Duck Losing Balance and Falling Over

Ducks can lose balance and keep falling over because of sudden illness, deficiency, a broken or an injured leg. However, Niacin deficiency is the most common cause of falls in ducks. Parasites and bugs that suck blood can also weaken a duck, and it may keep losing its balance or even fall over.

Niacin, often known as vitamin B3, is an essential mineral that aids in converting food into energy that cells can utilize. The energy is then used by cells to develop bones, body tissues, and other structures. Niacin is required daily by all livestock and humans for survival.

Once the body fails to get sufficient supplies of the mineral, it develops a range of difficulties and illnesses. A shortage of niacin in people, for instance, can cause frailty, skin issues, migraines, melancholy, and even hallucinations.

The symptoms of niacin in ducks may include falling due to constant fatigue. The duck’s body cannot produce enough energy to sustain itself; hence, the fatigue. Most ducks have too much weight that rests on their little legs, and they may easily lose balance or fall over due to stress and fatigue.

Reasons for ducks losing balance and falling over

The body has an amino acid known as tryptophan, responsible for generating it. The amino acid works well in some ducks, but the same is not true for other ducks. The poor performance is attributed to the duck’s genetic makeup.

Researchers have suggested niacin supplements for ducks in captivity. The beauty of ducks is that they require the same amounts of the mineral as all other poultry. Duck legs being broken or dislocated may also cause falls amongst ducks. You must conduct a physical check on your duck if you notice an unusual fall.

Poor appetite and nutrition

Other health conditions may also lead to ducks becoming weak and falling. For instance, sick ducks are likely to lose appetite and fail to eat sufficiently.

Nutrition is responsible for energy generation in the body. Failure to feed properly may lead to your ducks being feeble and losing weight. It is also important to check for the likelihood of illness in your ducks if you notice unnecessary falling.

Finally, falls may also be witnessed in ducklings, and their cause may be due to a wry neck condition. Wryneck is also known as stargazing or crookneck and is a common illness in ducklings only.

It prevents a duckling from holding its head steadily on its own. The condition can worsen, so the duckling may walk backward or fall flat on its back. This condition usually makes ducklings unable to walk completely.

However, the birds do not usually show signs of illness for the people watching out for or even rearing ducks. It waits till they can be concealed no more. This usually necessitates much more critical care than a timely diagnosis would have avoided.

If you want to detect any disease early, you’ll need to spend a lot of time with the flock. This way, minor changes and symptoms become more noticeable. You’ll be able to tell what healthy looks, smells, and feels like. You will also know when to worry if you do a routine full-body wellness check on the ducks.

What is wobbly duck syndrome?

Wobbly duck syndrome is a condition in which ducks experience weakness and drowsiness. They may struggle to keep their heads up or fly easily.

For ducks, this can be fatal. They may drown in water or mud pools if they cannot hold their heads up. Wobbly duck is symptomatic and usually results from underlying other conditions.


The most likely cause of wobbly duck syndrome is botulism. Ducks get botulism when they ingest botulism-tainted food or drink botulism-tainted water. Clostridium Botulinum is the bacteria that produce the toxin.

These bacteria are ubiquitous in soil and flourish on rotting foliage, foods, or carcasses. This is where they create a very toxic toxin. Maggots also absorb the toxin and concentrate it.

The toxin that is eaten affects the nerve system, resulting in weakness and paralysis. Ducks are more likely to access moist, rotting feed during the rainy season. This is when botulism is more likely to be prevalent in them.

Botulism may arise when ducks peck at decaying leftover food. When the water levels in a pod drop, the flora on the edge decay and die. As they decompose, any duck that eats those may get the condition.

Botulism may be suspected when one or more ducks in a group develop a rapid onset of floppy weakness. A thorough investigation for a likely source of the poisoning should be conducted. Within the territory where the ducks can roam,

On post-mortem examination, the body of a duck that died of botulism looks normal. Botulism confirmation in the lab is also challenging and is rarely done. However, ill or recently died ducks should be submitted to a lab to rule out other possible causes of sickness.


Botulism has no specific cure, and the majority of infected ducks die. Paralysis of breathing muscles, legs, wings, and neck muscles causes weakness (leading to the wobbly duck syndrome) and eventual death.

Ducks that ingested only negligible traces of the toxin may survive. However, they will need constant care until the toxin wears off. Because the birds cannot swallow, do not attempt to feed or water them.

Putting food or water in their beaks using a syringe might induce pneumonia. This happens because it may accidentally end up in the lungs. Before giving the ducks water, wait until they can lift their heads and cluck.

Protect the ducks from the sun and potential predators such as other birds or animals. The ducks are unlikely to live if there is no improvement in 24 to 48 hours.

How to help a duck that is losing balance and falling over

Examine the legs for red, swollen feet that cannot maintain their stance when standing. Give adequate niacin or drop some in the drinking water if the problem is niacin deficiency.

If the duck’s situation does not change after receiving niacin, consult a veterinarian immediately. This is to rule out toxoplasmosis or botulism. The first symptoms are commonly mistaken for avian flu. The illness can extend to the brain cells if it is not treated. If this happens, the ducks’ bodies become imbalanced, causing them to fall.

The correct course of action is to administer medicines and remove the infection with the help of a veterinarian. If vaccination is required, ask your veterinarian if it can be used to prevent falling over before the situation worsens.

In most cases, it is easy for ducks with weak bones to hurt or break their legs. However, ducks with broken legs will have a hard time because most of them are heavy.

The weight weighs too much stress on the affected leg or legs, making movement difficult. In this case, see that they are well nursed, and the duck has all it needs at its disposal.


  • Felix Odi

    Felix Odi is an experienced author and content creator with over 18 years of experience as a publisher. He developed an interest in poultry keeping, fish farming, and pest control while growing up in rural areas of Bristol, FL.