17 Healthy Treats for Ducks Your Flock Will Love
Backyard ducks love to eat, and they love when you give them yummy duck treats like fresh fruits and veggies.
My ducks might be my favorite animals on my homestead. Not only are ducks hardier than chickens, but they’re so fun to watch. I love tossing out treats for ducks to them and watching them gobble them up.
Feeding your ducks a varied diet of treats combined with their layer feed is the best way to ensure your flock has all the nutrients needed. However, you should limit treats for ducks to no more than 10% of their daily diet, but you can give greens like weeds, grass, lettuce, and kale in unlimited portions.
Ducks need their healthy, regular food, like humans; treats should be just that – treats. A quality duck feed should be the majority of your duck’s diet.
When you do give treats to your ducks, make sure they’re one of these best options.
17 Treats for Ducks
Ducks and chickens alike love mealworms; these are excellent protein sources that your flock will love as treats.
You can buy huge bags of mealworms at most feed stores, but they are expensive. So I wouldn’t use mealworms as a regular treat for ducks because they’re too pricey. However, it’s possible to raise mealworms at home.
Ducks and chickens both like grubs as well; you can buy these in large quantities, but they’re pricey as well!
Algae is a great snack for ducks; it’s a superfood that contains lots of vitamins, proteins, and nutrients. So it’s really the perfect treat for ducks.
You can gather algae and feed it to your ducks in a bowl if you have a pond. They go crazy for it. Of course, you also can buy tablets of algae, but ducks much prefer the real deal.
3. Herbs, Green & Weeds
If there is one thing that my ducks really love, it’s leafy greens – anything green is their friend. That might be some weeds I pulled out of the garden that day or fresh peas tossed their way.
Leafy greens may be fed daily as a treat, but you shouldn’t do the same with other veggies. Those should only be fed as a treat once you know that your chickens have eaten plenty of their regular food.
You can give many greens to your flock, like lettuce, kale, Swiss chard, and cabbage. It’s safe to give these raw, chopped, or whole. Ducks eat the stalks of many veggies like Brussels sprouts and broccoli – you don’t have to worry about chopping them up!
Putting your cut grass and weeds into a tub will give your ducks plenty of treats to enjoy. All kinds of weeds are good duck treats.
Don’t forget the herbs!
Herbs are good for ducks, just like herbs are good for chickens. A few herbs that my ducks love include:
4. Edible Flowers
Many flowers are edible for ducks to enjoy. I watch my ducks enjoy dandelions, clovers, and violets throughout my yard in the spring and summer.
Some edible flowers that you can feed as duck treats include:
- Bee Balm
One of my favorite flowers to feed to ducks is marigolds. These work as a natural antibiotic that helps to prevent diseases heal wounds and prevent eye diseases and cancer.
The best thing about ducks eating marigolds?
It turns their yolks a bright yellow color!
5. Fresh Fruit
Ducks love fresh fruits! We toss our ducks all kinds of yummy fruit treats, especially the end bits that my kids decide they don’t want to eat for whatever reason.
Some fruits that ducks love include:
You should avoid citrus fruits, such as oranges, grapefruit, limes, and lemons because it’s believed that citrus interferes with calcium absorption and leads to thin-shelled fruits. They also cause acid reflux and stomach pain for your ducks.
Mangoes typically aren’t recommended for ducks because they make their throats itchy. However, you can consider feeding these to your ducks but always watch for reactions.
6. Fresh Veggies
Fresh vegetables are always a safe treat for ducks. Few veggies would be on the no list. Some of my flock’s favorite vegetables include:
Frozen, fresh, and canned vegetables are safe to feed your ducks, but never give them dried beans because they’re toxic. Corn can be fed raw, cooked, or on the cob.
Only a few vegetables should be avoided when feeding treats to your ducks. Spinach is thought to interfere with calcium absorption, potentially causing egg binding and soft-shelled eggs. Iceberg lettuce isn’t a danger, but it doesn’t have any true nutritional value compared to romaine lettuce.
You should avoid members of the nightshade family like tomatoes, eggplants, white potatoes, and rhubarb. All parts of the plants are considered toxic for ducks.
