Pekin Duck — Molting/Struggling to Walk


In the Brooder
May 6, 2020
Illinois, USA
My pekin duck — Willow — has always been bigger than her sister — Sugar — but it’s been getting bad as of recent. Since they started getting bigger, Willow struggles to catch up to Sugar.

I bought these two standard pekin ducks back in May from McMurray Hatchery, so they’re seven months old now. Willow layed her first egg back on September 30th, and she seems to be getting worse and worse. She has been heavily molting as well, and her bigger primary feathers have all fallen out. I read on an older forum post that I should see if there’s heat emitting from her feet, so I will do that promptly.

I always provide a clean yard, pool, water and living space for my ducks, so I do not believe that is the negative factor. They are currently on 16% egg-layer feed from Agrimaster.

Whenever Sugar runs somewhere, she is always super fast, while Willow struggles to take step. When she does, 99% of the time she falls onto her belly and seemingly slowly gets back up and waddles onward. It is also insanely difficult for her to get in and out of pools, so I cannot risk keeping a pool in their run (unless that’s just my anxiety talking) in fear that Willow will somehow get herself into a life-threatening situation (hence why she’s so dirty, could *that* be why she’s molting???).

Sugar is absolutely fine, but her sister is another case.

Do I take Willow to the vet ASAP, is it just the pekin duck breed, could it be the feed she’s on (or not on)? Please help!!

I attatched an image of her tail and wing feathers as she jumped into the pool when I was filling it with new water this morning. This is this morning, around 9am CST.


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I wanted to add that my pekin has had a horrible time with bumblefoot. That can be life threatening.
She has a tough time getting in and out of her pool too. I have to put her in and give her a while to splash and clean herself (sometimes it's a half hour) and then get her out. She'll do it sometimes on her own, but to keep her and her feathers healthy, i have to make sure she does this every day. It does seem like the heavy breeds take a little more TLC but they're worth it!
I mention this but it sounds like your sweet girl has more important issues that need addressing, on top of this.
Niacin is super important to heavy breeds like this. Do you supplement with any B vitamins or give her Niacin? I'm certainly not saying this is what she needs, but it's worth looking into. I'm sure one of the experts will be on tonight or in the morning.
Sometimes egg layer feed can be harmful to ducks (don't worry its a very common unintentional mistake 99% of us have made) especially without the added niacin. Normally the issues won't show until they are older though and without physically seeing your girl move I can't say thats it. But a couple more questions, is she still eating and drinking normally? Besides not walking and the molting does she otherwise seem fine? No bubbles coming from eyes/nose? No bubbly poo? Or out of the ordinary duck poo? Checked for mites/ticks/maggots or the likes? Hopefully the pros are along soon
Her poor feather condition is likely correlated directly with her current leg problem. Ducks rely on bathing to maintain their feathers, if they're not getting in the water a few times a day for whatever reason (leg problem), gunk and dirt will fill their feathers, they eventually stop putting oil on the feathers, and you have a very dirty/nonwater repellent looking bird.

The only way to work this out is to make sure she gets in the water at least once a day. In addition, keep a little sprayer out there, and give her feathers a good light mist often. That will hopefully encourage her to preen the feathers, and distribute those natural oils.

In regards to her leg problem, it would be good if you post a video of her walking and a few pictures of her feet. If her feet are pointed inwards slightly, and she almost trips over her own feet, you're most likely dealing with a niacin deficiency. That can be set on by feeding them a diet formulated for chickens, as chicken feed doesn't contain enough amounts of niacin for proper development. If she's more limping, look at the bottom of her feet for any black cores, or swelling.

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