Healthy Treats for Backyard Ducks
in DUCKS, TREATS,
By Lisa Steele
Here’s a handy guide to some healthy, nutritious treats your backyard ducks will love.
Although ducks enjoy many of the same treats as chickens, over the years I have watched to see the foods that seem to be their favorites. And surprisingly, ducks do prefer slightly different treats than chickens do.
They definitely seem to prefer anything green – leafy greens, dandelion greens or especially fresh peas floating in their water are a particular favorite – but providing your ducks a variety of healthy, nutritious treats not only keeps them healthy and well-fed, but helps you clean out your refrigerator on occasion!
Healthy Treats for Backyard Ducks
Ducks can eat a wide variety of fresh, raw and cooked fruits and vegetables, whole grains and meat/fish, and a varied diet not only makes life more interesting for them, it makes their diet healthier, and allows you to not let anything go to waste.
Like for chickens, treats for ducks should be limited to no more than 10% of a duck’s daily diet, although things such as herbs, weeds, cut grass, or leafy greens like kale, chards, etc. can be fed in unlimited amounts.
Vegetables and Leafy Greens
Leafy greens can be fed daily as a treat; however it’s best to limit the amount of other vegetables like corn, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, etc. and only feed those treats once the ducks have filled up on their regular feed.
Lettuce, kale, Swiss chard, spinach and cabbage can all be fed raw and either given whole or chopped. Ducks can eat both the stalks and tops of Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower either raw or cooked.
Chopped grass and weeds simply added to a tub of water will make your ducks very happy. All kinds of weeds and grasses make healthy treats for ducks that they will love. Ducklings can also eat anything on this list as long as the treat can be cut into very small pieces or is soft or mushy to prevent choking.
Although ducks do a pretty good job of ripping larger pieces of food apart – I give mine whole vegetables raw and uncooked – they have an easier time with things like beets, squash, melons, etc. if they are cooked or chopped up.
You either want to feed them very large pieces they can work on over time, or pieces small enough that they won’t choke on them. And like chickens, ducks can suffer from impacted crops from eating long lengths of fibrous materials, so grasses and such should be cut into short pieces before feeding.
Fresh, frozen or canned vegetables are fine, however dried beans are toxic, so beans must be cooked or sprouted before feeding to ducks. Fresh beans from the garden are fine. It’s the dried beans that are a problem.
Corn can be fed raw, cooked or on the cob. Ducks love broccoli raw or cooked and will eat the florets, leaves and stalks. I usually grate the raw stalks for them for easier eating.
I know tomatoes are technically a fruit, but I put them here on this list with our ducks’ favorite veggies, along with cucumbers, peas, broccoli and corn. Cucumbers can be fed sliced, halved or diced, skins and all. I usually cut tomatoes in half for our ducks, but you can also slice them for easy eating.
Here’s a list of vegetables your ducks might enjoy:
I don’t feed fruit to my ducks as often as vegetables. They’re usually not daily treats. Fruits aren’t quite as nutritious and also contain lots of sugars. But many fruits do have beneficial nutrients for ducks and they do love them. My ducks enjoy many different types of fruits, but our ducks’ three favorites are strawberries, blueberries and watermelon.
Ducks will eat strawberries whole or sliced, tops and all. I like to cut blueberries in half or just squash them to prevent choking. Watermelon can be served cut in half, sliced or in cubes. If you chop up the rind small enough they will eat that too.
Here’s a list of fruits your ducks might enjoy:
Apples – cored first, apple seeds contain cyanide
Cherries – pitted first, cherry pits contain cyanide