—Whenever feeding a duck anything, make sure they have access to water for drinking, so they do not choke.—
I put *stars* next to each item to signify which treats ducks seem to like the most, based on my own experiments thus far. One Star* means this treat is not always a favorite of ducks, while five stars***** means most ducks really enjoy the treat. This however is not always the same in every duck, but rather is a guide in helping you chose which treats to experiment with. I encourage all duck owners to experiment with different treats, finding which your ducks enjoy the most. If a treat has a question mark? next to the name, I’ll take suggestions as to what the Star* rating should be.
Ducks can eat anything off this list once they are fully fledged (at around 8 weeks old, depending on the duck). Some of these treats can be given to younger ducklings, as early as the first week of life, depending on the treat. If the treat can be cut very small and is soft or mushy, a duckling should not have a hard time eating it. Bigger tougher foods should be saved for when the duckling gets a little bigger so there will be less of a choking hazard. NOTE- whenever feeding ducklings a treat or supplement, they should be supervised just in case! Protect your ducklings by watching them whenever they eat something new or something they are not used to. I’ve put a Symbol next to treats ducklings and how old ducklings should be before should trying. Just remember these foods must be chopped, cut very finely, or mashed for ducklings. Again, if anyone has more suggestions, feel free to let me know!
Also, as a side note… Many of these treats can change the way a duck’s poop looks: either in color, consistency, or odor. When you stop feeding your ducks these treats, their poop should go back to normal.
-Feeding color rich foods, (like beets, carrots, cherries, tomatoes, greens etc) will temporarily change the color of your duck’s poop.
-Feeding veggies or fruits with a high water levels, (like lettuce) will make your duck’s poop waterier than normal. It may seem like diarrhea.
-Feeding dairy products, bananas, rice, etc could make your duck’s poop harder and dryer. Your duck can become constipated, so these treats should be limited. As a good rule of thumb, if it can make a person constipated, it can do so to a duck.
-Feeding high protein items, (like eggs, bugs, etc) will make a duck’s poop smell worse than normal.
Here are the treats-
Vegetables can be given to ducks everyday. Veggies with more carbs, like beans, carrots, corn etc, should be limited in order to maintain good health in your ducks. I’ve known some ducks to become demanding when it comes to veggies and will refuse to eat their feed, so a small treat everyday is better than heaping piles.
Romaine, Bib, Butter, Radicchio, etc. Iceberg Lettuce should be given in small quantities, if at all, due to its low nutritional value.
Uncooked, peeled or unpeeled. Chopped up in small cubes.
Corn-**** (for ducklings over 4 weeks old)
Off the cob, cooked or uncooked. Frozen corn can be thawed, as an easy to prepare treat. A whole corn cob can be given to ducks to peck at and play with, though some ducks have a hard time getting the corn off of the cob.
Peas- ***** (for ducklings over 4 weeks old)
Preferably fresh or frozen/thawed, canned peas tend to have too much salt for birds. Peas tend to be a favorite amongst all ducks and can be used to help “train” a duck. I used peas personally to teach my ducks how to use their ramp in the pen, and to teach them how to jump up to catch them (for fun). A bag of frozen peas left to thaw in the fridge makes a great easy treat you can throw to your ducks anytime.
Red, Yellow, Orange, or Green. The flesh only. Remove the core; seeds, and stem, then chop into small pieces.
Raw or Cooked, cut into small pieces. It seems most ducks do not like carrots very much. However, I did have two ducks that loved carrots.
Green beans, Lima Beans, black beans, Pinto beans, etc. They MUST be cooked and soft (preferably overcooked.) Uncooked beans contain a poison called hemaglutin toxic to birds. Beans have a good amount of protein but also have a higher amount of carbs, so beans should be a limited treat.
Raw or cooked, cut into smaller pieces. Stems and Tops are both fine for ducks to eat.
Green, red, or Brussel sprouts. Ripped into medium sized pieces. Raw tends to go over well with ducks, though I have not experimented with cooked Cabbages yet.
