Sunday, March 13, 2011

Are My Ducklings' Leg Problems Due to a Niacin Deficiency?

Originally posted by John Metzer on Wed, Dec 29, 2010 @ 03:22 PM 

Niacin is a critical vitamin required for the correct development of ducklings and goslings.  In fact, waterfowl have a higher requirement for niacin (also called nicotinic acid) than chickens.  Niacin is formed from the amino acid tryptophan and waterfowl do not synthesize niacin well from tryptophan.

What do the birds look like if there is a niacin deficiency?   If there is a lack of niacin in their feed, initially some birds are reluctant to move about.    Eventually their hocks swell and their legs develop a bowed shape.  It becomes very difficult for them to move about and they do not gain weight or thrive.  In young birds you will see problems within several days if they do not have adequate niacin.  If they remain on a low niacin diet, death may occur within two to three weeks as it is just too painful for the birds to move to eat and drink.




A series of pictures from the book,  Nutrition and Management of Ducks, with permission of the authors, showing a normal duckling (A) and ducklings (B,C,D) that were fed Niacin deficient diets.

How can this happen?  If you are not using a balanced chick starter designed for broiler chicks or game birds, you may have problems.  If you are using a chick starter developed exclusively for laying chickens, it probably does not have enough niacin.  Do not make their diet exclusively whole grains, like Chicken Scratch.  On very rare occasions, the lack of niacin could be from a mistake at the feed mill.

So how much niacin do waterfowl require?  It should be at least 55 parts per million (ppm).  This is the same as 55mg per kilogram of feed or 55mg per 2.2 pounds of feed.  Oftentimes this is not on the label but if you contact the manufacturer of the feed, they should tell you the minimum guaranteed level in the feed.  You can go to our website for a complete list of waterfowl nutrient requirements.

A bottle of Niacin tablets, 500 mgs per tablet.

How can I supplement niacin?  Niacin can be easily purchased at a nutrition or drug store.  Typically the pills contain 500 mgs of niacin per tablet.  Assuming a duck is eating about .35 lbs per day (this is how much a Pekin is eating at about 3 -4 weeks of age) , they need 10 milligrams (mgs) of niacin a day.  So, theoretically, one pill has enough niacin for 50 ducks.  But if you are grinding up a pill and spreading it over pelleted feed, much of it will sift to the bottom and not be consumed.  Add a little water to the feed and it will “stick” to the pellets.

An alternative is to add it to their drinking water (assuming they have no swimming water).  If they drink 100% of the water you give them, you only need to add one 500 mg tablet to every 8 gallons of water.  But we both know that does not happen.  If you think they are wasting half their water, then add one 500 mg tablet to only four gallons of water.    For your own calculations,  go to the table on our website on daily feed and water consumption of ducklings.


Two broiler chicks, the one on the left was fed a niacin deficient diet.  
Photo courtesy of DSM Nutritional Products.


Are there alternatives to pure Niacin?  If you are concerned with the possibility that other vitamins may be missing, too, you can purchase Vitamin B liquid supplements.  The GNC product I found had 20 mg of niacin per dropper full.  This is enough for two ducks that are 3-4 weeks old.  This might be the best way to administer niacin if your birds are exhibiting leg problems.  By administering the niacin to each bird,  you will know they are getting the required niacin.

A feed ingredient that is rich in niacin is dried brewers yeast.  There is about 5mg niacin per 15 grams (one tablespoon) of human grade brewers yeast.  Livestock grade brewers yeast is not as concentrated.  There is only about 1.5 grams niacin for each tablespoon of livestock grade brewers yeast.

If you are not sure if your problem is due to inadequate niacin, give them some sort of additional niacin as soon as possible.  You will not harm them if you give them too much niacin.  And if they quickly recover, you know you found the problem.

What if only a few of my birds have leg problems?  Variability within a flock is normal.  Each bird varies on how well it forms  niacin from tryptophan, either due to genetics or the different microflora  in their gut.  It would not be unusual to have a single flock of birds, with some exhibiting a niacin deficiency and others walking perfectly normally - but all eating the same feed. 

Glory, a duck that was rescued by Majestic Waterfowl Sanctuary,  arrived with leg problems due to a niacin deficient diet.

How long does it take for recovery?  Except for the extreme cases such as the picture above, improvement is normally seen within several days and there can be complete recovery.  But this requires adequate niacin within 24 hours of the first sign of a problem.

119 comments:

  1. Thank you for the greatly informative website. I'm a 4H advisor with 2 members having duck projects. Their 8 ducks all have the leg issue described in this article. I ran to GNC today to get the Vit B/niacin drops for them. We'll keep our fingers crossed!

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  2. Are there any high quality brands that have niacin? I feed them flock raiser? Does it have Niacin? Or do I have to buy it?

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  3. Most commercially prepared feeds have adequate levels of niacin so I would not worry if that is what you are using. The concern is when someone tries to mix their own feed or a mistake is made at the feed mill (rare but does occur).

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  4. Can you tell me if inositol hexanicotinate (flush free niacin) will work as the niacin for ducks and geese? I heard only Nicontinic Acid or niacimide will work for them but can't find any actual info...PS.I love my 300s! They are the beautiful ducks.

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  5. Sarah:
    I passed your inquiry to our feed company's nutritionist (Dr. John Throckmorton of LA Hearne, King Brand Feeds). Following is his response:

    The signs of niacin deficiency related to leg problems are enlarged hock joints and slipped tendons (called perosis) so the leg splays out.

