Introducing New Adult Ducks to My Flock

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by User353335, Nov 16, 2015.

  1. User353335

    User353335 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 17, 2015
    I tried to search the forum, and read up a bunch before posting, but I figured this one might deserve it's own post.

    My wife and I acquired two new ducks this past weekend. We have a small flock of three currently (drake + two ducks). Our ducks are extremely well adjusted to us, and are basically as tame as you get. I can walk up and pick up the drake and carry him around. All of our ducks have always taken food from our hands, and even will climb on us.

    We went to visit the "new" ducks with the intention of getting 2 additional female ducks - we knew a drake would be a bad idea, and the way I see it, we got so lucky with how tame our drake is now, I didn't want anything to upset him. When we got to the location where the new ducks were, we were a little shocked. The former owner was a super nice guy, and seemed to really care about his ducks, but the ducks were seriously overcrowded - hence why he was selling some. The ducks were remarkably skiddish, even by duck standards. They looked a bit emaciated/skinny and smelt *terrible.*

    We took the two ducks (it almost felt like a rescue mission - we couldn't leave them there.)

    Due to the fact that they were a bit less adjusted than we originally thought, we didn't want to mingle them with our flock immediately. We gave them an isolated kiddie pool (kiddie pool with a baby gate fence around it so our current flock could see them, but not get to them) and I noticed right away they had "wet feather." The ducks didn't look like they ever had a chance to take a proper bath. They bathed immediately and preened right away for 10+ minutes. The seemed skiddish, but at least they were acting like "ducks." When they got in the water, I immediately noted that their feathers almost instantly were waterlogged. They didn't seem to repelling water properly. I'd never seen this on adult ducks before. I did some research and saw it could be due to mites or lice, poor living conditions, or poor fed. We checked their skin carefully, and saw no sign of these parasites (I hope they don't have them - ew). I am wondering if they had such cramped living conditions that they were not able to preen and bathe properly.

    Well, I guess that's some background.... right now, we have the 2 new ducks in a dog carrier where the current flock can see them. They've yet to eat or drink other than bathing and splashing in the pool as mentioned before. They are extremely scared of - well - everything. I'm trying to get them used to us, but they won't even accept food from our hands. They won't eat at all. They just seem petrified of everything. They try to run THROUGH the dog carrier and I'm afraid they're gonna hurt themselves. I left water outside the dog carrier (with a hole large enough for them to get their bills through) with some nutridrench and they didn't touch it overnight. I put food in this morning and they didn't touch that either. I noticed hunter green poops, but maybe that was due to grass they ate when outside in the pool - at least that's what I'm hoping (I know green poop can be a BAD sign). Right now they are still in a large (3 foot by 2 foot) dog carrier with our ducks on the other side of a chicken wire "window" so they can se each other. Our current flock is showing a moderate aggression towards the new ducks (and the new ducks showing it back) - one of our ducks even stuck it's head through the dog carrier, and grabbed the other duck in the breast and wouldn't let go (it was our most timid duck too!) I know we should probably let them "work it out" but I'm afraid the underweight, new ducks will get picked on so fiercely they will get even MORE skiddish. I'd really like to socialize them well, so they know we aren't someone to hate and they at least can trust us enough to eat. They absolutely need to eat food, in order to recover, and the winter is coming.

    I know probably the best answer is to give it time, but I'm not sure how long. Do I mingle the new ducks and old ducks? Do I let the new ducks into the old ducks pen for a while so they can socialize for a bit? Do I totally keep them isolated? Both new ducks and the old flock seem to be freaking out with that fence between them. They won't stop staring at each other and trying to get through to each other. Help !
     
  2. User353335

    User353335 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 17, 2015
    Quick update, they appear to now be eating. We left them alone for a while, and they ate their feed that I put inside their dog kennel. We're still keeping them separate, but our ducks are now acting less aggressive towards them, and more normal. Maybe they're just taking time to adjust?

    The new ducks just stare at us when we try to hand feed them... I think that may come with time and maybe once they see the rest of the flock trusts us, they'll begin to trust us too. I'm confident that will come with time. They are now having more solid poops that are greenish/tan. That seems more "normal" to me.

    Today, we'll continue to keep them separated by fencing and make sure they have some lukewarm water to swim in. Hopefully, they'll preen their "wet feather" condition away. I don't want to "over treat" them... and I've seen that with water exposure, ducks seem to resolve most of their issues without intervention.
     
  3. User353335

    User353335 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 17, 2015
    Well, since no one really got back to me, I had to do something [​IMG]. For others, I'll continue to update you in case you find yourself in our situation.

    We continued isolation through yesterday and we ended up getting a fecal float test done (15 dollars / checks for any worms). Our new ducks were luckily negative. We checked under their feathers with a flashlight for any signs of parasites. We didn't see anything. We checked their vent and all appeared okay. We checked their wings, and those seemed unremarkable. With feed, their poop is normal. They have drank vitamin water and now have a healthy (ravenous) appetite. Their feet are free of bumblefoot. For negatives, as far as their health is concerned, they appear drastically underweight and they still have wet feather. I'm concerned with this condition as we enter into winter... tonight it's going to be around 30 degrees.

