Pinioning Ducks

Before explaining the process of pinioning we want to first make the following comment. Many people think it is very cruel to pinion your exotic ducks. However there is a very good reason for pinioning. These ducks are exotic species and the last thing we want is for them to breed and they may fly away and cross breed with indigenous species. If you argue that you are going to keep them in a fully enclosed aviary the question is still, how will you deal with excess breeding stock? The moment you want to sell to others, your ducks have to be pinioned because not everyone has the luxury of an enclosed aviary.

Once the sexing is done the ducklings can be pinioned. Males are pinioned on the right wing and females on the left wing.

This is a task not for the faint hearted. If done correctly it has very little impact on the health of your ducklings. The bone that is severed is less than the thickness of a match stick and the total length of the wing that is cut off is about 4 to 5 mm. (not even a quarter of an inch.) Ducklings are just starting to develop at 12 days but they grow in body size and most energy is used to build the body but the wings only really start developing when their real feathers start to come out. At 12 days the blood flow to the tip of the wings are minimal and the bones are still quite under developed.

First feel for the Alula the sharp nail like protrusion on the wing. The Alula is NOT cut off. Pull it out of the way thus towards the ducklings head so the last part or end of the wing is exposed and the bone can be severed as shown in the picture below. Pinch tightly on the joint. (Make sure that you pinch the joint between your finger and thumb because this will ensure that you do not cut IN the joint!) Cut the bone with a pair of sharp scissors or clipping tool. Cut where the black line is drawn in the illustration below.

Once done you can keep the pressure on the joint for a few seconds but I let the ducklings go directly into the water to wash off. Within minutes they are bathing and preening like before.

It is a good idea to spray the cut with an antiseptic or apply a suitable weeping wound powder. (Please check with your vet before applying any disinfectant to the duckling).

Note: The cut IS NOT made IN the joint as shown in the picture on the left. 

Remember if you cut away the Alula you are cutting in the wrong place.

A further example of where to cut.