The same as broccoli.
Cooked or uncooked. Fresh is better than canned.
Unsalted or seasoned, cut into smaller pieces, cooked (as they seem to prefer cooked for its texture better.)
Ripped up in medium sized pieces. Kale can be floated in their pool or water dish. It’s also a good source of Calcium.
Butternut, Yellow, etc. Cooked or uncooked. Cut into small pieces.
The flesh can be cut up and given to your ducks.
Cooked only, cut up in smaller pieces.
Peeled or unpeeled, raw, and cut up in small cubes. If you shred and freeze, you can place it in a warm bowl of water to make “soup” for your ducks. This is a great way to get them greens in the winter.
Bok Choy***** (leaves only for ducklings)
Both leaves and stems chopped
Patty Pan Squash***
The interior of young patty pans with immature seeds are a tasty treat
Beans-Fresh**** (for ducklings over 1 week old, cut finely)
Cut in to small pieces or give them the ends and tips when you trim beans for yourself.
Marigolds, pansies, grasses, or clover etc (from a florist or homegrown, no pesticides!)
Soak cubes in water until it expands. Can be left in water as a “soup” for your ducks. Makes a good treat during the winter.
Some special treat ideas…
A special Summer time treat- (Idea by Soccer Mom)
Add chopped veggies or fruit to an inch of water in a plastic container (1 cup to 1 quart in size) and place in the freezer. Once frozen, add another layer of chopped veggies or fruit and cover in an inch of water and freeze. Repeat the process until you have several layers. Place in your kiddie pool or pond. Your ducks will have fun picky out veggies and fruits as they become exposed while the ice melts.
You can grow a variety of plants for your ducks such as Mustard, dandilion, white clover, grass, sunflower, corn, etc. You can feed them the greens or let them eat the developing sprouts. I also like to throw their scratch grains in a pot and grow them, the ducks love to eat the sprouting seeds.
Fruit is a great treat ducks will enjoy from time to time. Fruit does have a lot of natural sugar, (The only type of sugar your ducks should EVER consume), so you should limit how much and how often they enjoy these treats to maintain good health.
All kinds, the flesh only, NO vines/leaves as they are toxic to birds. Chop up tomatoes into smaller pieces. Grape/cherry tomatoes can be easily halved. If your ducks requires a medication in pill form, hiding the medicine in a grape/cherry tomato half tends to do the trick to getting them to consume the pill.
Fresh or cooked, chopped up into smaller pieces.
Chopped into smaller pieces.
Applesauce is easier for ducks to eat. It can be given straight, or mixed with other fruits/veggies. This is a messy treat. Do not feed ducks Apple seeds, they contain some cyanide and even in small amounts are toxic.
Bananas-*** (mashed only for ducklings)
No Peel. Cut into smaller pieces, or mashed. If mashed, it can be mixed with other treats.
Peaches- ? (if mashed, for ducklings over 1 week old)
Cut into smaller pieces.
Seedless cherries only. It’s better to cut them in half them for easier consumption. Do not feed ducks maraschino cherries that are in juice. These often have too much processed sugar. Cherry seeds should not ever be given to ducks; they contain some cyanide and even in small amounts are toxic.
Red or green, halved for easier consumption. You can also give them raisins.
Cantaloupe, watermelon, honey dew, etc. Cut into smaller pieces. Some ducks will eat the rinds of some melons if chopped up (Like watermelon for example).
The yellow flesh part only, cut up. Fresh, not in cans. Canned fruit tends to have too much processed sugar.
Mango can upset some ducks. Mango can make their throats itchy, the same way it can cause some problems in humans. If you experiment with mango, cut it up and feed a small amount first. Watch for reactions. If your ducks seem fine, then you can continue to let your ducks enjoy mango.
Open up the pomegranate, and remove the yellowy flesh part. Ducks can eat the fruit inside. They can eat the seeds inside the fruit as well. This treat should be limited, as other seed treats, to prevent impacted crops.
Cut into small pieces. They can eat the green top, though they usually leave it.
