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Soft shells [Khaki Campbells] repeat request for help.

Sorry to waste bandwidth, but I am hoping someone can assist. Since asking originally, my ducks have become progressively worse. The shells are now like paper.

I put oyster shell out and have fed the ducks layers feed. They hardly touched the oyster shell so I took to putting it directly in their food.
Apart from the feed they forage on grass/ sandy soil and I feed them a kg or so of peas a week as a "treat".

When mixed with food, the oyster shell is taken. I also added vitamin d which I obtained by grinding up Lidl vitamin pills [D3].

The shells are still soft and decorate their shed in the morning. Only one egg is viable and I assume it is from the same duck.

I only have four ducks now and they are about two years old. For the first year they were fine, then the deterioration started, just one or two eggs originally and not every day. Now I just get one egg, the rest being strewn like paper around their shed floor.

Can anyone advise please?

Thursday, June 9th, 2022

Did you rear them from ducklings? Just wondering if they might be older than you think?

Joseph lawler
Thursday, June 9th, 2022

I have had my babies ever since they were eggs!

Thursday, June 9th, 2022

I could be wrong on this but I think there is a specific laying strain of khakis that are like a hybrid hen and ultimately only bred for egg laying. It sounds like you have loads of eggs but the quality is poor. I asked if they might be older because that is something I would associate with an older duck. You get a good egg from one so obviously they have enough nutrients. I am no expert but personally I would withdraw all the extras and just give the normal ration. Sometimes less is more!

Joseph lawler
Friday, June 10th, 2022

Thank you.
Do you know, I thought that this morning. They have been on shell for a good while now and again there was the one egg in the "nest" with three paper like cases on the floor. Interestingly they never really touched the oyster shell though when given separately, but mixed with the pellets it goes down a treat.

It crossed my mind that I might be overdoing things, I have used the last of the vitamin "D3" anyway.

I have restricted their foraging lately as they decimated my freshly planted peas. The soft shells occurred prior to that though so I don't think their limited 100msquared or so space is a problem, maybe I will let them roam again anyway.

They are primarily pets, so often the eggs are wasted anyway, but the philosophy of keeping a totally none productive flock goes against the grain.

On top of this I have the cement and materials for their pond on order, so it would be nice to think there is a potential return for my cash and work.

One can see pets in a slightly different light when the cost in cash, work and garden benefits goes skyward :-)

When I first had them running around, they would have become better acquainted with the inside of a freezer than the English prime minister, but that avenue is out as the two drakes that made it to the oven are still a source of regret :-(

Many thanks for your input, I am very grateful for your advice and interest Joseph.

Friday, June 10th, 2022

Don't withdraw the oyster shell. They usually take it as they need it. The foraging is great they will find most of what they need in nutrients that way.(Put some wire around the peas tho!).

Joseph lawler
Friday, June 10th, 2022

Thanks. Fine I have plenty of oyster shell. Would you keep it separate? I did but it was hardly touched. Although I was wary that the drake might OD on the stuff, I found it was consumed when mixed with the food and since I started that a few weeks back, the egg quality has actually continued to drop.

The ground is sandy mainly. I am not sure of the calcium levels, but it is the mixture of mud and stone that the glaciers left a bit before I arrived on the planet. The next door neighbour said it was probably the breed incidentally, but I cannot see anything that verifies this. On the internet everything points to calcium, vitamin D or a viral problem.
The virus is something I cannot check, but aside from the eggs the ducks are extremely healthy. They could beat an olympic sprinter to a bag of Aldi frozen peas any day :-)

Friday, June 10th, 2022

If you haven't already purchased the materials for the pond I would suggest using a child's paddling pool/sand pit. They are cheap and do their job very well. You need something that can be emptied easily and very often. A cement block with a board on top makes a little ramp to make it easier for them to get in. I keep oyster shell separate. Mine gobble it up. The treats have the effect of diluting the nutritionally balanced layers and so instead of getting more they get less.

Joseph lawler
Friday, June 10th, 2022

I have a blue childs pool, but thought that something automatic and with a pump/ filter might be more "scenic".

The quackers even put me to shame as regards mess and the pool has been terminal for the grass. I tried bedding it into the ground, but they excavate the sides and the whole lot became a putrid mess.

A bit of civil engineering is potentially another string to my bow as far as failures go. The chance to screw things up with a ton or so of concrete is too good to miss.

I will not throw the paddling pool out!

Thanks for the tip on treats, I suppose I do give them a lot of peas, it must work out to three or four kg a week so it may be a bit much for four ducks and one drake. I'm down to the last kg, so I will give them a month or so on layers pellets and what they can forage. Maybe the problem was self inflicted all the time!

Many thanks Joseph.

Friday, June 10th, 2022

So how are your ducks doing now kwackers? Have they gotten any better or not?

Saturday, July 9th, 2022

It is possible that they have slight reproductive issues in that they are incapable of absorbing the calcium needed to produce eggs. But there isnít much you can do about that.
Iíd keep the paddling pool. The trick is to move it every second day to a fresh grass area , so one area doesnít become messy.
Keep with the layers.. perhaps change brand and cut the treats out. You seem to be doing as much as you can anyway

Adrian Kelly
Tuesday, July 12th, 2022

The saga continues.................

Thanks for the suggestions, I have done as advised with no real difference.

I was given the details of someone who suggested the ducks might need antibiotics.

He was very positive that they were suffering from infectious bronchitis.

Looking on the internet I do not see any symptoms I recognise, I had one duck die months back but it had "Bumble foot" and although it recovered was a tad lame. The foot had the classic local swelling that made me confident my diagnosis was accurate.

What would a vet charge? I have four and a drake now, so the financial loss of the whole flock would be easily bearable, they are cute though and I would feel bad about disposal.

What I don't understand though is that there are no other symptoms, the flock are in the best of health as far as I can see, no coughs, sneezing or anything.

Would the virus not clear up after nearly a year too?

I have not been to a vet yet, but I expect the cost will be outlandish?

Monday, August 1st, 2022

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