Ducks Need Niacin (aka Ducks Love Peas!)

Anyone who has ever raised ducks can attest to the fact that ducks LOVE peas! 

Don't believe me? 

Just toss some fresh or frozen peas into their water tub and watch how excited that makes them. They generally like anything green floating in water, but they especially love peas. And there just might be a good reason for that.

Peas are high in niacin.

What is Niacin?

Niacin, or Vitamin B3, is an essential nutrient for young bones as they develop and grow. It also helps the body use fat, carbs and protein and turn it all into energy. 

A water-soluble amino acid, niacin is necessary for both chickens and ducks, but ducks need more than chickens do, and niacin isn't stored in the body, so they need a steady supply of it in their diet. 

Ducks Need Niacin (aka Ducks Love Peas!)

Ducklings grow super fast, so without strong legs to support their every-increasing body weight, they can really suffer the effects of a niacin deficiency pretty quickly.

Since ducks also don't absorb niacin as efficiently as chickens do, while you can feed ducklings regular (un-medicated) chick feed, it's a good idea to add some supplemental niacin to it to ensure that they are getting enough of the vitamin.

Symptoms of a Niacin Deficiency

Ducklings that don't get enough niacin will exhibit symptoms fairly quickly, so you'll want to watch for ducklings that are: 

  • shaky on their feet
  • unwilling to walk 
  • starting to sit back on their haunches
  • growing slowly
  • exhibiting signs that their legs might bow out to the sides

But don't wait for problems to arise.  Starting your ducklings on a niacin supplement is prudent to avoid any issues.  

I just like to just sprinkle a little bit of brewer's yeast with garlic over my newly hatched ducklings' feed every time I refill the feeder for the first few days.

Then once they get used to the taste, it gets mixed into their daily feed (dosage instructions are on the label.)

That, in addition to what is in the chick feed, seems to be enough to help them grow and thrive, but were I to ever see a potential problem developing, I would increase that amount. 

Other Foods Naturally High in Niacin

I also try and offer my ducks a variety of treats that are high in niacin from an early age to boost their niacin intake and also get them used to the taste. 

These include:

  • sweet potatoes (raw or cooked) 
  • peaches
  • unsalted peanuts (chopped for ducklings)
  • tuna fish
  • salmon (ducks also love salmon skin)
  • sardines
  • wheat bran or wheat germ
  • Brussels sprouts
  • squash
  • pumpkin and, of course...
  • peas

Turkey and chicken meat are also both high in niacin, depending on how you feel about feeding your flock those "treats"!

But ducks are omnivores, so they'll happily eat meat and fish scraps.  

Note: Ducks need about 10mg of niacin per day (interestingly humans require between 14-16mg/day). 

A great way to be sure your ducklings and ducks are getting the niacin they need is to supplement their feed with my new product Brewer's Yeast with Garlic Powder. Available from 

I add this supplement daily to my laying chicken and duck feed in a 2% ratio from hatch to laying age and beyond. 

It's beneficial to chickens as well as ducks and can help improve their immune, respiratory and digestive system health, as well as ensure nice strong bones.

Purchase Brewer's Yeast with Garlic Powder HERE.
If you're new to raising ducks, you might be interested in picking up a copy of my book on natural duck care Duck Eggs Daily: Raising Happy, Healthy Ducks Naturally.

References/further reading

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