Friday, May 24, 2013

Puppy Gets a Prolapse: the Causes and Treatment of Prolapse in Ducks (WARNING: Gross Photo Below)

Yesterday was a typically busy day at Gust Front Farm. The Man of the House was off to work early and I was left behind to tend the garden and mind the children and animals. I was filling a water tub in the duck yard and thinking about the day's lessons - we homeschool our four children - when I saw something red out of the corner of my eye.

Puppy, the small duck with a huge personality, had something terribly wrong with her. Our chickens and ducks have always been extremely healthy, so I don't have a lot of experience with avian medicine, but what had happened was pretty obvious even to me.

Puppy had a prolapse, also known as an eversion of the oviduct. Part of the oviduct, the tube that carries an egg through a duck's reproductive system, had been pushed out of Puppy's vent. A photo of it is below. Do not scroll down if you are squeamish.

Puppy's Prolapse
A very agile assistant (my seven year old) caught Puppy and held her while I confirmed my diagnosis. I knew that Puppy would need to be separated from the rest of the flock while she got better, so we prepared a kennel to serve as a duck hospital. I also recalled that Preparation H sometimes helps reduce swollen tissues on chickens with prolapse, so I donned a pair of latex gloves and smeared the everted area with hemorrhoid cream. Gee, that's something I never thought I'd do! We put Puppy in the kennel and I ran inside to consult my well-used copy of Storey's Guide to Raising Ducks.

What I read was rather dismal:

"Possible causes include obesity, premature egg production, over-sized eggs, excessive mating, and prolonged egg production..... An ailing duck can be saved only if she is discovered relatively soon after the oviduct is dislodged and if prompt action is taken." 


The book suggested cleaning the oviduct with warm water and keeping the tissue moist with mineral oil, however, " if the oviduct is pushed back into place, it will come back out unless a few ... sutures are placed in the vent...." (Holderread, 291)

Puppy needed to see a vet ASAP. A few hours later, Puppy was back at home with her bottom sewn back up, (almost) good as new. The vet said that the prolapse went in easily and they held it in place with a few dissolvable sutures. It was a quick and relatively cheap procedure. (It cost a grand total of $17.)

Puppy in mid-quack, post-procedure

Although her prolapse was sewn back in, Puppy will have to remain in her kennel for a few more days. At the moment, we have no way of keeping her away from the drakes, and they could cause her oviduct to prolapse again if (when) they tried to mate with her. We are actually in the middle of constructing some new duck pens, so thankfully Puppy's quarantine will be of short duration. Storey's Guide also recommends trying to keep ducks that are recovering from prolapse from laying eggs for at least 3 months. I'm not exactly sure how to do that, but I will switch her from layer feed to the same mix I feed my ducklings (unmedicated chick feed, brewer's yeast, rolled oats, and grit).

Puppy laid this egg the day after her surgery

We are pretty sure that Puppy had a prolapse due to over-mating. We have three drakes running with 6 ducks, but the ideal ratio of drakes to ducks is 1:3. Our new breeding pen arrangement should help prevent this problem.

We're keeping our fingers crossed that Puppy makes a full recovery. She's complaining about her hospitalization quite loudly, which I think is a positive sign!
Update: Puppy made a full recovery! She remains a beloved member of our flock, though we do not breed with her any more.

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