We finally got our babies... and desperately need advice.


Dec 31, 2017
My husband and I finally got our ducklings (2 female Welsh Harlequin) from a local breeder. One of them was much smaller than the other and ended up passing away on day 2. She never showed any interest in food or water and was visibly too thin. The other one has been perfect, growing by the minute and eating twice her weight in food a day. After almost a week we replaced our lost one with another female and a male from the same breeder (siblings to our remaining baby). We realised on the way home that the male has a bad leg. He can walk, but he's visibly gimpy. It seems to be twisted to the inside. The other leg is fine. He has a great appetite for both food and water, but I'm worried that his leg may not get better. He does stretch it out when he lays down, then brings it back under his body, so he seems to have good range of motion. I noticed today that they all seem to be breathing heavy, but they are keeping their mouths closed. They are breathing heavily enough that their body's rock back and forth. Am I doing something wrong? I am feeding them a non medicated meatbird starter with probiotics from purina which does have niacin, and I sprinkle brewers yeast on top. I also added some nutri drench to their water, which is changed at least 3 times a day. Bedding is pine shavings, food is changed at least twice daily. Bedding is changed about 3 or 4 times daily. They have a heat lamp and the space to get away from it. Near the lamp is 89 and the other side of the brooder is 82. Is it too hot? They are 8 days old. Any advice will be greatly welcomed and sorry for writing a book. I'm just so worried.
I'd give them clear water as well as the probiotics water and change your probiotics water often so as to prevent bacteria from growing on it. I'd also cool the brooder a bit, because ducklings don't need as much heat as chicks.

Can they get their entire beaks in the waterer? Ducklings need to be able to do that.

And I'd do a little more looking into that breeder. That sounds really suspicious to me. It's highly unethical to sell someone a chick with a twisted leg and not tell them.

As for the book--not intended to be a criticism, but it would be a little easier to work though your post if you separated the paragraphs a bit. Sorry.

@Ravynscroft and @casportpony might be able to help you.
Thank you so much for the replies!

The water is deep enough to put their whole beaks in. I will add a plain water in as well. Thank you.
Sound like your temperature under the lamp is good - 89 is fine, 59 is much too low. 82 on the 'cool' end is a little high though, any way you could get that down to maybe 75? Perhaps a bigger brooder?

The gimpy leg might be because the breeder was not feeding him food with the proper amount of niacin. Now that you are feeding him the correct amount of niacin, it might correct itself.

Can you post a picture of the leg?
I can move the lamp further into the corner and see if that brings the temp on the other side down, if not I can make a bigger brooder. They are in a large storage bin right now.

I'm going to see if he'll let me take a pic of his leg. I've been trying not to scare him.
Here are some pictures.


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Yep, I see the bend in the first picture. Would not be at all surprised if it was caused by a niacin deficiency.

I'd be very leery of that 'breeder' in the future because it seems like they don't know how to feed their babies and are willing to sell ducklings with undisclosed defects to people, which is not okay. And in the first one that died, and it's just not good all the way around.

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