Are you toying with the idea of raising ducks?
If so, let me go ahead and encourage you to go for it.
I absolutely love my ducks. They are probably the easiest birds we have. In my experience, they have been very resilient to illness, they have great temperaments, are fun to watch, great egg layers, and very low-maintenance.
But before you dive into the idea, it is important to do your research.
Today, I want to help you understand their nutritional needs.
What To Feed Your Ducks
We raise Pekins. I adore them and wouldn’t trade them for anything. I also have a Mallard in the mix as well.
The only drawback to ducks is that they eat a lot!
Don’t let that scare you though because they eat a variety of foods that are very easy (and inexpensive) to come by. You can just browse through the list and see what is easiest for you to grow or buy and pick what works best for you and your feathered friends.
1. Bird Feed
Yes, plain old bird seed will make your ducks happy as can be. They love seeds.
Ducks also love layer feed. If you have a female, feel free to give her that extra boost of protein. She’ll need it for laying anyway.
2. Cracked Corn
I give my ducks whole kernel corn. But people say it is easier for them to digest if it is cracked.
However, I also read a while ago that the oils on the outside of the whole corn are actually better for them so I’ve switched to whole corn ever since.
It is cheaper too.
But it is your call. Whatever you are most comfortable feeding your ducks, please do. But corn (cracked or whole) is a food they really love.
They are not picky.
You can bring them any kind of insect, night crawler, worm, or meal worm and they will be happy.
The great thing about bugs is that you can actually raise them yourself and not have to pay for them. You can raise your own meal worms (as we do) right in your own living room. And you can raise your own red worms as well.
So whichever worm strikes your fancy to raise, will save you money and your ducks will be thrilled to have.
A special note, just be sure your ducks have lots of fresh water. Ducks are messy eaters so their water will require some attention.
Your ducks need that fresh water to aid digestion of their food. So just be sure to check them twice daily and freshen their water each time (and any time you choose in between.) They will thank you for it.
Another benefit of having ducks is you can allow them to scratch around in your garden, which will fertilize it, while they find grubs to eat.
Snacks And Treats For Ducks
Your ducks are big eaters so they’ll love to snack too. The only guideline you’ll need to follow is: be sure that snacks take up no more than 10% of their diet.
However, green snacks like weeds, kale, cut grass, etc. can be given in an unlimited amount. Your ducks love them, and they are great for them as well.
Ducks love fruit. Watching them eat it is pretty comical as well. So any extras from your berry patches or orchards can be tossed their way. They will gladly accept it.
Fruits such as berries, melons (ducks love watermelon rind), seeded fruits, and pit fruits absolutely make their day. Watching a duck eat a strawberry will make your day too. So go ahead and toss them your left overs or items that are a little too ripe for you.
It is a wonderful treat to them.
Your ducks will love your seconds from your garden or even if you just have too much of some things growing in your garden.
We do that every year. We’ll plant too much of something and by the end of the season, I am so sick of canning it. That is where my ducks come in handy.
I can feed it to them and not feel bad because I’m not wasting it. I’m actually saving on the feed bill.
So vegetables like cucumbers, peas, squash, zucchini, corn, kale, or broccoli your ducks will gladly take off of your hands.
3. Whole Grains
Ducks love grains. However, you need to make sure that you feed them only whole grains otherwise, they’ll pack on too much weight.
Ducks gain weight very easily (I have that in common with them.) So you have to make sure that you give them healthy options so their snacks don’t go straight to their tail feathers.
So snacks like brown rice, quinoa, oats, and whole wheat bread will absolutely make their day.
4. Protein food
I already mentioned that bugs could and should be a part of their regular diet. However, snacks high in protein are a great option as well.
When I was researching snacks high in protein for ducks I laughed when the most obvious answer flew up in front of my face—scrambled eggs. It seems kind of odd to feed scrambled eggs to an animal that lays eggs, but many people claim that their ducks love them.
