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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 where flight feathers at the end of the bird's wings twist upwards. It occurs when the weight of the growing feathers causes rotation of the wing tip, as a result of excess force exerted on the underlying ligaments and muscles.

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 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 splinting or VetWrap the wing in the correct position 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%.
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 caught in the early stages, while the duck is still young and growing, this condition may be treated with splints to guide bone growth into the correct position.
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 ducklings, feed that is intended for chicks. Ducks and chickens have different nutritional requirements and ducks should have less protein in their diet then chickens. Ensure protein level is no greater than 20% at the maximum.
  • Make sure ducks get exercise and are not kept in unnecessarily hot conditions.
  • Bread and other high-carbohydrate food items should never be fed to ducks or other waterfowl.

References

Blogs

Age Range

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

Risk Factors

  • Being fed a high-protein (over 16% crude protein) or high-energy diet during growth
  • Deficiency in vitamin E, vitamin D or manganese (Mn)
  • Feeding bread or other high carbohydrate foods