I had a duck die from the Electronet the other day. This is my fourth animal to die in the Electronet: two sheep, and two poultry. I still think compared to taking chances with the coyotes, the Electronet wins. But it’s not 100% safe. This duck had somehow inserted her head, then rotated her body a couple of times until the wire was wound completely tight. It was very difficult to get her unwound, I almost resorted to cutting her head off to get her out of there! The ducks are the worst about trying to dive through the hotwire to get through- sometimes they are successful, which perpetuates the habit.

This duck had a weird and interesting disease: progressive damage on the end of her bill.

I had one other duck have this problem a long time ago, but it got killed by a coyote before the problem advanced very far or I could investigate it. It doesn’t appear to be contagious, as I have maybe twenty ducks, and none of the rest of them are affected.

I’d been watching this duck, I could see the disease very slowly progressing. I’d tried to look it up before to see what it was or whether it could be treated, but could find no explanation for it in my own books or on the web. It really looked melted, like a plastic spatula left on a stove burner. It did not seem to affect her, she dabbled her bill in the mud just like any of the other ducks, and went about her business with a cheerful demeanor. So I didn’t feel like there was reason to put her down.

This time I was able to find a reference to the symptoms on a poultry discussion board, though the diagnosis seems far from explicit or definitive. Merely a suggestion that it’s caused either by a fungus or bacteria. And someone who was successful treating it with a veterinary prescription ointment that was both anti-bacterial and anti-fungal (sounds like a vet who didn’t know the root cause and hedged their bets…) I wonder if an injury to the bill is a precursor that allows an invader to get in and start eroding the tissue?

The discussion board had a lot of conjecture about the disease causing pain, assuming that the duck bill tissue is very sensitive. But I’m not sure I’d agree, I certainly saw no hint that this duck felt “down” at all, or chose to limit the use of her bill to only very necessary eating. Though ducks are fairly stoic, you can still tell if they are coping with chronic pain or discomfort. I wonder if the tissue death didn’t also include nerve death, to where she couldn’t really feel the damage, other than that her tongue stuck out a little bit?

Anyway, it’s no matter now, the hotwire settled the issue. If I see it again, maybe I’d try treating it with Goldenseal for a few days. But there is no way I’m sequestering a duck for a month to apply ointment morning and night! Open-mouthed smileI’d just cull it instead, if I felt like its comfort was compromised.

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