Treats your ducks will love!

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Who here remembers going to the park to feed the ducks when they were a child?  I know I do!  It was something I always looked forward to.  I still vividly remember one day after preschool tossing bread to the ducks and leaning so far over the edge I fell in the pond!  I’m sure it scared my mom, but I was more upset I got my favorite Strawberry Shortcake dress all wet.  Falling in the pond didn’t deter my love of ducks!  Where was I going with this?  Oh right – feeding ducks!  The wild ducks might love all those bits of stale bread, but they are definitely not good for them.  It’s the equivalent of someone tossing potato chips at you – they might be tasty, but it’s all empty calories.  What’s worse is, especially for ducks in the wild, all those empty calories slow them down making it harder to escape predators.  It also fills them up so they won’t eat the things they need to, like greens & bugs.

So we shouldn’t feed ducks things like bread, pasta and crackers (salted crackers like Ritz especially are bad because ducks should not have salt) – what can we give them for treats?  First remember treats, are just that, treats.  Quality duck feed should make up the majority of your duck’s diet.  For tips on feeding your backyard ducks, click here.  If you already keep chickens, many of these healthy treats will be familiar to you because ducks & chickens have similar diets.

My duck’s absolute favorite treat is meal worms – high in protein, most types of insects are excellent treat for ducks.  Another great source of protein your ducks will love is feeder goldfish or minnows.  Add a few of these to their pond or water bowl and stand back because the water will be flying!  Other protein snacks to try include plain yogurt and scrambled eggs.

The other treat they go crazy for is Romaine lettuce.  Most days I bring out a head of lettuce to feed the rabbits.  The ducks have caught onto this little routine and will follow me around while I do my morning chores quacking non stop at me, letting me know that it’s not just the rabbits that love lettuce.  They are so cute, I always peel off a few leaves for them.  Most types of lettuce are great for them, but try to avoid Iceberg lettuce as it has limited nutritional value.

You can grow lots of healthy treats for your ducks right in your garden.  For information on gardening for your pets, click here

Greens, herbs & weeds make great treats for ducks.  Tear up bits of wheat grass, dandelion greens, or fresh herbs like oregano, rosemary, basil, mint, calendula, or parsley and float them in their water dish or pool.  They will have a great time fishing their treats out.  The only thing to be aware of here is if you are picking these items out of your yard, make sure they have not been treated with any kind of weed killer or pesticide.

Fruits – there are lots of fruits that your ducks will enjoy like tomatoes, chopped grapes, berries, watermelon, cantaloupe and bananas.  Almost all fruits are healthy for ducks, fruits that should be avoided include any citrus fruit (too much acid for their digestive system) and avocados (all parts are toxic to birds).

Vegetables – fresh veggies can be fed to your ducks daily, some favorites include corn, peas, beans, cucumber, cabbage and broccoli.  Almost all veggies are good for your ducks, but the ones that should be avoided include onions & spinach.

Grains – warm oatmeal makes a delicious treat on a cold winter morning.  It is ok to give your ducks a special treat of whole wheat bread, rice or pasta occasionally, just don’t make it an everyday treat

 


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22 comments

  1. Annie says:

    Hi Liz: Just found your blog and I love it. I live in the suburbs of Mass with 10 ducks and have been a duck mama for 9 years. I wanted to share that I make a potpourri of dried herbs (mint, lavender, basil, thyme and oregano) to sprinkle in the duck house at night. I’ve heard flies do not like basil and even if that’s not true? it still smells so good.
    Annie

  2. Rita Ritchie says:

    I can’t get my ducks to eat anything you mentioned except mealworms. Any idea why?? Do you put the veggies etc in a little bit of water in a shallow pan maybe?? I’m at wits end. Any ideas will be appreciated

    • Liz says:

      I have definitely found that my ducks are much pickier about what they eat than my chickens (who will eat just about anything I put in front of them). I think a lot of it has to do with habits. I notice the treats that they grew up having often like lettuce, herbs & melon are meet with huge enthusiasm still. Treats that I introduced rarely or when they were adults they are more skeptical of. They sort of remind me of my kids lol. So just like kids, repeated exposure could be the key to expanding your picky ducks diet. My ducks do love when I chop up greens and float them in their water dish or pool, I have found that is a fun way to introduce new herbs. Treats are not a necessary part of their diet, as long as they as eating plenty of quality feed all their nutritional needs should be being met.