    We do know that ducks have a higher requirement for niacin than chickens. NRC requirements for ducklings = 55 mg/kg niacin compared to only 27-35 mg/kg for chicks. On top of that, the niacin in corn has a very low bioavailability; although corn contains 24 mg/kg of niacin, I use a value of 2 mg/kg for formulation.

    In your duck starter, we add 45 mg/kg of niacinamide to fortify the niacin found in raw ingredients, aiming for a total "Available Niacin" content of 90 mg/kg.

    If niacin sounds like your customer's problem, I suggest they contact their feed manufacturer & enquire as to which poultry products have a similar level of niacin fortification. If that info is not available, I would recommend that they use a Turkey Starter formula since young turkeys (0-4 wks of age) have a niacin requirement of 60 mg/kg.

    As for using "flush-free niacin", I would be skeptical & not recommend using as a replacement for niacinamide.

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  6. Where do ducks and geese in the wild get their Niacin from? Are there any natural foods that contain niacin?

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  7. Meats have the largest amounts of niacin, so for ducks that means insects, worms, snails, slugs, small fish, etc. Niacin can also be found in plant material but not as concentrated as in animal sources: wheat, rice, potato skins.

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  8. I usually have a cow liver every year. I have been boiling this up and cutting into tiny pieces to feed to my ducklings and chicks in the spring. Is there any problems with this?

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    1. No, that is fine as long as they don't get too much at one time.

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  9. Do adult ducks need niacin? I have a female that can't walk good, she is big and healthy but she can't keep up with the rest of the ducks,if I give her Niacin now will she improve. Also, I throw cheerios out to my ducks from time to time, will that hurt them, its plain cheerios....no sugar. I noticed the box says there is niacin in the cheerios.

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  10. Yes, adult ducks need niacin. If she is getting a mixed poultry feed, there is probably enough niacin in the feed. But you can always supplement as a trial to see if it helps. If she is large, it might be her weight that is causing problems with her legs. Cheerios should not be a problem as a treat as it is basically a grain.

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  11. Is it possible to give my ducklings too much niacin? I am feeding them a non-medicated chick, duck, and turkey stater feed. They also are getting electrolytes with niacin added to the water. My understanding is that niacin being a b vitamin is water soluble, and any extra is passed in the urine. Thanks!

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    1. Yes, you can give too much niacin, but I don't know that level. But if your only additional niacin is in a packet of electrolytes added to the water, I doubt very much if it will be too much. Whoever formulates the electrolyte package should assume the birds are getting a normal level of niacin in their diet.

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    2. I again spoke to Dr. John Throckmorton, our feed company's nutritionist and he provided the following:

      In regards to tolerance levels on niacin, I'm going to stick with NRC's Nutrient Requirements of Poultry comments:

      "Niacin, riboflavin and pantothenic acid are generally tolerated at levels as great as 10- to 20-fold their nutritional requirements. NRC niacin requirements are:

      Ducks (all classes): 55 mg/kg of total diet.

      Growing Chickens: from 35 mg/kg at 0-6 weeks to 11-25 mg/kg at 6+ weeks (higher levels for broilers than pullet layers).

      Currently, we have some show poultry formulas with niacin levels at 325 mg/kg (acts as calming agent) with no problems.

      There is potential for niacin deficiency in ducks if customers are feeding a poultry feed that is formulated to minimum requirements.

      I did come across a recipe for additional niacin supplementation through the water. Dissolve 100-150 milligrams of nicotinic acid (niacin supplements have different types-stick with nicotinic acid) into 1 gallon of drinking water. That should hopefully cover an deficiency from low level diet.

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    3. i have one duck - wood duck that is 5-6 weeks old. it seems ok but want to prevent problems... it slid on the floor in house and is favoring the leg alittle- still walking and swimming ok just seems to be favoring it. I sprinkle some niacin on it s water and food but really do not know how much to give. Can they get too much and harms them? it eats crickets, grass, peas, kale.. and the chick starter food

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    4. My guess it is an injury and niacin is probably not necessary. It's diet sounds perfect. I would not worry about the supplemental niacin.

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  12. I've been searching for information about niacin and ducklings, could not find what I wanted, I am a new at keeping ducks. You information helped with all of the questions I have had.
    Thank you so much, your site is a lifesaver.

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  13. can only one leg be effected by a lack of niacin? I have a muscovy duckling 1 week old (the smallest of all the ducklings) that has one leg that splays out and the other is normal.

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    1. At only one week I would guess the problem is due to an injury or birth defect. I think a niacin deficiency takes a bit more time to manifest itself.

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    2. Mine is the same...what do I do?

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    3. Kristen how is the duck progressing?

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  14. Is there any way to make niacin available to an egg?

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  15. I am not sure I understand your question. Niacin is available to an egg from the female that is laying it. Niacin is deposited in the egg when it is formed in the female. I doubt if you can increase the level of niacin in an egg if the female is consuming normal amounts of niacin. If she is not consuming enough niacin herself, then she may not be putting enough in the egg. So supplemental niacin might increase the level in the egg. But if everything is normal, I doubt if she will deposit more in the egg simply because she is eating more than she needs.

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  16. how long does it take for their legs to heal? I have 20 2wk old ducklings and they all have this problem.

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  17. If they have been misshapen for more than a week, they will probably not recover - even if you provide the proper feed.

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  18. I have a one 10 day old Muscovy out of flock of 170 that his foot has flipped and he is walking on the back side of it.

    Is this a niacin deficiency?

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    1. As no other birds are exhibiting leg problems, I doubt if the feed is deficient in niacin. My guess it is an injury.

