Ask the Swan Specialist
Date: 19 April 2016
The idea of a shallow area is good, but there are several issues that need to be addressed.
1. Does the shallow end ever dry out during periods of drought?
2. Does the shallow end have a daily supply of fresh water from the other end of the pond?
3. Does the shallow end receive any run-off such as insecticides, farm or other run-off?
4. Is there a way to completely enclose the shallow end with a zero entrance? Completely enclosed top to bottom so that no predator can dig under or climb over into the pen.
5. Could the shallow end be enclosed (top to bottom) to run out into the water 25 feet (length) to give him some depth (approximately 4 feet of water) and approximately 12 feet in width to provide him with enough bank to sun himself?
If the shallow end dries or is not deep enough, coyotes and other predators could attack him if he is not able to get to deep water. If the shallow end dries or there is toxic run-off, he could get a condition called botulism that could kill him from ingesting harmful bacteria.
The enclosed type setting would allow him to be completely enclosed and protect him from predators while also allowing him to live a somewhat normal life.
Also, during cold weather, the leg injury can become very painful and even arthritic, so he needs to be sheltered from inclement weather during the winter. A small barn/shed enclosure with access to straw and large water bowl for feeding and drinking would be necessary. The straw and food would need to be cleaned on a daily basis to prevent pests such as rats and ants from entering the indoor housing. You would need some ventilation (not direct draft and closed so predators could not access ventilation area). He will need to be completely hosed down with water every 2 days to keep his feathers and uropygial oil gland (preen gland) healthy and allow him to remain water repellent. This watering down needs to occur more frequently prior to releasing him onto the pond to ensure that his water repellency is working.
Before all of this, you need to have him x-rayed to see if he in fact has a break. He may not have a break, but a very tender soft-tissue injury that may heal with some time. Regardless, there are medications that can be given to him that will take some of the edge off from the pain and may allow him to gain some mobility and range in the injured limb if there is not fracture. Prior to taking him to the veterinarian, please contact the webmaster at this post and provide us with a phone number for the veterinarian. We will not post your number.
We will have one of our swan veterinarians contact your veterinarian with medication list and dosage. An x-ray is the only way to know if there is indeed a break or something else going on that may be corrected with no surgery. The Regal Swan