What Do Ducks Eat? What To Feed Ducks and What Not To Feed Them

What Do Ducks Eat? What To Feed Ducks and What Not To Feed Them

A duck foraging for food
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Before getting ducks, you might be asking yourself What do ducks eat? Ducks, much like chickens forage for some of their food. Consequently, they have a wide variety of things included in their diet.

Ducks are omnivores. For Instance, they eat everything from bugs, plants, meat and of course fish!

Food that is high in carbs, sugar, salt, or fat should be very limited when feeding ducks.

I’ve placed some of these food items on the list, but don’t ruin a duck’s health by spoiling their dinner! Make sure they get an excellent amount of nutrition.

What Do Ducks Eat When They Forage?

  • Bugs/Insects – Generally, I can throw rando bugs to the ducks and they’ll gobble them up! To clarify they’ll eat just about any bug they can get their bill on. Especially, those giant cockroaches! Yum! 😉
  • Berries – When berries are in season, ducks will forage off of our wild blueberry bushes with the chickens. Hey, hey leave some for me!
  • Fish – Ducks are master fishers. Fish are great for a duck’s diet.
    Especially, since they have a lot of vitamins and minerals that ducks need in their diet. Generally, you can set up a kiddie pool and add some minnows for them!
  • Plants – Ducks will search for tasty plant materials to eat. Including grass, seeds, weeds, and other edible plants. I had wild giant clover growing in the garden voluntarily, I let it grow out and then fed it to the chickens and ducks, and they loved it!
  • Amphibians – Frogs, tadpoles, salamanders, lizards, of my! Yes, ducks will eat these too.
  • Snails, worms, and slugs – A pretty good meal for ducks. They love pushing their beak into the ground to sniff out some of these delicacies.
  • Algae & Other Aquatic Plants – There are many plants in the water that ducks can eat.
  • Small Crustaceans – Like crawdaddies (crayfish)
  • Aquatic Insects – Bugs found in the water are a scrumptious snack!
  • Ticks – Yep, that’s right they can and will eat ticks!
A duck posing for a picture

Natural Snacks To Feed Ducks

  • Crickets – (live or dried) Pick up some crickets at the bait shop. It’s fun to watch them catch and eat them!
  • Earthworms – Worms are obviously a delicious treat!
  • Mealworms – Oh yes, just like chickens ducks will gobble down some mealworms!
  • Fish – Add some minnows, goldfish, or even guppies to a kiddie pool and watch your master fishers go to work! They’ll also eat canned tuna, salmon, and sardines…
  • Compost items – Ducks will eat plenty of veggies and fruits. Just make sure to look through the list of what not to feed ducks .
  • Seeds – They love cracked corn, flax, sunflower seeds, and birdseed.
  • Grains – Whole grains like barley, oats, and wheat are great options.
  • Chicken scratch – Many poultry owners confused scratch with feed. Scratch is only meant to be a snack and not used as feed. Use in moderation.
  • Oatmeal – Ducks can eat cooked or uncooked oats.
  • Rice – Ducks enjoy rice cooked and uncooked. However, too much uncooked rice can result in an upset tummy. It’s good to limit the amount of rice included in their diet.
  • Cereals – Unsweetened and unflavored cereal such as Cheerios, or flakes can be given in small amounts since they don’t have much nutrition. Consequently, these should be a rare treat.
  • Spaghetti – Cooked, plain noodles with no sauce, salt, or seasoning can be given in small quantities.
  • Eggs – Every week I make a batch of hard-boiled eggs for the chickens and ducks. I also dry and grind up the shells and add them back into the eggs. Ducks and chickens love cooked eggs! You can also scramble them too!
  • Koi Food – This is a food you might feed Koi fish. It has plenty of vitamins and protein. Add it to a kiddie pool, and it floats. The ducks will love it!
  • White meat – Such as chicken or turkey. Better than beef or pork. It should be cooked, boneless, skinless, and diced.
  • Homemade Chicken Pecking Block – The ducks love it too!
  • Frozen Treats for Chickens (and ducks). Especially great on a hot summer’s day!
  • Homemade Suet Cakes – These suet cakes are great for wintertime. Chickens and ducks will love these rich and nutritious little cakes! They are really easy to make too.
  • Peanut Butter Treats – Ducks, chickens, and even the dog will enjoy these homemade treats! These are packed with protein and a perfect treat for the fall or molting season.

What To Feed Ducks From The Garden?

