A few weeks ago my partner drew my attention to the seemingly rapid decline of one of our Indian Runner Ducks who lives in our organic, permaculture veggie patch.  She had become listless, inactive and had started to get a lump on her neck.  I considered a range of potential reasons, none of which however factored in paralysis tick as we had been told by numerous locals and poultry professionals alike that paralysis tick “does not affect chooks or ducks”.
We soon had to challenge this belief however once my partner had managed to catch the poor girl and on her were two very engorged scrub ticks, 1 on her neck and 1 under her beak.  We diligently removed them and checked her over for any others before releasing her back with her two companions however she was obviously weak as she could not stand for long and her neck was increasingly looking like the S bend of a toilet as the muscles were obviously being affected. Still working on the theory that poultry do not get the “real affects” of the paralysis tick we decided to see if she would recover of her own accord over the coming day or two.
The wait and see strategy went out the window by the next morning as it was evident she was not going to last the day if we did not take some emergency action.  I quickly pulled out my favourite herb book by Isabell Shipard, my Backyard Poultry Book by Alanna Moore and scanned through my favourite natural health websites and constructed a list of medicinal herbs that we could look at to do the job.  I then proceeded to collect the herbs that we had on hand in the garden to make a rescue remedy.
3 small leaves of TANSY
3 small leaves of WORMWOOD
6 Large leaves of STINGING NETTLE (blanched to remove the sting)
½ a clove of GIANT GARLIC or 2 cloves of PURPLE GARLIC
I heaped teaspoon of UNPROCESSED HONEY
4 large leaves of HERB ROBERT
¼ Cup of water to mix
Blend all the ingredients together until liquefied.
Once I had blended all the ingredients together my partner and I then cornered our poor girl who at this stage could barely walk, was weeping from the eyes and had an impossibly contorted neck. We administered a syringe full of the mixture gently down her throat. We then let her go back with her mates and checked on her regularly throughout the day.
By late afternoon we laid out a plate of food for the three of them with an additional helping of the rescue remedy mixed into it which she proceeded to get stuck into.
By the next morning she was quacking and waddling around with the others and her neck, while still not right, was definitely relaxing and aligning itself again. Within three days she was back to her vocal, vivacious self.  At this point my partner and I checked her over again and did find a couple of smaller ticks which we removed and the hollow shell of a dead one which we believe was the offending tick as subsequent research informed us that they inject the paralysis venom into their victims as they are detaching.
We are now very vigilant of ticks on our chooks and our ducks and I have formulated a General Health Tonic of various herbs that I administer to our poultry regularly in their food to ensure they are kept in optimum health.
Using various plants from your garden to save the life of an animal is a very satisfying and rewarding endeavour which additionally ensures your own health by way of beautiful eggs from happy, healthy girls.
Tania Burls