Chris's Weblog – City Chickens

Poorly Puddles – Limberneck

28th February – This morning was very traumatic as Puddles, our lovely white Call drake, was poorly when I let him out of his bedroom. My first fear was that he had broken his neck somehow as he was very distressed, unable to stand and threshing about as though he were having a convulsion. I picked him up and made him secure by wrapping a couple of tea towels round him to hold his wings and feet in place, in a sort of natural sitting position. Then I had to control his neck as he was flipping it wildly from side to side. His breathing was very laboured and I really thought it was just a matter of time before we would lose him so I determined to sit and nurse him until the end. I encouraged him to drink but he found it extremely difficult as he had no control over his neck and was unable to swallow so I continued to dip his beak in and hold his neck up to stroke the water down.

When he was settled I felt along his neck and was sure that nothing was broken. However he continued to have convulsions and was still having trouble breathing. My son searched for phone numbers to get some advice to no avail and in the end we found the answer on the internet. Limberneck. The symptoms matched perfectly. Apparently it is caused when a bird swallows a spore of a bacteria which causes a form of Botulism that call ducks are susceptable to. The only treatment advised was plenty of clean water and a weak solution of Epsom Salts to flush the poison through. We read that if we could get him through 48 hours we had a chance of recovery. I rang our vets and explained and they got an expert from one of their branches to call us a couple of times to help us through.

That night was like having a new baby in the house with two hourly drinks and nappy changes. We kept Puddles warm by sliding him into a woolly hat over the top of his nappy and securing cloths. He was a model patient and seemed to realise we were trying to help him. The following evening we watched him waddle a little then wobble a little as we allowed him to exercise before he was once more secured and though he wasnt eating yet he was drinking and breathing a little better so we were hopeful.

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It is now 2nd March and Puddles is installed back in his pen with his lady friend Jemima who has been kicking up a right fuss whilst he has been away from her. With lots of care he has gradually become stronger and though not back to his old self is much improved.