NOTE- Protein treats will make a duck’s poop smell worse.
Worms/night crawlers/mealworms-**** (for ducklings over 4 weeks old)
Live or thawed. Best when your find them yourself in your backyard. (that’s when you “hire” sons, nephews, kids down the street to dig them up for you) worms from bait shops can have chemicals or toxins in them from farming them.
Live crickets can usualy be purchased at pet stores, bait shops, and feed/farm supply stores. They can be placed in a kiddie pool or fed to ducks one at a time.
Eggs- **** (Scrambled and diced up for ducklings over 2 weeks old)
Cooked only. Scrambled (with no or very little oil, you can use a Pam spray) or hardboiled, chopped with shells on. The shells are a good source of calcium. You can cook extra duck eggs and give it right back to the ducks to eat.
Feeder goldfish/minnows/guppies- **** (for ducklings over 6 weeks old)
Live fish can be placed in their pool or water dish. They have fun chasing them around trying to catch them.
Pour into a dish. Yogurt can also be mixed with other chopped up veggies or fruit. A good source of calcium.
Floating Koi Food-***** (for ducklings over a week old)
In sticks or ball form (Though my ducks prefer the sticks). Throw into their water dish or pool. Has 30% protein and other vitamins. Can be purchased at Wal-Mart in a 1 1/2 pound green bag that is UV resistant (so it can be left outside).
Cat fish Food- *****
Some ducks love cat fish food from local feed stores. It’s usually in a small brown ball form. They can be floated in a kddie pool or pond.
Same as yogurt.
Dry cat food/dog food-****
Most ducks find cat and dog bowls full of dry food irresistible often leaving their dog and cat counterparts hungry. You can give your ducks dry cat/dog food as treats. They usually have a good amount of protein and are tasty for the ducks. If the kibble looks small enough for a duck tom swallow, go ahead and let them enjoy. I often get cat food that has several different pieces that are flavored differently and i give my two ducks a small handful every other day.
Some ducks enjoy a little drink of milk every now and then. Can be given in a cup (it’s better to hold the cup or place milk in a container they can’t knock over). Fat free or low fat milk is better. All birds are lactose intolerant to some degree, so if you give your ducks milk make sure you only do so in small quantities, as milk can cause diarrhea.
I know its sounds strange, but ducks enjoy a meat treat every now and then. They can have Chicken or Turkey if it’s cooked to a human-safe temperature, and it’s boneless/skinless. The white meat is better for them. I do not recommend beef or pork, as the fat content is higher and it’s harder for them to digest (though my duck Victor did steal a small piece of bacon that was accidentally dropped on the floor, lol).
Again, carbs are a treat your ducks will happily enjoy, but they should be given in small limited amounts. Too many carbs can make your duck fat and generally unhealthy. These treats tend to not contain enough vitamins or nutrients. Ducks tend to eat carbs first, filling up, and ignoring their feed.
Plain cooked oatmeal. No flavored or sugared oatmeal.
Rice- **** (for ducklings over 4 weeks old)
Cooked, preferably with more water so it is soft. Leftover white rice mixed with their other veggies tends to be a nice once-in-a-awhile treat.
Only cooked potatoes are acceptable for ducks. Either smashed or cut in small pieces. Potatoes are a dense starch that can impact the crop and block digestive processes if given to ducks in large quantities.
Spaghetti- **** (for ducklings over 6 weeks old)
Cooked Spaghetti (plain, no sauce or oil/butter) makes a nice very limited rare treat for your ducks. My ducks get spaghetti 2-3 times a year, usually as a special treat for birthdays and what not. Make sure it’s coked al the way and does not have anything else on it. Sauces and oils/butter have too much fat and salt.
Plain Crackers- ****
Oyster crackers, saltines, etc. Broken into smaller pieces. Works best if thrown by or in water so it’s easier to swallow. Because of the salt, these should be given rarely.
Cereals- **** (after a week old if soaked in water)
Cheerios, flakes, puffed rice, etc. Only unflavored and unsugared cereals should be given in small amounts as rare treats. Works well dry or in their pool.