I’m in the middle of a rainstorm now, or I’d be making some for my ducks and taking it to them to see how much they love them. That is on the list of things to do tomorrow.
Anyway, if you have too many eggs (as many of us do during the warmer months) don’t let them go to waste. Just scramble them up for your ducks.
Food Supplements For Ducks
Ducks are very simple animals for the most part. They eat a lot but love a variety of things to eat. So that makes feeding them easy enough.
They are hearty animals, love to lay eggs, and don’t require much else outside of a shelter and fresh water.
So when I mention food supplements, don’t be alarmed that there aren’t many and they are all simply suggestions and by no means a necessity.
If your ducks are anywhere that they have access to dirt then they probably will not need grit. They have a way of finding small pebbles in the dirt and eating them to help grind up their food.
But if your ducks are in solid grass, or you don’t feel like there is enough rocky soil in their area just purchase a bag of grit to be sure.
You will just need to throw a handful or two in their area once a week. This will ensure that their food will be digested as it should be.
You can purchase your grit here or at your local farm supply store.
2. Oyster Shell
Okay, so you feed your ducks a well-rounded diet. Yet, their eggs are still coming out pitted or thin shelled. You will need to add some oyster shell to their diet to give them added calcium to strengthen their shells.
It can be purchased here or at any local feed store, usually. A small handful of this added to their daily feed, and you will have some strong layers in no time.
What You Should Not Feed Your Ducks
There are actually quite a few items that you shouldn’t feed your ducks. If you decide to give snacks you need to be aware of this list.
So please do not feed your ducks:
1. Citrus fruit
Citrus fruit can interrupt a ducks ability to absorb calcium. This can cause thin-shelled eggs which are not good if you enjoy their eggs.
Spinach is in the same boat as citrus fruit. It too interferes with their calcium absorption which in turn makes for thin shelled eggs.
3. Iceberg lettuce
If you feed them iceberg lettuce in small amounts it is okay. However, too much can give them diarrhea which throws their whole bodies off. So give this food with caution.
4. White Potatoes, Green Tomatoes, and Eggplant
These are all part of the nightshade family. So, unfortunately, all parts of these plants (stems, leaves, and fruits) are extremely toxic to ducks.
5. Raw, Dried Beans
If you want to give your ducks beans, be sure they are fresh or sprouted. If you try to feed them raw or dried beans, it is toxic to them.
Just remember when feeding your ducks, it is better to be safe than sorry. So when in doubt do a little research.
How To Feed Your Ducks
Ducks are big eaters but are very easy to care for. They don’t require much special equipment and can usually be fed once a day.
So when feeding your ducks, I think it is best to give them free choice so they can pick and choose what they want, when they want.
Now, ducks are big eaters so I actually feed my 5 ducks through an automatic feeder for their corn. I also give them a 5-gallon bucket of weeds per day. And they are in a shaded, wooded area so they have lots of bugs to choose from on their own.
Most people usually give their ducks 2 cups of food per duck about once or twice a day. You’ll know by watching them if they are still hungry. Believe me, when they are hungry they will quack loudly to let you know.
Mine are so spoiled that if I’m out in the garden weeding and they think I’ve cheated and given the chickens more, they begin to quack and tell me about it.
Now, here are the only two items you will really need in order to properly feed and water your ducks.
1. Poultry Feeder
This poultry feeder can be filled up and that way you can simply refill when empty. No worries about underfeeding your ducks then.
It is also great because it is harder for the ducks to waste and make a mess with their food in this type of feeder.
So it works well all the way around.
2. Poultry Waterer
You have multiple options for this. You can purchase a poultry waterer (preferably the largest one they have because ducks drink a lot.)
Or you can also make a poultry waterer. This is actually a really cool idea because they can’t climb in and try to swim in it. Believe you me, if they can get into water, they will do it. So this will help keep their water a little cleaner which means less waste and extra work for you.
That is all there is to feeding ducks.
It seems rather simple, doesn’t it? Well, it’s because it is. They are a joy to have around the farm and don’t cause much trouble.