms or their toxins.
  • Make sure that palays are free from insecticides which can cause adverse effects on the health and production of the ducks.
  • Maintain good production and health records.
  • Supervise closely the overall duck farm operation.
  • Avoid mixing new stock to the flock. Quarantine newly arrived ducks for at least two weeks. Outbreak of disease may occur through introduction of sick or carrier ducks.

Some important duck diseases confirmed reported to be present locally are as follows:

Bacterial Diseases

Ducks are susceptible to a number of bacterial infections. In most cases mixed infection with two or more pathogenic microorganisms were isolated, thus making specific diagnosis difficult.

1. Duck Cholera. This is the most common disease in most duck farms, It is an acute or chronic, localized or generalized infectious disease with high morbidity and mortality rates. It occurs in four forms based on clinical manifestations named locally as “tanga’, ‘dapa’, ‘tuyo’, and’ buto-buto’. It is caused principally by a microorganism known as Pasteurela multocidal, but other pathogens like Salmonella, Escherichia, Clostridium, and Aspergilus have been implicated. Duck cholera can be transmitted by direct contact, ingestion of contaminated feed and drinking water, and by blood-sucking insects particularly mosquitoes.

Clinical Sign. ‘Tanga’ is the most acute form of the disease. The ducks may die suddenly, assuming a ventral recumbent position with extended head, open eyes in a staring manner, and open mouth. Some dead ducks may appear like statues and only close scrutiny will reveal that they are dead. Mortality ranges from 70- 90%.

‘Dapa’ is characterized by egg-laying posture with head and neck in stooping position. Other signs are ventro-lateral recumbency with twisted head and neck, depression, weakness, loss of appetite, absence of egg production, and excessive intake of water (polydypsia). Sick ducks do not leave watering trough even if driven away. Vents are usually smeared with feces and dirts. Mortality is lower than that of ‘tanga’ but morbidity may reach 90%

‘Tuyo’ is the chronic form of ‘dapa’ characterized by progressive emaciation and . dehydration, weakness, poor appetite, and ruffled lusterless feathers. Sick ducks are very thin with virtually skin and bone condition; hence, the term ‘tuyo.’ ‘Tuyo’ usually occurs after an outbreak of ‘dapa’ and persists for weeks or months before death.

‘Buto-buto’ is another chronic form of duck cholera characterized by hard swelling of the leg joints (bony prominences). It can persist for long periods. Affected ducks may lay eggs if its can walk to the feeding troughs. Affected duck may have limping gait and left behind when flock is driven away.

Treatment. It can be treated by high level antibiotic and sulfa drug therapy.

Prevention. This disease can be prevented by a) strict sanitation; b) thorough cleaning of feeding and drinking troughs; c) provision of fresh and clean water at al times; d) immediate isolation of sick ducks; and e) vaccination with polyvalent vaccine.

2. Salmonelosis. This is a destructive disease of ducklings caused by Salmonella anatum and S. typhimurium characterized by sudden collapse, diarrhea and dehydration, ruffled feathers, dry sunken eyes, and leg swelling. It is principally transmitted through direct contact and ingestion of contaminated feed and water.

Treatment. It can be treated by high level antibiotic or sulfa drug therapy.

Prevention. This disease can be prevented by a) strict sanitation; b) thorough and frequent cleaning and disaffection of feeding and watering troughs; and c) cleaning, drying, and draining of liter and ground.

Viral Diseases

Two dreaded viral diseases of ducks which have not been confirmed locally but present in most neighboring countries are duck plague and duck” hepatitis. Disease outbreaks of these nature may have occurred locally but not properly documented. Guides for the recognition of these diseases are given below. Suspected outbreak should be reported immediately to the Bureau of Animal Industry, Department of Agriculture.

1. Duck plaque. This is an acute contagious disease of ducks of all ages, characterized by sudden onset, high mortality and extreme weakness. It is caused by a herpes virus acquired usually by direct contact or ingestion of contaminated feed and water.

The significant clinical manifestations are sudden onset, extreme weakness, lethargy, loss of appetite, watery diarrhea, soiled vent, eye and nasal discharges, labored breathing, decreased egg production, and high mortality rate of 40-80%. The important lesions are hemorrhages throughout the body which are more pronounced in the visceral organs.

Control: This viral disease can be controlled by a) vaccination of healthy ducks; b) strict sanitation; c) immediate isolation of sick ducks; and d) high level antibiotic vitamin mineral-medication.

2. Viral hepatitis. This is an acute highly contagious viral disease of ducklings below four weeks old. It is characterized by short incubation period, sudden onset, and high mortality rate of up to 90%. It is caused by a virus and transmitted usually through direct contact or ingestion of contaminated feed and water.

The main clinical signs are lethargy, spasmodic paddling of feet, sudden death, and high mortality rate. It only affects ducklings below four weeks old. On necrospsy, the constant lesion is enlargement of the liver with hemorrhages of various sizes.

Control: This viral disease can be controlled by strict sanitation and vaccination of healthy flock.

Recommended medication and vaccination program.

Age Type of Medication Preferred Route of Administration Remarks
1-7 days Antibiotic or sulfa drug preparation Drinking water Prevention against drug preparation bacterial infections such salmonelosis, colibacilosis and staphyloccosis
8-14 days Antibiotic-vitamin mineral mixture Drinking water To increase in real mixture resistance of ducklings against bacterial infections
21-28 days Multi-vitamins Drinking water To increase resistance of ducklings
2 months Antibiotic-vitamin mineral mixture Drinking water May be given only mineral mixture during stressful
condition, e.g. change in climate
4 months Antibiotic-vitamin mineral mixture Drinking water May be given only mineral mixture during stressful
condition, e.g. change in climate
4.5 months Fowl cholera vaccine Intramuscular or subcuteneous injections. Give antibiotic vaccine subcutaneous vitamin-mineral
injections mixture 3 days before and 3 days after vaccination to combat stress
Laying months* Antibiotic-vitamin mineral mixture Drinking water Given only when needed

*During the laying period, sulfa drugs should not be given unless very necessary.

Read previous Duck Farming Basics


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comment moderation is enabled. Your comment may take some time to appear.