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  19. I am considering getting a yearling goose that I've been told has a slipped tendon. She limps.
    I am wondering if this is something that can be passed on through breeding?
    Is there a genetic cause behind this? I realize that a lack of enough Vitamin B can cause it, but I'm wondering about breeding.
    My thoughts are that I should NOT breed the goose, as it could be passed on, and I don't want to pass on anything negative. I only want to breed better. Is my thinking right on? Or does this have nothing to do with genetics?
    And are there breeds of geese that are more susceptible? The goose I'm considering is a Sebastopol.
    Thank you in advance.

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    1. I contacted our veterinarian and his response was "Yes there is a genetic tendency but this is just one of a multitude of causes of slipped tendons. A breeder person would not use this goose as you do not want to breed possible negative issues." I do not know if some breeds are more susceptible than others. I hope this helps.

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  20. I have 4 muscovy ducklings out of a hatching of 12 that seem to have a niacin issue. Also very cold here in New Jersey at night. Brought these 4 in and now away from their mother. The other 8 are doing great..running. So started niacin in water last night. However, maybe the drops would be better. Question is, the 20mg of niacin per dropper full is enough for 2 ducklings. So splitting in half, I would give each duckling 10 mg each day? My ducklings are just 2 weeks old today. Born October 15th. Thank you...Cindy

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    1. Yes, if you have a liquid supplement with 20mg of Niacin per dropper, then each dropper is sufficient for two ducklings.

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  21. I'd like to know more about using feed-grade yeast as a supplement in duck food. What brands are available? What are the mixing instructions for supplementing niacin in this way?

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  22. You should probably involve a nutritionist in your questions. You need to know how much available niacin is in the yeast and if your ration needs supplementing. Once you know this, you can figure how much yeast to add. If you are purchasing a premixed feed, however, it rarely needs additional niacin.

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  23. Thank you for your help. One of our three two-week-old Pekins started getting "pigeon toed" and not walking as much as the other two and after reading your information, we started a niacin supplement through the Vitamin B liquid using a half dropper per day as well as putting Brewers Yeast on their food. A week later the duck is now stronger and his legs are not as bowed as before. We're new to pet ducks, so thanks again for your help.

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  24. Hi, I wonder if you could advise me. I have eight muscovy ducklings, born on the 11th April. Four of them have kept the scabby sort of skin on the webbed part of their feet, which seems to be hindering the proper growth of their feet. They do keep nibbling at this dead skin, I expect is irritating them.... is this normal. The other worry I have is that one duckling isn't walking well at all, it would rather lay down than walk, but can do when if had to. It's legs aren't splayed at all, and none of its siblings are exhibiting the same symptoms. I've just bought some 100mg niacin pills from the health food store, should I crumble a pill per gallon of drinking water for then all to drink, do you think? It seems fine when it swims.... I'm really not sure what's up. How you can help.

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  25. I have a approximately 6 week old peking duck that is having some kind of leg problems. She is growing, eating, drinking, and looks healthy, but she will not walk around or follow the other birds. She will get herself to food and water, (if it's not too far), but when she walks, it is with a severe limp, and she often puts her wing out (seems like for balance), and has to take frequent breaks to lay down during the journey. She cannot get herself into the baby pool to swim, like the others we bought at the same time, so I put her in the pool to swim, and then I have to take her out as well. My husband think we should put her down, as she probably won't survive, but like I said, she seems to be healthy, just needs a little assistance at times. I am going to try the nicacin, but what do you think? I don't want to keep her in pain (if she is), just because I love her. I actually have seen a little improvement with her in the last several days. She will come out of the night-time coop/fence area into the fenced yard (which has a 1-2 inch lip of fence which sticks up in the opening) by herself. Would appreciate any advice. The other ducks are great. Oh, she also had an eye infection lately, but I used Veterycin spray, and it went away. Will she be more susceptible to disease?

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    1. I would guess she is in some pain or she wouldn't be limping. I am not a physician but the reason people and other animals limp is to protect the hurting leg. I am guessing she will live many years. But she will be more susceptible to infections, predators and other health issues. You could take her to a vet and he can probably tell you if it is a injury or nutritional issue. It may be curable, it may not be. But the only way you will know is by visiting a vet. You can try niacin but that normally on corrects things if done immediately. My guess is the niacin may prevent further damage but not correct past damage - if it is niacin related. Hope this helps.

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  26. My daughter recently 'rescued' two Aylesbury ducks from a duck egg producer who was going out of business. They are about 26 weeks old and one of them had a sore leg for a few days - she would lift the foot and had trouble taking weight on it. She now walks OK although she is somewhat clumsy as the foot turns in slightly. We thought that maybe she trod on her own foot if that's how she always walks and so caused her own injury or maybe she was injured when being caught by the farmer when my daughter first collected the ducks.

    However, we have now had them for 10 days and, although she is taking the weight on her foot, we have noticed that the joint above the foot is slightly larger than on the other foot. We thought at first that it appeared larger because the joint is twisted but we are concerned. We have not handled the ducks yet as we wanted them to settle in first so we cannot tell if it is hot or tender.

    Can you tell me if the turned in foot is common; will it correct itself; is the enlarged joint a problem; should we take her to a vet? She is eating well and goes into a splash pool to clean and preen. We re complete novices and would appreciate any advice.

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    1. The turned in foot is not common. I doubt if it will correct itself. I am sure the swelling will go down and she will probably be able to move around well in the future. Legs are the weak part in ducks and it is not uncommon for them to injure their leg joints.

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    2. Thank you for the advice. We obviously want to do our best for the ducks and your re-assurance is most welcome.

