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Issue 92 August 2012

In This Issue:

  Save the Bag
  Recall Research
  Feed Brands & Quality Control
  Vitamin D Toxicity
  Vitamin D Detox Diets
  What to Feed?
  A Chilly Idea
  Majestic Farewell...
  Other Farewells...
  Saxony Swamp
  Majestic Adoptions!
  Majestic Sponsorships

To Make a Donation, please click here:  Donation

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Send us a friendship request (be sure to include a note that you are a friend of ducks & geese!)

Majestic Farewell...

Dearest Duran, Darling Moon-Moon, Powerful Duranasaur... you are so very, very missed... May your reunion with your brother Duran Rio bring you the peace and happiness you so richly deserve... We love you...

Other Farewells...

Farewell miss Haley... Your games of tag around the house, hide-n-seek in your box and long cuddles on the couch are dearly missed. Now go get that little rabbit!

Laylah and Saydee were rescued as ducklings by their family after they lost their mother. While they may have been rescued, they did their own rescuing as well. They brought three very busy people together and tightened their family bond and gave them something wonderful in common. Their newly strengthened familial bond inspired them to call themselves, "The Quack Pack!"

Laylah was a Packer fan and watched all the games like a boss! His favorite color was Packer green and he was in charge of everything--except... his brother who ruled the roost. Laylah or "Hoover" had a little trouble staying focused on anything for more than thirty seconds before flipping to something else. There was just too much to take in--and he didn't want to miss a bit of it!

Saydee was a happy-go-lucky duck who wagged his rump when he was excited just like a dog! He was also the "princess" of the duo and preferred watching old movies to sports. Saydee or "Isannah" hated anything dirty and felt the need to dip and clean anything he felt wasn't quite spotless enough. His favorite color was pink and he liked to lay on soft things like pillows and silky blankets. He had an analytical mind and liked to study things, so it always paid to know what he was up to. He was also the BOSS!

Both Laylah and Saydee were laid to rest next to each other under the big willow tree along the same river where they were rescued nine years before.

Laylah "Hoover" duck
May 27th 2003 – June 27th 2012

Saydee “ Isannah” Duck
May 27th 2003- July 15th 2012

Dear Katie,

Our thoughts are with you and your family during this painful and emotional time. It is always so difficult when our little feathered friends leave us, but please know that they love you dearly and hold you snuggly in their hearts to this day.

A donation has been made to Majestic in memory of Laylah & Saydee, so that more rescued ducks can find loving families just like yours...

--Smidge's Army

Saxony Swamp

We have a new pen!

Special thanks to Gail who who thought to donate her cat's outdoor pen before moving earlier this year. The three-sided and wire-roofed pen sat on her deck  outside of her sliding glass doors.

Thank you to our volunteers: Kat, Caitlin, Katherine (the three Kats!) Patrick and Dad who helped us disassemble and then re-assamble this pen, placing it upon a cement foundation before constructing its forth side, which includes a new door.

We would also like to thank Julie and Gary who responded to our call-out for a new duck house. They finished up this project by donating the funds that gave this little love nest the final touch it needed, so that Demi and Shorty could finally move in!

Saxony Swamp measures 8' x 9' and rests out in the forest beside Louisville. It sits on a cement foundation and has digging predator barriers skirting all the way around the outside.

Majestic Adoptions!

Cleo & Ro join their  dream family!

We'll stop in and visit you soon, Tricia!

Majestic Sponsorships!

Give the gift that keeps on giving! Please consider sponsoring our rescued ducks and geese. Visit our Sponsorship Page to learn how!

Contact Us

Majestic Waterfowl Sanctuary
17 Barker Road
Lebanon, CT 06249

Our Newsletter

The Majestic Monthly is published 12 times per year. Previous issues are available in our Archives.

Save The Bag

Many duck and goose owners pour their 50 lb. bags of feed into barrels or bins for easy access and safe storage and then throw away the bag.

When you empty your feed bags into barrels, write the complete lot/batch number on your calendar. As we've all recently witnessed, some recalls can occur months after your duck or goose has consumed the feed. Will you remember what they've eaten? Good record keeping can bring instant peace of mind, or it can provide detailed information for you and your veterinarian.

Nelly-Nell, Young Jeffrey, Alice & Jodie-Dee chat about the recall

Recall Research

In addition to visiting a company's webpage for recall information, you can visit FDA's website  to find information regarding current recalls.

Feed Brands and Quality Control

The first step in researching your feed options is to do some internet research. Then CALL your grain company and other grain companies and ask them questions. You can't always know how good your own brand is until you compare it with others.

  • Check their reputation by researching their parent company

  • Find out about their in-house Quality Control procedures

  • Ask them questions about their suppliers

  • Find out where the grain is milled

  • Find out what else is produced at this mill

  • Find out what drugs may be used at this mill

  • Ask them about "Sequential production" of their grain

Sequential production is an important question if the grain mill also produces feed for other species of animals whose diet is different enough from your pet's diet, that batch-to-batch contamination could make your pet sick.

In other words, if they're bagging medicated monkey food right before they bag your duck food and a few kibbles accidentally spill over into your bag, you want to know that those monkey kibbles won't hurt your duck or goose if accidentally ingested.

Quality sequential production means that companies purposefully order the production of their various feed lines in such a way that any minor run-over from batch-to-batch should be absolutely safe for your pet.

Some basic Quality Control questions:

  • What kind of in-house QC testing do they routinely perform?

  • Do they test every ingredient?

  • Do they test every batch they mix?

  • Are their ingredients sourced in the U.S.?

  • Which of their ingredients are sourced from other countries?

  • Which ingredients are certified as tested by their suppliers?

  • Do they check up on their supplier's QC practices? How often?

  • Do they quality test any of their suppliers' ingredients?

  • Which ingredients are not tested and why?

  • What kind of consumer guarantees do they offer?

Keep in mind, the more tests they do, the more expensive your feed will be. Companies can't test for everything or their feed would be unaffordable for most of us. But are they covering the basics?  The things you're concerned about? You have to ask.

Other things we like to keep in mind... How helpful were they? How educated were they about their own product? How was their customer service while you were on the phone? Do you think it will be better or worse in a time of crisis--if you ever have an issue with their feed?

Vitamin D Toxicity

As many of you know, Mazuri issued a voluntary recall for a variety of their animal feeds in July that included a batch of their Waterfowl Maintenance feed, which may have had up to four times the normal amount of vitamin D.

Fortunately our flock did not consume the recalled food. Those families who mix their Maintenance 50/50 with Breeder formula (because they have mixed flocks) likely avoided any problems as well.

Symptoms of excessive vitamin D include: loss of appetite and weight loss (anorexia), high calcium levels, joint stiffness, lethargy, organ mineralization and decreased kidney function.

If your duck or goose consumed effected feed (or if there is a chance they ate the feed, but you don't have your bag to confirm it), consult with your veterinarian especially if you are seeing any symptoms or changes in their behavior. Mazuri is also encouraging people to call them with any questions or concerns about your pet or their feed.

Your vet will likely want to run blood work on your duck or goose to check for elevated calcium levels and to ensure that all of their organs are functioning properly. You should have your results back in a few days, depending on which lab your vet uses.

Keep in mind calcium levels can be high if your duck or goose is on a diet that includes laying formula. If test results come back high, your vet will likely have the lab check their ionized calcium level (as opposed to blood calcium levels). High ionized calcium levels should be taken more seriously and lead you to do further testing.

Mazuri is recommending that animals suspected of having elevated Vitamin D levels get their levels checked. To the best of their knowledge, there is only one lab in the U.S. currently testing for 25 hydroxy D3  as an indicator of vitamin D status:

Heartland Assays lab in Ames, Iowa http://www.heartlandassays.com   

We've heard that test results can take up to two weeks, making immediate dietary changes a wise precaution.

For a start, our vet recommends that birds with high ionized calcium levels be immediately fed a low calcium diet for at least three weeks (0.8 - 0.9% calcium feed). This means replacing any laying formula with a regular formula feed (and possibly even cutting that back with a percentage of cracked or whole corn if you can't find a brand with a calcium level in this range).

REMEMBER this is only a temporary dietary change. Once calcium levels are rechecked and back-to-normal, your vet will likely advise you to slowly increase calcium levels again (starting with 1.2 - 1.3% calcium feed and then raising them back up to 2 - 3% laying feed).

Ask your vet whether or not calcium chips/oyster shells should also be removed from your bird's diet while on this program.

If you begin noticing soft eggshells as a result of reducing your bird's calcium levels, consult with our vet immediately. Ducks and geese have a pretty good instinct as to when they need to ingest added calcium (oyster shells/calcium chips) and most won't be interested in it when they have high levels of calcium already. This may mean it can be put out free choice again in a separate bowl, NOT mixed in with their regular food.

Our vet is not alone in advising that most species (avian included) can tolerate 4-10 times higher than normal levels of Vitamin D for more than 60 days and up to 100 times the safe level of Vitamin D for less than 60 days. However, this being said, "tolerate" does not necessarily equate to being "symptom free."

Something else you may need to consider is timing. Many ducks and geese are mid-molt or about to molt. That makes this a vital time for nutrients and vitamin fortification. The feathers they grow now need to last them an entire year, so whatever feed you choose, make it a good one. A few additional brand name choices include: Nutrena NatureWise, Purina and Blue Seal.

