What Do Ducks Eat?

Feeding ducks in the backyard farm.

If you’re a pet lover, you would love ducks because they are social and playful birds. Like dogs, they develop an unbreakable bond with their keepers. You can talk, sing, and provide them with their favorite treats and toys. But if it is your first-time keeping ducks, you might be at a loss regarding what food ducks eat. 

Ducks love eating and spend a maximum of four hours per day eating. So, to satisfy them, you must provide them with ample food. 

Human food is not always safe and healthy for ducks. So before you feed your ducks with leftovers, you need to figure out if the food leftovers will be safe and healthy for them. It will be best to be considerate of the food you provide your ducks to ensure their optimum growth and health.

What Feeds Should You Provide Your Ducks?

If you have domesticated ducks, it will be best to feed them with a diet made of a combination of commercial feed and natural rough. Ducks forage for food naturally. So, if they are free-ranging, you can allow them to eat insects and greens. Below is a list of the different food you can let your ducks eat:

Wheatgrass

One alternative food you can provide your ducks is wheatgrass. Wheatgrass is easy to grow. Besides, it is rich in protein and can be a great energy source for your ducks. Protein is essential to your ducks’ health because it can give them more energy and make them active. 

Wheatgrass can provide that needed protein. You can add wheatgrass to the natural feeding diet of your ducks to ensure they live longer and healthier. 

Corn Meals

One of the most popular grains for your ducks is corn. You can provide your ducks with corn, and they will eat it without hesitation. They can eat boiled, roasted, canned, and cob form. You can also feed the ducklings with corn. 

Corn, of course, is nutritious and comes with healthy vitamins and nutrients like B12, niacin, folic acid, selenium, and silica. 

However, corns should be provided as healthy treats and should not be given in large quantities, for it could lead to many health problems like fatty liver disease and obesity. Besides, too much corn can cause diarrhea and intestinal blockage in ducklings.

Frozen Peas

You can also feed your ducks with frozen peas. Peas can provide them with high iron, fiber, thiamine, and vitamins B1 and B2. Frozen peas have low fat. It will be best, however, to first defrost them. Frozen peas will not harm your ducks, but eating them would make them use more energy because frozen peas will likely drain their heat quickly, using more of their energy. 

Ducks, however, might not be as desirous of eating frozen peas because of their unusual texture and dampened flavor.

Lettuce

Lettuce is another food you can provide to your ducks. It contains calcium and iron and has high vitamins A and C contents. Besides, it has heart-healthy folate. 

Lettuce is a perfect supplemental food for your ducks besides grains and fruits. Moreover, ducks would love its soft texture.

Seeds

You will notice that duck feeds consist more often of seeds. These seeds have high carbohydrate and calorie contents. Seeds can come in pellet forms or dehydrated duck food forms. 

You can feed your ducks with this food if you lack time to make a hodgepodge of food for your ducks. 

Rice

You can also feed your ducks with uncooked or cooked rice. Cooked rice offers a good energy source for your ducks. It also contains protein to keep your ducks healthy. 

Rice is rich in manganese, vitamin B6, niacin, and other minerals. It also has low fat, which is perfect for ducklings.

Oats

If your ducks are not free-ranging, you can feed them with oats. Oats, of course, are perfect for ducks in captivity. They can provide your ducks with ample energy to stay healthy and active. 

You can serve them, for example, instant porridge oats, which are also rich in calcium, protein, and phosphorus. 

Vegetable Scraps

You can also provide your ducks with leafy vegetables; they would love them. Nevertheless, you should never feed them leftover food that contains dairy products and meat. Besides, it will be best not to give your ducks spoiled vegetables. 

When feeding ducks with vegetables, ensure you cut the vegetables into small pieces because your duck may choke with whole leafy vegetables. 

Furthermore, it will be best to refrain from feeding your ducks potatoes because it carries higher amounts of starch than corn. With too much starch, your ducks may develop intestinal problems. Besides, you should avoid feeding them too many carrots, which may cause intestinal blockage.

Duck Feed Pellets

Another alternative feed you can provide your ducks is the duck feed pellets. Duck pellets consist mostly of corn, wheat, soybeans, and wheat. Ducks will find duck feed pellets easy to digest and would provide them with nutrient-rich food to be healthy and active. Duck feed pellets are also perfect for ducks that lay eggs.

Green Beans

One of the most popular vegetables you can buy is green beans. It is rich in nutrients like vitamins A and C. It is also rich in vitamin K, folic acid, and fibers. Since it is rich in nutrients, you can feed your ducks with this vegetable. 