Some seeds can be given to ducks, like Millet or Sunflower seeds, as a limited rare special treat. While seeds can be used like grit, seeds do not digest well. Too many seeds can impact the crop and fill with material that can not be digested or passed. Then there’s less room for good foods and digestive problems can occur. Remember that some seeds, like apple or cherry seeds, are toxic to ducks.
Below is a list of supplements you can give to your birds to promote good health or to help with certain health problems. If you know of other helpful supplements, please pm me or respond here and Ill add them.
Vitamins and Electrolytes- (for any aged ducklings)
Comes in a powder that can be mixed with feed or water in a daily or weekly dose. Though most often recommended for ducklings or young ducks, vitamin powders can be given to a duck of any age. You can use the powder as a daily or weekly supplement, or you can reserve it for ducklings during the first 8-12 weeks, injured or sick birds, or for show birds. Any duck of any age will benefit from having vitamins just like a human. Dosing will depend on the brand you buy. For my vitamin powder, I add a table spoon to either a gallon of water or approx. 5 pounds of feed.
Grit basically is small rocks for your ducks to consume. The grit helps a duck grind up it’s food in the gizzard. If your ducks free range often, they will most likely get all the grit they need from foraging. If your ducks stay penned up, grit can be purchased at a feed store and given in a small dish or mixed with their feed.
Crushed oyster shells are an important supplement for laying female ducks. It provides them with calcium necessary for good egg shell production. Without adequate calcium, a female duck can lay eggs with little or no shell and could become egg bound (eggs getting stuck inside the duck) and potentially die. Oyster shell can be given in a small dish so the ducks can eat it as needed, or it can be mixed with their feed. If you have a mixed gender flock (with boys and girls) oyster shell should be given in a separate dish, as males do not need the extra calcium. Male ducks and non-laying females should not consume extra calcium from oyster shell because it can negatively impact their kidneys.
Brewers Yeast- (for ducklings of any age)
Brewer’s Yeast contains an essential nutrient for ducks called Niacin. Niacin is known to promote overall good health, and to help ducks with leg/foot injures. Niacin also helps cure spraddle or splayed leg in baby ducks. Any duck with a foot or leg injury of any kind can take Brewer’s yeast (either in packets or in crushed up pills) on their food or in their water.
Gro-Gel- (for ducklings only)
Grow-gel is a powder mixed with water to create a green jelly like substance. Gro-gel contains vitamins and nutrients for baby ducklings. Gro-gel is often offered by hatcheries, as a water and food source for ducklings during the shipping process. Gro-gel can be purchased online or from hatcheries and can be given to baby ducks for the first week of life. It’s soft and wet, making it easy to eat. Gro-gel is not meant for adult ducks.
Calf manna is a type of feed you can purchase online or at a feed store. It is NOT a primary feed, but rather a supplement to duck’s normal feed. Calf manna is a pinkish-orange pellet, the same size and shape as regular layer pellets that can be mixed with regular feed. Calf manna is flavored with Anise, making it a delicious treat for not only ducks, but a wide variety of animals including horses, cows, goats, pigs, chickens, etc. Calf manna should make up no more than 1-2% of your duck’s feed. If you have a small flock or if you do not have any other animals and can not obtain calf manna by the pound, buy a larger bag and place the excess in an air tight container in a cool dry place.
Raw Apple Cider Vinegar-
You can add a tablespoon to a gallon of water for your ducks when they list puffy, listless, or won’t eat. It helps with mineral and vitamin absorption, kills bad bacteria and promotes good gut flora. It seems to perk ducks up. Only use raw unprocessed apple cider vinegar.
