Extreme feather picking including eating own feathers / cartilage!

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by ChilliDuck, Jan 20, 2013.

  1. ChilliDuck

    ChilliDuck Out Of The Brooder

    May 23, 2012
    Ever since my male call drake was attacked by a fox (Mohammed if you've read the other threads, narrowly escaping with his life) he and his lady duck Daphne have been acting very strangely.

    After making a full recovery after a long (and expensive) stint at the vets Mohammed returned home and things went back to the relative norm.

    However now, a month and a half after the incident, they both have only stubs of wings left and cannot fly at all any more, not even hover! When we try and help them along as we used to by releasing them waist height they literally plop to the floor without even opening them. On inspection when we open their wings they have only stubs left, no longer feathers at all and they look extremely raw. We have been watching them on our sofa for the past hour as well and she is actually ripping any leftover feathers out and eating them. We've never seen them act this way before, it's very worrying, they are beloved pets.

    She in particular is displaying some peculiar behaviour - fanning up any feathers she has left and bending low as if wanting him to mount... (we're worried it's because Mohammed with his hobble (after the fox attack)) cannot have duck intercourse with her any more!) and then after being rejected she topples around quite a lot. REALLY worried, no idea what to do, we don't think it's mites or anything because all of their body feathers are perfectly in tact, it's just what is left of their wings... help!

    Grateful for ANY advice at all.

  2. ChilliDuck

    ChilliDuck Out Of The Brooder

    May 23, 2012
    Attached is a picture of her wing.

  3. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    Are they still in the same environment as they were during the attack?

    This is a guess, but I will offer it. They are both immensely stressed. I would consider making some changes in their housing, and looking into something like Bach's Rescue Remedy or other herbal support for stress.

    Are they getting vitamins, electrolytes, probiotics? Can you contact the vet and see if there is something they can recommend for dealing with stress?

    Some of the changes I would try might be moving their house, moving them into a different shelter at least temporarily, "redecorating," changing type of bedding.
  4. jdywntr

    jdywntr Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 31, 2009
    Somerville, AL
    Feather eating in ducks is usually a nutritional deficincy. In other birds feather pulling is a stress thing but thats usually parrots and I have not heard of it in waterfowl.

    Are they molting? Extreme stress can trigger molting. Increase their protein level, try offering some high quality cat kibble that has a meat protein as the first ingredient. I would also give vitamins, electrolytes, etc. Even as a precaution.

    I do not recall seeing other posts about your drake. Why is he unable to mate? If it is a leg injury, he still may very well be able to mate. The only thing that I am aware of that can cause mating problems is phallus prostration, which would require him to be isolated from females for several months.

    Were the ducks used to being inside and around people as much before the attack? If they weren't the addition of extra interaction with people may contribute to their stress.

    With many species, a return to their normal environment is soothing, less change = less stress.
  5. yo burrill

    yo burrill Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 20, 2012
    Garland, ME
    They can moult during stressful times. Pic looks as though the feathers are growing back. This can be very irritating for them. The new feathers are full of blood and very heavy so this may be why they are not even trying to fly. They need lots of protein when growing back feathers. Kitty kibble is good for that also boiled eggs.
  6. ChilliDuck

    ChilliDuck Out Of The Brooder

    May 23, 2012
    Hi, Thanks for your replies.

    Firstly with regards to Electrolytes, is this the same thing as rehydration sachets that we use when we are sick? (apologies, there our first pet ducks so we are novices.)

    The ducks have been spending more time inside with us since the attack. The drake was on antibiotics for 3 weeks so we kept them both inside as we needed to keep his wound clean. Since he has recovered we’ve had sub-zero temperatures in London, so we’ve been putting them out during the day and bring them in at night in order to ease them back. Perhaps its time to leave them in their house full time now.

    Thanks x
  7. ChilliDuck

    ChilliDuck Out Of The Brooder

    May 23, 2012
    Another thing to note is she has become much more aggressive. Normally the drake would attack me when ever I put my hand in to change their water or food. But recently she has started attacking me also, in fact she does it more then the drake now.

    I've always played up to this, allowed them to bite/peck my hands and had a playfull little scrap with them. Should I stop doing this?
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2013
  8. jdywntr

    jdywntr Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 31, 2009
    Somerville, AL
    I would check at your local feed/agricultural store to see what they have for supplements. I would probably try to intergrate them back to their normal habitat. Since she is not in great feather, just make sure that they have a cozy place to bed down. Extra straw/bedding will help and ensure that they have a draft free area.

    The female may be attacking more because the male is not. She may be protective of him now. With most ducks, I'd recommend not allowing this behavior. They are small though so won't do much damage but I know I wouldn't want to deal with it every time. It may be hard to stop now though. If anything, I'd probably wait until they are both more recovered before any retraining starts.

    Here is the information for a supplement that's available over here.

    Sav-A-Chick[​IMG] Electrolyte & Vitamin Supplement is an excellent concentrated poultry electrolyte and vitamin supplement for use in drinking water of all domestic poultry and waterfowl.
    • Designed specifically for small backyard flocks
    • Each convenient, pre-measured packet mixes into one gallon of drinking water
    • Formulated specifically for poultry: chickens, ducks, turkeys, and other domestic poultry and waterfowl
    • Safe for chicks and adult birds
    • Supports hydration and bird health during periods of hot weather or other stress
    • Retail unit is a 3-strip of 1/4 oz packets, packed 20 3-strips in a pop-up display carton (3 display cartons per master carton)
    Potassium chloride, sodium citrate, sodium bicarbonate, salt, vitamin D3 supplement, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), vitamin A supplement, vitamin E supplement, niacin supplement (vitamin B3), magnesium sulfate, calcium pantothenate (vitamin B5), folic acid (vitamin B9), menadione sodium bisulfite complex (vitamin K), vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin supplement (vitamin B2), pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), artificial color, silicon dioxide.
    Guaranteed Analysis:
    Salt (min.): 8.0%
    Salt (max.): 9.0%
    Sodium (min.): 14.0%
    Sodium (max.): 14.5%
    Potassium (min.): 15.0%
    Vitamin A (min.): 1,280,000 IU/lb.
    Vitamin D3 (min.): 3,200,000 IU/lb.
    Vitamin E (min.): 960 IU/lb.
    Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) (min.): 2560 mg/lb.
    Vitamin B12 (min.): 1.9 mg/lb.
    Directions For Use:
    Mix one individual packet (approx. 1/4 ounce) of dry electrolyte powder into one gallon of clean, cool water. Offer the mixed solution for one to five days during hot weather or other stress. Important: Make fresh solution daily.
  9. jak2002003

    jak2002003 Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 24, 2009
    Are you keeping them in the house.

    Maybe they need some time outside in the sunlight with a pool to bath and play around with. If you can take they minds off the feather pulling they will forget it. Let them have a big muddy puddle to dabble in.

    Also give them extra protein - like mashed up eggs (with shells) to help them re grow the feathers.

    I am sure they will be OK.

    Let us know what happens.

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