What Do Ducks Eat: The Best Guide to Feeding Ducks 2021

6 mins read
what do ducks eat
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Do Ducks have Teeth? What Can Ducks Eat?

Have you ever come across a video of a duck waddling around on social media that made you want to get one as a pet? Well, you’re not alone, and that’s because ducks are adorable, but you’re unsure about what do ducks eat? Keep reading to find out what you can feed ducks in the wild and your pet duck.

But before going on to what do ducks eat, here are a few things you probably didn’t know about ducks:

  • Ducks can be found all across the world, except in Antarctica, where the cold environment freezes the water bodies, starving the ducks.
  • The amount of time daylight they receive determines the number of eggs they produce.
  • Their quack does indeed echo. 
  • The ducks eat rocks sometimes as their rough texture helps break down food.

What Do Ducks Eat?

To begin with the basics, there are broadly two types of wild ducks, divers, and dabblers.

Having a well-balanced diet that keeps them healthy. Ducks are omnivores. Worms, insects, tadpoles, grass, weeds, grains, and other seeds provided food for them. A diet that is well-balanced.

The domesticated ducks are very like the wild ducks. Since ducks are omnivores, they eat almost all food items. They are very self-sufficient and find their food like wild birds.


The wild ducks, like Mergansers, dive below the water in search of food like tiny plants.


Whereas dabblers sit on the pond or reed margins. These wild birds eat plant roots and food like berries or grains on the ground.

So What Do Ducks Eat When Young?

Young ducklings tend to mature and need food that has high protein and calories. For the first three weeks, the diet needs 18 to 20 percent protein.

Keep in mind that the pellets are small for ducklings to eat. Through the 13th week, you can switch to a maintenance diet that includes 14 percent protein. 

What To Feed Wild Ducks?

wild ducks eating
By: Scott Beery/Flickr @All Rights Reserved

Things wild ducks eat are food that is a part of their nutritious natural diet, and these include:

1. Aquatic Plants

2. Slugs, small crustaceans, and tadpoles

3. Berries

4. Fish eggs and small fish

5. Worms

6. Seeds

7. Earthworms

8. Grass and leafy greens

The exciting thing about these feathered friends. Whether these birds live in a local pond or local park, is that ducks have bristles instead of teeth. Thus what they eat is essential.

Their natural diet keeps changing according to the seasons. They forage for food all day and night.

We can feed them nutritious duck food like fresh peas. Some small pieces of some cooked leftover food, corn, or seeds but avoid feeding them stale bread and rice.

During the winters, they tend to migrate to warmer areas. Areas where the water is not frozen and search for food to survive the winters.

The dabbling ducks stay put in winters. They are well equipped to survive the winter cold as they have enough feathers and body fat.

What Do Domesticated Ducks Eat?

pet duck
By: Masawright/Flickr @All Rights Reserved

It is necessary to understand that duck species love to search for food and tend to eat frequently.

Like wild ducks, domestic or pet ducks will forage for food. It is important to feed these domestic ducks enough food like:

  1. Insects: anything from an insect to a bug, they’ll eat it.
  2. Worms: During the rains, ducks will be the happiest. The reason is that they like feeding on worms like other birds the same way. And worms are easily found on the surface during the rainy season.
  3. Weeds and grasses: ducks love their greens too.
  4. Berries: wild blackberries are their absolute favorite.
  5. Fishes/eggs: In a pond, these ducks will eat the fish as well as their eggs.

In the context of grains, you can try feeding them:

1. Layer Pellets and duck feed pellets is a considerable option to feed domestic ducks.

It contains 16 percent of protein and is the same one used to feed chickens too. Try to avoid crumbles as they have a higher risk of choking.

2. Sunflower seeds

These seeds can be used as treats for feeding the ducks.

