Uh-oh...feather plucking!?!? What to do??

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by KARy408, Sep 1, 2014.

  1. KARy408

    KARy408 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    First I just want to say I've learned so much from this forum! So thank you for that!

    I feel I have already gained a lot from various posts/threads I've browsed here, which is why I'm a little baffled by what I came across this evening with one of the girls in my flock!

    BACKGROUND: As I have previously mentioned around here, I have 4 Pekin girls total, though for awhile we thought 1 might have been a boy. We ordered 4 girls from Metzer's in the spring, my husband picked them up himself. Sophia was always distinguishable; smaller and with an odd colored beak from the start; at first we were scared she might not make it, but she's a tough one and has hung on. Dorothy was the biggest and smartest, always the first to figure anything out. Blanche was the pretty one and Rose the loudest and silliest! Yes, they fit their namesakes perfectly :p We hand raised them, tried our best to keep them happy, healthy and as sociable as possible, and so far everything has gone swimmingly!

    DILEMMA: Nowadays at 6 Mo's, we've started getting eggs regularly. 2 most days, 3 occasionally and we had one big day that totaled out at 5 eggs, though 2 were soft shelled. We've eaten all but a few eggs that broke or were too underdeveloped. None have been fertilized. So this evening when I went out to tuck the girls in for the night, I was really alarmed to see Dorothy is missing quite a few feathers at the base of her neck, sort of back between her wings/shoulder blades:
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    Is this normal? Am I wrong to be alarmed by this? Could she be beginning to molt, or are the others in the flock picking on her?

    Everyone seemed well and good, they were all just pruning when I took the photos. At first I thought, "oh no, Sophia is a dude after all and he must be mounting Dorothy now!" But I honestly have not seen it! Sophia is still smaller than the others, has no drake feather and does indeed quack- so I had written off her differences to bad genes. Also, when I've read that the Drake controls the hen by biting at her neck, I imagined it higher up on the actual neck. Like when a machismo dude steers his chick around the mall with his hand at the base of her skull, you know?

    I will say, Dorothy is no longer the biggest, and Rose and Blanche are the better layers, so could they just be giving her a hard time? I have seen them all pick at this spot a few times, but nobody ever gets too perturbed.

    I have also noticed, when all four of them get into the pool together and space gets tight, they do "play mate" a bit. Usually Dorothy or Blanche will assume the whole "mate me" position and Rose will climb on top, but she literally just stands there and quacks about it. And I know Rose is a girl because she has the light tip and spots on her beak from laying.

    So what could possibly be going on here? Am I wrong to worry? Most importantly, do I need to intervene? If I do indeed have a drake, then I should still be okay with a 3:1 ratio, right?

    Sorry for the super long post!
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2014
  2. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    I would intervene, beginning with keeping her in a separate section of the pen at night. You could borrow a game camera, perhaps, and see who is doing whom. That missing feathers on the back of the neck high or low, is from mating behavior.
     
  3. KARy408

    KARy408 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh no, really? I wonder who on earth my drake is?
     
  4. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    Your drake could just be a duck who likes to be on top, actually.

    That is why I suggest the camera.
     
  5. KARy408

    KARy408 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh, if that's the case then it's probably Rose doing it. I see her mount the others in the pool.
    Today it's hard to notice Dorothy's missing feathers. It's thinned out a bit in that spot for sure, but there's no bald spots or anything. Everyone is acting perfectly normal. Should I still remove her? Or should Rose be the one isolated? Can I try to dominate Rose like you would a drake, to stop the bad behavior? What could be causing this disruption?
     
  6. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners Premium Member

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    I would sit back for a few, maybe make myself a cup of herb tea, and just think, maybe while I am watching the ducks. If no one is getting hurt, I might just let it be but keep watch. Sometimes I will see a runner's neck feathers have been pulled on, but if it's just a light case, I don't worry.

    If a duck looks like she could use a rest, I give her a rest either by separating her at night or separating the drake at night (we have a small sub flock of a drake and two ducks).
     
  7. KARy408

    KARy408 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Okay thanks Amiga! That's usually how we go about things with the flock anyway. I'm home most the day and spending a lot of time with them now, so I can keep an eye out for sure.
     

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