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  27. I have a cayuga several months old. It was born fine but within the past month started limping and now walks on its heels with feet facing up. Often gets feet caught behind its wings. Now sure what I can do for it. I keep it alone on soft bedding and swim it a few times a day. It is eating and drinking but of course now it HATES me! My vet suggested a sling of some sort but not sure how to do that. Another told me to wrap legs in a normal position and keep it confined. Only out to swim. Suggestions? One foot turned in. Diet has not changed and niacin is in the feed.

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    1. Nutriena Chick Starter with niacin supplement. Also Niacin 10mgs in drinking water each day. Don't know if you received my other reply.

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    2. About a month old I changed to a different brand name chick starter. Noticed 4 babies started to have these leg issues. Toes in or out or limping. Changed to Nutriena starter with Niacin after reading above. Three of the ducks started to recover and are now fine or almost fine. The fourth hasn't responded as of yet. She walks on her elbows/heels with feet facing upwards. She has some use in her legs as she pushes me away when carrying her. She swims and uses both feet and bends from the elbow but when walking she acts as if her legs are locked in the bent position. I have tried to gently force her legs straight while feeding her. I hold her feet to a table and gently raise her up straight. In the yard she can and has walked about 2 or 3 normal steps before going back to the feet up. She gets her feet caught behind her wings. I tried putting her in a sling as suggested by my vet but she managed to get out of it while hanging about an inch off the floor. She must have put her feet down at some point to get out of the sling. I have noticed when swimming she tends to lean more to the left side. I keep her on soft bedding in a pen alone so I can tend to her. I haven't given up on her but...

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    3. It could be the fourth one was just too far along to recover. The only hope is a lot of water rehab but that may not yield a recovery.

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  28. Have you ever had a gosling hatch that has wry neck/crooked neck? I have a gosling that eats and drinks and is very strong but leans to the right and falls over and can't walk on his own. when he drinks he flings his neck so far up and back that he about flips over. Other than having bad balance, he is completely normal. Eats and drinks and does water therapy very well. He has outgrown 4 different boxes. If the box is too large, we find him on his back. The containers are big enough for him to turn around, stand and lay down. Exercise is pretty much only in the tub so he stays strong and doesnt lose muscle. If you have seen this, is there a remedy?

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    1. What are you feeding it? As my guess is a vitamin deficiency I would suggest switching to a game bird starter feed as it typically has more nutrients in it than most starter feeds. A good blog on treating wry neck is http://www.fresheggsdaily.com/2014/04/preventing-and-treating-wry-neck-in.html

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  29. I have 10 ducklings (Khaki Campbells and Sweet Emilys) that are now about 3 1/2 weeks old. I mistakenly started them on chick starter and one showed niacin deficiency at 2 1/2 weeks. We changed them to Purena Flock Raiser, which claims to be good for ducklings, broilers, and others. The tag does not tell how much niacin it has, but it does contain brewers yeast. I have also been putting Duravet Vitamins and Electrolytes in the water. It contains 22.5 mg niacin per 5 mg scoop. I started by putting half a scoop in each quart of water (double the recommended dosage) which improved the original troubled duckling within a few days ( she still has obviously bowed legs but now stands and walks normally), A few days ago, two or three other ducklings started rocking back on their heels and sitting on their hocks. I increased the Duravet to 5 mg per quart, and all seems well now. I have several questions: 1) Will this keep happening as the ducks get bigger? 2) besides dropper feeding them, is there a better way to give the niacin? 3) are meal worms a good supplement? 4) will i have to continue to supplement them their entire lives? 5) How much niacin is too much? 6) How would I know if I was giving them too much?

    Thanks for this great article and all your helpful comments. It is really hard to find information about raising ducklings.

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    1. Answers to your questions: 1)The greatest need for niacin is during growth. So I would guess it will not be a concern after 10 weeks of age.
      2) Normally it is sufficient to merely spread a niacin powder or brewers yeast on their feed. 3) meal worms are very good - something they would devour in the wild 4) No 5) I don't know but I would not give over 2-3 times the recommended amount 6) I don't know how you would know if you are giving too much niacin. Google "niacin toxicity". Hope this helps.

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  30. I recently purchesed two pekin ducklings. One of them seems to be showing signs of the niacin deficiency. His legs are slightly bowed and his stance it's wider than the others. He seems be unbalanced but he is growing fast eating a lot and he keeps up with the other duckling. I started them on niacin the water two days ago. Not sure if I've really noticed anything different. Do you think he will recover or did I not catch it in time? Also by "recover" does that mean he won't alway be bow legged?

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  31. I doubt if his legs will straighten but if he continues to get enough niacin, he will probably not limp. You can just call him Cowboy Bob. Niacin is most important when they are actively growing - which is the first 10 weeks.

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  32. thank you for such great info. My daughter just adopted 8 ducklings from our local farm supply store. She called me at work today concerned that one of the ducklings had developed a problem with it's leg. We are also brooding 16 Rhode Island Red chicks so we are using DuMor chick starter for both brooders. I will be making a trip to purchase Niacin suppliments as soon as I get off work. I pray this solves our problem. Thanks again for the great info!!!!!

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  33. Well I thought my little guy was getting better but today he seemed a lot worse. And my other family member said he's been really clumsy the past couple days. When I saw him today he's started to walk on the side of his foot sometimes an he's only taking a few steps before laying down. I've been putting niacin in his water but it doesn't seme to be working. Should I maybe try to Brewers yeas or is there another problem? They don't get to swim very often bc it's been pretty chilly here so I havent given them anything other than drinking water. Could that be a problem? I'm just kind of clueless right now. I don't want him to be in pain.