3. frozen peas, cracked corn, and frozen corn

4. Whole grains like wheat, rolled oats, and barley. Wheat is a great option, although it has little nutritional value

5. Fresh leafy vegetables like Lettuce in small pieces are nutritious. They are great for duck food.

Try using the lightweight leaves and breaking them into small bite-sized pieces. Besides this, if your ducks do not have any access to dirt, you will need to provide them with poultry grit. 

Occasional Treat For Cheat Days

ducks eating
By: Wayne Gibson/Flickr @All Rights Reserved
Like any other species, Ducks also like treating themselves to good food. But the treats need to be given in small quantities.
Although many ducks enjoy treats like corn, carrots, and greens. These foods do not fulfill the ducks’ nutritional values required in their diet.
These treats should not compromise more than five to10 percent of the diet. Allow the duck to graze around in the pesticide-free yard. Let’s look at what do ducks eat on their cheat days.
1. Cucumbers, raw potatoes, spinach, and avocados. as well as fruits like watermelon rinds and apple cores.

2. Eggs baked in the oven and cooked hard-boiled eggs are a great source of protein.

3. Store-bought feeds like chicken feed or worms.

4. Frozen Peas or sweetcorn, but make sure to defrost them thoroughly.

How To Feed The Ducks?

feeding ducks
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After knowing what do ducks eat? Let’s see how to feed them, ducks eat a lot and tend to drink a lot of water. So the first thing is to keep a lot of freshwaters available at all times.
It is essential for them because it helps them swallow natural foods. clean the nostrils, which may get clogged with dust or mud while foraging.


What To Avoid Feeding Ducks?

To keep your duck healthy and safe, the keeper must know what they should not be feeding ducks and what to feed them. It is an essential part to focus on when knowing about what do ducks eat. Here is the list of edibles you should not feed ducks.

1. Citrus fruits: Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit. should be avoided as they may interfere with the shell hardness of their eggs.
2. Medicated chicken feed: Ducks have more appetite than chickens. Chicken can lead to overdose.
3. Human junk food: Junks like cake, fries, white rice, and potato chips are harmful to humans. So anything of that sort is a big no for feeding ducks.
4. Too many treats: It is terrible to feed ducks in excess quantities. even though ducks eat and have different eating habits. extra protein or other nutrition can lead to abnormalities like an angel wing.
5. Bread: Everyone remembers going to a park and feeding bread to ducks. We have seen ducks eat bread. But the truth is that the thick white bread chunks are not suitable for their digestive system. so try to avoid them.
6. Raw or dried beans: Raw or dried beans are toxic to ducks. So, if you want to feed them beans, they should be sprouted
7. Other leftover foods such as mangoes, nuts, tomatoes, and popcorn avoid medicated feeds designed for other species. They could be toxic to ducks.
Anything moldy should not be given to ducks to eat as they may have allergic reactions to these duck’s geese. Should be kept in mind before feeding ducks.
8. Oyster Shells: These are not required if the laying ducks have an excellent quality-laying ratio.
If you notice that your ducks are laying pitted or thin-shelled eggs despite being on a good diet. Then you need to choose a different supplement for them. It should not be fed to non-laying ducks as it can result in kidney failure.
To sum up the question, what do ducks eat? We can say that they eat pretty much everything except a few foods. which can be harmful to their health. which should be avoided. and it is advised to keep tons of freshwater for their hydration during the time of feeding.
Ducks need to get plenty of fresh feed every day. the extra meal needs to be discarded daily, especially in wet and humid weather. Most ducks love to dip their pellets in the water while eating and should have a bowl of fresh water with every meal.
Flock feeds are suitable for feeding ducks, geese, and turkeys. Although ducks love to eat bread, feeding grains or greens is a much better option for them. it will cause a less stressful environment and crowding for the ducks and swans in the local lakes.
By now, you are all set with the knowledge of what do ducks eat. So, if you are even planning on getting a duck for yourself to pet, you do not have to worry about feeding it.

Check this post and provide accordingly.

One thing to remember is to keep a note of what not to feed, more than “what do ducks eat.” I hope this article on what do ducks eat was informational enough for you. 

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