If you’ve been paying any attention on the internet, you’ve noticed that people are getting a lot of views off of videos that show them feeding all sorts of everyday fruits and veggies to their animals, including their ducks.
The assumption is that the caring owner knows what they’re doing and isn’t giving them anything that could be harmful. But despite the fact that ducks are omnivorous and enjoy a highly varied diet, there are actually lots of foods out there that they shouldn’t eat at all.
How about oranges, for instance? Can our ducks eat oranges?
No, Ducks should not have oranges. Although they’re nutritious, oranges and other citrus fruits are simply too acidic for them to eat safely. Citric acid tends to impair calcium absorption and causes serious digestive upset, both being major problems.
I know it seems a little bit surprising considering how healthy oranges are and the great reputation they have in terms of vitamin content, but they’re just not something that ducks and most other birds should eat.
Chickens can handle a little bit of citrus fruit, including oranges, without much issue, but the same is not true for ducks. How much is okay, how long they can have it in their diet before bad things happen, does the nutrition outweigh the downsides; there is a lot of dissenting but anecdotal opinions on the matter.
Based on my research and experience, the risks far exceed the purported benefits for ducks. Keep reading, and I’ll tell you more.
Do Ducks Like Oranges?
In my experience, yes. I’ve seen plenty of ducks online and in person that will happily gobble up a slice of orange that has the rind or peel removed. Keep in mind that ducks are a lot like other animals as they tend to have a sweet tooth, and oranges are definitely sweet!
But just like ourselves, just because they like something doesn’t mean that it is good for them. You never want to give your ducks oranges if you care about them.
Are Oranges a Nutritious Option for Ducks?
No, practically speaking they are not. Even though oranges are a great source of energy thanks to the sugars that they have, and a really good source of vitamins and a few minerals, ducks can’t benefit from this because the downsides far outweigh the upsides.
While it is true that a little bit of orange now and then might not hurt ducks, even at the very best it is highly likely to upset their stomach and digestive tract and it can cause a crop and gizzard problems besides.
No matter what, you’re not going to be able to give oranges to ducks regularly enough for the boost in vitamins to do them any good.
Why Are Oranges Bad for Ducks?
Oranges are bad for ducks because of all the citric acid they contain. That’s why they are so tangy and zesty!
Citric acid and accordingly all citrus fruits can cause major havoc in a duck’s body because it starts to interfere with the absorption of calcium in their diet.
And that’s just part of it; the other part is that citric acid tends to be very hard on their stomach and digestive tract, and also has a nasty tendency to cause inflammation, irritation, and infection of the crop and gizzard.
But let’s circle back to the calcium issue because that can potentially be the most devastating. When ducks are unable to get enough calcium dietarily, and then put it to use in their body, lots of things can go wrong.
The most obvious is brittle bones because we’ll be unable to heal and regenerate over time, and this is especially bad news if they get injured.
Other issues, in adults, include inflamed and swollen joints, a loss of articulation in the legs and wings, and a serious decline in feather quality.
In developing ducklings, calcium is absolutely essential if they’re going to grow quickly and correctly.
Any issues with calcium absorption or intake can lead to deformities of the wings, legs and more which, if not fixed promptly, will result in lifelong conditions making a duck unable to walk.
You certainly don’t want to inflict that on a poor little baby duck, so don’t even think about giving them oranges or other citrus fruit!
And now we are back to the relatively benign problem of major indigestion owing to the acidity of oranges. In truth, it’s a bigger problem than you might think…
When a duck’s stomach and digestive tract get that badly upset and irritated, severe diarrhea is a certainty and that can lead to dehydration. Worse than that, ducks will have a loss of appetite, usually, and what food they do eat they’ll be unable to get maximum nutrition from.
It doesn’t take much imagination to see how this can lead to a sort of vicious cycle that can get worse and worse, and it all started because they got oranges in the first place!
So, in summary, oranges are just bad news for ducks. Don’t give them any!
Citrus Fruits are Especially Bad for Laying Hens
Worse than all of that is the fact that the calcium deficiency caused by citrus fruit is absolutely devastating for laying hens. It will immediately manifest as soft eggshells, which means they will be highly unlikely to produce viable ducklings and make the eggs no good as food.
As it gets progressively worse with the intake of more citrus, eggshells will start to be absent entirely and this will lead to a blockage of the hen’s oviduct or her vent.
A weak or partial eggshell means an egg can also collapse and break in her body, lacerating her insides and leading to certain infection.
These are life-threatening conditions that, if you don’t intervene right away and do it correctly, will result in an agonizing death. Not good!
Can Ducks Have Orange Juice Safely?
No. Nice try, but no. Orange juice is highly acidic, and the problems that oranges cause aren’t restricted to the flesh alone.
Never, ever try to give your ducks orange juice.
Can They Have Orange Peels?
Technically yes, but practically no, not really. They contain a whole lot less acid compared to the flesh and juice, but ducks don’t like them, and they aren’t that nutritious for them anyway. Don’t waste your time.
How Often Could Ducks Eat Oranges?
Never. Truly, they never should. I don’t know why some people feel like they have to test fate, or “tug on the dragon’s tail” if you want to call it that, but there’s no reason to give your Ducks oranges knowing the risks that they entail.
It’s true that a duck given just a little bit of orange to eat might not suffer any ill effects. No sickness, no indigestion, no diarrhea, nothing. But this comes back to an element of temptation…
If you give your duck an orange to eat, and they like it, you’re going to be tempted to give them more in the future. And, seeing that there was no obvious harm in it, give them a little bit more the next time.
This will happen, on and on, and the entire time the citric acid is going to be stripping calcium from their body.
Maybe you’ll notice their health starting to slip or maybe you won’t, but that is what will be happening. The bottom line is that you’ll be actively harming your duck. You don’t want to do that, do you?
Are Oranges Okay for Ducklings to Eat?
Absolutely not, no, never, under any conditions. As I explained above in grisly detail, the downsides associated with oranges are even more pronounced when they affect developing ducklings.
This is a critical stage of life, where they can scarcely afford any major illness to say nothing of something that is going to cause major developmental problems.
Don’t do it, ever, not even once!
Tim is a farm boy with vast experience on homesteads, and with survival and prepping. He lives a self-reliant lifestyle along with his aging mother in a quiet and very conservative little town in Ohio. He teaches folks about security, prepping and self-sufficiency not just through his witty writing, but also in person.
Find out more about Tim and the rest of the crew here.