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    1. They do not require swimming water to develop correctly. You can try brewers yeast but the most important ingredient in that is the niacin. Sorry, I wish I could be of more help.

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  34. I accidentally purchased niacinamide instead of niacin capsules. Is niacinamide interchangeable with niacin? I was planning on adding it to their water. How much should I add per gallon?

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    1. I cannot answer that question. I do not know if niacinamide is interchangeable with niacin. If you purchased it at a health food store, I would go back and ask them.

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  35. I just wanted to comment and leave you a big THANK YOU! 5 days ago I was given a gosling who had stopped walking and could not stand.The gosling is just shy of 2 weeks old. I took her under my "wing" and got her on some good organic starter crumbles. After reading your blog 2 days ago I started her on the liquid GNC Vitamin B complex that was recommended. I gave it to her in a little dish with some water throuhout the day and night. Today little Tank is standing a walking (she is a bit stumbly, but, that's okay, I will take it!) Thank you again for you advise and expertise!

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  36. We just got our first ducklings 2 weeks ago. 1 is thriving and growing wonderfully, the other is much smaller and has leg issues. they are on chick starter food and both eat well. The smaller one's feet look like it's bowlegged. The hips look almost disjointed and when it walks it literally walks on top of it's own feet, takes few steps and lays down. I am going first thing to get the Niacin to try, but does this sound like its a deficiency? I'd hate for anything to happen to this duck. We LOVE them and enjoy having them as When we first got them both seemed normal and no noticeable issues were present. this is new and has just become noticeable to us. Please help if you can!

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  37. My 3-4 wk old Peking duckling has one leg turned in, which I---after reading this information---believe to be caused by niacin deficieny. I noticed this mid-day yesterday and gave them more brewer's yeast than normal earlier this evening, more than 24 hours after I noticed there was a problem. Is there anything else I should be doing to help the duck?

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  38. please someone help me. I have two white pekin ducklings that cant stay on their feet. I was told at first it was a vitiman deficieny. been giving vivimans for two weeks. 6 days ago I was told it was a infection so they have been on antibiotics for 6 days. NO IMPROVEMENT. DUCKS ARE HAPPY SWIM EAT BUT JUST CANT STAND ON FEET. PLEASE HELP MY DUCKLINGS

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    1. I would contact a vet listed on our website at http://www.metzerfarms.com/Veterinarians.cfm

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  39. i have a gosling that's legs slay out at right angles to it's body, it's 3 days old and very healthy otherwise?

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  40. My guess it is splayed leg, where the legs go out to the side as they were on a slippery surface. This can be corrected. Cut a rubber band and tie it to one leg between the knee and foot. Then tie the other leg so the legs are about 1" apart. They can walk this way and the hip joint heals itself so you can remove the rubber band in a couple of days.

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  41. Any way I can email you a video of my duck walking and you can help me with what to do for her next? She's a little over 2 months old and has severely crippled legs. She could walk when she was smaller but now she just lays down a lot. When she does try to walk she will use her beak to try to balance. I try to keep her active by "swims" in my bath tub but she is not a good swimmer and struggles to keep herself afloat. Any info and suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

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    1. I doubt if there is much you can do to cure the problem at this point. I would give her supplemental niacin but the bones are probably permanently deformed now. Just put her food and water near her so she does not have to travel far for them. Sorry. You can email me the video but I doubt if it will change the prognosis - metzer@metzerfarms.com

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  42. I presently have one that has a niacin deficiency. She is about 10 weeks old. She has been on the niacin pills for about one week now... it has helped one of her feet... but not the other it is stilled bowed. I have been doing water exercises with her to help the one foot out... I was wondering how long she should be on the niacin or if I should just take her off of it completely.

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    1. I would continue with it for at least another month. She is past her fastest growing period when she needs the most niacin - but a supplemental niacin is not going to hurt and may help the bad leg. I doubt very much if it will correct past deformities but may still help in development.

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    2. I would continue her on niacin for another month. It will not hurt and may help. I very much doubt if the leg will straighten but it may allow more normal development.

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  43. Could I add nutra.drench vitamin to water? Instead od just adding niacin?

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  44. My 17-week old Pekin/Mallard mixes both have perosis and it has been a difficult road. First, the girl developed leg problems and limped around at about 12/13 weeks. Took her to the vet where they guessed she had an infection in her joint caused by an injury. X-rays were fine. I gave her antibiotics and anti-inflammatories for two weeks with no change. Frustrated, I took her to another vet who said it was most likely their feed causing the deficiency. I had them on Dumor which was said to be for both ducks and chickens. Have since switched them to Mazuri and it's been a couple of weeks. I have lost s bit of faith in the vets who suggested putting the girl down (they have not seen the drake). She seems happy just has a hard time getting around so I let her scoot around in the yard and swim in the pool, carry her where she needs to go. Are they in pain? Is quality of life an issue? They seem happy! Just want the best for my little babes.

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  45. I my young goose is loosing the use of her legs. I started her on chicken starter for geese plus alfalfa to pick at. I also have the vitamin b liquid drops which she gets half a dropper. How often a day does she get the liquid vitamin?

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    1. I don't know how much of the liquid vitamin to give. Are there no directions? How old is your gosling? What is the level of protein in the feed? Can it eat all the starter it wants?

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  46. You need to get high quality food as soon as possible. Mazuri is the best, it has everything the need for a completely healthy diet. Hopefully it's not too late for your goose!

