We have a little new pekin duck that seems to have trouble walking. We hadn’t even noticed, but when we attempted to integrate him into the larger pekin flock of 6 ducks that are older by about 3 weeks, they started to pick on him and made a bloody mess under one of his wings. As soon as that happened, he then was quickly escorted by way of trusty cardboard box, from the barn to the house for an assessment.
I checked him out, and I determined that his legs were slighted bowed – but no breaks. It was hard to tell what was now going on under the one wing, so he was moved into a large tupperware bin to heal, with his own food and water and comfy dog towel. Which is a nice perk for a duck, private food and all, but we weren’t sure that the duck would be getting to move and use his legs so that he could eventually return to his duck peeps – and be a normal, happy duck. After all, sitting by the food bowl, eating and not moving was probably what got him into this mess in the first place. Although, I can’t be too judgemental, since that’s exactly how I behave at cocktail parties.
Enter, duck physiotherapy. Now by no means am a trained physiotherapist, never mind one for ducks. However, still enduring my own physiotherapy, I do know the premise. Keep using it, if it gets sore or hurts… stop.
So, to get little duck moving, I decided to let him walk free in our house. Crazy? Sure, but we have long passed that point and it always seems like we have one animal or another in here anyway, never mind the 2 adults, 3 dogs and 2 cats that are regulars here. So little duck started out his journey cruising around our kitchen, being greeted by of course… 1 adult, 3 dogs and 2 cats. Oddly, everyone is used to having animals everywhere around here, so no one seemed fazed that a little duck was cruising around underneath our bar stools in our kitchen.
Little duck was none to happy, but he was moving. Of course, when ducks are frightened the first thing they do is poop. And apparently, the second thing they also do is also poop. And third thing, fourth thing and fifth thing. So he would walk, take a break, poop, and when the dogs were sniffing his bottom a little too much, he would cruise again… not quite sure of this environment of laminate flooring and kitchen cabinetry. Me following little duck, with cleaning cloth in hand. I’m hoping he felt it was an improvement over the tupperwear bin – at least it was certainly more exciting!
I suddenly had a eureka moment. Swimming! Ducks love it, and that would stimulate his little legs… the more movement the better! So I started filled up the kitchen sink, and plopped in little duck and stood back.
Ducks and water have got to be the most fun things to watch on our farm, but watching from a foot away in your own kitchen can be a wet experience. If you ever have the inclination to conduct duck physiotherapy in your own kitchen sink, please keep in mind the following:
Don’t bother to clean the floor first.
Don’t bother to clean the counter first.
Don’t bother to clean your bathrobe first.
Don’t bother to clean your backsplash, any dishes on the counter, adjacent stove, or window first. Have on hand at least 8 dish towels and 1 large towel for drying off said duck, and you may want to launder those with your husbands bathrobe that you decided to throw on that morning.
Of course, all this was completely worth it. Little duck had the time of his life, splashing and cleaning and frolicking and drinking the water – like only ducks can. The great thing was, that after he had cleaned himself it was apparent that it was only one feather that had been pulled, and not a disaster wound which I though it might be. Pin feathers (brand new feathers that are growing in) when pulled bleed a ridiculous amount, and make an injury look far worse then it is! I was thrilled that the mess was only caused by one feather!
Once little duck was fully wet, and had a great little swim, it was essential that he got dried completely before returning him to the tupperware bin, under the heat lamp just for good measure. Although his feathers have started to come in, he is still a fluffy duck, and was soaked down straight to the skin… and if a bird gets cold on it’s back, it can be fatal. So after the swim, he got a towelling massage and plunked back under the heat lamp which he seemed to love!
So after four days of physiotherapy, sniffs from the dogs and cats, little duck’s legs seemed to be motoring just fine. We had just recently moved the Pekins from the barn to their outdoor house, and so they were a bit irritable anyway with their new living accommodations, so adding little duck into the fray seemed to be the least of their worries. He, or I suspect she, seems to have returned to the group just fine.
So if you have a problem duck, a little physiotherapy seems to go a long way! Just remember to have towels on hand… lots and lots of towels!
Good luck with all your animals, whatever they may be… and as always, Happy Farming!