    Because of the weather, and the (hopefully) lack of disease from the ducks, we decided to put them with our other birds today. They appeared to fuss for a while, but eventually, everyone's settled into their roles. We're watching them very carefully, but they appear to get along well. They seem less stressed together (both the new ducks, and our existing flock). Our drake seems to keep the ladies in line [​IMG]

    Now for the wet feather, I've been giving them lots of nutrients to try to make them as strong as possible. I'm also allowing them open access to water, and they seem to bathe and preen several times a day. I'm thinking I should give it a week or two before I intervene anymore.

    They already look like "new" ducks... hopefully, we can fatten them up and get them with some proper feathers in the next few weeks. Has anyone had any experience with this "wet feather"?
     
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  4. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    Hi,

    It's been quite the week for me . . . I found your post and am responding.

    First, thank you for taking them in. Sometimes I think things can get away from folks and their flocks, and they end up with overcrowding and the problems that follow from that.

    Glad they don't have parasites - you are doing things very well by the ducks.

    I have a rescued duck and her feathers were in what sounds like similar shape to your new ducks. She became waterlogged after getting into water (perhaps for the first time ever). In a few months, her feathers are now in much better shape, and I expect that after a molt they will be fine.

    In the meantime, she is eating Countryside Organic non-corn, non-soy layer feed or Mazuri Breeder. Those are the two best feeds I can get. She is content - gets along well with the rest of the flock - and so I am optimistic.

    Ducks can be very resilient, but they can be slow to relax - based on the history of your new ducks, give it time. Offer treats, but not out of the hand at first - just set them near the ducks and talk to them. You seem to have good instincts - I just want to encourage you. Each duck is unique. Some take longer to come out of their anxiety. I have three rescues who will always be a bit shy, but they have come a long way since the first day.
     
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  5. User353335

    User353335 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the feedback. I'm glad to hear that the "wet feather" seemed to be self resolving with some quality feed and nutrition. We will continue to focus on that. I've read so much online that conflicts... some places say to keep the duck OUT of water with wet feather, others say to encourage the duck to bathe. What's a duck owner to do!? Haha... My instincts tell me that denying a duck access to water isn't beneficial for almost any reason. The water tubs we have are not large enough were they will sink to the bottom and drown. I think they need the water to clean up their feathers and preen.

    We've been definitely trying to show them we are trust worthy by putting treats near us. We also go in and talk to them as you advised. They seem less spooked already (initially, they would do the famous "duck climb on top of other duck in corner and don't look at you because we're deathly afraid" move). They now seem to just kind of walk away from us if we come in. Our drake seems to keep them calm - when they freak out he gives them a little nibble (not hard) on the back of the neck and they calm down. It's a bit strange... maybe he's saying "snap out of it..." in ducky language. When he does that, they seem much calmer.

    I'm encouraged knowing someone else has had good luck with a rescue. I must stay, I had no idea what we were in for... raising ducklings is much easier than adopting, but we couldn't leave these two girls in those conditions. I hope the other ducks were adopted to good homes also so they'll have the best shot at recovery. Will continue to update.
     
  6. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    Great report. I agree that for me, rescues have been more challenging. At the same time, I love each one and I an glad to have them. Please keep us posted. This will help others.

    I think actual wet feather s a parasite infestation, and the sdvice to avoid water is for those who don't have resources for "intensive care" of ducks. We know with our little sinker, drowning and hypothermia are two concerns we manage to avoid.
     
  7. User353335

    User353335 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The "wet feather" condition still persists, although appears to be getting significantly better. I don't think it will ever be totally resolved until they have a molt, but at least it's not so bad. I'm guessing that the two new ducks didn't have enough water to swim in at their old house, so they haven't quite been as excited to "jump in" as our ducks are. They're definitely learning that water can be fun though, and once they are in the water, we've begun to notice they really preen - a lot. They've cleaned themselves up, and we've even noticed the other ducks helping to preen them. I haven't seen much information about preening being a social activity, but apparently, it's normal for ducks to preen each other. I captured a video. It's really awesome to see how well they're getting a long in the flock.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 8, 2015
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  8. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    Similar to what I am seeing with my newest rescue. Her feathers now repel water, though I have not seen her try to get in again (she tried a couple of times soon after rescue and was drenched).

    In spring when it's warm again, we'll see how it goes. Hoping now she holds off on molting (cold weather due tonight, for the duration). But if she winter-molts, as some of my Runners do, we'll take care that she doesn't get chilled.

    Great progress report on yours!
     
  9. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Running over with Blessings Premium Member

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    That video is so cute they are really helping each other out there makes me think of the saying You scratch my back I'll scratch yours. Gorgeous ducks..

    My older ducks always get wet feather usually latter half of summer then they molt and grow in all new feathers. Yours will molt out all their old ones and look beautiful too. Along with the great food and care they they will be fine. Extra protein seems to help here, I use a good dog kibble.
     
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  10. User353335

    User353335 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you! My wife nor I had ever seen any mutual preening behavior among ducks, so I grabbed some fast video of it. From my research I think it's fairly unusual behavior for ducks.

    I am so happy with the improvements we've seen over the past couple of weeks with the rescue ducks. I hope they continue to get better. They definitely are starting to warm up to us... Still won't reliabily eat from our hands yet. Time will hopefully help.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 8, 2015

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