GOSLING - abnormal wing FEATHER development


In the Brooder
9 Years
Apr 18, 2010
I posted this in the emergency / disease section, but thought I should re-post here as it is goose related. Thanks in advance for your help!

1) What type of bird , age and weight.

Sebastopol goose, 10 weeks old, ?
2) What is the behavior, exactly.
wings are dropped / droopy, and goose seems to be constantly lifting them back up; but, my big concern is that the flight feathers on the ends of wings look abnormal -- they do not seem to be unfurling into feathers -- there is a LONG hard part w/ a little feather sticking out at the very end. I got the Murray McMurray Fancy Goose Package, so I have 10 goslings. Sebastopols are not even listed as an option in the description, but I have 2 w/ fluffy feather backs, which makes me pretty sure that they are Sebastopols. None of the others have had any wing or feather issues -- except a tufted roman who has little feathers coming out of his eyelids, which s/he will need surgery to remove.

3) How long has the bird been exhibiting symptoms?
several weeks
4) Is there any bleeding, injury, broken bones or other sign of trauma.
5) What happened, if anything that you know of, that may have caused the situation.
no idea
6) What has the bird been eating and drinking, if at all.
Normal activity, and the goslings and ducklings have been fed Mazuri Waterfowl food from day 1 -- initially starter, but they are now on Maintenance.

7) How does the poop look? Normal? Bloody? Runny? etc.

8) What has been the treatment you have administered so far?
I once tried to stabilize the wings up into the normal position with a wrap, and that lasted about 1/2 second until the gosling removed it. I have not touched the feathers, b/c I was hoping that they were just slow to "unfurl"

9 ) What is your intent as far as treatment? For example, do you want to treat completely yourself, or do you need help in stabilizing the bird til you can get to a vet?
I would like to know what this feather abnormality is called. I will pursue specialty vet care if needed, but I would like to learn more about the condition before proceeding. We do NOT have local bird vets, but I am willing to drive to a specialist.

10) If you have a picture of the wound or condition, please post it. It may help.
For the life of me I cannot figure out how to put the picture in, but basically, instead of a long full feather with a hard round base -- it's just a long, hard, round base w/ a tiny feather sticking out at the end. So, for some reason, the feather is not "unfurling" and breaking out of the hard base.

11) Describe the housing/bedding in use
These geese are now "free range" on just over an acre w/ 2 kiddie swimming pools of water that are emptied, cleaned, and refilled at least once a day - sometimes twice. They choose whether to sleep on the grass pasture or on the straw in their barn / shelter.

So, the goose is active, eating, swimming, and keeping up w/ his / her siblings in every way -- just can't yet keep wings UP and wings have those weird feathers. I have to suspect that the weird feather development on the wings may be making them heavier and thus more difficult to hold up in the normal position. This is NOT angel wing -- they don't turn out -- just fall down as if they are too heavy to keep in place.

Thanks in advance for your help & advice for this little guy!
When the flight feathers start coming in they become very very heavy because they are engorged with blood. Some have trouble holding them up at this time and have to keep pullting them up constantly. What you are describing is normal. When they first develop those long hard sheaths are surrounding the feathers while they are developing but will dry up and they will start preening that off when its ready. If you would happen to notice a curling up and out of the flight feathers later this is called angel wing but that is not what you are describing now. My smallest gosling was doing the same thing you're describing for a couple of weeks but once the blood supply to the feathers decreased she could hold them up normally and everything is fine.
My concern is that this gosling is not developing similarly to the goslings -- not even the other Sebastopol. The feathers are weird -- the sheath around the feather is NOT coming off / being preened off, so the sheath extends the entire length of the flight feathers -- it seems to be very hard and very thick for the length of the feather -- longer than a ball point pen at least, I'd say.
I had read several times to pack up the geese and show up at the vet. You know the saying "It is easier to ask forgiveness than permission" or something like that. Generally if the Yellow Pages say Avian, usually the vet can help you. In fact from what I understand a vet has to learn about all animals.

Quick story: Jesse was limping really hard and I thought something was wrong so I packed him up and took him for a ride to the vet (no phone call ahead of time). I took him in and of course none of the staff saw a 30lb goose walking on a leash before. I explained about the limping and of course the vet saw him. I did not know this but he owns Pilgrims, though none as tame. Long story short Jesse was putting on so he could get a car ride (imagine said 30lb white goose hanging his head out the window of super redneck truck, riding through the hood, talking to folks when ever we stopped at stop lights). He walked with only a slight limp at the vets and ended up having a sprain and possibly a bee sting. We did not have to pay for the visit.
It sounds like angel wing. Do a search on here to see how others have handled it, but basically you need to wrap the wing so that it doesn't fold out completely. I think there should be some pictures on here somewhere of how to wrap it.

ETA: The thing you are describing sounds like the sheath that the new feathers grow in, sometimes it's more obvious than others. I would still try to wrap the wing so it doesn't develop into angel wing, once they get that, it's there for life.
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It's definitely the feather SHEATH that is covering the length of the feather, and I am 99.9% sure that it is NOT angel wing. My understanding is that if the bird can pull the wings back into place, that indicates heavy blood feathers rather than angel wing. The wings do not stick out - just weighed down.

My only hesitation with hauling him / her to the vet is that this gosling is bonded to its flock and it was completely stressed when I tried to rig up a wing support. Our heat index here has been consistently 105 degrees for the past couple of weeks. I would never forgive myself if I stressed this goose and killed it in order to get it to the vet for what seems to be a cosmetic issue -- given that the bird is eating, swimming, energetic, and having a good time with its flock. If its behavior was "off" in any way indicating it didn't feel well or was suffering, we would have been at the vet.

In my reading, it seems that sometimes you have to help remove the sheath from the pin feathers. Has anyone had any experience with this? It's just weird, because the goose is swimming and preening afterwards. I am wondering if maybe s/he isn't grooming these flight feathers because they hurt.
If they are not flipped out and just hanging down, they are ok, just heavy from all the blood supply to the base of the feathers. Just watch them so they don't flip out and if they do either use duct tape or vet wrap and put the wing back into place and tape only the wing ,not around the body.
Yup, definitely just hanging down like they are too heavy, and s/he keeps lifting them back into place. That would be the ONLY sign of any discomfort - the frequent lifting the wings into place, but it doesn't seem to bother the goose at all -- just bothers me :0 And the sheathed feathers make ME extremely uncomfortable just looking at them, but, again, the goose seems unfazed.
I wouldn't worry about it then, it will all straighten out. I had 3 canada goslings that did that a lot this year, and it worried me too. I had an american blue gosling that developed angel wing at the young age of 5 weeks old last year, so I was super observant of these guys as they were growing. Luckily, none of them or the 2 domestic goslings I have developed it, and eventually their little muscles caught up with their new load
Seriously, don't worry about it. I worried over my gosling that had that problem for close to two weeks. I only had one out of my four goslings unable to hold his wings up and you are correct that on the other three you couldn't really see the long long sheaths because they were able to hold them up and they are hidden when they are held up. The sheaths on my gosling was every bit as long as a ball point pen. It really will resolve itself once the blood supply decreases

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