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  47. Three from our six 5-weeks old ducklings developed what we now know bowed legs due to luck of niacin. Two weeks ago we realised one duckling is not gaining the wheigt as the rest are and she was walking a bit differently. We thaought the other, faster relatives, may injured her. For few days I was searching topics such as broken legs, fractures etc. until my 12 y old daugter (who for 8 years dreams to become a vet!) find this article.
    We are so THANKFUL for your detailed description of the deformation, importance on B3 vitamin in duckling's development and healing methods. THANK YOU!!!!!!!

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  48. We just concluded that 3 of our 6 ducklings have bowed legs. Birds are now five weeks old. About two weeks ago we realised that one duckling is not gaining as much weight as the rest of ducklings. Few days after that we observed a bit different way of walking, we thought she may get injured, althrough there was no bleeding or any visible fracture and she did have a normal apetite. In another few days her legs deformed, she has dificulty walking. To decrease the pain we tried to help her with a 'therapy' putting her in a (luke) warm water 20 minutes few times a day. One can tell that she loves it! After much of research and trying to help and decode the 'misteroius desease' my 12 year old daughter find the above article. We rushed to the store and finaly get them niacin. Would they be able to live without pain?

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  49. 4 days ago one duck would not get up...first time we realized there was anything wrong. We have two. Both ducks were found to have swollen joints. My daughter thought it was a tendon out of place and manipulated the legs on the one duck. The duck that was so bad she was unable to continue. We then decided after reading your site that it was probably niacin deficiency. We started giving the niacin 75mg in water bowl of a quart. The duck who had less swelling and was still walking is getting better. The other duck has not improved. Her hock is very swollen. and she is unable to stand at all. What should we do. By the way they are 5 weeks old now.

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  50. My Ducks became ill at 4 weeks. One duck could not stand and the other just had the swollen legs. My daughter thought they had tendon out of place and manipulated the joints. Then that day or so she got the Niacin 75 mg tablet and started giving it in their water. One duck has improved but the other has not. It is now day 5 in treatment and duck still cannot walk. Thank you.

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  51. I am by no means an expert in this field, but through research and my own experience I would keep with the Niacin and make sure to keep them on a high quality waterfowl specific starter feed. Also try Epsom salt baths! I didn't realize the issue with my ducks until it was too late :( they can't walk and it's extra work for me, but I can't bring myself to put them down bc of my negligence :( they're happy little ducks though! Please keep me updated!

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  52. I have a three week old duckling that cannot stand. It is feed flock raiser. Other than that is seems healthy. Its poo is normal just one that looked like a chicken, dark brown and slimy. Its breathing normally. now mucus in the eye's or nostrils. Could anyone tell me what could be wrong? P.S I did have one that was lethargic but other than that nothing was wrong with it. Until it died.

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  53. I might add that I have keeped everything in their duck house very clean.

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  54. i have a pekin she about 6 weeks old her feet overlap i have been giving her a vitamin pack with niacin in it now shes not walking at all do you think if i give her just the niacin it will help ???

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  55. i have pekin duck about six weeks old her feet overlap now shes not walking at all i have been giving her a vitamin pack with niacin in it do you think if i just give her niacin it will help ????

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Niacin prevents a problem. Unless it is given immediately after the first indications of a niacin shortage, it cannot cure a problem. Try allowing your duck to swim. Oftentimes this helps them exercise without putting stress on their legs - in case it was not a niacin problem.

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  56. I have my goslings started on organic Purina starter-grower and also putting ¼ of a teaspoon of poult vitamin/mineral in 1 gallon of water. I had a couple of goslings die yesterday,and one with spraddled legs. They have proper bedding so I think it has something to deal with niacin. The bird has trouble walking and is slightly heavier than his buddies. (2 weeks old)

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    Replies
    1. Spraddle legs is not due to a niacin problem. It is due to too slippery of a flooring early in th first several days of the bird's life. It can be corrected.

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  57. May 31, 2016

    I have a 9 day old Toulouse gosling, three days ago Sunday morning he was on his back and was struggling to get up, when I stood him up his legs seem to be out to the sides, and he would only sit sometimes normal or on his bottom with his legs out in front. So l followed the spraddle leg treatment with the band aide. He eats,drinks, and grooms. The band aide has been on for 48 hrs. He has no balance and falls over, and sits with his feet out front. Could this be a lack of niacin.

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    1. I doubt if that is due to a lack of niacin. My guess is it is due to an infection of some sort that has affected his equilibrium - maybe an infection in his inner ear. It is difficult to correct the situation if they have been on their back for a long period. When you discover them on their back you need to flip them and keep them that way for at least 30 minutes. Put them in something so they can't stand up and tip backward. This will help temporarily but they still need to recover from the infection. You can try an antibiotic in their water to cure that.

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  58. I have 14 runners 7 weeks old. One is not like the others. Stays by it self more then with the group. Doesn't stand for long periods of time. Not like the others. When walking he\she stumbles. Looks week when walking. Flight feathers, the straws show 24\7. All the others you can't see unless they stretch. What could be wrong?

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    Replies
    1. I wouldn't know. Something is preventing complete development and is weakening it.

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    2. Thank you for your time. I guess only more TLC and time will tell how this little guy\girl will be down the road. thanks again.

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  59. Hi.
    First i want to say that we absolutely love our ducks you sent us. they are 6 weeks now. We have four cayugas, two pekins and two blue and two black sweedish. by far our pekins have been the sweetest and most loving of the flock.

