Saturday, 16 January 2016

Wet Feathers

It has been pretty cold here the last couple of weeks with temperatures plummeting to -15ºC and a few inches of snow. The cold weather makes foraging for food and keeping warm difficult for our animals. We have been keeping extra vigilant and making sure they are all as comfortable as possible and well stocked in the food department. But, the other day we noticed that our two Indian Runner Ducks and in particular the drake was looking a bit bedraggled and cold. His feathers were very wet, matted together and he wasn't running around like his usual self.

We decided to keep them both inside in a warm room for a day to see if that helped dry out their feathers and make them feel better. Unfortunately, a day later the drake was still looking a bit sad. After some frantic net surfing, I came across a common condition that affects all waterfowl, "Wet Feather". The symptoms of which are exactly as I described above, waterlogged feathers with no sheen and the risk of becoming very cold.

There are a number of reasons why this condition may happen, ranging from parasites that make the bird over-preen itself, to having a poor diet, and/or not bathing enough. As our ducks have never taken to bathing themselves in the bathtub we dug into the ground for them, we think it could be latter. The recent snowy conditions could have led to the feathers becoming wet and with no oil protection, quickly waterlogged. So, we filled our sink with warm water and gave our ducks a bath! At first they were not too pleased, but after while they were happily splashing around. Next came the blow-dry treatment, yes, we had to dry their feathers out as best we could. It took some time, but soon they were both preening themselves and their feathers were starting to look a bit more healthy.

Tonight, and for the next few days, they will be sleeping in a heated room, with lots and lots of hay and  a bath and blow-dry to look forward to every morning! Hopefully, we will see them running about with  the other animals again very soon.

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