What to Feed Ducks at the Park (Hint: Skip Stale White Bread)

Bread is bad for ducks! We all grew up feeding ducks at the local pond, but we need to get the truth out there as many of us here at Wide Open Pets are chicken keepers who also raise ducks! Ducks enjoy many of the same treats that chickens do.

What do ducks love? Peas! Peas are high in niacin and ducks need this even more than chickens do. All of this advice applies to backyard ducks too!

Should you ever feed wild birds knowing they get along fine without us? 

Too many handouts may be a problem!

It causes overcrowding, disease, migration issues, and expectations! Mother Nature Network goes into detail on all of these issues but the one that stood out to us the most is delayed migration.

"Artificial feeding has been known to shorten or even eliminate migration patterns of waterfowl. They may be reluctant to leave a reliable food source despite the onset of winter, and then struggle to survive as temperatures fall — especially if the cold discourages their human feeders."

And bread crumbs are just not good for wild birds. Very limited amounts may be ok but there are so many other alternatives and better treats and snacks.

Also, moldy leftovers can be a problem, too, so don't leave anything behind if you're at the park or in your coop!

What you can feed wild ducks or ducks you raise:

If you really need to feed the ducks at the park (we agree, it's fun!) or if you have backyard ducks, then here's what you need to know.

One of our very favorite poultry experts, Lisa Steele, explained:

"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."

Healthy treats are the way to go:

  • Fruit: Strawberries, blueberries, and watermelon
  • Vegetables: Cucumbers, peas, broccoli, and corn
  • Grains: Cooked pasta, brown rice, and oats

You should NOT feed ducks the following (under any circumstances):

  • Don't feed: Crackers, bread, citrus fruit, spinach, iceberg lettuce, nuts, and large seeds

Cracked corn is a great treat that we give both chickens and ducks in the winter. This can be purchased at your local feed supply store, just ask the staff to help guide you.

Vegetable trimmings are great to throw into a ziplock before you head out to feed your birds!

When it comes to bread, white bread is the worst, too. There is zero nutritional value. It's no different than feeding them junk food. We all remember grabbing loaves of bread or stale bread and heading out to the park.

Lisa Steele tells us that these are toxic if fed in large amount!

"Bread can not only make your duck overweight if fed in large quantities but can also lead to impacted crops which can be fatal. In limited amounts, whole grain breads are okay."

What does research say? 

Researchers have also found that birds' behavior alters when they're being fed constantly, and in some cases, ducks have become more aggressive towards humans and fail to teach their young how to forage for themselves.

We realize the intention is to enjoy wild birds as chicken keepers we understand why people love them so much! Personally, we could spend all day hanging out with our backyard birds!

This is more of an intervention so health problems don't occur. Offer foods that are healthy instead and the suggested treats all come from your kitchen. What do ducks eat (really)? Adult ducks eat duck pellets or duck layer pellets that have real nutritional value.

With all this mind, we don't encourage feeding bread to our feathered friends. Local wild ducks thrive from pond life! They likely enjoy our company so just spending time where they hang out should suffice!

READ MORE: Duck vs. Goose: It Walks Like A Duck, But Could It Be A Goose?