7. Healthy Grains
Whole grains are always a better choice for your ducks than white grains. It’s safe to give your ducks cooked whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, quinoa, and oats.
My flock always loves cooked oats in the winter when it’s cold outside. They really don’t need the heat, but it makes me feel better, and they seem quite happy with the treat.
It’s safe to feed them sugar-free, whole-grain cereals in moderation.
However, you should avoid giving your ducks crackers, salty, or sugar-laden foods. Bread is questionable; it makes ducks overweight and leads to impacted crops, a fatal problem when fed in large quantities.
Whole-grain bread is safe if your ducks have plenty of fresh water available.
8. Scrambled Eggs
I know that some people feel skeptical about feeding eggs to your flock, but scrambled eggs are an excellent source of protein for your flock.
Eggs contain amino acids and nutrients that your ducks need. They’re also the highest-quality protein of any food and an absorbable form of iron.
Not only are eggs a superfood for humans, but ducks benefit as well. It even helps to improve their eyesight!
Ducks love crickets; if they can find them in the wild, they love to munch on them as a source of protein. You can buy containers of crickets at many pet stores or bags of dried crickets!
Not only is it fun to watch ducks chase crickets, but they’re a complete source of protein that contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
That’s not bad for a bug!
10. Small Bugs and Slugs
Ducks love eating slugs, snails, flies, earwigs, and all kinds of small bugs. If they find it, chances are they’ll eat it.
That’s why ducks are excellent in the garden as a method of natural pest control.
They’re excellent at eating ticks and mosquitoes – two insects you really don’t want hanging around your home.
I often send my kids out to find bugs and collect them in a small bucket. Then, they give them right to our ducks. They think it’s so fun to catch bugs, and when my ducks see them coming with the buckets, they get so excited!
11. Feeder Fish
Head to your local pet store; you can find feeder fish there. It’s an excellent source of protein for your ducks.
Think about it.
Ducks eat fish in the wild. Toss some feeder fish into their pond or water; they love this treat. Sure, you might feel a bit bad for the fish, but your ducks will be so excited.
Frogs and newts are other options if you don’t have feeder fish. Ducks can eat frogs as big as their head.
Ducks go crazy for worms like chickens. They contain all sorts of vitamins and nutrients, and they’re free! I send my kids out to dig for earthworms to feed to our ducks and chickens.
The kids love it as much as the animals.
I don’t suggest feeding them worms used for fishing from the store. Those actually contain chemicals and aren’t nearly as healthy as the worms in your backyard.
13. Dry Cat Food
Both cat and dog food are edible for ducks. It’s full of protein and tastes great to your waterfowl. As long as the pieces of kibble are small enough for the ducks to swallow, it’s safe to give to them.
14. Yogurt and Cottage Cheese
Dairy is surprisingly a good treat for your ducks. They like yogurt and cottage cheese the most. The easiest way to give this treat is to mix it in oatmeal or other grains.
They love oatmeal cooked with yogurt and berries – Yum!
Ducks even enjoy a small cup of milk from time to time. You may give it in a cup for easy drinking. However, it’s best to provide them with fat-free or low-fat milk because all birds have some degree of lactose intolerance. You never want to give large quantities, or they’ll end up with a belly ache and diarrhea.
Ducks are omnivores, just like chickens, so eating meat is no problem for them. All meats are rich in protein, but they should be offered sparingly.
What meats can you give ducks?
Small pieces of cooked:
16. Cracked Corn
Fresh and dried corn is safe for ducks to eat. Cracked corn is always a favorite for ducks, but I typically wait until the temperatures get colder because cracked corn requires more work for the digestive system.
17. Free-Choice Supplements
These supplements should be given as free choice; they eat them when or if they need them. Don’t mix them in with their regular food.
Typically, backyard ducks don’t need oyster shells if they’re eating a good quality laying ration. However, if you notice your ducks laying pitted or thin-shelled eggs, giving oyster shells gives your flock a little boost of calcium.
Some backyard duck owners supplement their ducks’ diet with brewer’s yeast until they reach 20 weeks of age. That is the period when they need extra niacin, which helps with their overall growth and health.