Ducks will eat green beans only if you cook them well. Besides, you should avoid providing your ducks with green beans grown in pesticide-laced soil.

What Would Ducks Eat in the Wild?

Ducks naturally forage for food in the wild and have no trouble sourcing their food in the wild. They can eat both meat and vegetables because they are omnivorous. They could snack on wild plants, fish, and insects. 

Ducks could find food sources that suit their body needs when they are in the wild. They could eat greens on both water and land, and their diet usually hinges on the season and topography. 

Furthermore, ducks have varying types. Some ducks have bills that could rip and tear meat. Others, however, have bills that could only peck at small invertebrates and greens. 

But what is certain is that ducks will never really go hungry in the wild. Below is the usual food ducks feast on when they are in the wild:

Plants

Wild ducks can eat most plants and fruits. They would also drink water from lakes and ponds and never go thirsty. Moreover, they can eat algae, pondweed, mosses, sedges, and fresh grass. They would most likely feed on algae covering the wild’s rock formations. Moreover, they would feed on different aquatic plants found along the riversides and underwater vegetation. 

Ducks will likewise eat grass and weeds. They might spend much time in the water to forage on water plants. Inland, they would eat grasses as if they were ruminants. 

However, ducks prefer the young green shoots over dry grasses. They would also eat weeds like dandelions and clover. Some grasses ducks would eat include ryegrass, wheatgrass, and millet grass. 

Grass, of course, contains many nutrients. But it could not provide all the needed nutrients for ducks. Wild ducks would only eat grass to supplement their nutritional needs. 

Seeds and Grains

Ducks would love to eat wild seeds and grains. They could eat unprocessed and raw whole grains using their tongue that could scoop grains quickly onto their mouth. They usually access seeds and grains that grow along fields near their natural water habitat. Seeds and grains, of course, can provide ducks with the needed nutrients and vitamins for the winter months. 

Fish

Fish is also good food for wild ducks. They would eat those small fish called fry along the weeds, under cover of the greens. These fries usually seek shelter under those green vegetation. These small fish include sunfish, carp, catfish, koi, eels, and sucker fish.

They would even eat tiny frogs. Yet, the most common fish they would eat is carp because it is easy to catch and are aplenty. Furthermore, ducks would eat fish eggs.

Reptiles

Ducks will also eat small reptiles like lizards and snakes. They could also eat venomous snakes without any side effects on their bodies. Besides, ducks generally love to eat warm-blooded prey with protected hides and smooth scales. 

Invertebrates and Insects

Ducks will also love eating worms, snails, water beetles, aquatic larvae, bugs, and other natural foods. They love insects that live near the soil surface. They usually stick around in a particular area while eating those tiny worms and insects before moving to another location. 

Ducks will also consume aquatic invertebrates like crustaceans and mollusks. They would forage for these creatures that live near or in aquatic vegetation, rocks, and mud. They usually burrow into the soil to seek these tiny insects and invertebrates.

Nuts and Fruits

Ducks will surely love to eat nuts and fruits. They would usually forage for different food by searching and exploring their surroundings. They would love to eat berries and other fruits they find along the way. They love soft berries because they are easy to swallow and digest. Using their bills, they would forage for these fleshy fruits. 

Ducks, however, would find it hard to eat tough-peeled fruits and would not dare try to access the edible flesh of the fruits. However, they would surely love to eat any fruit as long as they could access the fleshy core of the fruit. 

Fruits and berries are rich in vitamins and nutrients that could help ducks stay healthy. Ducks likewise enjoy eating berries and fruits for their sweetness and softness. 

Ducks would also love to eat acorns. They would usually find acorns while they forage in the forest. Acorns can supply their bodies with enough carbohydrates to transform into fat during winter. 

Foods You Should Not Feed Your Ducks

As mentioned above, ducks will likely feed on anything edible because they are omnivorous. So, if you provide them with anything, they will try to eat it. Yet, as a conscientious keeper of ducks, it will be best not to feed your ducks with the following food:

Crackers and Bread

You might think feeding your ducks with bread and crackers is harmless and cute. But you are doing them a disservice. Bread and crackers are junk food to ducks. Moreover, they are low in protein and high in carbohydrates. Besides, they lack nutrients that would provide your ducks with the necessary dietary needs. 

So, if you feed them with bread and crackers, they would also suffer the consequences of too many carbohydrates leading to obesity. They might also develop a condition called angel wing due to improper diet. When ducks develop angel wings, their carpal joints grow improperly, leading to deformed wings. With these deformed wings, ducks won’t be able to fly.

