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Angel Wing

Slipped Wing, Crooked Wing, Drooped Wing, Airplane Wing, Carpal Deformity, Valgus Carpal Deformity, Dropped Wing, Flip Wing, Straw Wing, Spear Wing, Tilt Wing, Rotating Wing

Angel wing is a condition in which one or both of the duck's wings are twisted or projected outward, at varying degrees, from the body. Angel wing happens more often in geese but it also occurs in ducks, especially the Muscovy duck breed. If angel wing is corrected while the duck is still growing, it is often easily treatable; however, if treatment is delayed or the condition is not recognized until the duck is older, then the deformity remains permanent. Ducks are most at risk of developing angel wing when they are between 8 to 12 weeks of age.

What Causes Angel Wing?


Angel wing is thought to be caused by the rapidly emerging primary feathers growing too fast and becoming too heavy before the metacarpals are strong enough to support them. As a result of the additional weight stress, the bone rotates outward. Ducks fed a high-protein diet (over 16% crude protein) or excessive carbohydrates (usually bread) as their flight feathers begin to emerge are at a higher risk of developing angel wing.

What Does Angel Wing Look Like?


An early indicator of angel wing is the visible drooping of one or both of the duck's wings. In severe cases, the wings can project at an angle greater than 60 degrees, making the wings appear similar to 'angel wings'. Sometimes one or both of the duck's primary feathers are damaged. Affected birds might also demonstrate a slight reduced range of motion of the associated wing. Angel wing tends to affect the left wing more than the right, and male ducks are more susceptible than females.

Angel Wing Severity


A method of classification for the severity of angel wing in geese was developed by a group of researchers at National Chung Hsing University in Taiwan (M Lin et al., 2016).
Angel wing severity in ducks
GradeSeverityDescription
1SlightPrimary feathers are projecting away from the body at an angle less than 30°.
2MediumPrimary feathers are projecting away from the body at an angle between 30° and 60°.
3SeverePrimary feathers are projecting away from the body at an angle greater than 60°.

How is Angel Wing Treated?


If angel wing is treated early enough, when the duck is still growing, then it can usually be corrected with appropriate therapy and diet changes. Treatment consists of wrapping the affected wing(s) in a figure 8 with vet wrap as soon as angel wing is suspected. The wrap should be checked daily to ensure the bandage remains in tact. Most ducks should begin to show improvement within a week. Concurrently, diet modifications should be made. Ducks should be switched to lower protein diet with crude protein levels no greater than 16%. Bread and other high-carbohydrate food items should never be fed to ducks or other waterfowl.
How to fix angel wing in ducks

Symptoms

Drooping wing(s)
Twisting of wing(s)
Abnormal wing(s)

Diagnosis

  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam
  • Radiographs

Treatment

MethodMethod Summary
Wing supportIf the duck is still growing, taping the wing feathers into the correct position by providing support can often be successful.
Diet ManagementEnsure growing ducks are on a balanced diet with 16-17% crude protein. Do not feed bread.
SurgeryMay be helpful in some cases.

Prevention

  • Do not feed ducks food intended for chicks, as starter chicken feed has higher protein levels then what ducklings need. Ensure protein level is no greater than 20%, although ideally it
  • Make sure they get exercise and are not kept in unnecessarily hot conditions.
  • Do not feed waterfowl excessive amounts of bread

References

Blogs

Age Range

Ducks are most at risk betwen 8 to 12 weeks of age.

Risk Factors

  • Excessive protein or high-energy diet during growth
  • Deficiency in vitamin E, vitamin D or manganese (Mn)
  • Feeding bread
  • Lack of exercise
  • Improper artificial incubation conditions
  • Excessive heat during early growth