Angel Wing in Ducks – Symptoms, Causes, & Cures

Hi there! This blog post is to address a funky condition in ducks known as “Angel Wing.” Typically angel wings are not a bad condition to have unless you’re a duck. In that case you already have wings and so angel wings are a bit redundant and will cause issues. First, a picture showing the condition (Credit where credit is due – Source: Cengland0: own work. Find it here on commons.wikipedia)

Moscovoys aren't ducks! Someone is yelling somewhere. Relax. Example of the condition of Angel Wing.

Moscovoys aren’t ducks! Someone is yelling somewhere. Relax. Example of the condition of Angel Wing.

Symptoms of Angel Wing in Ducks

In case the photo isn’t clear enough, I will describe Angel Wing using words: Angel wing is a condition where the last joint on the wing is distorted and causes the end feathers to stick out laterally – or sideways – instead of lying against the body like the wings should. If only one wing is affected, it’s typically the left wing for reasons unknown. The right wing is rarely affected by itself though it’s common to have both wings affected. The bird is typically healthy in all other aspects and can lead a relatively normal life. Flying ducks will likely lose their ability to fly if affected by Angel Wing and so they are prone to predator attacks. The underlying issue in this condition is the twisted joint in the wing.

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Causes of Angel Wings in Ducks

The causes of Angel Wing in ducks isn’t decidedly clear but there is strong evidence that points to dietary and nutritional deficiencies and/or excesses. The excessive intake of protein or carbohydrates is typically to blame for the condition. A high protein diet will cause the wing bones to grow too fast and makes the wing too heavy for the joint. The excessive growth also twists the joint. Either way, the joint and the surrounding bones are not growing at the proper speeds and causes a deformity in the joint. An insufficient intake of Vitamin C, calcium, and manganese is also theorized to cause or add to the symptom of Angel Wings in ducks. Be aware that you should not feed ducks that are 21 weeks or younger excess calcium. Offer calcium free choice in the form of crushed egg shells or oyster shells after 21 weeks of age.

It’s been noted that flocks of wild waterfowl kept in captivity struggled with the condition while those in the wild did not, pointing to a nutritional difference. Fowl in close contact with humans who are fed excessive bread are also noted to struggle with the condition.

Cures for Angel Wing in Ducks

The condition of Angel Wing can be reversed if diagnosed in juveniles but adults with the condition cannot be cured, though they can lead healthy lives in nearly every other aspect. If you notice a duck with a drooping wing, you can put a sling on it to keep the wing in it’s proper place as development continues. Also try lowering the protein intake of the duck, supplementing it’s diet with alfalfa pellets.

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It’s better to keep the condition from occurring in the first place. Provide plenty of room for exercise, feed less high protein feeds, provide plenty of grass or green feed, and keep the pen dark at night so your gluttonous little ducks don’t continue to eat at night, therefore lowering their feed consumption (and also their protein intake).

Switch to a lower protein diet after 3 weeks or so. 3-9 weeks: (15-17% protein). 9-20 weeks: (15% protein). 21 weeks – old age: (layer feed – 15% protein with added calcium). You can also add the following ingredients to chicken layer feed to help your ducks get the nutrition they need:

  1. Brewers Yeast. This will give ducks niacin which helps with proper bone growth.
  2. Oats. Add raw, uncooked oats to the feed, gradually increasing to a 25% oat to 75% feed ratio. This will lower the amount of protein you are feeding your ducks. Protein is used in bone growth. If you lower the amount of protein in your ducks diet, their bones won’t grow as fast.

 

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4 Comments

  1. I enjoyed your article about angel wing. I’m in the park now and there’s a mallard 🦆 with his feather sticking up. Nothing that I can do about his diet, but I have a good picture of him!

    • I’d check the webbing on his feet to make sure he doesn’t have any little cuts or anything like that. Research the condition “bumble foot” and see if he has any of the symptoms. I can’t help that much without seeing the duck in person.

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