    • ☽ ☆ Caroline Malone ☼ ☾ says:

      they don’t like house flies, only fruit flies. I recommend because I struggle with this on a personal level. Good luck.

      • Liz says:

        My ducks love standard green flies (the kind you often find in your home)! If we have flies gathering on manure on the ground they run at the pile with their head lowered and mouth open trying to catch the flies like Hungry Hungry Hippos lol. But I think ducks are like people, they have different ideas of what tastes good

  3. Sandra Steyn says:

    Good Morning, thanks I Enjoy your information and comments on chickens, ducks and so forth. I have recently started feeding and enjoy watching the birds also free ranging all day. Greetings Sandra

  4. Shanen says:

    Hi Liz, we are getting ducks that are 3 months old… Love your help with the feeding… Any other tips would be great. My name is Shanen if you can email me that would be great with any extra tips… Or your blog info, also I will need help with the blog stuff, I’ve never blogged before… Thanks

    • Liz says:

      Congrats on your new additions! I would definitely recommend checking out my backyard ducks page, I have lots of articles that I bet you will find helpful! If you have any questions, you can also email me at info@thecapecoop.com

  5. joy says:

    Hello Liz. I’ve just became a beginner duck mom..laugh. They are great and your knowledge and know how gives me hope.They just turned three weeks old today. Love love how they greet me. Question when should I put them out side ? Right now they live in a wooden create in the house.

    • Liz says:

      Congratulations on your new additions! Ducklings are so much fun (so so messy, but so much fun!). You should wait until they are fully feathered around 6-7 weeks and the nighttime temperatures are solidly in the 50s for them to permanently move outside. But you can bring them out for short field trips to explore the yard with supervision on sunny days now.

  6. Liz says:

    Howdy Liz ( my name is Liz too btw ) and I’m so happy I found this page! I don’t currently own any ducks but I visit the same ones every day at the park. I see them so often I’m pretty sure they have accepted me as one of their own. I have been feeding them defrosted steam in bag corn and peas and the love them! But lately I have been thinking that these are a little boring and I might want to mix it up a little bit. I have tried lettuce but they are really picky and I couldn’t think of any other good foods to give them. Thanks for the help!

  7. Kathy aka momma duck says:

    My Mother’s Day gift was 7 fuzzy baby ducks any suggestions are welcomed what do I start with treats they were 3 days old when I got them they are a week old now

    • Liz says:

      How exciting! I would hold off for now with the treats. You don’t want to have them cutting back on their nutritious feed to have more snacks. I usually wait until they are about a month old for treats

    • Liz says:

      Ugh we are also having an awful year with flies. I have never had such a hard time with them. We doubled the amount of the fly bags, are keeping the grass short (less places to hide and mate), and picking up poop twice a day. It seems to be helping but it’s quite a challenge this year!

  8. Lisa says:

    I am a new duck mom with four ducks. I have had them inside but they need to go out. I have a temporary pen and house but I need a feeder and waterer that will stay clean. Any suggestions on where to shop.

  9. Michelle says:

    Hi Liz, I have just one little (not so little) duckling. Not sure if it’s an Indian runner or Cayuga, waiting for adult feathers to determine. I believe it is 4 maybe 5 weeks old. Our baby is inside but likes to forage under the wrinkles in the floor covering. Is there any thing you can suggest to hide in places for foraging fun? Trying to find ways to keep “Charlie” entertained.
    Thanks for any help.

    • Liz says:

      Ducks love to use their bills to dig little holes looking for bugs so anything he could root around in would be great – sheets of newspaper or cardboard would work, or some pine shavings. You could sprinkle some dried mealworms in there as a “reward” for him to find-they LOVE mealworms!

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