You can grow a variety of things to feed ducks. Vegetables such as, zucchini, melons, squash, lettuce and other greens. Here’s a couple ideas on what to grow for duck food.

  • Edible flowers – Pansies, clovers, dandelions, marigolds, nasturtiums
  • Lemongrass – Good in moderation
  • Berries – Fresh or frozen berries are a lovely treat, especially on a hot day!
  • Peas – Fresh or frozen. These are a wonderful treat on a hot day. Great way to cool off, plus they are a huge favorite with the ducks!
  • Raw cucumber – peeled or unpeeled is fine, but it should be cut into cubes or diced.
  • Snap Peas
  • Green Beans
  • Mustard Greens – Ducks love leafy greens
  • Turnips – Roots and leaves can be eaten cooked, and diced.
  • Arugula
  • Ginger root
  • Corn – On or off the cob. Ducks might have a hard time getting corn off the cob, but they will enjoy nibbling on it.
  • Lettuce – Iceberg, romaine, radicchio, and butter lettuce have little to no nutritional value, so only give small amounts.
  • Bell peppers – Remove stem, and seeds, diced.
  • Carrots – Raw carrots must be cut into small pieces. Ducks can have cooked carrots too.
  • Celery – Yes, I suggest cutting it up into small pieces.
  • Zucchini – Peeled or unpeeled, diced.
  • Cooked beans – Should be cooked well. Due to a toxin found in undercooked beans called hemagglutinin. You should also limit the amount since they have a high amount of carbs.
  • Tomatoes (Nightshade) – Ripened tomatoes only. Do not give them green tomatoes, tomatoes leaves or stems. Nightshade family leaves and stems are toxic.
  • Potatoes (Nightshade) – Cooked only. Mashed or diced. Small quantities, since they are starchy which can impact the crop. Cooked potatoes may be fine in moderation. But the green potatoes and potato eyes and leaves should not be feed to ducks because it contains a toxins.
  • Okra – Is not part of the nightshade family but does contain solanine. Okra can be eaten in small portions however, avoid the leaves and stems.
  • Sweet Potatoes – A lovely treat and they are not part of the nightshade family and don’t contain the same toxins found in white potatoes.
  • Broccoli/cauliflower – Raw or cooked, cut into cubes.
  • Cabbage – Slice cabbage for easier eating.
  • Bok choy – Leaves and stems chopped roughly.
  • Beets – Fresh, cooked, or uncooked.
  • Amaranth & Quinoa – These are great for a ducks diet. Should be cooked to kill off anti-nutrients which cause slow-growth.
  • Asparagus – Ducks seems to prefer cooked asparagus. It should be unsalted and unseasoned.
  • Brussels Sprouts – Cooked or uncooked. Chop up uncooked Brussels.
  • Kale – Roughly chopped. For fun, you can throw it in a kiddie pool.
  • Eggplant – I can’t find any official sources saying yea or nay. Avoid the leaves and stems since it is a member of the nightshade family. The fruit may be okay in moderation.
  • FRUIT – Fruit tends to have plenty of sugar. Fresh fruit in limited quantities is okay to feed to ducks. Try to avoid canned or processed fruit, since they usually have added sugar.
  • Melons – The love watermelon. My husband gave my baby ducks some watermelon and they looked like a murder scene. Their chest feather and mouths were bloody red. Hilarious! They murdered that watermelon too!
  • Squash & Pumpkins – Ducks can eat these cooked or uncooked.
  • Pears/apples – Softer varieties, diced. Pear/applesauce is good too.
  • Grapes/cherries – Seedless varieties only. Cut in half or in quarters. Ducks also like raisins.
  • Bananas – banana fruit and peels can be eaten by ducks. If you give them the peel, you’ll want to chop it into very small bits.
  • Peaches – Fresh not canned preferably, diced.
  • Pomegranate – Fruit and seeds only. Limit amounts to avoid an impacted crop.
  • Pineapple – Flesh only, diced.
  • Strawberries – Fresh and diced.
  • Plums – Ducks can eat the plum fruit, but take out the pit, because contains toxins.
  • Peaches – Ducks can eat the peach fruit, but take out the pit, because contains toxins.
  • Figs – This is a sweet treat for ducks. It’s find in moderation as are most fruits.
  • Herbs – There are tons of herbs that are good for ducks to eat. Some of them include: Dill, dandelion, wheatgrass, parsley, rosemary, oregano, calendula, mint, marigolds, violets, sunflowers, squash blossoms, and bee balm.
  • Spices – While spices like garlic should be avoided, ducks can have other spices such as cinnamon.

