My little guy needs help (mallard)


6 Years
Sep 3, 2013

I hatched some mallards last year and love them. This year they decided to expand their family again and I had 6 new little babies on July 1st. At hatching, 2 were noticeably smaller than the other 5, but after a few weeks one of them caught up to the others leaving just 1 runt. I thought he would outgrow it too, but once the others started feathering, he was still all downy. A couple weeks later he finally started growing in his feathers but they are grey instead of brown and tiny… he looks very scraggly. He is not picked on, fits in with the family fine. He is active along with the rest, however when the other ducks swim in the pond, he usually sits on the rock and waits for them to come out. I am hoping someone will know what is wrong with him and even more so that there is something I can do for him! I took a couple of pictures… the daylight ones are about a week old, the darker are from a few minutes ago. I wish I remembered to take them earlier today! I can take better pictures in the daytime and add them if necessary.

Any advice would be GREATLY appreciated!!!

Don't know, he's cute though. Does he swim if you put him in the water? My guess is just some sort of genetic difference or variable in him. As long as he's not getting picked on or intimidated by the others guess he would be fine. Maybe someone with more knowledge than me will chime in here. He's super cute!
There are cases of one duckling in a cohort just not developing like the rest. Elfie was about two weeks behind, and with ducklings, you know that's significant! She finally caught up when everyone was about seven months old, and she still seemed mentally slow, but after a year she was as sharp as a tack! Feisty little thing, now. Sweet, too, lets me pet her and snuggle with her.

So. I would make sure to give poultry vitamins with electrolytes and probiotics, fresh vegetable snacks (there is a sticky at the top of the forum), maybe some cat kibble for protein. Others may have some specific vitamins in mind, like B-complex, perhaps.

yes, he can swim... I am guessing he just gets cold. He is starting to grow in his long wing feathers, but they are sooo skinny. Not at all like the other ducks, more like 1/4 inch wide.
You might supplement that little guy with some extra protein in the feed for a short time too. But only him, because too much protein isn't healthy for your older ducks. I provide my ducks a little extra during molting to aid with feather development, plus I've noticed the broody moms choose to eat the higher protein too.
does the protein help the males molt correctly? My males are half brown and half grey and they seem to be stuck in the middle of the molt cycle. My brother's ducks did the same though they had turned a beautiful green grey when they were 6-8 months old. Come spring they turned 1/2 and 1/2 and have kind of stayed that way. It is still changing, but SOOO slowly!
Well it's still early. My drakes have not started their molts at all yet. The protein will work to build cells, so your slow developer should gain a little weight plus the protein should aid in the feather development. Not sure where you're located, but if you get lots of snow, I don't think adding a bit extra fuel for his furnace is a bad thing... Just not too long tho!! Excess protein will lead to problems down the line if not handled judiciously. (Angel wing & too much weight) ... But in the case of your slow developer, is do it, just for a week or so and see how he responds. Can't recall if this was already discussed, but is he getting ample real estate at the feeder, or is he being sort of shouldered-out by the bigger ducks?
Hes an absolute cutie, your ducks are gorgeous.

My little drake was very slow, he was scared of water at first. Hes 6 now and he loves the pond. I think its a matter of care and time and he will come up fine.
thanks everyone... I am trying with the extra lettuce and higher protein and will look at vitamins (didnt even know they had them for ducks!) He is still about the same right now, acts great... looks funny.

Unfortunately I am having a predator problem. I was very sad to lose "mama" duck last week. I thought this little guy would be the highest risk, but instead I lost one of his siblings a few weeks ago and "mama" last week. Guessing it is a fox, but I borrowed a trail cam to try and see for sure. I lost 2 of my original 7 in the beginning of the spring after a full year without even a hint of problems, and then after fixing the weak spot in their overnight pen there was no more sign of trouble. Now they are disappearing in broad daylight )-:

As for swimming, I worked extremely hard to get my first 7 ducks (incubator hatched) to go in the pond and after several weeks finally got them to stay in the water even when I went inside... at least until someone unknowingly turned on the fountain that was tipped sideways in the water creating a strong current and scared them for good! After that it was a full year and despite many attempts, nothing I did could get them within 3 feet of it. After Mama duck hatched her family of 6 this summer, I picked up the babies and put them in the water at a few days old. That apparently convinced the adults the Loch Ness Monster was NOT in the pond and now they are out there most of the day every day. Looks so fun to see them out there splashing!
Glad your ducks finally got back in the water - sounds like a good setup you have! My male ducks have lost all their color, and have not gained it back as well as I had hoped. Some of my ducks flew south last winter, and when they came back this srping, the males were in perfect color, where as the ones that stayed with me over the winter did not have near as much color. Shows that ducks know how to take care of themselves, despite all the time, effort and money we put into taking care of them. Sorry for your losses, hope you catch your fox.

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