What should you feed your ducks? This is an important decision and a highly debatable topic where there are many options. First, here is an overview of the main types of food for ducks.

Commercial Feed

Commercial feed is a perfectly computed mix of grains, chemicals, minerals, and vitamins. There are various mixes such as layer feed, chick starter, grower feed, and broiler finisher. The variety you can choose from depends on where you live and how much agriculture there is in your area. In some areas, you can even find specialized waterfowl feed. Ducks need more niacin in their diet than chickens, so if chicken feed is a major part of their diet, you will have to add extra niacin. If it’s not a major part, they may get enough niacin from foraging or whatever else they’re eating.


Grains

Grains alone don’t have all the nutrition ducks need, especially protein. Laying ducks need a diet with approximately 17% protein, and most grains have far less than this. However, they can still be a good addition to your ducks’ diet in limited amounts. Grain choices include corn, wheat, oats, sorghum, barley, spelt, rye, triticale, buckwheat, amaranth, and more.

Vegetables and Fruits

If you have a garden, this can be an excellent supplement to your ducks’ diet. Do you have some wilted cabbage or lettuce? Overripe tomatoes and bananas? Cucumber peels? Watermelon rinds? Give it to your ducks! (Just don’t feed them anything moldy or rotten.) You can even give them access to your whole compost pile. They will look through for yummy bits and pieces every day. Also, some leftovers are okay to feed your flock, such as salad or rice and veggies.

Meat

Ducks are omnivores. They need some meat! While foraging freely, ducks will gobble up slugs, worms, snails, even lizards and small frogs. I’ve heard of one Muscovy that ate gopher babies. Many duck and chicken owners will raise or buy mealworms and feed them to their flock. Some owners also raise earthworms for their flock.

Forage

The easiest and cheapest food of all: just let your ducks forage! They will scout through the grass for bugs, worms, grass seeds, leaves, and anything else they can find that’s edible. They just need a large, grassy pen. If it is too small, they will eat everything and soon have a miserable, muddy pen. It must be large enough that they don’t wear it out. Another option is to have two or more smaller pens. When one pen is looking shabby, just switch them to the other pen so the first can have a chance to recuperate.


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5 Comments

    1. If you mean a diet not containing any commercial rations, yes, theoretically, you should be able to. All animals have natural diets in the wild and that’s what they’re supposed to have. However, I don’t know of any flock owner who starts ducklings on a completely natural diet. My eventual goal is to grow ALL the food my ducks need, but I haven’t succeeded yet, so I can’t tell you exactly how to do it.

      Protein content is one of the main concerns. You can’t raise ducklings on lettuce and cucumbers. It needs to be varied, and it needs to contain plenty of protein — at least 17% of a duckling’s diet should be protein.

      If you want to try to raise ducks on a completely natural diet, do all the research you can. And remember that their diet in the wild is a good model.

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