Duck Without Working Oil Gland

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by DucksinOR, Oct 15, 2016.

  1. DucksinOR

    DucksinOR Out Of The Brooder

    Hi Y'all!

    Two of our duck hens hatched out some Anconas this summer. One of the Ancona hens does not have a properly working oil glad. I have rubbed her down with coconut oil a few times (someone told me that worked, but it didn't really do all that much), but with all the rain we have been having the last few days, she was completely soaked this evening when I went to put the poultry to bed. I brought her in, dried her off and rubbed her down with a coconut/beeswax blend. (I thought maybe the beeswax would stick better than just plain coconut oil)

    Are there any other kinds of oils that would work better? Anything else I could do to help her get at least a little waterproof?

    Thanks!
    A soggy Oregon poultry keeper
     
  2. chickens really

    chickens really Overrun With Chickens

    I have never heard of that, ever....Strange....Does she bath lots? That is how the oil gland becomes active...Hmmmm.....Strange...
     
  3. PINOAK RIDGE

    PINOAK RIDGE Chillin' With My Peeps

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    First we have to figure out the reason your duck's oil gland isn't working properly. Does she have access to clean bathing water? If so, does she use it? Do you see her preen and using her oil gland? A duck's oil gland works on supply and demand. Kind of like our muscles--the more they use it, the better it works. If she does bathe and preen, then you need to have her checked for a clogged oil gland or an infection in it and have it treated.

    This is the first time in all my years (almost 30 years breeding and raising domestic and exotic waterfowl) that I've heard on anyone putting coconut oil or any other type oil/wax on their ducks. Personally, it sounds odd to me, and makes me leery of possible infection. But if you can provide scientific information on the benefits, I have an open mind and love to learn new topics. Over the years I have seen and experienced many odd situations, that if someone had told me, I admit I would have been skeptical, but having seen them first hand know that strange things can and do happen. Thank you.

    Hope this helps. Enjoy your ducks.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2016
  4. Ren2014

    Ren2014 Blessed Beyond Hope Premium Member

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    X2 how do you know it's not working? How old is the duck?
     
  5. PINOAK RIDGE

    PINOAK RIDGE Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Going by OP's comment, "she was completely soaked tonight from the rain". A healthy, well conditioned duck will not be completely soaked. Ever heard the old saying, like water off a duck's back? Water droplets should bead up & roll off a ducks' feathers. [​IMG]

    OP stated they were hatched this summer and one of the hens doesn't have a properly working oil gland.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2016
  6. DucksinOR

    DucksinOR Out Of The Brooder

    It does not seem work properly, there is some oil on it, but not much. She is a little over 2 months old.

    So I should have added more of the back story. The breeders, good friends of mine, I got the eggs from have had two with the same problem. One's started working when she was about 3 months old, but the other one's never started producing oil. I bought the eggs for two broody ducks we had. I didn't candle the eggs before putting them under. The first time I candled they were about a week along. When I candled them, I noticed that one of the eggs had a sort of double air sack. Kind of shaped like a figure 8. The duckling was developing, so I didn't have the heart to abort it. I figured that if the duckling hatched it would probably have some sort of problem. When she hatched, she never really got fluffy. Her baby fluff was super brittle, and she was afraid of the water. I thought that since she was with a mother duck, she would at least get some sort of waterproofing, but she never did.

    I have seen her preen some, but not as much as the other ducks. She loves playing in puddles, but I'm not sure if she gets in the pools (cleaned daily) and takes baths. (I work, so am not home much to watch) I talked with the breeders and they said they had heard of other people with ducks who have oil problems and they put a small amount of coconut oil on their glands and it helped. Her gland does not look infected or seem to bother her. I'm not really sure what is wrong with her. I thought maybe adding a very small amount of beeswax to the coconut oil would help her stay a little more waterproof. Her adult feather are also quite brittle, but I'm guessing that is just from the lack of oil?

    If oil glands work like muscles, which makes perfect sense, she might just be lazy. :/
     
  7. PINOAK RIDGE

    PINOAK RIDGE Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hmmm. Well seems like you have ruled out clogged or infected oil gland and she has access to bathing water. From your back story it doesn't really sound parasitic either. Since you have other waterfowl and have talked to neighboring breeders, I would lean towards it being a genetic issue. Possibly a vitamin deficiency or maybe a malabsorption issue. Does she free range? What percentage protein is her provided feed? May try increasing her protein and oil in her diet, just to see if it has any affect. Either way, I, personally. would cull these individuals from the gene pool and not have them reproducing.

    A ducks feathers work in multiple ways. One is thermoregulation. They fluff their feathers to trap air inside the layers, as this provides additional insulation. If the duck has brittle or ragged feathers, the ability to maintain it's body temperature is seriously impaired.

    Next is waterproofing. Ducks preen to tighten the weave of their feathers and add a thin layer of oil which waterproofs them and causes water to bead off their feathers. This process also makes waterfowl buoyant.

    Please keep us updated.
     
  8. DucksinOR

    DucksinOR Out Of The Brooder

    Yes, our ducks free range, and have a compost pile teeming with worms and other yummy wriggly critters. I mix my own feed which has around 15-16% protein, and roughly 6% crude fat. I'm planning on adding sprouted field peas to their diet to boost the protein.

    I was wondering if it might be genetic. Could the misshaped air sack have caused any problems? I thought I had read that funky shaped air sacks could lead to problems. We have no plans on culling her, and we also have no plans on breeding her. :) I know that the breeders did cull the drake that never got oil, but I'm not sure about their hen. We already have a few other special ducks in our flock. :) I'm planning on applying more oil tomorrow, we will see if continuing to apply it helps. My sister said the duck, Soggy Rose, looked less soggy tonight when she put them to bed. We will just have to keep an eye on her and see how she does as the weather gets colder.

    I'll let you know how her feathers look tomorrow. :)

    Thanks!
     
  9. Ravynscroft

    Ravynscroft For the Love of Duck Premium Member

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    I know that there are definitely ways to help keep her feathers oiled, I just can't remember what was best to use for it... but I seem to recall at least one duck that got injured in the tail area that damaged their oil gland, I believe...

    @Miss Lydia
    @Amiga

    Was it either of you that knows what can be substituted for a ducks natural oils?
     
  10. PINOAK RIDGE

    PINOAK RIDGE Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh, want to be sure you or anyone else doesn't misinterpret my comment about culling. I only meant culling from a breeding program, as even special needs ducks make wonderful pets. [​IMG] Personally, I don't think it is caused by misshapen air sack, but that is only my opinion. I do not have facts to provide in that regard. We are hoping for the best for you and the ducks.
     

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