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Treating Foamy Eye and Sinus Issues in Ducks Naturally

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Treating foamy eye and sinus issues in backyard ducks naturally.

Bubbling or foamy eyes in ducks can be fairly common, but also fairly easily treated. 

Eyes can bubble or foam for a couple of reasons, but usually it's related to the spring mating season. Those boys can be pretty aggressive!

What Causes Foamy Eye?

Foamy eyes, inflammation or redness might be something as simple as debris in the eye or a scratched cornea.  An accidental run-in with some wire fencing, a branch or other debris can cause the eye to bubble and foam. 

Sometimes foamy eyes can be an indication of an infectious respiratory disease, but as long as your duck isn't having other symptoms such as labored breathing, coughing, sneezing or any discharge from its nostrils, reduced eating or activity level, it's likely caused by mating.

A duck's sinuses run under her eyes and down the back of the neck, so over mating often leads to eye and sinus issues.  When a drake mates with a female, he will grab the back of her neck and hang on, and that can lead to sinus issues which often manifest themselves in bubbling, foamy eyes in the female ducks.

Preventing Foamy Eye and Sinus Issues

Providing fresh, clean water for your ducks that is deep enough for them to submerge their entire head in is usually sufficient to keep their sinuses clean and working properly.

But taking these steps can also help prevent sinus or eye issues.

  • Having the correct ratio of males to females in your duck flock (at least 2-3 females for each drake, and the more the better) helps prevent most overmating issues.

  • Separating the drakes especially during mating season is also a good idea, especially if you have multiple drakes in your flock.

  • Separating a "favorite" female if you notice her missing the feathers along the back of her neck.  A drake will often choose a favorite and she should be separated during mating season to  prevent overmating. 

  • Providing deep tubs of clean water helps keep sinuses clear will normally be sufficient to keep most eye issues at bay.

Symptoms of Foamy Eye and Sinus Issues

  • Eye problems that spring up literally overnight during the spring or summer.
  •  Missing feathers and down on the back of the female duck's neck.
  • Bloodshot, foamy or runny eyes.

Treating Foamy Eye and Sinus Issues in Ducks Naturally

I normally will separate a female if I notice Gregory, our male Pekin duck, paying her "special" attention in the spring during mating season, but this time he was sweet on Custard and it wasn't until her eye was already inflamed and having some discharge that I noticed.

So here's how I treated her naturally:

  • I immediately separated Custard and rinsed both eyes with saline solution. Only one eye looked to be affected, but rinsing both eyes is always a good idea.
  • Then I started treating her eye three times a day with a few drops of goldenseal root oil in 1/4 cup of water using an eyedropper. I dripped a few drops into each eye, morning, noon and just before bed.

  • I also treated her eyes with some chamomile oil diluted the same way in between the goldenseal drips.
  • I started adding a fresh garlic clove into her water each day.
  • In addition to her garlic water, I gave her a second water tub with a few drops of Poultry VetRx in it. VetRx treats respiratory infections naturally and is a wonderful product I always keep in my first aid kit.

  • I also added some fresh chopped herbs to her daily diet including basil, thyme, oregano and sage which she ate quite willingly.

In about a week, Custard's eye was noticeably improved and ten days after I had started treatment, she was good as new.

I let her back out with the flock, but will keep a very close eye that Gregory is leaving her alone and won't cause another bout.

Benefits of the natural ingredients :
Basil - antibacterial, promotes mucous membrane health, rejuvenating
Chamomile - calming, relaxing
Garlic - boots immune and circulatory system health
Goldenseal - heals upper respiratory tract infections, reduces eye inflammation, antibacterial
Oregano - antibiotic properties
Sage - antioxidant, promotes general health, calming
Thyme - antibiotic properties, aids in respiratory health, antibacterial

***Although more common in ducks, chickens with eye issues can be treated in the same way as described above.

Note: if you are faced with this issue and decide to try to treat it naturally, please consider seeing a vet if it doesn't seem to be improving after several days or if it spreads to your other ducks.

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