Avocadoes

Avocadoes may seem delicious and palatable to humans, but avocadoes will be toxic for ducks. You might get tempted to feed them avocadoes if you’re a new duck farmer, yet it contains the Persin toxin

You should also avoid feeding your ducks citrus fruits like limes, lemons, and oranges, for they are also considered toxins because they could cause stomach pain and acid reflux in your ducks.

Onions

Onions contain organosulfoxides which are harmful to ducks and other pets. They could jeopardize the health of your ducks. Thus, feeding your ducks other healthy food than onion is prudent. 

Onions also contain a compound referred to as thiosulphate, which is toxic to ducks. This compound can cause digestive problems. Besides, onion has a toxin that could damage the red blood cells of ducks.

Lettuce and Spinach

Lettuce and spinach might be good for humans, but they could be bad for ducks. They contain fiber that can prevent the digestive system of ducks from absorbing calcium. Thus, laying ducks might produce eggs with soft shells if they frequently eat spinach and lettuce. 

Choking Hazards

As a loving duck keeper, you should refrain from feeding ducks with choke hazard foods. These foods include popcorn and nuts, as well as uncut vegetables that could make your ducks choke. Remember that ducks don’t chew. So, refrain from feeding them these foods.

Nightshade Peels

You should also avoid feeding them nightshade peels like capsicum, eggplants, potatoes, and tomatoes. These foods can be toxic to your ducks as well. 

Aside from knowing the foods you should feed and not feed your ducks, you might also want to be cognizant of the following FAQs about duck foods, for they might also be the questions playing on in your mind:

What Should You Feed Baby Ducks?

The food that ducklings eat is not different from the food eaten by adult ducks. However, this food tends to be softer, including algae and other delicate aquatic plants, worms, mollusks, and crustaceans. You can feed ducklings if they are not free-ranging with waterfowl feed. You should also provide them with pond water. 

What Duck Foods Are Found in the Pond?

Ducks love to forage in nearby ponds and rivers. They would spend long hours sifting through the pond water to forage for food like worms, microscopic insects, shellfish, and other food. They use their flat bills to sieve through the water to retrieve any potential food. They would also eat pond vegetation and small fish. Besides, they would eat mollusks and frogs. 

What Do Ducks Consume When in the Grassland?

Ducks would usually graze on grassy grounds. They would eat grass and insects, as well as slugs and snails. Their bills can tear light vegetation easily. Besides, they would love to eat weeds and other small leaves and plants. They also like to eat shoots of grass and vegetation.

What Do They Eat During the Winter?

Ducks would love to eat the same diet during winter as in the summer. Nonetheless, foods are scarce during the winter. So, they would likely eat whatever food they find. If they find insects and other small invertebrates, they will eat them to replenish their physical protein requirement. They would also eat whatever foliage they could find during the winter.  

Would They Eat Frogs?

Yes, ducks would eat tiny frogs. But they would not eat huge frogs. They will only eat those frogs that they could swallow, like those toadlets and froglets. They would also eat tiny frogs like dart frogs or glass tree frogs. Besides, they would eat tadpoles which are easy to swallow and scoop from the water. 

Are Ducks Omnivores?

Yes, ducks are omnivores, and they are not fussy about the food they eat. They have a digestive system that has a specialized stomach to allow them to digest even hard-to-digest foods. So, they could eat almost anything edible. 

Would Ducks Eat Dirt?

They might frequently be poking their bills into the dirt or soil. So, you might assume that they like soil and mud. Contrariwise, they are not interested in the ground or earth, but what they could scoop up from the soil. They would eat grubs and worms entrenched in the dirt. 

On dry land, they would dip their bills to search for tiny food like insects and worms. They would also eat blades but not enjoy the taste of soil and dirt. 

Can You Feed Wild Ducks with Commercial Food?

You can serve wild ducks with any treat you think would benefit their health. You can feed them with healthy and tasty snacks and provide them with commercially prepared feeds for ducks. 

Conclusion:

Now that you know that ducks are omnivores and have become familiar with the foods you should feed and not feed them, you can raise ducks in your backyard and provide them with a better diet. Ducks are not challenging to keep, especially free-ranging ducks, because they can forage for their food. As long as you keep them from eating the food they should not eat and provide them with sufficient water, they will not starve. 

You can also feed them commercially prepared duck feed and supplement them with food that could give them a complete healthy diet. This way, they would provide healthy meat and eggs to make you more self-sufficient with your food supply.

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