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Egg Binding

Egg binding is a common reproductive condition in domestic female ducks and is defined as the failure of an egg to pass through the oviduct within a normal period of time. When this happens, it can result in the obstruction of oviposition or cloacal function, due to the presence of the egg in the distal oviduct for longer than it should be. The oviduct is a female duck's reproductive tract, and it consists of five different sections---the infunidibulum, magnum, isthmus, uterus, and cloaca. Most avian species, including ducks, normally produce a shelled egg from a follicle in less than 24 hours.

Why Ducks can become Egg Bound


Ducks can develop egg binding for a number of reasons, which may include:
  • Chronic egg laying
  • Obesity
  • Reproductive disorders affecting the oviduct - Such as oviduct prolapse, torsion, or tumors that may obstruct the passage of the egg and cause dystocia.
  • Trauma to the Oviduct
  • Oviductal infections
  • Inadequate exercise or muscle strength
  • Nutritional deficiencies - Ducks aren't receiving enough vitamin E or selenium in their diet.
  • Calcium metabolic disease
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Systemic disease
  • Malformed or abnormal eggs
  • Stress
Egg binding tends to occur more often in the spring and summer months, due to the increased daylight.

How to tell if a Duck is Egg Bound


Signs that a duck is egg bound vary depending on the severity, size of the bird, and whether any secondary complications are involved. Egg bound ducks most commonly present with depression, lethargy, abdominal distension and straining, assuming an abnormally wide stance, persistent tail bobbing, and reduced appetite. The severity is usually in line with the degree of depression and length of time the clinical signs have been occurring.

Symptoms

Depression
Lethargy
Not laying eggs
Irregular egg-laying
Abdominal distension
Wheezing
Decreased appetite
Tail bobbing
Difficulty breathing
Wide-based, penguin-like stance
Lameness
Leg paralysis/paresis

Diagnosis

  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam
  • Radiography
  • Ultrasonography - Useful for visualizing non-mineralized eggs which may be present in the oviduct behind a larger, mineralized egg
  • Serum chemistry - Elevated total and ionized calcium, hypercholesterolemia, and hyperglobulie

Treatment

MethodMethod Summary
MANAGEMENT CHANGES
Reduced Light ExposureRestrict the amount of time the bird is exposed to light (artificial) or photoperiod (daylight). When birds experience a longer day length, it triggers their bodies to lay eggs. By restricting their exposure to daylight hours or light to no more than 12 hours a day, it can help to minimize reproductive activity. The bird should be in complete darkness at night, for a full 12 hours. This may require blackened curtains to be placed over windows, towel or blanket over the cage and/or turning off any lights within their vicinity.
Increased EnrichmentProvide more stimulation through the use of food enrichment to encourage ducks to participate in natural duck activities such as scavenging for food.
HORMONE THERAPYHormone Therapy is a form of medical therapy used to decrease reproductive activity in female ducks. It consists of periodic hormone implants or injections that are intended stop female ducks of ovulating (continuing to lay eggs)

Prevention

  • Hormone implants: Used to stop ducks from laying eggs
  • Feed a balanced diet: Female ducks that are actively laying eggs should receive a complete feed that is intended for breeder/laying waterfowl. Don't feed excessive amounts of treats or table scraps as it can offset the proportional balance of calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D.
  • If living in areas with acid soil and high rainfall - Lime the ground with slaked lime or calcified seaweed.

References

Blogs

Risk Factors

  • Exposure to increased hours of daylight (over 12 hours in a day)
  • Ducks just starting to lay eggs
  • History of irregular laying
  • Frequently passing soft-shelled and/or shell-less eggs
  • Imbalanced diet - feeding ducks' stale feed or excessive amounts of table scraps.
  • Smaller-sized duck breeds
  • Overweight and/or inactive ducks
  • Stress

Also Consider