Healthy Treats for Backyard Ducks

July 29, 2013

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. 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.

Treats for ducks should be limited to no more than 10% of a duck's daily diet, although greens, such as weeds, cut grass, kale, chards, etc. can be fed in unlimited amounts. 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. The sooner you introduce baby ducks to a variety of foods, the more accepting they will be and the more apt to try new treats. I find that ducks in general will be more likely to eat foods that are cut up, so I usually grate, dice or puree anything I give to them. 

Of course when feeding anything to a duckling or grown duck, be sure they have access to plenty of fresh drinking water and they need grit (coarse dirt, pebbles or stones) to help them digest their food. 

Here are some of our ducks' favorite treats to give you some ideas:


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 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

I know tomatoes are technically a fruit, but I put them here 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 
Fresh, frozen or canned (rinse the salt off) peas are fine, however dried beans are toxic
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.

Whole grains are better than white for ducks. Ours love cooked pasta (no salt, no butter), brown rice and oats especially.
Brown rice is more nutritious than white rice and should be cooked first
Our ducks love raw or cooked old-fashioned oats

Scrambled eggs are one of our ducks' favorite treats. Other favorite proteins include dried or live mealworms, earthworms, slugs, minnows or feeder fish and shrimp shells.

(For a complete list of healthy treats for chickens which can also be given to ducks read HERE.) 


The foods listed below can be hazardous or toxic to your ducks in large enough amounts. They can cause severe health problems or death. If you have given your ducks any of these treats and did not have a bad reaction, then you were lucky. Remember that ducks are prey animals and therefore instinctively hide symptoms of illness and you may not see any problems until a duck dies for no apparent reason, so best to steer clear of anything potentially dangerous. 

Some of these foods are only toxic in large amounts, others might not be toxic to all ducks, or only sometimes kill a duck, others can kill or cause health problems after repeated feedings. Bottom line, none are healthy for ducks and therefore should be avoided. (For a list of potentially toxic foods I compiled for chicken keepers that also applies to ducks, read HERE.)

The following foods can be dangerous for ducks:

Crackers or any other salty, sugar-laden or fatty foods are bad for ducks, who gain weight easily. Added weight puts too much strain on their legs and can lead to problems walking. Ducks can also easily die of salt overdoses.
Citrus fruts (lemons, limes, grapefruit, oranges) are thought to interfere with calcium absorption and contribute to thin-shelled eggs. Citrus fruits can also cause acid reflux and stomach pain in ducks.
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.

Mangoes can make ducks' throats itchy, as it does in some humans. If you do feed your ducks mango, watch them for any reaction. If they seem fine and enjoy it, then it's okay to feed to them.

Spinach interferes with calcium absorption and can reduce the amount absorbed by a duck's body, thereby causing egg binding in females, or soft-shelled eggs. Spinach is extremely nutritious but should be fed in limited amounts only. [Read more HERE.]

Also limit the iceberg lettuce you feed your ducks since it has very little nutritional value and can cause diarrhea in large amounts. Far better choices are leafy greens such as cabbage, kale and collards.

Nuts and large seeds don't digest well and can cause choking or get stuck in the crop since ducks swallow their food whole. If you do feed nuts or seeds to your ducks, they should be ground first. Apple and cherry seeds are toxic so avoid those all together, as are peach and apricot pits.

For a more complete list of toxic treats for chickens and ducks read HERE.

What are YOUR ducks' favorite treats? I'd love to hear!

Because life is just better with Chickens...and Ducks!

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  1. I'll probably never have chickens or ducks, but I sure do love coming here to read about how to take care of them! Thanks so much for your common-sense advice. Your love of these animals and your farm life in general is apparent in your writing!

    1. Oh you are so sweet! I do love living in the country and raising animals. It's just so fulfilling because they LOVE all my cooking and don't ask for much ...really. So glad you come and enjoy!

  2. That's the case with all of our animals, isn't it? They just want to be taken care of and loved, and they give so much joy in return.

    1. It sure is..I mean I even put out houses for the garden toads and make sure their water dishes stay full! Never hurts to be kind.

  3. Great list!

    As a person who has suffered terrible reactions to mangoes I thought I'd pass this tidbit on:

    The part of mangoes that make most people have reactions is actually the sap on the skin. The sap is actually related to poison ivy or oak (I forget which) so if you have a reaction to that then its likely you will react to mango sap too. Scrubbing them really well and immediately discarding the skin will usually stop all the reactions :)


    1. Really? I did not know the 'why' of it. I personally have never had issues with mangoes and rarely get poison ivy and when I do its minor but my husband suffers greatly so I will try your tip next we I buy a mango.

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  5. i fed my ducks dried feild peas to my ducks. are they really toxic?!

  6. Thank you so much! I just recently became a duckling "mom", and was completely baffled on other foods that would fit into their diet. So excited to try a few of these out! :)

  7. Sunflower seeds! One wild duck sits on the kitchen window sill while I make my morning coffee, waiting for me to put out her breakfast sunflower seeds


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