Broken bill?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by iamcuriositycat, Sep 9, 2010.

  1. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 30, 2009
    Charlotte, NC
    I noticed this morning that my chocolate runner hen has a broken bill, and I have no idea why! It's not bloody, doesn't look traumatized at all except for the fact that half of the top part is missing. You can see her tongue!

    I've seen a duck like that before, but it was congenital--hers is definitely not. She is just about a year old and was born with a perfectly normal bill. It is possible it's been like that for as much as a week or two, because I don't examine them closely on a daily basis. Because her tongue is the same color as her bill, it is not obviously without close observation. I had to catch her to even be sure I was seeing right.

    She doesn't seem distressed by it--she's eating and drinking normally with the others--but it's very bizarre. How could a thing like that happen? And how could it happen without any obvious signs of trauma? It could have been developing slowly--perhaps some sort of wasting disease or parasite? Or is it more likely an injury? But how??

    Does anyone have experience or know what might have caused it? I don't think there's much I can do about it, unless it's a disease or parasite I can treat, but I'd like to know what's up and whether she's likely to be pretty much fine in the long run anyway. She's a good girl and I'd hate to lose her.

  2. katharinad

    katharinad Overrun with chickens has some information about it in their duck book. The duck will be fine without the tip, and a vet may be able to rebuild it with some acrylic material. Assuming he/she is familiar with it. They use the same material dentists use for fillings that get hard with a UV lamp. They can even die it in the correct color. Ideally you would find the missing piece and they can glue it back on. Regardless your duck can/will live a full life without it. Your vet may be able to smooth it out so there are no ragged edges. Poor little thing.
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2010
  3. Wifezilla

    Wifezilla Positively Ducky

    Oct 2, 2008
    Yikes! Poor thing!

    I did have a drake trying to bust through a metal fence that shaved a piece off the top of his bill, but it wasn't that bad and after a couple of weeks you couldn't tell anything had happened.

    I like the idea of a prosthetic bill. Not sure if you can find someone locally to do that though. Talk about a specialty!
  4. DuckyMom

    DuckyMom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 7, 2010
    Upstate NY
    Poor Baby!
    She is definatly going to need to see a vet! keep her inside or atleast away from other ducks for now so she can rest up. be sure she is eating and drinking. If you she won't eat then you may have to wet down her food, try giving her some smashed up banana! If she has dificulty preening i recomend using a soft nail brush to remove any mess from her feathers! Also try giving her some vitamin supplements to help prevent other problems and keep the rest of her healthy! And remember she must see a vet before she gets an infection![​IMG]
    Good Luck!
  5. desertdarlene

    desertdarlene Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 4, 2010
    San Diego
    I saw a duck, yesterday, grab a drake by the bill, yanked and twisted it, but the drake seemed uninjured. It's possible that's what happened with your duck perhaps by repeated attacks. I've seen ducks do pretty well without parts of their bill. If she's eating, she's probably going to be OK. But, it's a good idea to check with your vet just in case it's something more serious.

    Katharinad, thanks for the link to that website. I am going to check with them to see if there are any organizations in my area that deal with abandoned ducks.
  6. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 30, 2009
    Charlotte, NC
    Thanks, everyone! She is doing just fine--I watched her eat tonight, and she was every bit as eager & fast as the others. I also overestimated the size of the damage after my first good look--it's about an inch-long segment, not really half the bill. But it's enough to show her tongue.

    Unfortunately, a vet is really out of the question. First case, very few avian vets in this area and fewer even who would consent to treat a duck. Second case, we are barely scraping by month to month right now with my husband's job loss and trying to pull it together with my business. I have other reasons for choosing against a vet visit too, but it's more than the scope of this post. I also have very little hope of finding the piece--they range over more than ten acres in the course of a day, through tall grasses, over a several-acre lake, into ditches and down woodland trails... finding a 1-inch-long piece of duck bill would be like looking for the proverbial needle.

    Fortunately, my ducks are healthy and eat a nutritious diet and bathe in clean water (for the 5 minutes it stays clean each day anyway, lol), and I expect she'll recover just fine. I don't see any blood or other signs of open tissue, and ducks tend to be highly resistant to infection when they're healthy, so I have good hope for her. Her tongue appears to be completely in tact, so whatever damaged it did not damage her tongue (unless it's been long enough for her tongue to heal, which is possible though I would think I'd have noticed it sooner).

    I do feel bad about it, and wish I knew what caused it so I could try to prevent its happening again. I can't imagine one of the other ducks doing that to her--they all get along so well--but maybe they got into a tussle over something specific. Or maybe one of the drakes got too rough... I did notice my two drakes fighting a lot today. Or, to be more specific, one of them chasing the other mercilessly and pulling feathers out of his back, which is not something they've ever done before. Maybe it's related?

    I'll be keeping my eyes on them and on her, and let everyone know how it turns out.
  7. katharinad

    katharinad Overrun with chickens

    I don't think that another duck is capable of taking part of the bill out. She must have dug around and injured herself on something sharp. Perhaps got trapped under a large stone that may have slipped hard on it while digging ins the soil underneath. Keep an eye on a possible onset of an infection. If that happens give her antibiotics, at least we can get those half way cheap. It's good that it is not bleeding, so I think she will recover. I don't think she worries about a missing piece as long as she can eat. I think we are more sensitive about things like that. Animals are so great when it comes dealing with such issues.
  8. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 30, 2009
    Charlotte, NC
    Thanks, katherinad! I will keep my eye on her. She looks great this morning--I watched for a while, and she even preens herself normally. I think you're right about animals--in general, they don't seem to care as much about appearances and, as long as they're not actually weak or disabled, other animals don't seem to care as much either. I hope she's not in pain, but she certainly doesn't seem bothered by it, so I'll just keep my eye on it.

    Thanks again!

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by