Ducks and Geese – health

Information about disease prevention and signs of illness in ducks and geese.

Administering treatments

Approved activities Category
water 2
topical – dip 3
oral – drench 3
injection – subcutaneous 3

Parasite and disease control

It is important to maintain a program of control of parasites and disease for all birds. When treating for internal and external parasites, all birds should be treated at the same time. These activities need to be documented in the appropriate records.

Oral medications to be administered include worming compounds and vitamin and mineral supplements. They may be administered in the feed or water depending on instructions.

If water-based treatments are to be used, water is generally withdrawn from birds overnight to increase their thirst. Avoid water withdrawal during the day, particularly in hot weather. Drink containers need to be suitably anchored to prevent tipping.

Ducks are fairly disease resistant when good husbandry and management techniques are practised.

The most common internal parasite of ducks is the large roundworm which should be controlled by a combination of monitoring, worming and rotation of enclosures. The most common external parasites are body lice, which should be controlled by dusting or spraying the birds with an approved product.

Geese are extremely hardy, and severe outbreaks of disease are unusual. Internal parasites should be controlled by a combination of monitoring, worming and rotation of enclosures.

Transmission of external parasites is often through wild birds, including pigeons and water fowl. If possible enclosures should be constructed to make them wild bird proof.

An annual parasite and disease control program should be developed and documented. All birds should be examined, quarantined and treated for parasites prior to moving them to the school farm or introducing them to the school stock.

Whenever chemicals are used including drenches, vaccines and external parasite control treatments, care must be taken about the following:

  • Reading all labels
  • Maintaining appropriate storage
  • Adhering to withholding periods
  • Determining the weight of the animals to be treated
  • Determining the correct dose rate
  • Using protective clothing if required
  • Using the correct equipment for application
  • Disposal of chemical containers.

Disease control – ducks

Disease prevention – geese

Signs of illness

The health of ducks and geese should be monitored daily. Birds should be observed standing and sitting down. Young ducklings and goslings require more frequent monitoring as they can deteriorate rapidly if they are failing to eat or drink. The first sign of illness may be a change in the natural demeanour of a duck or goose.

A sick duck or goose may display signs of:

  • Inactivity, head under wing, feathers ruffled or isolated from group
  • Frequent shutting of eyes
  • Little response when touched or pushed or often pecked at by other birds.
  • Reduced feeding and/or water intake
  • Lameness
  • Reduced growth or egg production
  • Diarrhoea.

Ducks and geese failing to thrive or grow are also a sign of illness. If unable to identify the problem and begin suitable treatment, assistance should be sought from a veterinarian who has experience with poultry. Any illness identified and treatments given must be recorded appropriately.


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