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Good Sources of Niacin (Vitamin B3) for Your Ducklings

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Preventing problems in ducks due to niacin deficiency is as easy as offering your ducklings a healthy well rounded diet that includes niacin rich foods that they need to grow healthy and strong.

3- 4 week old female buff ducklings eating peas out of a glass pie dish in their duck run.

Ducks grow ridiculously fast. In fact, watching a duckling grow is actually kind of amazing, but all that growth requires proper nutrition. A crucial vitamin that supports the growth and health young ducklings is Niacin, and if you have plunged into the world of duck raising, you are going to want to make sure your backyard waterfowl don’t become deficient in Niacin. Luckily, there are plenty of niacin rich foods that ducklings love, and ways to easy supplement their diet if you do run into some problems.

What Is Niacin?

Niacin is also known as vitamin B3. B3 is an essential vitamin that chickens, ducks, other waterfowl, and humans all need in varying amounts. Niacin helps the body convert various nutrients like fats, carbohydrates, and proteins into usable energy. Niacin is a water soluble vitamin, which simply means that the body doesn’t store the vitamin long-term. So if it isn’t consumed regularly in correct amounts, the body depletes its stores of B3 quickly.

Why Ducks Need Niacin?

Niacin is a critical vitamin required for the correct development of ducklings. In fact, waterfowl have a higher requirement for niacin than chickens. A diet deficient in niacin can lead to leg problems, and deformities, so you want to make sure your feed contains niacin or you are adding a niacin supplement to their diet.

I’ve read that there are feeds specifically created for waterfowl, but I couldn’t find a waterfowl specialized feed locally, so I went with a non-medicated flock raiser from Purina, which labeled for ducks and chickens, and is fortified with the niacin ducklings need. If you choose to go with a chick feed for your ducklings, make sure to supplement them with additional niacin.

How much Niacin Do Duckling Need?

Ducks need about twice as much niacin as chickens, due in part to their inability to obtain niacin from tryptophan (an essential amino acid). The actual recommended daily intake of niacin for a duck is about 10mg of niacin per day.

Signs Of Niacin Deficiency in Ducks

The most typical signs of Niacin Deficiency in ducklings include bowed legs and/or enlarged hock joints. If left untreated these birds will ultimately become so crippled and weak that they cannot walk.
Niacin deficiency problems normally only occur when your birds are growing at their most rapids rates – from two to seven weeks of age. Therefore, supplementation is rarely needed past ten weeks of age.

3- 4 week old female buff ducklings eating peas out of a glass pie dish in their duck run.

Niacin Rich Foods For Ducklings

The best way to prevent a Niacin deficiency in growing ducklings is to feed them a feed fortified with niacin, such as non-medicated flock raiser from Purina and offer them a variety of fresh foods that are great sources of B3.

Niacin can be found in both plant and animal based foods, and because ducks are omnivores I like to make sure my ducks get a good mix of different fresh foods every day.

The foods listed below are my ducks favorite treats and also a good sources of Niacin:

  • Peas (a duck favorite!)
  • sweet potatoes (raw or cooked)
  • tuna fish (packed in water)
  • salmon (ducks also love salmon skin)
  • sardines (packed in water)
  • Feeder Fish (another duck favorite! They love hunting for feeder fish in their kiddie pool)
  • Pumpkin
  • Nutritional Yeast (sprinkled on feed)

Nutritional Yeast

A easy way to add niacin to a ducklings diet is by sprinkling in 1 tablespoon of Nutritional Yeast per cup of feed. Brewers yeast can also be used, but Nutritional yeast is often less expensive and contains more niacin. I order mine directly from Amazon, but you can also find it in the grocery store.

Niacin Supplements:

If you feed your ducklings a feed fortified with niacin, such as non-medicated flock raiser from Purina and offer fresh foods that will provide additional niacin it is unlikely you will deal with a deficiency. If you do however notice symptoms adding a supplement to the duckling drinking water maybe needed.

Metzer Farms suggests adding human niacin supplements to the ducklings’ water at a rate of 500 mg per 8 gallons of water if little water is being spilled, or 500 mg to 4 gallons of water if about half the duck’s water is being spilled. To do this, simply pull open the powder capsules from niacin supplements and stir the contents into the water. Because niacin is a water soluble vitamin, overdose is not a big concern.


Preventing problems in ducks due to niacin deficiency is as easy as offering your ducklings a healthy well rounded diet that includes niacin rich foods that they need to grow healthy and strong.

Heather

Monday 13th of September 2021

I have a question. I have 3 ducks. 1 male and 2 female. Pekin and mallard. My female pekin isn't acting herself. There are no vets in the area that will see ducks either. She has been sneezing here and there over the past month. Maybe once a day that I've seen. They are not niacin deficient. They get romaine or kale everyday and fruits and other vegetables daily along with purina crumble and other duck treats. There are very spoiled and a huge part of the family. Last night my female seemed to be a little lethargic and not really eating. Today she is not eating well again and looks like she doesn't feel good. Her eyes look tires as well help! I don't know what to do. I spent 16 years in the Veterinary field and I'm a nurse so I understand sickness and meds. I just don't know what to do for her

Jackie Behmlander

Wednesday 8th of September 2021

HELP: my duckling is roughly 8 weeks old, its wings are not developing so my duckling falls over another, any suggestions please help. I'm feeding him niacin enriched food and have fed it water with electrolytes. I have to hold it up while it feeds and try to prune.

Aye Nu Khai

Friday 27th of August 2021

Thanks for your messages. Can I know that how to make homemade nician for my duckling and how to take care of my duckling leg problem? Thanks ❤

Crystal S Dial

Friday 20th of August 2021

Thank you so much for the informative article. I had no idea I could give my Pekin canned tuna and he loves it! Was worried about his legs as they were bowing in a little at 1 month. He is currently on Purina duck feed. Thanks again :)

Lynn

Friday 2nd of July 2021

Purina makes duck pellets.Complete diet for waterfowl with added niacin.Flock raiser does not have this.