It is not a good start to the work day when your husband calls to tell you your favorite duck is bleeding. “Where is she bleeding?” I was imagining something had gotten into the duck yard and tried to attack her, or maybe she scraped herself on something.
“Her rear end,” he said. “I think there maybe something wrong with her vent.”
Oh man, that is never good. Plus, I was at work. I imagined going to my boss and telling him I needed the day off because there was something wrong with my duck. My boss is a nice guy, but I’m not sure it would flown.
During a break I took a few minutes to google duck vent issues, and among a short list of possibilities, I read it could be an eversion of the oviduct. This is a fairly common problem for female ducts. While they are trying to lay an egg the female will occasionally expel a portion of their oviduct. In Storey’s Guide to Raising Ducks Steve Holderread says possible causes are “obesity, premature egg production, oversized eggs, excessive mating, and prolonged egg production. Fleur had laid a massive egg that morning, so I was pretty sure that could be the culprit, but I’d have to clean Fleur up and get a really good look. With that in mind, I picked up a bag of Epsom salt on the way home. I asked my husband to have the sink cleaned out, and a path cleared from the front door to the sink.
Catching Fleur was pretty easy, getting her into the warm water, not so much. She was a big duck, and just fit. Being unhappy with her spa treatment, she wiggled around enough knock anything around the sink into it. After holding her down for a bit so the blood and feces could soak off, my husband lifted her up so I could take a look. I didn’t take any pictures, but it was as I suspected – an eversion.
The only treatment is to wash the protruding oviduct, and try to push the oviduct back into place. The next night I purchased plain KY jelly on my way home. Fleur went into the tub this time since there is more room. The oviduct was protruding even more than before, and as Holderread had said it would, after pushing it back in with a Q-Tip coated in KY, it popped right back out. Purse-string sutures placed in the vent are the only solution. You also have to have a place for the duck to go during the recovery period. The duck needs to be kept in a warm, dry, clean pen away from the other ducks. She needs to be given a nonlayer feed to discourage laying so her abdominal muscles have had time to strengthen. After 8 to 12 days the stitches can be removed, and the duck can go back with the rest of the flock. Needless to say, I don’t know how to do stitches, and don’t really have a good recovery place. So, after much discussion, we decided to be pragmatic and eat the duck.
We had originally gotten the duck for meat. Pekin ducks are largish, and have the best feed to weight conversion. The problem was that Fleur was the lone survivor of the dog attack, and we had decided we could not eat her after that. She was moved from the food category to the pet category, and now we had moved her back to food. I was unhappy, and sad, but I figured this really was the best thing. I didn’t want Fleur to get sicker, or to be in pain. My daughter suggested we put her down, and bury her whole. I thought about that, but to me it seemed like a waste. While she was kind of a pet, she had also been gotten for a purpose. So, the next evening my husband and I caught her again, and took her to the killing cone. Her meat is in the freezer, and when the experience has faded a bit, we will have a good dinner. It will be a duck we knew, one that was well cared for, and liked. She was given room to roam, fed fresh peas every morning, given lettuce and dandelion greens. When it was cold there were mealworms, and hot water to splash around in.
To Fleur I say thank you. Thank you for the eggs you gave us, and for the meat. We are deeply appreciative, and none of it will go to waste.