Ducklings biting wing feathers off


14 Years
Sep 19, 2009
Central NC
This is the second time I've had this happen with ducklings in the past ~month. When they start getting their fingertip flight feathers in, someone ends up getting their feather tips but off so badly that they bleed. Both times it has been a Cayuga duckling that got his feathers bit off. They're almost all Cayugas or mixes so it doesn't seem like it's a coloring issue. They're all close to the same age. I have 5 the same age as Stu, he duckling who got his "fingers" bit off this morning so I don't understand why Stu got singled out. I don't see the wings turning out at all like they would with angel wing. Not sure if angel wing tempts others to nibble at feathers anyway. Poor Stu's wing tip was bleeding so much that it matted his body feathers below his wing down. I cleaned him and put styptic powder on the bleeding feather tips to get them to stop bleeding. I have him separated from his siblings with a bit of fence now because I didn't want anyone to hurt him more. When this happened with the other duck, Desmond, the meanies ended up biting the wing tip feathers off both of his wings. His wings look fine now. I just don't understand why they'd single one out and chew his finger feathers off. Any ideas?
no clue to why they would be doing this. is there more than one drake? and how many total? I am gonna tag someone that is more experienced with ducks.
They have toys and they're on a higher (20%) protein starter/grower cut with cooked brown/wild rice or oatmeal. They wouldn't eat the lower protien grower finisher when I switched them over. I'm not sure how many drakes yet because this group is mostly around 5-6 wks or younger. Every time I think someone's voice is changing enough for me to guess gender it sounds different a day or two later. But the one I've seen nip at wings, I think is a girl. It's a white layer named "Mr. Snuggies". He only nips at the wing tips of the Cayugas. I guess I was mostly concerned that the Cayuga wings were getting nipped because the other ducklings could see angel wing starting. One of my Cayuga adults has it and I'm not sure if the babies are more likely to develop it because of genetics. But Desmond's wings still look nice and smooth against his body so I don't think he has angel wings. Unless getting his wing tip feathers nipped off somehow managed to stop it from developing. That sounds really unlikely though.
Okay so the feed is being changed so not balanced nutrition anymore.
I'd definitely get them into a bigger area outside with lots of stimulating things to do..
Now you mentioned a white bird is the wing chewer? I'm thinking you have more Drakes than you think?
They seem to be nipping at colors that stand out. Someone other than Mr Snuggies is nipping too but I'm not sure who. If someone gets a bit of food or poo on them, someone will peck at it. The whitish whatever it's called...the stuff that covers the feathers when they first come out... Whatever that part of new feathers is called, it stands out a lot against the black feathers. They seem to be aiming for that white part when they nip. I'm not sure they're actually trying to pull the feather out. From the couple times I've seen it happen, it looks like the nipper pecks at the white part of the new feather and the guy getting nipped yells and jumps away and the feather either breaks or gets pulled out. The nipper also peeps loudly and jumps and the feather falls to the ground if it got pulled out.
I know they need more space. That's the plan. They get pool and play time outside several times a day but I don't currently have an area where I can leave them out unsupervised.
I'm sure I'll find that I have "too many" drakes but I also assume they're all boys until they make it obvious that they're not boys. I just haven't seen this nipping behavior in my duckling groups that were all white layers. The only thing that seems different is how much that new feather "sheath" stands out against the black feathers compared to white feathers. The nipping that leads to feathers breaking looks very similar to the way they'd nip at each others leg bands when I first put them on. I was half tempted to try putting Blu-kote on a black duckling's wing to see if that would dye the white until it flakes off to see if that helps prevent the nipping. The Blu-kote color seems almost dark enough to blend in with black feathers.
Feather shafts it can happen in the best of flocks. Sometimes it’s crowding, boredom, something attracts them like the new feather shafts. Are they outside? Pool to play in room to forage? 20% protein is fine it’s what is in Purina’s flock raiser that many have their duckling an adult birds on. They aren’t sure what causes angel wing could be excess protein could be genetic could be both. It can be fixed though if caught in time.
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They do get pool and forage time, not all day though because of that dog. There's no leash law in our area so there's nothing "wrong" with a dog just roaming. Which unfortunately means dogs get dumped off around here. Especially when all the shelters are full. We've been adopted by 4 dogs and 2 cats that just showed up over the years. I've considering fencing my front flower garden area off so the ducklings can play in there and eat plants that won't last much longer (like some crazy marigolds that are at least 3'x3'...never saw a single marigold plant grow that big before) but I'll have to pull the dangerous ones like my morning glories first. That's the only garden I can see easily and get to quickly from inside the house.
A couple of the black ducklings are a little clumsy sometimes. Like they'll accidentally step on their own foot, trip and stumble into someone else which makes the second guy angry. They haven't nipped about that before though. The nipping just started when these guys started getting these new wing feathers. They were nipping at those new feather shafts in the pool this morning too. Pool time is usually very fun and drama free. I picked up a bottle of Duravet liquid B today in case the clumsiness is a b vitamin issue. I also got them a few mealworm cakes to give them a different "toy" to nibble on. After looking at he ingredients I realized these are probably a lot cheaper to make than buy... they're just gelatin and mealworms.
When I separate a nipped baby out from the rest, the rest all seem rather sad. Like they're being punished.
Hopefully my husband will have time to help me build a new house for the ducks soon. Poor guy has been working long hours lately. I told him I think we should plan to build it as big as we can without needing a permit (apparently we need a permit for a building with any dimension over 12'). Even if I manage to re-home some of these babies, I've now realized it's better to have extra space.
Before we get too far into finalizing plans for the new house, I figured it couldn't hurt to ask about house and "run" size. The 2 houses they currently have (for the 8 oldest babies, 4 parents and 4 chickens) are 8'x5' (I think, can't find my notebook with measurements right now and have a terrible memory lately) and their fenced in yard area is approximately 5,775 sq ft. Their houses are inside the fenced area but they're on piers so they pick for bugs and hide out under their houses...not sure if I need to subtract house square footage from yard size when trying to determine if the yard is big enough. We can probably add another 100-150' of perimeter without having to relocate trails/paths in the yard. 5,775 sq ft doesn't look like a big yard but...I've seen house listings with lots smaller than that...I can't imagine my yard being that small. Anyway. If I could teach them all to follow me better without getting distracted, I'd love to fence in other parts of our yard to let them eat bugs and stuff but that's more of a long range goal.

Also, about the b vitamins, I never thought of b vitamins being mood vitamins but after getting some of that Duravet liquid yesterday they turned into absolute sweethearts. They want to snuggle in my lap now and give sweet ducky hugs.

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