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Ducks Need Niacin (aka Ducks Love Peas!)

Niacin, or Vitamin B3, is important for all living things to grow strong bones.  Ducks need more niacin than chickens, so if you're feeding your ducks chicken feed, you'll need to provide them other sources of niacin. Here are some great sources of the vitamin for your flock.

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 since niacin isn't stored in the body, 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 and also to offer treats that are rich in niacin.

How Much Niacin do Ducks Need?

Ducklings need about 10 mg of niacin per day (interestingly, humans require between 14-16 mg/day) while adult ducks need 12.5 mg per day.

Geese also need niacin in their diet for the same reasons and require about 66 mg of niacin per day.

Signs 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.  

Best Sources of Niacin for Ducks

Some of the best plant-based sources of niacin include:

  • Brewers Yeast (16 mg per ounce)
  • Peanuts (4.2 mg per ounce)
  • Whole wheat or wheat bran (4 mg per cup)
  • Peas (3 mg per cup)
  • Sweet potatoes (2.4 mg per cup)
  • Sunflower seeds (2 mg per ounce)

Brewers Yeast for Ducks

Clearly brewers yeast is the best source of niacin for ducks. I like to just sprinkle a little bit of brewer's yeast 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, is enough to help them grow and thrive.

Were I to ever see a potential problem developing, I would increase that amount.  You don't have to worry about giving ducks too much niacin because they will flush whatever their bodies don't need.

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:

  • peaches
  • tuna fish
  • salmon (ducks also love salmon skin)
  • sardines
  • Brussels sprouts
  • squash
  • pumpkin 

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.  

It's really important that ducks get the niacin they need from day one for life. A great way to be sure your ducklings and ducks are getting enough niacin is to supplement their feed with my product Brewer's Yeast with Garlic Powder. Available from Chewy.com. 

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.


y book on natural duck care Duck Eggs Daily: Raising Happy, Healthy Ducks Naturally.



References/further reading
http://metzerfarms.blogspot.com/2011/03/are-my-ducklings-leg-problems-due-to.html
http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/vegetables-niacin-3959.html
https://www.healthaliciousness.com/articles/foods-high-in-niacin-vitamin-B3.php

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