All About Niacin for Ducks: What You Should Know

Ducklings grow incredibly fast, so it’s important for you to make sure your ducks get enough niacin in their diets.

I love raising ducks, and watching ducklings grow is fascinating. They grow rapidly when compared to baby chicks, but if you want all that growth, you have to ensure you provide niacin for ducks.

You may have never heard of niacin, but it’s an essential vitamin that provides a duckling with the support and nutrients needed for all that rapid growth. Luckily, ensuring your baby ducks get all the niacin they need is rather easy, especially since they naturally love foods that are rich in this vitamin.

Let’s take a look and learn more about niacin for ducks – I know you want to provide your ducks with everything they need!

Related: Raising Baby Ducks for Beginners

What is Niacin for Ducks?

Niacin is also known as vitamin B3 and nicotinic acid. It’s an important nutrient for ducks, along with other waterfowl, that helps them maintain healthy skin, feathering, digestive tract, nervous system and circulatory system function.

Niacin plays a vital role in your little ducklings’ bodies. it converts nutrients, such as fats and carbohydrates, into usable energy. It’s a water soluble vitamin, so their bodies won’t store it long-term. It must be consumed in regular amounts because their bodies deplete the storage rapidly.

Niacin for ducks is important in the process of converting food into energy, which helps to maintain muscle tone. It can also help to lower cholesterol levels and may help to control diabetes.

Why Do Ducks Need Niacin?

Ducks need plenty of niacin because it helps their bodies produce energy, process proteins and fats, maintain clear vision, support the nervous system function, maintain healthy skin and feathers.  

It’s especially important that young birds get an adequate amount of niacin, as it helps with proper development.

Ducklings need more than chickens because they grow quickly and can’t store fat like adult chickens. Niacin for ducklings helps during all stages of growth (growth, soft feathering and hard feathering). After the first three weeks, niacin requirements decrease but should still be provided at least until eight weeks old.

How Much Niacin Do Ducklings Need?

Newborn ducklings have an increased need for niacin to provide lots of energy so they can grow quickly in this early-life stage. A typical starting quantity is 0.1mg/lb (0.2mg/kg) in medicated feeds or 1mg/lb (2mg/kg) in non-medicated starter diets. After 8 weeks of age , most ducks reach full adult size and growth rates slow down significantly

A minimum of 0.44mg/ day per 500g of body weight is required for growing ducklings.

Typically, the recommended daily intake of niacin is 10mg of niacin per day for ducklings and 12.5mg per day for adult ducks.

Believe it or not, ducks need twice the amount of niacin as chickens! This is because ducks cannot obtain niacin from tryptophan, an essential amino acid.

Signs of Niacin Deficiency in Ducks

A niacin deficiency leads to all sorts of health problems, and if left untreated, your birds may become crippled and unable to walk. Ducklings typically show symptoms pretty quickly, so watch for these issues.

  • Shaky while standing
  • Refusal to walk
  • Sitting back on their haunches
  • Slow growth
  • Bowing legs out to the sides
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weak legs
  • Diarrhea

At first, you might notice your ducklings acting reluctant to walk and move around. They’ll take a few steps and stop, plopping down to rest. Their legs look shaky.

At this stage, the deficiency is mild and easily fixable without any lasting damage to your duckling’s health.

However, the longer a deficiency lasts, the more permanent the damage becomes. Niacin deficiency can be severe if not treated. After several weeks, your ducklings will have bowed legs and never want to walk because it’s painful for them. Sometimes, their legs are so deformed that they die within a few weeks.

If your ducklings are niacin deficient, they should be treated for at least two to three weeks. High-protein feed is needed after this time period in order to avoid further deficiencies from developing or if the ducks tend to eat less than they should because of their young age.

When Can a Niacin Deficiency Start?

Niacin deficiency in ducks usually isn’t seen until the birds are about three weeks old, but can be seen as early as one week old. It commonly appears when they’re fed only whole grains without any other supplementation, or if their feed has been cooked or stored incorrectly before being fed to them.

Deficiencies typically happen when the birds are growing at their most rapid rates, between two and seven weeks of age. This is the time when your baby ducks need niacin regularly.

Foods Rich in Niacin for Ducks

The best way to ensure your young ducklings have all the niacin they need is to feed them a duckling starter feed fortified with niacin. You can find these at a local feed store or online!

Remember, ducklings should only have non-medicated feed never medicated. That’s why you should typically not give your ducklings chick feed because most are medicated.

However, many foods you may have in your house or at your local grocery store are rich in niacin and make excellent treats for your ducks. You may not realize it, but ducks are omnivores and appreciate a range of fresh foods, including some meats!

Here are some foods rich in niacin for ducks.

  • Peas
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Peanuts
  • Whole Wheat or Wheat Bran
  • Tuna Fish
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Feeder Fish
  • Pumpkin
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Mealworms

Related: 17 Healthy Treats for Ducks Your Flock Will Love

Other Ways to Give Niacin for Ducks

Aside from giving your ducks food that are rich in niacin, try adding different supplements to their feed to ensure they receive proper levels.

Nutritional Yeast

Brewer’s yeast is a good source of niacin for ducks because it has high amounts of B vitamins (including niacin) and lysine, which help improve their growth rate naturally.

One of the easiest ways to ensure your ducklings get extra niacin is to sprinkle one tablespoon of brewer’s yeast for ducks per cup of feed. Some recommend up to 1.5 tablespoons of brewer yeast as your ducklings age.

You can use either nutritional yeast or Brewer’s yeast; nutritional yeast is cheaper though! Brewers yeast contains around 16mg niacin per ounce, so it’s the clear winner if you’re concerned about a deficiency.

Niacin Supplements

If you notice that your ducklings have symptoms of a niacin deficiency, that’s the best time to give them supplements.

You can add human niacin supplements to their water at a rate of 500mg per 8 gallons of water. Typically, all you have to do is open the powder capsules and stir the niacin powder into the ducklings’ water. It’s a water soluble vitamin, so this is super easy!

Another option is to buy the liquid form of B3. This is ideal if you have only a single bird with a deficiency that needs to be treated rather than all of your ducklings.

How Long Do You Need to Supplement Niacin?

You should continue to give niacin supplements until your ducks are fully grown around 18 to 20 weeks. This is the age when ducks start to lay their first egg, and it’s the appropriate time to switch over to a layer feed with niacin.

Adult ducks still need niacin, but their needs are lower. If you allow your ducks to free range, they’ll be able to get all the niacin they need by eating bugs and foraging. If your flock doesn’t free range, try adding other sources of niacin to their diet like mealworms, peas, sweet potatoes, and other yummy treats.


Remember ducks grow rapidly, and they need all the nutrients and vitamins to support rapid growth. Niacin for ducks is one of the most important vitamins for their immune systems and overall development.

Feed your ducks an appropriate starter feed as well as niacin rich snacks and treats for an overall healthy diet.

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