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 should you feed ducks is important. Keeping your ducks healthy will result in longer life, better quality eggs and even MORE eggs laid. Ducks that get sick or are malnourished tend to not lay eggs as often, and they can be of poor quality when they do.
Here is a list of what you should feed ducks, and some things you 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– given in small quantities due to lower nutritional value.
Romaine, Bib, Butter, Radicchio, etc. Iceberg Lettuce should be given in small quantities, if at all, due to its low nutritional value.
Cucumber– Uncooked, peeled or unpeeled. Chopped 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 cut in half are a favorite among our ducks.
Apples-Applesauce is a messy treat ducks love. 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’s cut up into smaller pieces as well.
Eggs- Scrambled or hardboiled, chopped with shells on. 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 food, and will often skip their own pellets in favor for the salmon flavored kitty chow. I do like to make sure they don’t get too much of this treat, so the cats are actually fed though.
Rice- As a once in a while treat, try adding soft cooked rice with some other veggies or fruits.
Seeds– Some seeds can be given to ducks, like Millet or Sunflower seeds, as a limited rare special treat. While seeds can be used like grit, seeds do not digest well and can fill the crop with material that is not digested or passed. Thics can lead to digestive issues in ducks.
Now that you know what you should feed ducks as a special treat, there ARE some things you shouldn’t feed to 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 they don’t need, bread, though soft, can become dense in the stomachs of ducks. Ducks can also gorge on this “tasty” treat and end up with an impacted crop. An impacted crop can cause death!
Onions-sometimes causing diarhea or vomiting, it’s best to avoid giving your ducks onions.
Avocados-all parts of the avocado, including flesh, pits, skin and parts of the tree are very toxic to ducks! Leave the guacamole out of their pens, please.
Sugary, Salty, High Fat Foods-If it’s not healthy for a human to eat these foods, neither is it healthy for your ducks. Even small amounts of these foods have negative impacts 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 health problems, and 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 to avoid. Did any of these items surprise you at all? Be sure to pin this for later!