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Brewers Yeast for Ducks – Prevent Niacin Deficiency With Brewers Yeast

My Indian Runner Ducks quack me up. They operate as a single unit, running in formation as though they share one brain between their 13 bodies. They’re busy birds, constantly foraging, flirting, and floating.

They also love their food, gobbling it down as though it may run away, which highly unlikely given that it’s a combination of chick crumble, sprouts, microgreens, and brewer’s yeast.

I only recently added brewer’s yeast to my ducks feed but wish I had started earlier – it might have prevented some of the problems I’ve had over the past year.

Brewers Yeast for Ducks


I’d been feeding brewer’s yeast to my horses for several months, hoping to boost their immune systems and give them a fighting chance against the annual outbreak of African Horse Sickness.

Reading the back of the packaging, I discovered that brewer’s yeast is also recommended for ducks. I did a bit of research and discovered that brewer’s yeast provides ducks with the niacin they need to grow up big and strong and maintain their overall wellbeing.

A couple of weeks earlier, I’d noticed something odd about a couple of my ducks – yes, even odder than usual!

I asked my partner, “Why are my ducks’ legs shaking?” To which he gave a typically silly response. I turned to my old friend Google instead and quickly found out that it could be caused by niacin deficiency.

Wondering whether to raise chickens or ducks on your homestead? Read our comparison: Chickens vs Ducks!

What Happens If My Ducks Don’t Get Enough Niacin?

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The first signs of niacin deficiency in ducks include “laying down frequently, reluctance to walk and do normal activities, weakness of the legs, retarded growth, slight bowedness of the legs.” (source)

If left untreated, the symptoms will worsen, and the duck will often stop moving about altogether due to the pain.

The hocks may become increasingly swollen and, in the worst-case scenario, perosis may occur. This disorder, also known as slipped tendon, is “characterized by enlargement of the hock, twisted metatarsi, and slipped tendons.”

Fortunately, treating a duck with first-stage niacin deficiency is quick, simple, and effective.

The easiest course of action is to crush up a niacin or brewer’s yeast tablet, adding 100-150mg niacin to a gallon of water. Using a syringe or dropper, drip the water/niacin mix into your duck’s beak, making sure he’s swallowing naturally. You should see some improvement within a day or two.

As with any illness, prevention is always better than cure, so let’s look at how a daily dose of brewer’s yeast can perk up your Pekins.

How Much Niacin Is In Brewer’s Yeast?


Brewer’s yeast was, as its name suggests, originally produced as a by-product of beer brewing.

These days, however, it’s commonly used as a nutritional supplement. Made from a type of yeast known as Saccharomyces cerevisiae, it is “high in protein, B-vitamins, and chromium.” (source)

Human-grade brewer’s yeast usually contains around “5 mg of niacin per 15 grams of yeast,” but this is just one of its many beneficial ingredients.

It also contains crucial B vitamins, including B1, B2, B3, and B6; minerals such as chromium, magnesium, potassium, selenium, and zinc; as well as protein, probiotics, prebiotics, anti-inflammatories, and immune stimulants.

Read more about the pros and cons of raising backyard ducks!

How Much Niacin Should I Give My Duck?

Although niacin deficiency is more of a problem with ducklings than adult ducks, giving your flock a daily dose of brewer’s yeast will help strengthen their bones and maintain their overall health.

Ducks that, like my flock of Indian Runners, spend their days foraging will have access to a varied diet of slugs, snails, seeds, grass, and wild greens. This will give them most of the nutrients and vitamins they need, but a sprinkling of brewer’s yeast over their feed every day certainly won’t do any harm. As niacin is water-soluble, your duck will flush any excess out of its system.

Some duck pellets designed as layer or grower feed “are specifically formulated to meet the elevated niacin levels ducklings need to grow, and adult ducks need to maintain proper health.” (source)

If you’re feeding a basic chicken starter feed, however, you’ll need to add brewer’s yeast to boost the niacin level.

Human-grade brewer’s yeast usually contains around “5 mg of niacin per 15 grams of yeast”. Given that “ducklings need about 10 mg of niacin per day” and adult ducks, 12.5 mg per day, that means you need to add 1.5 tablespoons of brewer’s yeast to every cup of feed (source).

Alternatively, you can use niacin tablets and dissolve them in your duck’s water “at the rate of 500mg per 5 gallons of water”. (Where to buy niacin tablets)

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What Is the Best Feed for Ducklings?


Ducklings are at much higher risk of contracting niacin deficiency than adult ducks and “require almost twice the amount of niacin or vitamin B3” than chickens do (source).

While a chick starter feed gives ducklings most of the nutrients they require, it lacks the extra niacin and, in some instances, may be medicated, which makes it unsuitable for ducklings. (Where to buy chick starter feed)

The best feed for baby ducks is a dedicated duck starter crumble with extra niacin and riboflavin. (Where to buy dedicated duck starter crumble)

Brewers Yeast for Ducks That Quack You Up

Niacin “plays a vital role in the development of ducks,” helping “the digestive system and nervous system function properly” and boosting the body’s ability to “turn protein, fat, and carbs into energy.” (source)

Although feeds such as sunflower seeds, fish, beets, and oilseed meals are good sources of niacin, “the availability of niacin in grain and grain by-products is very low.”

You can give your ducks additional niacin by feeding them things like green peas and avocado, a simpler and cheaper way of going about it is by adding brewer’s yeast to their feed or liquid niacin to their drinking water. (Where to buy niacin drops to add to their drinking water)

Not only will the correct daily dose of niacin ensure your ducklings grow into big healthy adults, but it will also give your ducks the energy to keep quacking you up with their amusing antics.

I only recently added brewer’s yeast to my ducks feed but wish I had started earlier – it might have prevented some of the problems I’ve had over the past year.


  • A horse-mad redhead with a passion for the outdoors, Nicky lives on a 6ha small-holding on the Wild Coast of South Africa. She spends her time rearing goats, riding (rearing) horses, and meticulously growing her own chicken food. She has a witch’s knack with herbs and supplements everything, from her beloved Australian Cattle Dog to the occasional passing zebra with the fruits of her labor. Nothing is bought unless Nicky fails to MacGyver it out of scraps of broken bridles, baling twine, or wire. She loves baling twine (and boxes, oddly enough).