HAZZARDOUS OR TOXIC FOODS-
These food items listed below are hazardous or toxic to your ducks. These foods can cause severe health problems or death in ducks. Each food has the reason/explanation as to why you should not feed it to your ducks. If you have given your ducks any of these treats and did not have a bad reaction, YOU WERE LUCKY. A great amount of research has gone into this list, so please do not bombard me with emails/pms saying these foods are not bad. I DO NOT MAKE THIS STUFF UP just to be a pain in the behind. You can find research online about the hazzards of these foods using google. If you choose to give your ducks any of the foods listed in this section, do so at your own risk. It is also important to remember that ducks are prey animals. Their instincts tell them to hide illness and injury to prevent being picked off by a predator. If you feed, or continue to feed, your ducks the foods listed in this section, you may not see any problems until a duck seemingly randomly ends up dead with no apparent cause.
I know we’ve all seen or have been guilty of giving ducks at parks bread. Bread, other than being packed with carbs and some fat, does not contain any vitamins or minerals in any sufficient amount for a duck. It will make your duck over weight if fed in large quantities. Bread, though soft, can become dense in the stomachs of ducks. It also is tasty so ducks eat it up fast, which can result in the impaction of their crops, which usually requires surgery to fix. An impacted crop can cause death! You can help wild ducks stay healthier by informing people at parks of the negative health effects of bread.
There is debate about whether or not spinach should be given to ducks. Spinach can reduce the amount of calcium absorbed by ducks bodies, which can cause egg binding issues in females. Even if you feed your ducks calcium, like oyster shells, eating spinach in large amounts or often, can hinder calcium absorption, and cause your ducks to have very little or no shells are their eggs. If a duck has little or no shells on their eggs, they get stuck inside, usually resulting in death. If you decide to give your ducks spinach, it should be limited to small amounts on rare occasions. (perhaps this would be better to do during the non-laying season).
Onions cause diarrhea, and sometimes vomiting in birds. It has been found that prolonged exposure can lead to a blood condition called hemolytic anemia, which is followed by respiratory distress and eventual death.
Just as in many other animals, all parts of avocado (Including the tree, bark, leaves, pits, skin, flesh, etc) are incredibly TOXIC to all birds, including ducks. Avocados can cause cardiac distress and eventual heart failure, leading to death.
Just as with many other animals, chocolate is a fatal. Chocolate poisoning first affects a bird’s digestive system, causing vomiting and diarrhea. As the condition progresses, the bird’s central nervous system is affected, first causing seizures and eventually death.
Sugary, Salty, High Fat Foods-
If it’s not healthy for a human to eat these foods, neither is it healthy for your ducks. Even small amounts of these foods have negative impacts on your duck’s health. Anything fried contains far too much oil/fat for your duck. Canned veggies contain too much salt. Canned or in-juice fruits contain too much sugar. Ducks who consume these foods can become overweight and have health problems, and typically die at younger ages. These are just plain NOT HEALTHY.
Nuts are typically too large for a duck to eat because they swallow their food whole. Nuts can cause choking. Nuts are also high in fat, and fat is harder to digest than other substances. Nut can impact their crops and get stuck in a number of other places in the digestion process. A duck that can not eat, digest its food properly, or that can not poop, will die in a matter of days.
Citrus (lemons, grapefruit, oranges, limes)-
Citrus contains a lot of acid many other animals (and even other birds) can handle. But a duck’s stomach however can not and digestive problems can occur. While citrus may not kill your ducks, it will cause stomach pain (much like acid reflux). If you feeding citrus to your ducks, you may not see any signs of problems because of a duck’s nature to hide illness. This does NOT mean your duck is not in pain or suffering.
Other than carbs, salt, and fat from butter, popcorn is incredibly hard for a duck to swallow. The kernels can get snagged in the esophagus causing choking and abrasions.
Other than Carbonated beverages containing sugar and acids that are not good for your ducks, the carbonation can KILL a bird very quickly due to the air in the bubbles. Birds are incapable of burping or passing gas from their behinds. The gasses get stuck in the belly or esophagus and can not be expelled, causing an excruciating death for your duck.
Caffeine and Alcohol-
I know it seems crazy that anyone would give their ducks coffee or wine, but it’s worth mentioning. Alcohol depresses the system and caffeine causes cardiac problems.