Gro-gel is a supplement for ducklings but needs to be stopped when the ducks are adults. You often receive this when you order ducklings from hatcheries. It’s a powder mixed with water that turns into a green gel full of nutrients and vitamins.
✅Apple Cider Vinegar
Many people provide their ducks and chickens with apple cider vinegar. It improves mineral and vitamin absorption while killing bacteria. However, the best way to give ACV to your duck flock is to mix it with a gallon of water.
What Should You Not Feed Ducks?
If you’re wondering what you can’t feed your ducks, know that some foods are toxic or hazardous in large amounts to your flock. Feeding these to your fucks will cause health problems or death.
Some of these are only toxic in large amounts. Don’t assume that because your ducks ate them once or twice that it’s safe.
Just don’t feed these foods to your ducks.
Avocados are toxic to most birds, including chickens and ducks.
Don’t feed bread to your ducks. I remember going to local ponds and tossing leftover bread to the ducks, but it’s not a good practice.
Eating bread causes your ducks to have an increased risk of impacted crops, a fatal problem.
❌ Crackers or Cookies
As tempting as it might be to toss your flock some salty crackers or sugary cookies, it’s a bad idea. Ducks are prone to becoming overweight, which adds too much stress to their legs, leading to walking problems.
❌ Citrus Fruits
As I mentioned above, citrus fruits are a no-go for ducks. That includes lemons, limes, grapefruits, and oranges.
Evidence suggests that eating these foods will cause problems with calcium absorption and thin-shelled eggs.
I also told you above that mangoes have the likelihood of making your ducks’ throats itchy. While some ducks have no reactions, others do, so it’s just best to avoid this entirely.
Spinach is the one green that you really don’t want to give your duck flock. It interferes with calcium absorption and reduces how much calcium is stored in your ducks’ bodies. That leads to egg binding or soft-shelled eggs.
FAQs about Duck Treats
Got questions? I bet I have the answers!
When Can Ducks Eat Treats?
It’s safe to start feeding duck treats to your flock when your ducklings are at least 12 weeks old. Ideally, in the first two months of life, you want your baby ducks to eat their grower feed to ensure proper health and nutrients supply their quickly-growing bodies.
Can Ducks Eat Bananas?
Absolutely! Ducks love bananas; they’re an excellent fruit for these birds to enjoy.
Can You Feed Ducks Birdseed?
Yes, all types of birdseed are safe to feed to your ducks as a treat. It shouldn’t be the entire diet, but a few handfuls is a beloved treat.
Do Ducks Eat Lettuce?
Yes, ducks eat lettuce; they love all sorts of veggies and greens. However, limit how much iceberg lettuce you feed to your ducks because it has limited nutritional value. Instead, feed your ducks romaine lettuce, red or green leaf lettuce, or swiss chard.
Giving your ducks treats is a joy for everyone, but always make sure you’re providing your flock with healthy treats for ducks to avoid any toxicity and to keep your flock as healthy as possible.
We just inherited 2 large 2year old Peking ducks. They very quickly were attracted to our chickens. The chickens however don’t have much interest in the ducks. It is fun to watch the interactions. My question is, now that the ducks are free ranging, will they loose weight, as they seem it would be healthier for them. Also, we have a pond which they never had at their last home. Will they learn to swim without encouragement? Thank you for your great article!
free range ducks tend to gain weight as opposed to losing it. You should also supplement their diet with random healthy greens and banana’s(they are high in niacin and super cheap). Duck do not need to learn to swim, they can swim the second they hatch, but throwing the greens and chopped banana in the water will encourage them to use the pond.
I learned valuable info regarding what to feed (or not to feed) ducks. I’m new to duck feeding, and I want to make sure I feed them food that is good – and safe – for them to eat & enjoy.
HOWEVER, I always stress the importance of proof reading and spell-checking your work. If you had, you would’ve noticed in the paragraph beginning with “If you’re wondering what you can’t feed your ducks…” you stated, “…feeding these to your F-CKS…” A HUGE MISTAKE! Might be appropriate to correct that!
If you’re wondering what you can’t feed your ducks, know that some foods are toxic or hazardous in large amounts to your flock. Feeding these to your *fucks*will cause health problems or death.