pulling out all the feathers on the new duckling.

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by sprouticus, Oct 22, 2012.

  1. sprouticus

    sprouticus Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 22, 2012
    this july 7 I got ducks for the first time.....mostly for eggs. i've never even had chickens before. We got 3 cayugas that were 4 months old, (now 7-8)and a cayuga/runner cross that was about 7 months old (now 11).....all females. We have a large garden / vineyard area that has an 8 foot deer fence around it which i thought would be perfect for a few ducks. I built a 5'x8'x4' shelter....and am currently using pine wood chips on the ground where the ducks go at night....they are really easy to get in their shelter now. i put a light on a timer in there, which is on a few hours before sunrise, and a few hour after sunset...giving them 17 hours of light total. I also filled an old kiddie pool for them. i feed them pellets and cracked corn, and occasionally some veggie /fruit scraps. I offer oyster shell/baked and crumbled egg shell as well. they free range for bugs and plants during the day. I should also say that we live in southern B.C. Canada, and it has started to drop below freezing at night. The cross layed her first egg sept 24, and has layed almost every day since. the cayugas have yet to lay. On sept 30, we got four more ducks.

    we got a runner duck and a runner drake.....both about 7 months old at the time (now 8) and 2 baby cayugas about 1 month old (now 2). The new runner duck started to lay within a couple of days, and now lays every second day or so. At least i suspect its the cross and the runner that are laying, as the eggs are an off white or a slightly greenish color...not blackish like i suspect a cayuga egg is supposed to be. All i know for sure is I get 1-2 eggs a day for the last month.

    I would like my cayugas to start laying....but suspect they won't until the spring. this is not my biggest problem though.

    My cross seems to be the boss of the flock. they tend to follow her, and she is the oldest and biggest of them. the cayugas that i got the same time as her seem to be her posse. the runners, although following the flock, keep back a bit. they don't seem to be either accepted or rejected by my original birds. I have never seen the drake mate, although my gf said she saw them have a good time in the pool a couple of days after we got him.

    My problem is all the ducks, starting with my cross, are picking on the baby cayugas. At first i wasn't concerned, pecking order and all of that...but then i could see the babies were starting to go bald on their back. Not knowing much, I convinced myself that this is how molting worked......but i think that the feather pulling/pecking has gone well beyond molting now. the babies were getting balder on their back everyday....but it seemed to be worse at night while in the coop.....so I put a portable, wire, dog crate in the coop to seperate the babies, but still allow them to get used to each other. 2 weeks ago, we found the smallest baby dead in the coop. For whatever reason, she had tried to get out of the dog crate. she got her head and wings through the wire bars, and got stuck there. it appears the other ducks pecked her to death as most of her feathers were missing. I really feel sorry for the remaining baby as the babies used to be inseperable, and now all the ducks are picking on her exclusively. I have a friend who raises chickens, and she said its just part of nature, and she will start to stand up for herself as she gets bigger....and i have witnessed this on occaision.,

    I don't want to completely seperate the baby from the flock...as i've read ducks are very social. for some reason the baby also perfers the company of her tormentors than she does me. also I don't much want to build a seperate shelter for the one duck. the ducks would have to all stay in the area they are in now, as i have a large dog that would likely eat them if he could. He owns the yard, but can't get in or even see in where the ducks are now and they leave each other alone. My girlfriend will not allow me to bring the duck in the house, and my garage is not a suitable place. my current solution is to leave the dog crate inside the coop, with the door of the crate open. this allows the baby some protection, but it is not perfect. I have witnessed the adults peck her while she just tries to find a safe place to lay down and not get picked on. they can reach their heads through the bars of the dog crate.


    ok, so sorry about the very long post....i just wanted to say everything so i wouldn't be asked questions later.....but what would you suggest? The baby is getting bigger, and i would think this behavior will stop when she gets big enough....but its getting quite chilly here at night and now i'm concerned about her being cold. I don't want her by herself, and i'm concerned if i bring her in the house against my girlfriends wishes.....or show the baby some other special treatment, she will never incorporate herself into the flock. i'm going to move the dog crate directly under the light, so at least she has some warmth while the light is on.....and i'm going to look into getting a heat lamp for the other 7 hours. thankyou for reading this....Dale.
     
  2. sprouticus

    sprouticus Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 22, 2012
    i've done a lot of research on ducks in the last 4 months. and a lot of my googleing has brought me to this site......so thankyou to the mods who keep it open. today i read on wikipedia that too bright of a light can cause pecking with chickens? i am using a 60 watt bulb. I started getting eggs a couple of days after installing the timer. perhaps i should use a dimmer bulb or not light at all? right now the light is the only source of heat for the chickens (remember its dipping below freezing at night right now) and i firmly believe its why i am getting eggs in october in canada.
     
  3. sprouticus

    sprouticus Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 22, 2012
    i've also read that you could take the duck thats getting picked on, and your least aggresive duck, and put them off by themselves for a while. My issue with that is now that the other baby has passed, the least aggresive duck is the indian runner, and she is giving me eggs and i don't want to disturb her situation. Also, i don't really have a good place to seperate the ducks other than to put a fence up to divide their current area, and building another shelter. I would rather not spend the time/money on this temporary fix. i'm thinking about bringing the dog crate in every night for the duckling to sleep in, and then she can go back into the yard with the other ducks every morning.
     
