What Ducks Can And Can’t Eat
If you have ever sat on a park bench, throwing treats into the pond for the local waterfowl, you know how much joy the simple act of feeding ducks can bring. But whether you are feeding the ducks at the pond, or your own ducks in your backyard, it is important that you arm yourself with the knowledge of exactly what ducks can and can’t eat.
What can ducks eat? A duck’s diet should consist mainly of waterfowl-specific commercial feed, available at many feed and livestock stores. In addition to duck feed or pellets, there are a variety of healthy snack options that you can offer to round out your duck’s diet.
If you want to know more about the exact foods you can safely feed your duck, read on!
What To Know Before Feeding New Foods To Ducks
The vast majority of your duck’s diet should consist of commercially-formulated feed appropriate for waterfowl (or chickens, as explained in more detail below). In addition, you can safely offer your ducks a variety of treats, such as fruits, vegetables, and grains. Take care in offering snacks, however. Treats should make up only 10% of your duck’s diet, at most. Too many snacks can lead to obesity and malnutrition, as your duck may not eat enough of its feed to acquire the vitamins and minerals necessary.
Can Ducks Eat Chicken Feed?
Waterfowl feed is formulated specifically for ducks but is not as readily available as chicken feed. If you are struggling to find waterfowl pellets, or you are housing your ducks with your chickens, rest assured that adult ducks do just fine eating chicken feed.
Ducklings have different nutritional needs than chicks, however, and care must be taken when feeding chick starter to ducklings. Ducklings require more niacin than chicks to grow properly, so you must add brewer’s yeast to chick feed to avoid this deficit. Aim to add 1.5 tablespoons of brewer’s yeast per cup of chick feed. It is also important that you avoid medicated chick feed. Ducklings eat more than chicks, and this can cause them to consume a toxic amount of medicated feed.
Can Ducks Eat Carrots?
Carrots are loaded with vital nutrients, including vitamins C, K, B6, and calcium. Ducks love eating carrots, and carrots are an excellent snack choice for your waterfowl. While carrots are a healthy treat, it is important that you feed them safely. Carrots are hard and dense, and ducks will have difficulty breaking them into manageable pieces to consume safely. If feeding carrots to your ducks, it is best to grate them or peel them first. You may also cook them until they are soft, and offer them once cooled.
Can Ducks Eat Tomatoes?
Ducks can eat tomatoes, but only if you take special precautions. The flesh and seeds of ripe, red tomatoes are perfectly safe to offer your ducks in moderation, though all fruits and vegetables with a high water content should be fed in limited quantities as they can lead to diarrhea. Some ducks enjoy a ripe tomato, and some do not.
Ducks cannot eat unripe tomatoes or any green part of the tomato plant (including stems and leaves). These will all contain levels of solanine, which is toxic to ducks and can lead to illness and even death in even small amounts.
Can Ducks Eat Peas?
Peas are an excellent snack choice for ducks, as they are high in fiber, protein, and niacin. Ducks love eating peas, and actually prefer them and other greens over less nutritious snack options like bread. The best way to feed your duck peas is straight from the freezer – just make sure they are fully thawed before offering them.
Can Ducks Eat Apples?
Apples are a healthy treat for ducks and are high in vitamins A, C, and niacin. When feeding apples to ducks, keep in mind the same considerations that apply to feeding carrots. Ducks will have a hard time breaking a large apple slice into an appropriate size, so make sure to either cut the apples into very small chunks, shred them, or offer the peels. Another great way to feed apples to your ducks is to cook and mash them into applesauce – just make sure you let the applesauce cool before offering.
Can Ducks Eat Bananas?
Bananas are high in potassium, magnesium, and vitamins C and B6. Bananas are a very healthy treat to feed to your ducks, in controlled moderation. Ducks love bananas because they are high-sugar treats – this also means that your duck can quickly become obese if they are consumed frequently.
Bananas can be safely fed as-is, with no more preparation than peeling the fruit. If you would like to feed the peels to your ducks as well, make sure to dice them into small pieces so that they are easy to manage.
Can Ducks Eat Grapes?
Grapes are full of fiber and antioxidants, in addition to vitamins and minerals. When feeding grapes to your ducks, make sure that you cut them in half or in quarters before offering them. It is not unheard of for a duck to choke to death on a whole grape. Whole grapes are the perfect size to get lodged into the esophagus, and cutting them before offering them can be the difference between life and death.
Can Ducks Eat Pineapple?
Ducks enjoy eating pineapple and appreciate the high levels of vitamin C, manganese, and niacin. Because the leaves and skin of pineapples are particularly tough, it is best to limit your duck’s snack to the flesh of the pineapple. You can cut the flesh into small, bite-sized pieces, or you can offer it slightly mashed or pureed.
Can Ducks Eat Strawberries?
Strawberries – both the fruit and the leaves – are full of vitamins and minerals. They are a healthy treat to feed to your ducks, so long as they are cut into manageable sizes or mashed. Because of the high sugar content in strawberries (and most of the fruit on this list), it is important that they be fed in limited quantities to your ducks so as to avoid obesity.
Can Ducks Eat Blueberries?
Blueberries are high in vitamins C, K, and are loaded with antioxidants. Blueberries are an excellent snack choice, for both ducks and humans! Blueberries come in a wide range of sizes, and if you are feeding larger or under-ripe blueberries, make sure to cut them in halves or quarters to avoid the risk of choking. If your blueberries are very ripe and smaller, feel free to feed them whole.
Can Ducks Eat Bread?
What did most of us bring to the local pond to feed the ducks as children? Loaves of old bread, of course. But can, or should, ducks eat bread? Ducks can eat bread just as humans can eat candy bars. In other words, bread is junk food for ducks. While not chemically toxic to birds, it leads to obesity and malnutrition if consumed regularly, while offering no nutritional benefit.
Can Ducks Eat Popcorn?
Popcorn is a delightful treat for humans, but with humans is where it should stay. Popcorn is not only lacking in nutrition for ducks but can also be detrimental to their health. For these reasons, ducks should not be allowed to eat popcorn. Popcorn can easily get stuck in the duck’s esophagus, causing them to choke, which can have fatal consequences. In addition to the risk of choking, popcorn hulls cannot be digested, which can lead to constipation and even infection if not excreted properly.
Can Ducks Eat Sunflower Seeds?
Birds love seeds, and ducks are no exception. Fortunately, sunflower seeds are also quite the healthy snacks for waterfowl, as they are rich in vitamin E, magnesium, fatty acids, and the niacin that is so important to growing ducklings. You may feed your ducks sunflower seeds that are either shelled or unshelled.
You may find the ducks shelling them with their bills and eating the seeds, or you may find them eating them whole. Either is healthy and harmless for your duck. Before offering sunflower seeds, you will want to ensure that they have no added salt or other flavors included in them.
Can Ducks Eat Rice?
Ducks love rice, and it is a nutritious snack to offer. Rice is high in fiber, phosphorus, iron, and vitamins A and C. When choosing between white and brown rice, brown is the healthiest choice. Offer it cooked or uncooked; ducks will enjoy the low-sugar, high-nutrition snack.
Have you heard caution against feeding rice to birds? The theory is that the rice expands in the bird’s belly, causing them to “explode”. There is no truth to this – rice will not expand in your duck’s belly, and your duck will be perfectly safe consuming it.
Foods You Can And Can’t Feed Ducks
When fed in moderation, snacks can offer your duck a variety of benefits, including a varied diet, a bonding opportunity, and the ability to train them. Ducks love eating treats, so long as you are offering safe and healthy snacks.
You can read more of my recent articles about ducks below, or by going here!