Commercial Feed | What Do Ducks Eat?

When we think about what ducks eat, most people are thinking of some kind of commercial feed that can give them all of their nutrients.

Generally, many people give their ducks chicken feed. Therefore the same thing you feed the chickens (layers) is usually fine for ducks. In addition, you want to make sure they’re all getting plenty of grit too.

Duck feed is hard to find. I just came to update this post because I saw it on Amazon for the first time ever. Note, I’ve never seen Tractor Supply or any other stores carry any brand of duck feed.

However, I prefer to feed my chickens and ducks with a Flock Raiser. Basically, it’s a feed that’s capable of feeding a variety of poultry types.

what do ducks eat

When feeding ducks a dry food like these, they’ll need access to water too. Since they like to mix water with their food. This helps to get the dry food down their long throats.

two white ducks looking for food in a grassy area

What To Feed Ducklings?

Ducklings can eat some of the same things baby chicks eat, unless you feed baby ducks medicated feed. Most often ducks don’t need the medication that is contained in the medicated feed.

Many sources say the medicated feed can build up in a duckling’s body and be harmful. However, this article states that’s not true. The commenter links a limited study done on this and has some interesting information about it. However, since the information and limited amount of studies done on these facts, it’s better to be safe than sorry. So stick with unmedicated feed just in case.

However, if you can find duck starter crumbles (harder to find in feed stores) that would be best.

Something else you may need to know is that they need extra niacin or otherwise known as Vitamin B.

This is very important, because many ducklings who are nutrient deficient in Vitamin B, can end up with splayed legs.

You can feed them some natural things to give them some extra niacin, such as peas, or clover (should be at least 4 weeks old). I feed them peas, but I also used a supplement of niacin.

This supplement is a powder that can be easily mixed into their food.

What do Ducks Eat?

What Not to Feed Ducks | What do Ducks Eat That They Shouldn’t?

There’s a giant list of plants that can be poisonous to ducks. That’s why I wrote an entire post about it. I promise it’s worth the read. I put a lot of time and much research into it! So go check that out next. Or bookmark it to read it later.

  • Bread – Let’s face it ducks love bread. Kinda like I do. But bread has a lot of carbs yet devoid of other nutritional value. Basically, it’s junk food! You don’t want a fat duck with health problems…
  • Nightshade Family -Leaves, stems, and unripened fruit. Including tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, and more.
  • Crackers/Junk food and other people junk food – Ducks can be junk food junkies. If allowed your ducks and kids can pig out on junk food, but it’s not good for them in the slightest!
  • Anything moldy – There are not many animals that can eat moldy food and get away without a tummy ache. Best to give fresh food only.
  • Potatoes – Cooked potatoes may be fine in moderation. But the green potatoes and potato eyes and leaves should not be feed to ducks because it contains a toxins.
  • Citrus – Can cause tummy pain and issues.
  • Avocados – Can lead to cardiac distress, heart failure, and even death.
  • Spinach – Some say spinach can hinder calcium absorption.
    Furthermore, calcium is very important in the egg making process.
  • Mango – Just like in humans, sometimes mango can cause an allergic reaction. So they can have mango if they don’t have a bad reaction to it.
  • Carbonated beverages – Since birds don’t burp or fart, the gasses could build up in the esophagus and in their tummies. This can lead to death believe it or not.
  • Onions – Don’t feed to dogs or ducks! They don’t digest onions well, and it can lead to tummy problems, like diarrhea, vomiting, and even a blood condition called hemolytic anemia, which could cause death.
  • Chocolate – Can be fatal if enough is ingested.
  • Popcorn – Dangerous to swallow, they can get held up on the way down, possibly tearing the esophagus.
  • Nuts – Can be a choking hazard, and hard to digest.
  • Sugary, salty, or high fatty foods – Ducks can become overweight and give them health problems, and possibly die young.
  • Alcohol – I can’t imagine anyone actually offering alcohol to their animals, but if they accidentally consume alcohol, they could easily get alcohol poisoning. Alcohol depresses the organ systems of birds and it can kill them.
  • Mushrooms – Some can cause digestive issues and some varieties can cause liver failure. However, some sources say they can eat some mushrooms humans commonly eat like the white button mushrooms.
  • Medicated chick feed – The medication is not needed by ducklings or grown ducks for that matter. It can build up in their bodies and cause problems for them.

I’d love To Know what you think!… Leave me a comment!

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