crazy random thought....artificial oiling???

scorpiovette

In the Brooder
6 Years
Apr 23, 2013
32
0
22
Wisconsin
so I'm new to all these different types of birds. We just recently acquired our first birds. 16 chicken, 2 ducks, 1 turkey and waiting for 3 geese to arrive.

well I've been doing alot of reading trying to learn as much as I can about care, while also keeping up with my old "in nature" way of doing things. I don't overly baby my animals, and believe alot in "survival of the strongest", "natural selection" and such. I'm not careless, and will do what I can within reason to help a sick animal, or help it out somehow, or make sure I keep them save until they are old/big enough to fend for themselves since they don't have parent animals to protect and teach them.

so one of things I keep reading over and over is that baby ducks (mine are about 3 weeks old, and already got kicked outside (to the garage with heat lamp, food, water and closed doors at night) don't have their natural oils yet, and therefore will soak up water and could drown. Well I had this random thought.......with all these things that stores and business sell nowadays for pretty much everything imaginable under the sun, I was surprised that I haven't read anything about applying some kind of "oil" (or whatever the natural equivalent would be called) to the baby ducks by hand so they could swim more.

do they make such a thing??? why not??? I don't have a pond, and right now the biggest thing my 2 ducks have to "swim" in is a medium size cat litter pan that they barely fit in together, so I'm not worried about it. Just a little surprised that I haven't seen anything like that advertised anywhere yet. LOL
 

Speceider

Songster
8 Years
Apr 4, 2011
1,169
130
161
It's not the oil that makes a duck or duckling water resistant (not water-proof). It's the feather structure and any artificial oil would damage the feather structure and make it less water resistant.

Clint
 

scorpiovette

In the Brooder
6 Years
Apr 23, 2013
32
0
22
Wisconsin
oh. so what is that stuff that I saw some people/articles refer to when they say that in the wild the mother duck gets "it" from a gland near her tail and rubs it on the baby ducks. or did I misunderstand what that's for???

just trying to learn how these critters work. Thanks.
 

Speceider

Songster
8 Years
Apr 4, 2011
1,169
130
161
The female duck does preen, and the duckling's uropygial gland doesn't become functional until about 2 weeks age....but people continue to want to believe that a duck is water resistant because of the oil....when it's feather structure....the uropygial oil helps maintain pliable feathers so they can be preening into shape for the best water repellency.

Clint
 

scorpiovette

In the Brooder
6 Years
Apr 23, 2013
32
0
22
Wisconsin
"uropygial gland".......now I have something to google. that might yield more of the information that I was looking for.

thanks for the help. just like learning and sometimes over analyzing things. I think this question is mostly floating around my head because I'm raising ducklings without a mommy duck. otherwise, it wouldn't really be an issue since......"they just do their thing". But since it's not this simple with us raising them, I'd like to actually have proper answers to all the questions my 4 year old comes up with. LOL
 

enriquec

Songster
5 Years
Aug 20, 2014
257
25
121
North Florida
I had the same thought! All oil is water proof right? Why not just have oily hands and handle them? Over a week they should be good I'd think. Coconut, olive, vegetable oil slowly? Any updates?
 

Kimmyh51

Songster
6 Years
Nov 16, 2015
270
208
156
It's not the oil that makes a duck or duckling water resistant (not water-proof). It's the feather structure and any artificial oil would damage the feather structure and make it less water resistant.

Clint
My understanding of waterproofing is that it is a combination of the barbs in the feathers and the application of oil from the uropygeal gland in waterfowl that produces waterproofing. For example in ducklings who have no natural in production they are made somewhat waterproof by the mother duck putting her wings over them when brooding, and thus transferring her in to the ducklings, giving them some waterproofing.

I have seen the result of ducks who don’t get oil on their feathers, in ducklings who are orphaned and raised by me, ducks who are injured or stressed, and my disabled duck who has a balance and coordination problem which makes it impossible for him to coordinate his beak properly with his uropygeal gland when he is preening. As a result all the above are not waterproof despite having the proper feather structure, so clearly their lack of water repellancy is due to their feathers not being coated in the oil from their uropygeal gland during preening.

I would love to find some artificial form of that oil that could be applied to a duck, as my disabled duck cannot walk and does far better in the water (and loves it) but due to his lack of waterproofing he can only stay in the river on my property a very short time before he starts getting cold, and its mid summer with temperatures between 25-30 degree celcius (30 degree c is I think about 90f for those of you in the states etc)

If any9ne has heard of anything that has ever been developed or used to provide artificial water repellancy in ducks I’d love to hear about it or see any links.
 

Kimmyh51

Songster
6 Years
Nov 16, 2015
270
208
156
oh. so what is that stuff that I saw some people/articles refer to when they say that in the wild the mother duck gets "it" from a gland near her tail and rubs it on the baby ducks. or did I misunderstand what that's for???

just trying to learn how these critters work. Thanks.
You are correct the oil comes from mummy duck. Perhaps the previous poster is referring to the fact that it also requires the birds feathers to have the barb structure they have to be able to grab on to that oil. Actually I am not even sure if that barb structure is needed to hold oil and be water repellant? Does anyone know this?
The barbs in their feathers I believe are to fluff out the down feathers and hold air in them which in turn holds warm air in towards the ducks body and keeps them warm in cold… (kind of like a built in backcomb no-hairspray-needed, for anyone out there who remembers big hair in the 80’s and 90s lol).

but that barb fluffing thing has nothing to do with waterproofing as far as I know because it mostly applies to feathers underneath the outer feather layer. And the outer layer is where the waterproofing needs to happen. The outer feathers, above the down feathers, are the waterproof ones and they stop the down feathers getting wet (because if the down feathers got wet they would not stay fluffed up and their properties of keeping air close to the bird to keep them warm would be lost)

anyway I would also love to see some sort of water proofing product for ducks, as a rescuer it would be awesome for orphaned ducklings, for sick ducks and for disabled ducks who are unable to preen well enough to get the oil from their tail to their beak and then their feathers. I have one now who has balance issues but loves to swim and is much better in the water than on land but because he cannot coordinate his beak, tail and feathers when he preens (his gland produces plenty of oil he just can’t distribute it over himself as he needs to ) he can only swim literally 3-5 mins in the middle of summer, much longer and he comes out physically shivering because his lack of waterproofing means his exterior (the bigger longer feathers u see when you look at a duck) feathers are not waterproof and his inside down feathers which normally stay dry and fluffed up when a duck swims in water, are soaking wet and cannot keep him dry or warm.
it sucks because it’s the only place he can have some control over where he goes and what he does. And a small 0astic pond etc is not an option as he needs really deep water and lots of space due to the way he kicks out with his legs under him. If anyone has heard of lemon the duck, he has what appears to be the same or very similar issues to lemon (I have been chatting to Laura about lemon hoping my duck and I can benefit from her experience with lemon.)

so if u ever find anything or anyone hears of anything please message me as it would be a game changer for my duck. Sadly I have not heard of anything. I don’t think that is because it is not possible but more likely unwaterproof ducks simply are not a profitable enough target market for something like this, unless it already exists for other reasons…
 

raingarden

Songster
Premium Feather Member
Apr 12, 2021
910
1,946
191
Windward Oahu
It is not just the feather structure and the oil, it is also the way they apply it one feather at a time. Experimenting on a live handicapped bird may not be ethical. But, you could try dabbing your fingers on the oil bland or in another oil and spreading it on each feather from proximal to distal locking the barbs in place as you go.
 

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