    Okay, now to the reason i'm writing. Our two pekins are having issues. im not sure what is going on, but i'm sure hoping you can lead me in the right direction. Four days ago or little girl started to limp on her right leg just a little bit. It was hardly noticeable, so we decided to keep an eye on her and make sure nothing was going on. Second day her leg and all joints were swollen and hot to the touch, however she was still getting around. yesterday she is only moving around when i put her in the pool. also on the third day i noticed the little boy taking a few steps at a time and then laying down, it didn't matter where either he'd just stop and lay.
    This morning her leg is still swollen and hot. shes now using her beak and left leg as much as she can to scoot herself around.

    What we've been doing:
    The second day we noticed the problem we separated her from the rest of them. We would carry her back and forth to the pool 3-4 times a day to let her swim in lukewarm water. We started epsom salt compresses for her right leg for 10 minutes at a time, thirty minute stretches at most and then 3 times a day.
    Then we added the little boy, for his benefit but hers too.
    We've added another waterer with electrolytes in the water, 1 package per gallon. They are together but separate from the rest of the flock. They also have separate food bowls because they wont move to eat. But they are eating drinking and even swimming when we put them in the pool.

    No problems whatsoever with the others just our beloved pekins.

    This mornin; They are both still alive, her leg is the same, he doesnt want to walk, and now her right wing doesnt want to stay folded to her body and neither one of his do. Ive helped them pull their wings i and they will stay, but if they try to scoot, they fall right back down.
    My vet recommends euthanasia, i'm not wanting to give up yet, these two were for my daughter and im not willing ti teach her to give up on something she loves.
    if this is anything someone else has experienced please lend a word of friendly advice and tell me what you did. Any advice is welcomed or maybe someone can lead me in the right direction.
    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There does not seem to be any injury through which they could have become infected? Ducks are susceptible to leg and foot infections through any type of open wound. The heat indicates an infection. I have been told by others that they have used Cephalexin (500mg 3 times a day for two weeks). Another was Novobiocin at .175gms/lb. of feed. The last suggestion given to me was to inject .3cc Combiotic for 2.5 week old birds and .5 for 4 week old birds. I would assume this was repeated for several days but that was not in my notes. Good luck!

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  60. Dose this affect geese?

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    Replies
    1. I believe it does but have not had reports of geese with these problems.

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  61. I lost 7 3 week old goslings. They first could not stand then did not want to eat or drink. soon after this the goslings heads went out of control and they died.Do you know what happened ? Is It niacin Deficiency? I have 11 ducks and none of this has happened to any of them and I keep my ducks with my geese.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A lack of niacin would not kill them quickly. It would cripple them first and it would be a slow process. My guess is it was some type of infection that only affected your goslings. I do not know what bacteria or virus it might be so guessing what antibiotic is very difficult. I would call a state veterinary lab in your state. If you go to our website at http://www.metzerfarms.com/PoultryLabs.cfm or
      http://www.metzerfarms.com/Veterinarians.cfm
      you can find who is nearest to you. Good luck.

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  62. I received three geeslings around April. A week ago one of my geese, started isolating himself, and in a couple of days started to lose balance and a couple of days later, could not stand at all. I isolated it, try to feed him, but not sure is getting anything, the neck is curled, at times it is on its side and cannot stand at all. I am looking for clues as to what might be wrong. He is still alive, just now decided to give him some niacin, I tried antibiotic for a couple of days, but no improvement yet it has not died. Any thoughts as to what I could do? I gave him some grass leaves and it eats it, and chicken scratch, there he knibbles but I am not certain he is getting any down his neck. He definitely has lost lots of weight, but still alive., the eyes appear a little sunken in, and he also shakes his head side to side a lot.

    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My guess is it might be a vitamin deficiency. See if you can get a packet of vitamins and minerals at your local feed store and add that to his drinking water. Good luck. Also provide a pelleted or crumble grower poultry feed. Then you are sure it has everything he needs nutritionally.

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  63. Hi, I have a sweet Welsh Harlequin who is at least 4-5 years old, who gets a little wobbly on her legs now and then. I'm not 100% sure, but it seems to be when she starts laying again after a break (she shares her nest with another WH and a Saxony, and their eggs are so similar it's hard to tell who's laying what). It usually lasts for 1-3 days. She does seem uncomfortable and avoids walking, and I sometimes have to help her into the quack shack at night. Sometimes I find a weird egg with no shell in the yard or pond that I'm assuming was the problem. I have them on flock raiser with oyster shell for grit, and they get brewers yeast in their food now and then but not regularly. Could it be a niacin problem? If not, is there anything I can do to make her more comfortable? Thank you!

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    Replies
    1. No, I doubt if it is Niacin. Maybe the reproductive tract is not "just right" and it takes an egg or two to get it working right again. I don't know what else you can do. Good luck.

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  64. I have a fully grown Pekin, that I saved from a shelter, who has one foot that turns inward, and when she lays down, she sticks that same leg and foot out away from her. All of the articles I read are for chicks/ducklings. Does it do any good to give an adult duck niacin? I am feeding her Mazuri waterfowl maintenance, so I'm pretty sure it has all the proper stuff. It should for 60.00 a bag. She runs and swims just fine, not in circles. Sometimes she favors it, other times she doesn't. 2 vets, and one being an avian only vet, didn't really know much or tell me much. Just wondering if it's a waste of time and money for a full grown duck.

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    1. I don't think you can fix her foot at this point. She has learned to live with it so there is no point in trying to fix it - in my opinion. If she can run and swim she is good shape.