Ultimately, what you feed your pet is a personal decision, we only recommend that you make an informed decision. These are your pets and they are depending on you--whatever you choose.

Vitamin D Detox: Fortified vs. Non-fortified Diets

If your pet duck or goose consumed excess levels of Vitamin D from recalled feed, does their diet need to be changed? And if so, how?

This is a question that nutritionists and veterinarians are currently disagreeing upon. And ultimately, many pet owners are having to make choices based on conflicting information.

Some vets are advising not to pull fortified food away from ducks and geese who've eaten the recalled feed. They're advising that pet owners whose birds ate the recalled food for 4-6 weeks merely reduce the calcium levels in their diet for 3-4 weeks to reverse the effects. On the other hand, some nutritionists are recommending that birds who've eaten the recalled food for a similar amount of time be placed on non-fortified diets for 4-8 weeks to reduce the intake of vitamin D and calcium intake.

These are very different viewpoints that leave pet owners wondering what to do. What do we think here? Before confirming that none of our ducks and geese consumed recalled food, our vet advised us to keep all of our ducks and geese on vitamin fortified diets  because it helps them maintain good health, which is the best defense against illness and we found this advice made good sense.

Even so, not everyone agrees. Some are arguing in favor of non-fortified diets, reducing the overall intake of vitamin D and calcium during the recovery period. Detox diets of this nature should not be confused with home remedies and should come from a reliable and qualified source--that is, from an individual certified in Animal/Bird Nutrition and who can produce proof of their certification upon request. Diets of this nature should be followed exclusively and exactly. 

Pet owners would be wise to provide your vet with the precise details of whatever diet you choose before beginning to verify its safety. Your vet can also advise how long your bird should remain on this diet based on their weight, medical history and how much recalled food they have ingested. Keep in mind, their diet should NOT be entirely devoid of vitamin D--especially if they spend a lot of time indoors or in a shady pen (out of the sun), or you may be adding malnutrition to your duck or goose's list of problems.

The bottom line is, there just isn't one clear and simple answer in all this because most people are in disagreement. This is a time when we each need to review the facts and choose what we think is right for ourselves and for our beloved feathered companions.

To Feed or Not to Feed... What Feed?

Adding to all this feed confusion is the decision over whether or not to continue feeding Mazuri as your fortified feed of choice, or whether you want to select a new brand. If selecting a new brand, keep in mind that Purina Mills and Mazuri share the same parent company (Land O'Lakes).

While Mazuri feels confident that they have pinpointed the issue with their feed and know exactly which batches were affected by the ingredient source that was tainted with vitamin D, not everyone feels comfortable with their product at this time. Since it's pretty common knowledge that we serve Mazuri here at our sanctuary, we have received numerous phone calls and emails pertaining to this issue and these are some of the relevant facts that we know:

The elevated vitamin D food was bagged between April 2nd and May 8th. Mazuri Breeder is considered unaffected because it did not contain the ingredient in question.

The lab test results for the April 28th Maintenance batch is a confirmed negative for increased vitamin D levels, further demonstrating that the issue has been isolated.

Mazuri is encouraging pet owners to call them directly for more information or for help in filing a claim to recover any vet and treatment costs.

As for ourselves, we are currently knee-deep in product comparisons between Mazuri, Nutrena NatureWise, Purina and Blue Seal products and will provide more detailed information in our upcoming September Newsletter. Our intention is to provide ingredient comparisons, quality control, milling comparisons and price comparisons to see how they each stack up against one other in the hopes that this information will be helpful to others as well.

A Chilly Idea

Ice is a great way to cool down your kiddy pools and water buckets in the heat of summer. You can find all kinds of containers for making blocks of ice in your freezer. Just be careful the ice isn't so big as to cause any pinching (legs getting caught between blocks of ice and their pool's edges).

Jenn at Feathered Angels Sanctuary likes to take empty 2 liter soda bottles, fill them with water (leaving some room for expansion at the top) and then freeze them without the caps. Once they're frozen, she puts the caps back on and sets them into their preformed duck ponds.

Geese especially LOVE this little trick because it cools down their water and they get to fiddle around and play with the bottle! It's refreshing and a toy all in one!

Jocamo & Yolanda

       Majestic Waterfowl Sanctuary makes no representation, warranty, or guarantee in connection with any guidance provided on this website. Majestic Waterfowl Sanctuary expressly disclaims any liability or responsibility for loss or damage resulting from its use or for the violation of any federal, state or municipal law or regulation with which such guidance may conflict. Any guidance is general in nature. In addition, the assistance of a qualified professional should be enlisted to address any specific circumstances.

© Majestic Waterfowl Sanctuary 2012