  4. Joe Jordan

    Joe Jordan Chillin' With My Peeps

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    dog crate sounds like a good temp fix. There is a lady on here that makes duck diapers, if you ever feel like letting the duckling sleep wherever.
     
  5. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Running over with Blessings Premium Member

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    Having a light on for that long can cause pecking problems and if you continue to leave that baby in with the older ducks your likely to find it dead soon. Why not just let them rest for the winter without a light and start up laying for you in the spring, I know its great to get eggs through the winter but if it's causing problems in the flock then is it worth it? When i had a red light on in my coop for the chickens my rooster got pecked on so bad by the hens his comb was a bloody mess. No more lights in the coop. I've never used a light with my ducks and geese. I'd fix that crate so this duckling can't get stuck and killed and only let it out when someone can supervise them all, they will eventually accept it but in the meantime either they will kill it or torture it. It's never a good idea to put young ducklings in with older ducks with out proper supervision and time for everyone to get use to the youngster. And she won't stand up for herself what is she going to use a club, she has no defense against an adult duck.Sorry forgot to say [​IMG]
     
  6. Ridekool

    Ridekool Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 23, 2008
    Arnprior, Ontario
    Chicken wire around the crate will keep out duck heads. I second Miss. L's comment about the lights. If possible try seperating the problem duck(s) for awhile. I find some ducks (like calls) take to newbies right away where as 'scovies do not (my crew anyway) PITA or not I think seperation is the safest solution.
     
  7. sprouticus

    sprouticus Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 22, 2012
    ok, you've convinced me. the light is going off. at least until the feathers grow back and this duck gets bigger. I just read this today about it causing problems with chickens. surprisingly, no matter how i worded it, i couldn't seem to find a slotution to this problem online. i've been looking for weeks for a solution. keep in mind i am new to ducks/chickens. if this doesn't work, i'll figure out a way to reinforce the dog crate. thankyou for your replys.
     
  8. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Running over with Blessings Premium Member

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    I think having it pitch dark will keep them from pecking the young duck, but I'd still would be very reluctant to leave it with all the ducks by itself. We're not jumping on you, we've all just read too many sad ending when it comes to ducks and ducklings. We're all learning here thats what is so great about BYC.
     
  9. sprouticus

    sprouticus Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 22, 2012
    since posting this a couple of hours ago, I have brought the young duck inside with me. I know it has been eating...cause it has pooped 4 times that i know of. My big dog is locked in my bedroom, and less than impressed that a duck now has reign of his house, but whatever. Shortly after i got the babies, I brough them inside to let them swim, supervised, in the bath tub. they were both pretty friendly and tame....especially the little one that didn't make it. The ducks see me or my girlfriend at least twice a day, but we havn't tried to pick up the babies since then. This duck is very much less than friendly right now. It tried to bite me a few times......felt kinda like a clothespin nip....not exactly painful, and i learned to not pull away when it snapped. I held it for a short time, trying to convince it that i am not a threat. she seemed to like me rubbing under her bill. It started making loud breathing noises, which I wouldn't describe as hissing......but have no other word for it. I went online and found out ducks hiss when they feel threatened.....so I let her go. she stayed on my lap for about another 10 minutes after i stopped rubbing under its chin...it could hop off me anytime. eventually she left and is roaming the house again...quaking. I am assuming it is trying to find it's flock. my girlfriend is a little mad at me, but she doesn't want the young duck to die either. I'm thinking now about maybe capturing it every night, and putting it in the dog crate locked in the downstaris bathroom...where my dog can't bother it. in the morning when we let the ducks out of the pen it can join it's flock. My resoning for this is this duck has very little feathers left on it's back...and it is getting pretty cold here at night. when the feathers come back a bit, assuming it will be nearly full grown by then, I will keep it in the coop overnight.

    forgive my ignorance, but how much light....if any, does a heat lamp give off?? i've never delt with one before. can i just screw it into the light fixture that currently holds my 60watt bulb? maybe thats the easiest and best solution. the duckling can stay warm under the heatlamp, and maybe they won't pick on it if its dark in the coop????? thoughts?
     
  10. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Running over with Blessings Premium Member

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    I think most heat lamps are 150 to 250 watts. A heat lamp will give off light so you don't want to put it inside your coop. Taking the duckling out of the coop at night is one idea especially if it doesn't have anyone to cuddle with, But I would put it in the the coop in the morning before light so it can come out with the rest so they won't look at it as an intruder. They don't mess with it during the day? Most ducks don't like to be picked up, and don't make good lap ducks, It has been tramatized lost if's only friend and is being picked on by the other ducks, Life isn't fun right now, if you could make the dog crate safe by putting some hardware cloth around it and putting some nice warm pine shaving inside with a nice soft cuddly stuffed animal it might be best to leave it with the flock. As long as they can't get to it. I'm still concerned for it's safety during the day. Can you post a pic of this duckling? is it completely picked of it's feathers?
     

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