Dark greeny black spots appearing on/in an orange beak

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Wokawidget, Jun 25, 2010.

  1. Wokawidget

    Wokawidget Chillin' With My Peeps

    193
    5
    111
    Jul 7, 2009
    Hi,

    My duck has an orange beak. A few months ago a couple of very small pin prick sized dots appeared at the head end of her beak.
    She now has 10+...some are pin prick size and some are pin head size...all dark greeny black. it's not dirt, so it's definately something in her beak.
    These dots are not bumpy and you cannot feel them...it looks like it's just coloration.

    Should I be concerned?

    Woka
     
  2. katharinad

    katharinad Overrun with chickens

    Black spots on the bill and legs are due to melanin skin pigment. They are normally present (not harmful) but are covered with yellow colored xanthophyll pigment absorbed from feeds containing corn, alfalfa and other feed ingredients containing xanthophyll. In mature breeder ducks, after they have been laying eggs for awhile, more xanthophyll is absorbed by the egg yolk than the duck can consume in her feed. The bill and legs start showing melanin skin pigment due to the bleaching or fading of the xanthophylls.
    Source:
    http://www.metzerfarms.com/FAQ.cfm
     
  3. Violet22

    Violet22 Chillin' With My Peeps

    209
    2
    111
    Jul 3, 2009
    Central Coast, CA
    Great info! I read a long time ago it wasn't anything to worry about, but never really knew what caused it. Thanks, I like knowing why things happen! Mine get alfalfa in water 24/7, some have it and some don't, but maybe now I can tell who eats most of the alfalfa!
     
  4. Wokawidget

    Wokawidget Chillin' With My Peeps

    193
    5
    111
    Jul 7, 2009
    Hmmm interesting.
    Thanks for the replies.

    What on earth is alfalfa?

    Any other foods high in this?

    While it's good to know that it's not harmfull, it does make my ducks bill look funny, so if there's a possibility that I can "cure" it then that would be cool.

    cheers,

    Woka
     
  5. CityChicker

    CityChicker Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,228
    18
    181
    Mar 21, 2009
    To be honest, I am not convinced that answer on the Metzer site is correct (although I'm sure it's partially correct or sometimes correct). I have read repeatedly from other scholarly sources (including I'm sure in my Avian Medicine text, but would have to go searching for it) that those spots are caused by increased hormone levels. I can't even count the number of juvenile birds that I have seen develop them, especially Runners. How then could it be caused by extended periods of egg-laying when the birds haven't even laid to begin with? At any rate, the spots are harmless. Oh and alfalfa is a plant, Wokawidget. Maybe you guys call it something different there? It is used here a lot as roughage (hay) for livestock, either by itself or mixed with some other type of green. It is awesome stuff! I thought it grew everywhere. [​IMG]
     
  6. Violet22

    Violet22 Chillin' With My Peeps

    209
    2
    111
    Jul 3, 2009
    Central Coast, CA
    I forget Alfalfa isn't commonly used everywhere, I had never heard of Timothy hay until I read some where about giving it to ducks. I think it's an East Coast, West Coast thing, tho I did actually see a post for Timothy hay on Craigslist last year........after 25 years of having a horse on Alfalfa I had never heard of it tho. It's always been Alfalfa or Oat hay.
    I get a ton or more at a time for my sheep, goat and horse, and there is always a ton of leaves that fall off, so put a fresh batch in a bowl of water each night so they always have greens. I *think* if they aren't soaked, they can cause problems........I forget what, but I do remember they should be soaked. It's not their favorite thing, but they do nibble on them all day....it's not like peas or lettuce that is gone in seconds!
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by