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  65. One of my ducks has gone from pigeon toed to spraddle legged we have been giving her niacin in her water but doesn't seem to help

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    1. I doubt if niacin is the problem. Spraddle leg is normally caused by a slick walking surface and the legs go out from under the bird and they cannot bring them back together. This is cured by tying their legs the normal distance apart and allowing the tendons and ligaments to strengthen and again hold the legs in their normal position. This may take several days. Usually this only occurs in birds under several days of age.

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  66. Thanks John. Before I saw your post I went and got some niacin. Oh well, a small dose everyday can't hurt her. I give her 1/4th of a pill, it's 100mg's, and some of it gets lost in the food I'm sure. Thanks again, I will let you know what happens. :)

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  67. I got five ducklings. They are six weeks old and one of them over the last two weeks has become pigeon toed. I didn't know exactly what was going on at first and now it's hard for her to get to her food and water. I purchased some niacin tablets which I'm going to be putting into the water. I was wondering if there's anything else I can do for her? Should her hips be wrapped? Or should I just give her the niacin and leave her be? And if I put niacin and the water is it okay for the other ducklings to have it as well?

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    Replies
    1. Yes, I would advise the niacin. I would try to provide it for all the ducklings. I don't think there is anything else you can do for her. Good luck.

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  68. My Pekin ducks are 3 weeks old and the male seems to walk oddly. He tends to sit whenever he can, from what I read it may be a niacin deficiency. I will get that liquid supplement however I have been sprinkling brewers yeast on their feed. Could he never recover? I feel bad he seems to struggle a bit when he walks.

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    Replies
    1. If you have been sprinkling the yeast on the feed, my guess is it was an injury and he should recover - though legs are the weakest part of a duck.

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  69. My two Pekin ducklings are two weeks old, I have one male and one female. The male seems to have had a major growth spurt over the last two to three days, but the female looks the same as she did a few days ago. They are both on the same feed (Nature Smart Organic Chick Starter/Grower).

    I am concerned about the female, as she is not growing as fast. She is active, eating and drinking at the same rate as the male, but staying the same size. She does seem a little slower then the male, and possibly a little unsteady on her feet, but they (the feet) do look normal. Should I put them on Niacin? Is there something else possibly going on causing her to grow slower?

    I really appreciate this blog and any advice you can offer! I've raised chicks, but these are my first ducks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can get some soluble vitamins at your local feed store and add them to their water or get some OTC antibiotic and add that to her water. You can't really diagnose with just "down in the dumps" symptoms but it wouldn't hurt to try these things in case she has a bug of some sort.

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  70. Hi Hannah.
    I'm new to ducks too. A couple months ago I had similar problems but mine got worse, so it's good to catch sooner.
    What I would do is buy super b complex vitamins and niacin capsules. You won't need the entire pill dosage. I think the niacin comes in 500 mg, you should only give 100mg per one gallon of water, I also crushed the super b complex and added it to their water. Some people also use Brewers yeast for the niacin. It'll take a week or two before you notice a difference. I also used electrolytes for them. But you'll have to provide two waterers one clean water and the other with the electrolytes. I use backyard chickens website for all things I'm unsure of duck wise. There's a gal Miss Lydia that's been a huge support for me and others too. There's good info on there and you can probably find anything you want to know. Good luck with your babies.

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  71. Mr. Metzer, I have two ducks experiencing walking issues, they are 5 months old. I notices this about 2 months ago and have been providing Niacin and Vitamins w/ electrolytes to them but have found the problem hasn't resolved itself. They do not have any visible leg or foot injury. One duck seems better then the other. They start out free ranging fine with other ducks then they get to far away and can't walk back, end up sitting, resting and start the process over again. What else can I do to help them that I'm not doing already? Feed is 18% layer, they were getting properly feed as ducklings and they eat peas and cheerios everyday as a snack.

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    Replies
    1. Do they appear to be overweight and therefore have difficulty moving about? I they are not overweight, then I would guess it was a earlier injury or nutritional problem before you started the extra niacin and vitamins. Sometimes they get better but sometimes the problem causes permanent damage that makes it uncomfortable for them to walk longer distances. I don't think you can do anything else. They will either recover or just learn to take more breaks in their morning walks.

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  72. Dear John
    I have 3 an half month duckling I love her very much but I found she have niacin problem her legs bent and unzbld to walk I try to some vet but it is not helpful , it's more than month she have problem she sit all the day and as try to walk she fall down, please help me what to do

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You cannot heal the bones at this point as I am sure they are permanently bent or twisted. All you can do is provide food and water near your duck so it is easy for her to eat and drink. You may be able to put her in swimming water for exercise but you will have to remove her once she is done swimming.

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  73. Muhammad- we had two Perkins who had very similar issues. We were able to nurse one back to health and she's walking and laying eggs now and the other passed away. It can't hurt to try this as she needs the vitamins anyways. It took almost 3weeks before she walked on her incagain but we would put her in the baby pool for her swim and get exercise and even clean herself. In there she'd move and use her legs like a normal duck. Then she would let us know when she's done. We'd take her out and put her food close to her so she could eat and drink without having to move around. This is the vitamin regiment I did:
    buy super b complex vitamins and niacin capsules. You won't need the entire pill dosage. I think the niacin comes in 500 mg, you should only give 100mg per one gallon of water, I also crushed the super b complex and added it to their water. Some people also use Brewers yeast for the niacin. It'll take a week or two before you notice a difference. I also used electrolytes for them. But you'll have to provide two waterers one clean water and the other with the electrolytes. I use backyard chickens website for all things I'm unsure of duck wise. There's a gal Miss Lydia that's been a huge support for me and others too. There's good info on there and you can probably find anything you want to know. Good luck with your baby.

    ReplyDelete