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.
Getting some brewers yeast for ducks can prevent niacin deficiency, an illness that can prove fatal if left untreated. While some duck feed contains niacin, it rarely includes enough for ducklings, as young ducks need more vitamins and minerals to develop healthily.
I only recently added brewer’s yeast to my ducks’ feed, but I wish I had started earlier – it might have prevented some of the problems I’ve had over the past year.
- Brewers Yeast for Ducks
- What Is the Best Feed for Ducklings?
- Final Thoughts: Why Brewers Yeast Is Great for Ducks
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.
A couple of weeks earlier, I’d noticed something odd about a couple of my ducks – yes, even more peculiar 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 discovered that it could be caused by niacin deficiency.
Reading the back of the packaging, I discovered that brewer’s yeast is also recommended for ducks. I did some research and found that brewer’s yeast provides ducks with the niacin they need to grow up big and strong and maintain their overall well-being.
It turns out I should have been buying brewers yeast for the ducks all along!
What Happens If My Ducks Don’t Get Enough Niacin?
Niacin is critical for a duck’s health; without it, they won’t be able to walk.
If your ducks don’t get enough niacin, they will suffer from varying health issues, such as weak legs, stunted or slowed growth, bowing legs, or the inability to walk. If left untreated, the symptoms will worsen, and the duck will stop moving 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.”
That’s precisely why a niacin supplement like brewers yeast is critical for a healthy duck diet.
How To Treat Ducks With a Niacin Deficiency
Fortunately, treating a duck with first-stage niacin deficiency is quick, simple, and effective.
The easiest action is to crush up a niacin tablet or some brewer’s yeast for your ducks, adding 100-150mg of niacin to a gallon of water. Using a syringe or dropper, drip the water and 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 carbohydrates, protein, niacin, choline, biotin, and several other minerals, some of which you may recognize as common supplements for humans.
According to Metzer Farms, human-grade brewers 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; protein, probiotics, prebiotics, anti-inflammatories, and immune stimulants.
These health benefits and nutrients make brewers yeast one of the best nutritional supplements for ducks.
To learn more, you might want to read our article on the pros and cons of raising backyard ducks!
How Much Niacin Should I Give My Duck?
Although niacin deficiency is more of a problem for 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.
These wild-caught foods will give them most of the nutrients and vitamins they need, but a sprinkling of brewer’s yeast over their daily feed certainly won’t do any harm. As niacin is water-soluble, your duck will flush any excess out of its system.
Doses of Niacin and Brewers Yeast For Ducks
Ducklings need about 25 mg of niacin daily, and adult ducks need 20 mg daily. To reach 25 mg per duck, you should sprinkle 1.5 tablespoons of brewer’s yeast into every cup of feed. Add a bit less for adult ducks. However, a little bit too much won’t harm them.
Alternatively, you can use niacin tablets and dissolve them in your duck’s water “at the rate of 500mg per 5 gallons of water.”
If you want to use pure niacin instead of brewer’s yeast, you can get some here.
Some duck pellets designed as layer or grower feed generally contain a decent amount of niacin. According to Tractor Supply, these feeds “are specifically formulated to meet the elevated niacin levels ducklings need to grow, and adult ducks need to maintain proper health.”
However, if you’re feeding a basic chicken starter feed, you’ll need to add brewers yeast to boost the niacin level.
These non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free niacin tablets are excellent for ducks since you can trust that they don't contain anything like plastics, gelatin, or harmful chemicals. Use one tablet per 10 cups of feed or 2 tablets per 5 gallons of water.
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.
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.
The best feed for ducklings and baby ducks is a dedicated duck starter crumble with extra niacin and riboflavin. These feeds are best for ducklings under eight weeks old, giving them a highly nutritious meal with additional vitamins and minerals to encourage healthy development.
Duck starter crumble isn’t as common in stores as chick starters, but you can get it at some online retailers like Amazon.
To learn more, you might want to read What to Feed Baby Ducks – What’s the Best Food For Baby Ducks?
Brewers Yeast for Ducks That Quack You Up
Niacin, like that found in brewers yeast, is critical for healthy duck development. Niacin helps a duck’s digestive and nervous system function properly and allows ducks to turn protein, fat, and carbs into energy. Without it, they cannot function.
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 drops to their drinking water.
Final Thoughts: Why Brewers Yeast Is Great for Ducks
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.
So, start mixing some brewers yeast into your ducks’, and especially your ducklings’, meals. They’ll be much happier, healthier, and quick on their feet with plenty of niacin in their diet.
More Reading on Ducks and Raising Animals: