Domestic ducks usually live on a steady diet of nutritionally optimized duck or waterfowl feed. Yes, it might be boring, but there’s a good reason for this: Ducks need a correctly calibrated diet of macro- and micronutrients in order to thrive and live their best life.
And while duck feed can handle almost every requirement they have, most owners still supplement their diet with various whole foods, often vegetables.
Ducks love and can eat all kinds of vegetables, but they can’t eat quite everything. How about zucchini, for instance? Can our ducks eat zucchini?
Yes, ducks can eat zucchini. Most tend to like it and it is reasonably nutritious and easy for them to digest. However, it is not nutritionally complete and if they eat too much it has a tendency to cause diarrhea.
Zucchini actually makes a pretty good supplemental food for our ducks. With just a little bit of preparation, it’s easy for them to eat and easy to digest.
And although it’s not the most nutritious veggie around most ducks do seem to like it, making it a great, wholesome treat with very few drawbacks compared to other produce like fruit.
If you want to give your flock a fresh addition to their usual menu in the summertime, you can do a lot worse than zucchini. Keep reading and I’ll tell you what you need to know about how to add it into their diet.
Do Ducks Like Zucchini?
Yes, in my experience, most do. Although it doesn’t seem like something they would normally eat in the wild, and they will struggle with taking bites out of a whole one, ducks can and will eat it, and once they try, they often show a preference for it in the future.
Is Zucchini a Nutritious Option for Ducks?
Yes, it is, although it does not have enough calories, protein, or micronutrients to be a viable and ongoing part of their diet for complete nutrition.
Zucchinis have just a little bit of protein, hardly any fat, and a few carbs, and most of the carbs are in the form of sugar though they still have some fiber.
Looking at the vitamin content we notice an assortment of many vitamins, but they aren’t particularly exemplary in any regard except for vitamin C, and even then, that one is way behind many other fruits and vegetables.
Besides vitamin C, zucchini has a decent amount of vitamin A and beta carotene, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, a good amount of pantothenic acid vitamin B6 and folate, and some vitamin K.
The mineral content is lagging behind the vitamins somewhat, but it is similarly varied and useful, with zucchinis having a fair bit of manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium and a little bit of calcium, iron, and zinc.
As you might have expected zucchinis are predominantly water, with your average specimen being more than 95% water by weight.
This makes them a highly hydrating and wholesome option on hot days, and that together with the electrolytes and vitamins they contain can help ducks stay hydrated and deal with heat stress.
But you must be cautious because too much moist food is bad for ducks since it can cause diarrhea. Hard to believe, I know: they are waterfowl and often eat on the water when they can, but that’s the truth.
Caution: Zucchinis Can Sometimes Be Toxic!
Something else to know about zucchinis, though not a problem that is unique to them, is that they can sometimes be toxic.
Although this is extremely rare with farm-grown, cultivated zucchinis it can definitely happen with wild growing ones or ones that you grow in your garden if you are unlucky.
This is because zucchinis can contain a toxin called cucurbitacin in various amounts. This compound can cause severe digestive upset, diarrhea, and other problems though it takes a really high dose to be truly dangerous. Nonetheless, it can hurt our ducks.
Cultivated zucchinis meant to be eaten will only have high levels of this compound if they’ve been grown under considerable stress or if they were somehow cross-pollinated with ornamental squash varieties. It’s not out of the question, and it does happen!
Also, you won’t be able to identify these toxic zucchinis by sight. They look identical! You will, though, be able to tell by taste: luckily the toxin in question tastes extraordinarily bitter and nasty. Trust me, you’ll know!
Your ducks will probably know too and refuse to eat such a zucchini; you can just take a tiny taste yourself before giving it to them.
Is Raw Zucchini Okay for Ducks?
Yes, raw zucchini is just fine for ducks and is actually the ideal way to serve it to them. Raw zucchini is plenty easy for them to eat as long as it is cut up into small bits, and has the best possible amount of vitamins and minerals alike.
Can Ducks Have Zucchini Skin?
Yes, zucchini skin is fine for ducks. They can digest it just fine as long as they can swallow a piece with no problems. You don’t need to go to the trouble of peeling it prior to serving.
Can Ducks Have Zucchini Seeds?
Yes, they can. Zucchini seeds are tiny, soft, and easily digestible. Again, no need to seed the zucchini before feeding it to them.
Should You Cook Zucchini for Ducks?
No, or at least you don’t have to. Cooked zucchini won’t hurt them as long as it’s not made with any oil, butter, cheese, or any other bad stuff they can’t have.
That said, it also doesn’t benefit them in any way. Cooked zucchini will have fewer vitamins and fewer minerals, and really won’t be any easier for them to digest.
For whatever reason if you have a quantity of plain cooked zucchini and you want to serve it to your ducks, you can, but don’t go to any extra trouble.
Is This Plant Toxic for Ducks in Any Way?
Aside from the aforementioned issue with the rare toxic zucchini, the only other problem that they can cause is when your flock gets way too much to eat in their diet.
This will either lead to a nutritional imbalance caused by a lack of other, more nutritious foods in their diet, or diarrhea. The diarrhea issue isn’t unique to zucchini, either, as any high-moisture food eaten to excess will cause it.
The solution, of course, is to simply to avoid giving your ducks too much.
How Often Can Ducks Have It?
So, just how often can ducks have zucchini safely? I recommend you give them no more than two servings of zucchini per week, maybe three, as part of their usual allotment of fresh fruits and vegetables.
In all cases, those serving sizes should be small and the zucchini should make up no more than 5% to 8% of their total calorie intake for the day.
Preparing Zucchini for Your Ducks
You have two good options for serving zucchini to your flock, but whichever way you want to go make sure you wash it first, and then cut off both ends to get rid of the tough part.
Then you can either cut it up into small cubes or grate it. Whichever way you go, you can serve them the zucchini by itself or mix it in with other veggies for a sort of medley.
Be sure to taste a little bit prior to serving: if it tastes nasty, bitter, and soapy, spit it out and discard: that’s a toxic one for sure!
Ensure that your birds have water nearby to help them eat.
Never Give Ducks Zucchini if it is Rotting or Moldy
Any zucchinis that are slimy, rotting, or moldy should be discarded and thrown away, not fed to your flock.
Ducks can get sick just like people can if they eat bad, spoiled food. Certain kinds of mold can also produce toxic spores that can make your ducks deathly ill or even kill them. I know you don’t want that to happen, so think twice before you give them any questionable produce.
Make Sure You Pick Up Leftover Zucchini and Scraps
Zucchini rots quickly, especially once it is cut. Make sure you get leftover bits out of the run or yard and out of their water once your ducks are finished with them.
Is Zucchini Safe for Ducklings to Eat?
Yes, as long as they are old enough to start eating fresh, whole foods in addition to their early life duckling feed. Depending on the breed this will be around 5 weeks old. Make sure they get only the teeniest, tiniest tidbits and only once a week or twice at most.
Ducklings are very vulnerable to diarrhea, and zucchini has a tendency to cause it. Keep that quantity small and stop feeding if you notice any loose stools or a loss of appetite.
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.