What do ducks eat? Ducks are omnivores who love to eat a wide variety of food and forage to give them a balanced diet to keep them healthy and strong.
Years and years ago when my oldest child was a toddler, we would take a weekly trip to the library. Oftentimes we would stop and feed the wild ducks on the greenway stream just outside the library. And we made the same mistake a lot of people make- we took a bag of stale, white bread with us. The ducks seemed to love it. The kids loved it. What’s the harm?
But….you really shouldn’t feed ducks white bread.
Now that I am raising my own backyard ducks, I know a little bit better about their diets. So what do ducks eat? Let’s talk about that.
What Do Ducks Eat?
Ducks LOVE to Forage
First. Ducks LOVE to forage. And they will eat a lot!
They absolutely love to roam as far and wide as you will let them searching for just the right bite to eat. What kinds of forage will ducks eat? Let’s look:
Insects. Ducks will eat just about any insect or bug. We don’t let them into the garden, but we do throw them the potato bugs and horn worms from the plants. It’s also quite funny to watch a flock of ducks jump and run after the many June bugs we have in our field!
Worms. Give a duck a rainy day and she will be a happy duck! Most livestock don’t care for the rain, but for ducks it’s the best! Mostly because it brings the worms closer to the surface where they can snatch them up!
Weeds/Grass. Ducks love greens- grass, weeds, seed heads. They will rake their beak through to find anything tasty!
Berries. Our ducks love to jump at the wild blackberries that grow along our property line.
Fish/Eggs. If you have a pond for your ducks they will catch small fish as well as eat the fish eggs.
Basically anything they can find on your property!
Related Reading: How to Raise Ducks for Beginners
Feed and Seeds for Ducks
Like chickens, domestic ducks eat a variety of grains. What do ducks eat as far as grain?
Layer Pellets– These are the same as what you would use for chicken feed. Choose pellets over crumble. Crumbles can cause choking.
If you are feeding young ducks, start with chick starter and gradually move to layer pellets as they grow.
Sunflower Seeds– We keep a lot of black oil sun flower seeds, but any will do! This shouldn’t be a main source of feed- but a treat-like supplement.
Cracked Corn– Corn and other scratch grains are LOVED by ducks.
Birdseed (all types)– Our ducks like to hang out under the feeders and clean up the mess made by the wild birds! And they loved the bag of birdseed we fed them (after it was infected by grain moths!) Again- not as their main source of feed, but as a treat or in a pinch.
Whole Grains– Oats, wheat, barley, etc. Just make sure they are whole grain.
We raise ducks for eggs, so layer pellets are an integral part of their diet to keep their egg laying production up.
Treats and Extras for Ducks
What else do ducks eat? They are not a picky bunch, but if you’d like to give them a little extra. Here are some good options for treats:
Meal worms– We used meal worms to help train our ducks when they were younger. And they go crazy for them. They still love the color red because that was the color of the meal worm bag!
Fruits and Veggies– Put that compost to good use! Ducks love most fruits and veggies including cucumbers, pumpkins, watermelon rind, apple cores, etc. If you have too much produce to handle from the garden, put in back into your homestead by feeding it to your ducks! Just no raw potatoes, spinach, citrus, or avocados.
Eggs- Sometimes in the summer we get overrun with eggs. Since we don’t sell at the market anymore we don’t have as many regular customers. A tray of eggs baked in the oven until hard boiled consistency and cracked and tossed in the yard is a wonderful treat. They get protein from the eggs and calcium from the shells!
Brewer’s Yeast- Brewer’s yeast is a great thing to add to your ducks’ food. It is high in niacin and can help prevent deficiencies and keep them healthy.
Related Reading: How to Create a Self-Supporting Homestead
How to Feed Ducks
The most important thing to remember when feeding ducks is to make sure they have a lot of fresh water available at all times. They need this water to help them swallow their food and to clean the nostrils- which can get clogged with mud and dust from raking and searching for food.
Ducks drink a lot! So make sure you have a few waterers or pools and check them often.Check out my article on recycled barrel projects to get some quick and inexpensive ways to use barrels with livestock like ducks.
You can feed your ducks in a feeder like chickens. Or simply scatter it on the ground for them to hunt for themselves.
That’s it! Ducks are pretty easy and self sufficient if you can let them free range as much a possible.