Duck Leg Problems – Full Guide

Domesticating ducks such as Muscovy duck, Runner duck, and Mallard duck in the backyard has always been enjoyable and rewarding.

Ducks have amazingly sturdy bodies but weak, small feet. Most duck breeds are introverts and very good at hiding their most illnesses and injuries from their guardians.

Duck Leg Problems–Full Guide

Leg and foot problems are typical happenings in raising a duck. You’ll know your duck has foot or leg problems if it lies on the ground, limp when walking, and reluctant to go in the water.

This brief guide will thoroughly explain everything related to duck leg problems and how to address those problems.

Common Duck Leg Problems

Ducks can quickly go from skittishly jumping to limping and lying on the ground all the time. Any leg or foot problems can cause undesirable pain to the ducks.

Ducks prefer not to walk and calmly lay down to lessen the pain. Hence, if you happen to witness your duck laying calmly than usual, pay attention to its legs and feet.

Ducks’ leg and foot problems are generally associated with an unbalanced diet, poor sanitation, stagnant water, and mismanagement of ducks.

Following are the leg or foot problems duck breeds commonly experience:

Spraddle Leg

Spraddle leg is usually a cause of pain in baby ducks. As ducks have small legs and feet to handle big fat bodies, sometimes their legs can’t handle their weight. When baby ducks (1 or 2-day old duckling) run on smooth or slippery floors, they sometimes lose their footing.

Spraddle leg in ducks and other avian species can also be caused by abnormalities during incubation or hatching. Baby ducks aren’t able to get enough friction on the slippery floor. Their tiny legs slide to one side and prevent their normal leg muscle development.

What To Do About Duck Spraddle Leg

In the case of spraddle legs, baby ducks (ducklings) will most probably need your attention and assistance:

  • Lay down your duckling on a rubber drawer or cabinet mat to provide enough friction/traction.
  • Gently hold the baby duck’s spraddle leg and bring back its natural position.
  • Keep holding the baby duck’s spraddle leg until the joint and ligaments get completely healed and strengthened.
  • You can also use a rubber band, masking tape, and band-aid to keep the leg straight in a natural position.
  • Be gentle and put the pad between its spraddle leg. Neatly wrap the band-aid or masking tape around the leg.
  • Wait for two to three days to heal the joint and ligaments.

Niacin Deficiency

In baby ducks’ (ducklings) diets, niacin is a significant vitamin. It helps ducklings and goslings in their proper development.

Lack of niacin in ducks’ diets can cause reluctance to move, swelling of hocks, and development of bowed shaped legs. WIth bowed shaped legs, ducks find it uncomfortable to move. Lack of niacin could also cause ducks not to gain weight.

How To Address Niacin Deficiency

If not provided with enough niacin in the diet, ducklings will find it very difficult to walk. Lack of niacin could even cause death.

Add a sufficient amount of niacin to your ducks’ diets. You can easily purchase niacin pills from any nutrition or drug store near your area. Hopefully, one pill of niacin (500 mg) will be enough to feed 50 ducks. To make sure, niacin sticks to the pellets, add a sufficient amount of water as well with the food.

Alternatively, you can also mix a niacin pill directly into the drinking water of ducks. Simply mix one pill of niacin with 8 gallons of water. Make sure your ducks drink all the niacin water.

Bacterial Infections

Your duck may be limping and suffering pain because of bacterial infections. Gross mismanagement of ducks can cause the duck’s hock to swell. The duck will face difficulty in walking and will most probably limp.

Duck Leg Problems

Swelling of the ankle or hock can disturb the natural gait (ability to walk). If the treatment is not carried away immediately, swelling caused by bacterial infections may completely distort the hock joint. In such a case, your duck may never recover back to normal walking.

How To Address Bacterial Infections

To address leg problems caused by bacterial infections, use antibiotic injections. Concern your vet and ask him about the most effective antibiotic injections for this infection type.

Injured Legs

Commonly, ducks may injure or hurt their legs while entering and exiting water or walking on hard surfaces. Ducks could easily get cut, bit, and scrape. Leg or foot injuries are also expected to occur when your ducks get their tiny feet cut by a wire. Such injuries may cause your duck to limp.

Injured Legs Treatment In Ducks

  • Firstly, separate your injured duck from its flock.
  • Bring your first-aid kit.
  • Lightly wash the injured area with mild soap and water.
  • You can also rinse the wound with vinegar and water solution.
  • Gently disinfect the wound.
  • Tenderly bandage or cover it up.

In case your duck is bleeding heavily, immediately bring it to a vet.

Consult Your Vet Regarding Leg Issues

You should consult your veterinarian before deciding to take things into your hands. Be aware that some duck leg problems may need your vet to splint or hobble it. Such situations might not be appropriate for you to handle.

Your duck may also require proper physical therapy exercises. In this context, your vet will be a better person to handle the issue. Let your vet evaluate your duck leg problem and decide a cure for it.

It is always better to be safe about your duck’s weak legs than to be sorry. Improper handling may make primary leg problems worse or result in additional duck health issues.


To conclude, if you see your duck limping or walking unnaturally, figure out the cause first. Try to diagnose and handle the problem if you see fit. But if you see that things are rather severe and out of your expertise, consult a vet.