Can Ducks Eat Tomatoes? Which Parts of the Plant?

Domestic ducks subsist predominantly on a diet of feed with a few choice bits that they can scavenge from their environment and the occasional treat from their owners. Good owners, and ones that like to spoil their birds, will give ducks a diet that is rich in various whole foods like fruits and veggies.

ducks enjoying fresh tomatoes
two ducks enjoying sliced tomatoes

Ducks can eat a surprising variety of vegetables, including ones that they normally wouldn’t get in the wild, but they can’t eat quite everything. Let’s look at one of the most popular veggies around, tomatoes. Can our ducks eat them?

Yes, tomato fruits are safe for ducks to eat but only in small amounts and occasionally. Tomatoes tend to cause diarrhea and indigestion, and all other parts of the plant are toxic to them.

Tomatoes are a supplemental food or treat item for ducks that comes with a few major drawbacks. They’re certainly nutritious, and ducks do seem to like them, but you’ve got to be very careful about giving them too many or even a serving that is too large.

Also, unripe tomatoes and other parts of the plant are legitimately poisonous and can harm them. You don’t need to be afraid, but you do need to know what you’re doing before you add them to the menu for your birds.

Do Ducks Like Tomatoes?

Yes, generally. I’ve known plenty of ducks that just don’t seem interested in them, but after they’ve been enticed to try tomatoes a time or two, they’ve come around.

Are Tomatoes a Nutritious Option for Them?

Yes, they can be, as tomatoes are a good source of vitamins. The problem, however, is that tomatoes have way too many shortcomings to be a regular component of a duck’s diet.

Tomatoes are a pretty good source of energy, and also a fine source of antioxidants that have many health benefits.

They also have lots of vitamins, such as a great amount of vitamin C and nearly all of the B-complex vitamins along with vitamin A, vitamin E, and vitamin K.

These micronutrients will:

  • improve circulatory health,
  • help to maintain nervous system tissues,
  • improve eyesight,
  • enhance organ function and cellular maintenance,
  • and much more – while protecting your birds from diseases and boosting immune system response.

More than this we see that tomatoes are a fairly decent source of minerals, too, with iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and phosphorus being fairly abundant and useful in a whole host of ways, but predominantly for growth, healing and feathering.

These are all great benefits for ducks and part of the reason why tomatoes are acceptable as a treat or occasional supplement to their usual diet.

The downside is that tomatoes are simply too acidic to be fed to them regularly: they will easily cause major indigestion and serious diarrhea if they get too much. But tomatoes have other, unique problems too that we will talk about in the next section.

Careful! Green Tomatoes and Tomato Plants are Toxic!

So, what’s all this about tomatoes being genuinely harmful for ducks? Simply stated, tomatoes are toxic plants in most cases.

It’s true! They are members of the nightshade family, and like every plant in that family, they contain solanine, a harmful toxin. It will cause major digestive problems in ducks and also seizures, collapse, respiratory distress, and even death in high doses… It must be avoided!

So how is it that tomatoes are edible, then? Simply stated, ripe tomato fruits contain no solanine. It starts to neutralize as the fruits ripen. But this means that green tomatoes are harmful and must not be fed to ducks.

All other parts of the plant, from the roots and stems to the leaves and vines along with the little calyx or crown on top of the tomato itself do have the toxic compound and should never be fed to ducks, either.

Generally, you can depend on your birds to be smart and avoid things that they really shouldn’t eat, but at the same time, they are just animals and they do make mistakes. It’s always up to you to keep them out of things that can hurt them!

Are Raw Tomatoes Okay?

Yes, raw tomato ruits are okay for ducks as long as they only get them occasionally. Raw tomatoes are easy enough for them to eat and digest when they’re prepared properly (see below), and also contain the best possible amount of nutrients.

Can Ducks Eat Tomato Seeds?

Yes, they can. Tomato seeds are tiny, soft, and easy for ducks to digest. No need to seed them.

Are Cooked Tomatoes a Good Idea for Ducks?

No. Cooking tomatoes doesn’t make them any easier for ducks to digest, and it doesn’t make them less harsh on their stomach and digestive tract. Cooking will, however, reduce the micronutrients that they have and that means they are even less beneficial to them.

When it comes to a “value proposition” as a supplemental item in their diet or a treat, cooking puts them into the negative. Don’t cook tomatoes for your ducks!

How Often Can Ducks Eat Tomatoes?

Your flock should only get tomatoes occasionally, one or two small servings per week. Your birds will benefit from the nutrients they contain and enjoy a little change of pace as long as you don’t overdo it, but keep a close eye on them for any signs of diarrhea.

Preparing Tomatoes for Your Ducks

Any tomatoes you’re going to serve to your birds must be washed and have all green parts of the plant removed. Any unripe, green tomatoes or ones with large green patches should be discarded.

Once this is done, simply chop them up into small chunks that are no larger than a half-inch in size and make sure they have access to water so they can dip them before swallowing.

Yes, tomatoes are very juicy, but ducks always benefit from having water with them when they are eating.

Never Give Them Rotting or Moldy Tomatoes

Tomatoes that are rotting, showing the presence of mold, or getting slimy or otherwise spoiled should never be fed to ducks.

Even though they have to eat all kinds of things in the wild, ducks aren’t invincible and can get sick from various foodborne illnesses, and some types of mold can be lethal! Only give your flock fresh, wholesome tomatoes to eat.

Are Tomatoes Safe for Ducklings to Eat?

Yes, but I say that with a lot of reservations. For starters, I would not give any duckling tomatoes until they are well into adolescence; let’s say about 5 weeks old. They are simply too acidic for them to eat without risk of diarrhea, and diarrhea can be devastating for such a young bird.

Assuming they’re old enough to try it, they should get only a teeny, tiny bit as a novel treat. Even then, keep a close eye on them for any signs of indigestion or other problems.

There are simply too many other foods that ducklings can safely have to spend much time messing with tomatoes.

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