Having backyard ducks is a great way to get eggs, entertainment, and quality compost. But, when it comes to a duck’s health, knowing WHAT you should feed them is important. Keeping your ducks healthy will result in longer life, better quality eggs, and MORE eggs laid. Ducks that get sick or are malnourished tend to lay eggs less often, and they can be of poor quality when they do.
Here is a list of what you should and shouldn’t feed ducks:
Grit: Ducks that have access to dirt will pick up small stones on their own and don’t need supplemental grit offered. If your ducks are kept in enclosures without access to dirt, sprinkle a small amount of grit on their food once a week.
Oyster Shell: Oyster shell is not usually necessary if your laying ducks are on a good quality-laying ration. If despite a good diet your ducks are laying pitted or thin-shelled eggs, you may choose to supplement the laying diet with crushed oyster shell.
Lettuces– Especially ice burg, should be given in small quantities due to lower nutritional value. Other types include Romaine, Bib, Butter, Radicchio, etc.
Cucumber– Feed this uncooked, peeled, or unpeeled. Chop up in small cubes.
Peas– Fresh or frozen/thawed are best. Canned peas tend to have too much salt for birds. Try keeping a bag of thawed peas in the fridge for treats, or to “train” your ducks to go to bed at night.
Green Beans– Cut in to small pieces, or give them the ends and tips when you trim beans for yourself.
Tomatoes- All kinds, the flesh only, NO vines/leaves as they are toxic to birds. Cherry or grape tomatoes that have been cut in half are a favorite among our ducks.
Apples-Applesauce is a messy treat, but ducks love it. Try mixing it with other fruits or veggies to help contain the mess a bit. Leave the seeds out, as even a small amount of the apple seeds can be toxic.
Grapes-Red or green, cut in half. You can also give them raisins.
Melons-Cantaloupe, watermelon, or honey dew are great cut into smaller pieces. Our ducks will eat the rinds of watermelon if it is cut up into smaller pieces.
Eggs- Scrambled or hardboiled, chopped with shells intact. Do NOT give them raw eggs, though. The shells are a good source of calcium, instead of buying oyster shell from the store.
Dry cat food-Our ducks LOVE to eat the cat’s food, and will often skip their own pellets in favor of the salmon flavored kitty chow. I do make sure they don’t get too much of this “treat”, so the cats actually get fed.
Rice- As a once in a while treat, try adding soft cooked rice with some other veggies or fruits.
Seeds– Some seeds, like millet or sunflower, can be given to ducks as a limited, rare special treat. While seeds such as grit can be used, they do not digest well and can fill the crop with material that is not digested or passed. This can lead to serious digestive issues in ducks.
Now that you know what special treats you can feed ducks, there ARE some foods you should NOT feed them. These can cause digestive issues, or be outright toxic to your ducks. If you have fed these to your ducks before without issues, you should consider yourself very lucky.
Bread-Packed with carbs that ducks don’t need, bread, though soft, can become dense in the stomachs of ducks. Ducks can also binge on this “tasty” treat and end up with an impacted crop. An impacted crop can result in death!
Onions– Sometimes they cause diarrhea or vomiting. It is best to avoid giving your ducks onions.
Avocados– All parts of the avocado, including flesh, pits, skin, and even parts of the tree are very toxic to ducks! Leave the guacamole out of their enclosures, please.
Sugary, Salty, High Fat Foods- If it isn’t healthy for a human to eat, neither is it healthy for your ducks. Even small amounts of these foods will have a negative impact on your duck’s health. Anything fried contains far too much oil/fat for your duck. Canned veggies contain too much salt. Canned or in-juice fruits contain too much sugar. Ducks who consume these foods can become overweight and have other health issues, and they will typically die at younger ages. These are just plain NOT HEALTHY.
This list gives you some ideas of what you should feed your ducks as treats and what you should avoid giving them. Did any of these items surprise you? Be sure to pin this for later!